thinking about getting a pasta machine and wondering if i can get away with something for less than $50, as I don't see myself using it a ton but would still like to give it a try. do you all have any suggestions for what I should buy? thanks!
I have the Imperia which is $80, so a little more than you're looking for but definitely not too pricey. I love it, and my mom has had the same one for over 30 years: It holds up well and is really easy to use (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/imperia-pasta-machine/)
I also have Imperia ($80) and it has served me well... It does require manual work (as will any old-fashioned pasta machine), so be prepared. My friend has the pasta-making Kitchen Aid attachment and he swears by it.
While the KitchenAid does a fine job of rolling out dough, the cutters on the old hand cranked machines are way more useful.
My mom gave me her old pasta maker, no idea what brand but it looks similar to the Imperial. I would never have bought one because I didn't think I'd ever use it - but now, making fresh pasta (I freeze most of it) has become one of my favorite "rainy weekend" activities.
I would buy one from an Italian deli and ask their opinion.
I've become a fan of the KitchenAid attachment, having the rollers driven by the motor makes handling much easier than an manual crank machine.