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Garden Solinoid controller (PIC) interfaced with USB on a PC

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Hi everyone/anyone,

I am new to PIC's... Basically the project I am in need of building is requires these following building blocks:
# 24VAC generator to drive the/each solinoid (8VA rating on each solinoid)
# USB or NIC Interface PIC controller capable to dealing with 12 relays
# Ability to scale add in modules as required ie. more relays, and some water sensors and a flow meter.

The location of this controller is away from mains power, so I have a spare 12V 18A battery which I have on a solar charger.
I plan also to build a web interface using PHP to control the Unit.

This project also falls into the scope of a future robotics project as it will be able to interface in with remote control capabilies (using wireless 802.11b) and an external web interface.

If you can assist me with circuit diagrams, ideas on what components I will require and general other help, I would be much appreciated.
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