Arduino is a nice open-source platform for mostly Atmegas, which I’m familiar with. They are programmed with a C-dialect, have a nice IDE written in Processing, which is a cool language 🙂 Arduino has a really awesome community, a number of shields (like on Sparkfun or DFRobot or, in my own country, komputer.de). I also adore the Fritzing project, which gives you this truly nice way of designing and printing your boards..) Those guys also use Processing.
Arduino + distance sensor + 7-segment
I aquired a Sharp GP2D150A (which is a distance sensor (overview) working with optical triangulation) from 3 to 30cm; a seven-segment-display (which is, despite the name, just 8 leds. You can have some with shared anode or cathode, and need resistors – for example 330Ohm).I got a new one (A Uno R2 in SMD), and so far I’ve copy-pasted the Arduino IDE to my RAMDisk (because I CAN), updated the USB/Serial driver (it’s included for this one), and started to program.
Getting that seven-segment running was like visiting a my teen years: Did the same thing at age 15 or so.. However, I remember saving up like half of a year for one SDK500… 🙂
I wanted to use a quick and dirty RS232 terminal program in processing that controls the seven-segment and maybe the sensor.