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Building a custom USB device

Hi there,

I'm looking for advice on how to convert a circuit like this:
http://www.tip2tail.co.uk/lpt_diag.gif

To a USB device from Parallel (LPT).  Does anyone know either how to do something similar to this (see below) or where I can learn about building USB devices (BEGINNERS GUIDES!!)

The circuit would:

Not need to use the same chip etc - all new components for desired function.
Need to be able to have more or less lanes & lights - up to a combined max of 8 - ie 4 lanes and 4 lights or 5 and 2 respectively etc.
The lane sensors will always be Light sensors, light source seperate.  The device would need to signal the computer saying what sensor had stopped getting light each time for when the motor car passes.  This is for a model car race track lap timer and control system.
Finally, the system would need to be able to switch the 12v on or off programatically.

I want to do all this in C# too!

HELLLLLLP!

thanks,

Mark
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t2tmark
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t2tmark
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d-glitchCommented:
Not a real easy home project, but there are a couple of ways to go.

You can get a USB interface chip from Future Technology.  It is about $20.  You get the PC drivers, but you would still need some sort of uC on the real world side.

     http://www.ftdichip.com/Products/FT245BM.htm


You can also get a PIC uC with USB connectivity built in for about $5.  The demo board for this chip is $125.  I have one and I poked at it.  But I still have a ways to go.

     http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1335&dDocName=en010280
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d-glitchCommented:
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d-glitchCommented:
And finally, a little USB module for hobbyists, that can handle 8 I/O lines for $33.
It uses the Future Technology Chip from my first post.  There are drivers available.

You can control a 12V Power Supply with a MOSFET or a solid state relay:

     http://www.crydom.com/products/productFamily.aspx?id=21
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d-glitchCommented:
Sorry.  I forgot the link in my last post.  

The USB Plug and Play Parallel 8-Bit FIFO Module from HobbyEngineering is $33.

               http://www.hobbyengineering.com/H1517.html
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