Though neural-net head Scott McCormick is a rocket scientist, you don't have to be one to try trading with this form of artificial intelligence.

McCormick and Daniel Ervi, a Canadian computer programmer and investor, created a Web site called

Neural101.com that serves as a portal for neural-net head traders. On it you'll find links to discussion groups and primers for newcomers.

Some off-the-shelf neural software programs can make neural-net programming about as easy as, well, filling out your income taxes. At least you don't have to worry about how the programs work to use them. Just point and click on the variables you want to consider, and the programs get going.

A good entry-level program might be

BrainMaker ($195 to $1,000) from

California Scientific Software

. McCormick uses a package called

NeuroShell Trader from

Ward Systems

(prices start at $1,000). Another leading neural-net program is

BioComp Profit 2000 ($795 and up). You can download a demo from the Web site.

Cheaper neural nets can be found all over the Web, though these versions might not be as user friendly. Check out

NeuroStock. Prices for the shareware program, which you can download from the site, start at $50. You'll find lots more neural shareware and freeware programs at the Web site for the government-run

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Even if you go with a free program, you'll need to download historical prices and end-of-day data to make it work.

Commodity Systems, Inc. ($19 a month),

QuotesPlus ($25 a month) and

Reuters DataLink ($65 a month) are three data services that Neural101.com lists on its site. Whatever provider you go with, be forewarned: Sometimes configuring this data to work seamlessly with your program is the hardest aspect of working with neural nets.