If you’ve ever wanted to play around with a microcontroller, now may be the time. I just read that Digi-Key is currently running a nice promotion on a couple of Atmel AVR kits. They’re selling the STK500 and AVR Dragon together for just $49. The STK500 alone usually goes for $79. I used one of these boards a few years back at a client, and it’s a fun little prototyping board. I’ve been wanting one for myself since then, and this is quite tempting. The AVR is nice compared to, say the Microchip PIC, in that there’s a gcc port with C library available for easy hacking without getting knee deep in assembly. Check out my del.ico.us AVR links for a bunch of goodies about using the AVR on OS X.
BTW, ladyada’s ranting is an awesome blog for electronics.