I'd appreciate any advice you could send my way. I want to avoid the probability of me getting bored or frustrated and leaving hundreds of dollars of equipment collecting dust on my workbench.
There are two ways I can run out of steam:1) It becomes too difficult. I can learn almost anything, but if I'm following a guide that skips over something vital (like what they heck is a booloader?) I'll decide the frustration isn't worth it. I'd like something (a book, a guide) that walks me through the entire process.
2) If it becomes apparent the platform/programming language I've chosen is too limited to accomplish what I want (ultimate goal is a multi-axis motion control camera capable of learning moves and replaying them exactly, maybe even outputing the data to a CF card to be used in3D-animation software for match-moves)
Since I have more time than money, and not much of either, I need to go cheap. That pretty much rules out the Basic Stamp, which excels in #1.
Proton Basic seems like a good alternative, but it isn't cheap either. It seems to be the best way to avoid burn-out while avoiding the limited capability and high cost you get with the Stamp, Ooopic, Atom, BAsicX, etc. If Proton Basic offered a kit like BAsic STamp offers with books, a programmer, and all the hardware you need to run through some experiments I'd jump at it in a second, if it was priced reasonably.
AVR and BASCOM'S free version looks promising, but I don't see anything that walks me through the whole process beginning to end.
GCC-AVR is probably the perfect combination to accomplish #2 (unless it is lacking built-in functions like stepper-motor control, LCD driving, etc.). It is free, but lacks an IDE. I'm also not all that familiar with C, but it sure beats Assembly!
The AVR seems to be the better platform, too, technically and Atmel offers some real nice, and cheap, programmers and development boards.
Mindstorms doesn't seem to be supported by Lego much anymore, so I'll avoid that.
Thanks for your help!