The Arduino is a great little micro-controller. Originally developed in Italy, ir became sort of an open source project. You can get just the micro-controller themselves are you can get a pre-fabricated setup with the needed interfaces and simple connections. Such brand names are Arduino uno, Osepp uno, and a host of others. I have both the microcontrollers themselves and the Osepp uno. You can make everything from a simple light blinker to a robot. Only your imagination is your limitation. Hopefully we will give you something to start with.
The arduino has the ability to digitally turn things on or off, Check digitally whether something is on or off, and it can measure low analog voltages. That means you can use it for home automation, science projects, automatic plant watering system
, an autonomous vehicle
, or laser harp
and a host of other uses. Traditionally you could do this with a computer, but for the inexperienced that can be daunting.
Note: I have it working on Fedora 16 and 17 also.
Seeed now is carrying arduino products at a more resonable price for the daughteroards. Bought the Seeed ethernet adapter and it works on both the arduino and the osepps boards also.
Added information about using the Nexus 7 as a terminal.