@Max.... I had just ordered a Picaxe Dev kit which was on special when I came to this column and read... "The PICAXE was a lot of fun, but it's too low-level for what I need."
"What have I done!!??" I thought, but compared to you I am a rank beginner in uC stuff, and I did a lot of BASIC programming some years ago, so the answer is probably "The right thing". Especially if it's fun.
How different is the PICAXE Basic from the old GWBasic or QBasic on PCs? Obviously there will be more port and bit handling commands, but apart from that?
@Caleb: I suggest you go through some basic tutorials on arduino.cc first. Then go to learn.adafruit.com and build some of those projects. That and tronixstuff's book. Also Exploring Arduino by Jeremy Blum.
@Adam: Love it, Max! That copter is inspiring, seems like my next project of choice!
Just today I got an update from the nanocopter Kickstarter project saying that they've achieved their first stretcg goal of $300,000 and that they are going to add a digital compass and barometer to the flight control board so the copter will be able to recognize its orientation and altitude.
As they say: "This will lead to a better flying experience for every backer and more possibilities and fun for the hackers."
Now they are heading onwards and upwards to additional stretch goals.