Looking for a simple cheap way to turn on and off multiple usb devices power via a computer program. How can i do this?

I am looking to use my computer to turn on and off   usb devices (like a LED light) via a computer program.  I know that USB devices have a constant five volts of power to their ports, and that the normal way to turn on or off a device is using a microcontroller board.  I've looked into buying such a board, but they are prohibitively expensive for my project (over $30) and require high level programming skills. I know a little Visual Basic programming and that is about it.  With usb devices so numerous and cheap, i am sure there must be a very cheap usb device that can be hacked.  Ideally, I'd like to be able to have the computer run timed on-off events and remotely control these over the web.  Any help would be great.

DarkRubyMoon (author) 7 years ago
I ended up ordering a circuit board called Motor-Bee from http://www.pc-control.co.uk/motorbee_info.htm .  It cost a little more than I wanted to pay, but it was much cheaper than any other circuit board I could find for USB control and it had the source code for modifying the program.  I really wanted to keep the control as a USB interface as my netbook does not have a serial port.
Honestly I would recomend using a print port relay board, chances are you are not using the printer port and it is cheap and easy to interface to it. 

http://www.epanorama.net/circuits/parallel_output.html
http://www.electronickits.com/kit/complete/elec/ck1601.htm

If you look around you can find a lot of printer port software that will let you control the on/off via a schedule, directly through a GUI or even remotely through a web interface.
gmxx7 years ago
i would say that the best way is one of the breadboardable versions of the arduino.

if you are really good, an ftdi chip and a mcu
lemonie7 years ago
I'm not sure you can cut the 5V supply, data maybe. How about trying the serial port (search for it, including your preferred method of control, e.g. vbs / DOS)

L