I need a number of digital outputs to connect my computer to the real world, however it seems that this job is not nearly as easy as I had hoped.
I've looked into a number of different methods, ranging from dedicated digital I/O cards, micro controllers with USB interfaces, serial ports, parallel ports, ect. However all of the solutions seem to be either too expensive, too much work, or the technology is too dated.
I hope to have 64+ digital outputs running at approximately 1khz each, individually controllable. So far the best idea I can come up with is sticking the outputs of a serial port to an 8-bit serial to parallel shift register and sending chars down the serial connection whenever I wish to change and output (run from a USB to serial port adaptor). I haven't tested this yet so i don't know if it will work.
Is there any other quick and dirty method of getting a fairly large number of inexpensive digital outputs from the computer of which I can easy control with very basic C++ commands?