I joined up a while ago and hail from the PIC side of mcu's but decided to migrate to AVR for many reasons including AVRStudio, pin compatibility, and a very well designed and helpful forum.
My project is to make a control panel for my CNC machine that requires somewhere in the range of 22+ buttons with about 10 having toggle led's and depending on how far I want to go I have a nice 4x40 character LCD I would love to integrate later on.
My goal is to have the device recognized as a USB HID so that I can easily write a wrapper with my CNC's API or even use their generic USB keymapping program.
Since my design requires quite a few pins (40+) Im probably going to be using a TQFP package but have no idea what mcu to choose, I don't need any special features just a nutload of IO. having built in USB and the ability for a bootloader is an added bonus but I can always use an FTDI usb chip and the 109 bootloader.
To save pins I have an idea of using spi/i2c port ex panders for input and then multiplexing the status led's. LCD would be driven off the mcu directly.
My current hardware includes an ATMega16 and STK200 programmer clone. What do you recommend I get as far as programmers, a range of good mcu's to play with and specifically what mcu meet my goals in an all in one package fashion.