Still staying away from Arduino, but I love their tutorials and shields

So in my research and to avoid making a bunch of new hardware that already exists, I have found that you can easily hack arduino shields and use them without any of the programmable features of the arduino.

Yes, I have hacked numerous arduino shields, but still have not purchased an actual arduino yet! There is a shield available for anything you can imagine, so you might want to check some of these out and learn from the tutorials before building a piece of hardware. Building is fun, but sometimes hacking is much faster than building and can result in getting a working prototype faster.

Anyways, these tutorials by Adafruit are really good and you should check them out.