Basically what I want to is send an IR signal from a computer to an IR receiver in a box about 2-3 feet away. (yes, it has to be IR.) Once the receiver gets the signal, it needs to turn on one of five small motors for, oh, 500msec, (each of which take in ~1.5-3v) depending on which of 5 signals is sent to it.
Now there are several parts to this:
1. Sending the IR signal
This transmitter must send data at least 2 feet, up to 5. (Shouldn't be an issue, I think). I'll need to control it via USB. I've found two:
http://adafruit.com/products/387 - a cheap ($.75) IR LED. However, I'm not sure if one of these can send multiple signals.
I can't post more than 2 links, so search Amazon for Syba SD-U1IRDA-NM USB Fast Infra-Red Adapter - a more expensive ($12) IR adapter. One of the pros of this is that it already has a USB port.
2. Receiving the IR signal
The receiver must be fairly small (maybe up to a max of 2 cubic cm). So far I've found one:
http://www.adafruit.com/products/157 - only $1.95. It's small, seems like it'd work, is cheap, etc. If there are any problems with using it, I'd love to know.
3. Processing the IR signal & doing stuff
Now, something needs to move the motors. I'm guessing a PIC (not sure which one, please suggest one) since they're cheap, popular, and a relative gave me a PIC programmer, circa 2006 (I assume this doesn't matter), for last xmas (she had no clue what it was - but someone told her it was a good present for a programmer)
This is the area I'm most fuzzy on. I guess that I'd somehow connect power to two legs of the sensor, connect the third leg to part of the PIC, have the PIC run some simple code to figure out which of the 5 signals it received, and then turn on power for one the 5 motors, turning it off ~500msec (in no way has to be precise) later.
tl;dr: Which, if any, PIC should I buy? Which IR transmitter works? Does this IR receiver work? How do I program the PIC and how should I wire it to control the motors?