Engineering: Connect a input/output device to computer

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to be asking this question, but here goes.  I'm trying to interface a device that will use one sensor and control one actuator.  The actuator I think will be analog from 0 - 5V and I'm not sure on what sensor I'm going to use yet.  At any rate, I would like to connect this device to a computer eventually, and my preference is USB...as its a growing standard.  I downloaded the spec for USB 2.0 and saw that two signals D+ and D- are used to send or recieve signals...but I don't know how I can change the voltage level or record from the sensor using these two signals?  If anyone has done something similar, or can provide some insight...that would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Bryan Willman
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Willman023Asked:
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publicCommented:
You have to do a lot more than change voltage levels. USB uses  a complex protocol to recognize and to communicate with peripherals. You may be better off using the parallled port. There are many simple designs exactly as you describe available. Just use a google search for parallel port a/d.
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ridCommented:
USB is for serial communication. If you want to measure/indicate or output a variable voltage you would need a different kind of interface. Some kind of Analog/Digital converter board comes to mind. These can be internal cards (often quite expensive) or external "pods" that connect to your parallel or serial port. I guess they will be available in USB flavour, too, as this interface is growing in popularity.
/RID
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ridCommented:
Take a look at:
http://www.picotech.com/

/RID
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stressguyCommented:
Personally i also think you would be better off using a parallel port.  I ahve actually worked with parallel ports before and created an interface to run stepper motors for a robotic arm.

Parllel ports are very easy to control, from low level languages or languages like pascal and QBasic.

The outputs are all +5V or 0V and the inputs should be the same.

I would also strongly suggest that you add a diode to each output.  Any stray current leaking back into an output pin, might seriously damage your parallel port and (if it is onboard) even your mobo.
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