Controlling motors from a computer?

Hi there, first of all, I'm new to robotics. It has always fascinated me and I decided I should give it a shot. I'm a very good programmer btw.
What I was thinking is of using some ports on the computer to communicate with motors or an electrical device that could communicate with the motors. I was thinking on the serial port. Or even easier the joystick port which can handle input and output.
The first thing I'd need would be to gather information from the motors, using (sorry I'm french) an electrical device that determines the angle of rotation and sends a voltage signal. I would need to catch that kind of signal and read it in my computer. If I can do that, I can make many more things.
Then the second thing I need is to send signals to the motors or to an electrical device that will handle the motors. I have no idea for the moment on how to do that.
Unfortunately, the only money I can spend on this project will be for the motors, electrical stuff, wires, etc... I don't have enough to buy a book and certainly not for these ultra-expensive consoles.
Eventually, I was thinking on develloping some artificial intelligence that could drive a robotic car, or even, another of my dreams would be to have a computer inside a miniature bomber that would control the airplane and send information to a remote computer by WiFi. It seems it could even send a compressed video view from the cockpit, or the bombing bay! ;)
But I need a start, and I guess a simple robot-arm will be absolutely delightful!
Thanks for any help, Simon
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Simon,
Try Google for a while. You will find a lot of info ;-).

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