Arduino is an open source hardware and software hardware controller. It can be used to read, process and output to various sensors and displays/emitters. The hardware is very cheap and it uses C like language to program the controller chip. The open source license of the board means the development board can be put together by anyone. All the hardware specification is available online.
The Arduino “Diecimila” is the latest full sized development board but there are older and other variations like the “Nano” which is tiny.
The U.S has Radio Shack which provides good electronic hobbyists with coponents but in England it seems like we’re not into all that. The best place I found for home brew electronics is in Maplin but Eastbourne isn’t a very big place. I thought this stuff would be widely available in places like Halfords or DIY places but I was wrong. It was harder online. I thought there would be plenty of these types of stuff because they’re usually small and cheap so Ebay was my first stop but it was hard to find Arduino specific hardware. People in the U.S have raved about Ada Fruit Industries as a supplier and their starter kit is so much better than the starter kit from Tinker.it in the UK. The international shipping totally out weighs the cost benefit ordering from Ada Fruit.
I have placed an order for the Arduino and various bits and pieces so I will post back when I get it.