Why build a CNC mill when you can have a chess robot instead?

[Patrick McCabe] enjoys the challenge of playing chess against the computer but he wasn’t satisfied with the flat experience of on-screen gaming. No problem, he just built his own gantry-style chess robot that he can play against. Don’t be confused, he still doesn’t have to touch the pieces, but instead uses the dedicated control board seen on the left of the image above. The robotic arm that is mounted on a gantry takes care of moves for both players.

It’s a pretty normal CNC build, using four stepper motors to slide the moving bits along precision rod. An Arduino Mega drives the system, with a PC doing the heavy lifting using a program called My Robot Lab.

We certainly like it that [Patrick] spent a little bit of time making the cabinet and visible parts look nice. Chess is a civilized game and unfinished parts would be out-of-place. We didn’t see it in his writeup, but the one feature we’re really hoping he has implemented is the ability to have the robot automatically reset the board at the beginning of a game.

As you might have guess, you’ll find embedded video after the break.

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BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

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