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A follow up from James, he writes in –

Thank you for putting up the link to the PC controller article. I’ve published part two now, which is to link two microcontrollers with each other using the internet for under $20. It has been a work in progress for the last few months and actually started with a question someone posted on the Make forum where they wanted to control their home thermostat from work.

Microcontroller link for under $20 – Link.

Related:
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Control real world devices with your PC – Link.