I've always been interested in hobby robotics, having built some basic stuff like RC cars and Mindstorms walkers and such. On another note, I'm an extremely avid paintballer. The owners of my local field have hit on this and have tasked me with building a turret of some sort for use in their big scenario games.
So, here's what I would like to build. The base would be a pretty simple turret-rotation and pitch control. The markers attached to it would all be either electrically-assisted mechanicals or electro-pneumatics, meaning I could trigger them with some sort of simple on/off switch controlled by a button. The turret would have to move a pretty considerable weight-to be safe, 50 pounds is a pretty reasonable estimate (4 Tippmann A-5 markers
(3.5 pounds each) with Flatline Barrels
(Probably 1 pound each). Gas would be provided likely 3200-psi scuba tanks (Yes, paintball markers will run off of one), with remote lines connected to them. Probably an extra 4 pounds of weight added by remote lines and paint. Plus, the weight of the base itself.
So, what I would like to find is a controller that can work with a basic serial joystick. The Phidgets Mini Joystick Controller
is almost exactly what I need, although I'd like to be able to attach a full-sized joystick to it, and I'm not sure if it can control the 2 stepper motors I need to power it. The second thing is obviously two stepper motors capable of moving this much weight. And, finally, I need 4 on/off switches for the markers themselves.
Being the pretty-much-complete newbie I am to this sort of work, where should I start looking for this project. I'd like to stick to pre-built controllers, but I can do some programming (I do some programming in C, and will be learning Java next year. I'm in a combined business and computer science program at university, if anybody cares).