I have over the past years had some trouble with various usb based interfaces. in my experience they some times don’t connect properly.
besides this it is some times more convenient to be able to use cable lengths up to 100m.
I know of the make controller http://makezine.com/controller/ that does network but that project seems a bit dead, at least I rarely hear anything about it.
It worked well when I used it some years ago, but I am a bit in doubt about if it is the best choice but that might be down to me getting an in between version and not the application board along with it
Does anyone have know of other projects that are similar. or perhaps even a box with connectors on it.
I highly reccomend http://ucapps.de aka MIDIBox the new 32bit Core needs and extra module to have ethernet, while he forthcoming LPC17 will have it embedded.
Simple C coding with lots of example and a full featured tool chain
if you are more in DIY idea, i will release soon an arduino patch to send data over network in artnet protocol from arduino+ethernet shiekd. simple to plug and play once configured.
even you can stay on your old interface by replugging in arduino faders, knobs, and buttons.
I know a guy that built a fuzzy logic C02 controller (for greenhouses) on that make board. He never got his server portion working though…
what do you want to control? That make controller seems a little much unless you are going to store a bunch of chase sequences and cues directly in memory on chip (instead of feeding instruction packets to device to carry out).
You could use an arduino with a ethernet shield or use an older arduino with rs232 control (which I prefer over any with the FDTI serial to USB chip - note Uno is good usb)
Personally I steer clear of PIC based micros these days. The instruction set on AVR can do more with less, as well as the classic timing example : PIC executes one instruction every 4 clock cycles, AVR 1:1 (with a few macros that count as exceptions).
depending on how much 0xDEADBEEF you need to chew on, you could go for some of the ARM proto boards around these days like the bealgeboard, pandaboard, eagleboard, etc…