Okay, so a few years back I bought the PICKit 1 Flash Starter Kit for 8-bit PIC programming.
Usb interface. Programs 8 and 14-pin PICs with flash. Now of course the 32-bit version is even cheaper, but it is still a neat board. www.microchip.com
I had used it to build an antenna tuner. I used Sony stereo remote to drive a motor back and forth; this would turn the VHF ring on my rabbit ears. It didn't work well, but it was fun to try.
I need to get back to basics so I will be trying some simple circuits:
anything else to justify my $50 purchase so many years back.