Over the years I always felt some frustration find the required parts from a bin. Well organized parts bin is essential. MCU kit will be required for most projects, so get hold of your favourite one. ARM cortex-3 would be useful and cheap, STM discovery @ 10 bucks was good one. It will require some external interfacing to really use it. I built a board to have PWm's, sensors, drivers, QVGA, 2line LCD, USARTS etc etc. It allows quick and ever ready development for most prototypes.
Thanks for the well wishes. The trip went very well. I just wanted to give you an update that the list of PCB tools that I mentioned has been posted here in this blog post. Come take a read and let me know if I missed something that you were looking for.
Paul-I am glad that you found it useful. I do have a program as you indicated. I will be submitting a piece for the new PCB Design line here once I get back from my trip. In fact I am at the airport right now.
A good Digital scope will allow you to "see" digital streams, A/D steps and resolution. Also there is really no differentiation between digital and anlog signals since ALL digital signals have finite rise and fall times, ringing, etc. so when you get down to it all signals are analog.
Now there are special multi channel logic analyzers with built in I2C, SPI, CAN, and other serial protocol analyzers, but these come at a high cost if you REALLY want to see the analog component of the signals.