thanks for the link. i think this is getting a bit away from my original concept though. If there was a way that the ipod could interface with the arduino then i think it would be more attractive. The nice thing about the ipod touch is the compact touchscreen. a used ipod touch is about $150 and the components for the rest of the hardware (relay switch board, ir hardware, etc...) will probably cost me under $50. The primary function will be to play music with the ability to control the ballast system. With the arduino board; if i factor in the board, the lcd touchscreen (which is smaller then the ipod touch) and then the relay components... i think i'm looking at more then $400 ($200 for the board and $200 for the screen) plus having to have another device for music and not having it be as friendly as the ipod's music browser. At that point it may be worth while to go with the fusionbrain, fanless via board and a touchscreen.
edit... i dont know what i was looking at but i guess the arduino board is 30 bucks?
now if the link i posted above:
didn't require a pc to have the ipod talk to the arduino board... then we'd be in business