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Board games over IP means telepresence chess

Correspondence chess, or playing a game of chess via email or snail mail, is well-known in the chess community. [FunGowRightNow] thought he could bring correspondence chess into the 21st century, so he built two robotic chess boards that communicate over the Internet. The end result makes for an awesome senior project for school.

Instead of a simple monitor displaying the other player’s moves (and having to manually move both black and white pieces), the positions of all the pieces are controlled via a laptop an Arduino underneath each board. An electromagnet mounted on an xy frame moves one piece at a time. To detect the positions of the pieces, an 8×8 grid of reed switches open and close with magnets put in the base of each piece. The end result is a nearly seamless chess game that can be played by two people separated by hundreds of miles.

Right now, all we have are a few videos and the descriptions of the inner machinations of the chessbots. [FunGow] promised the Internet design specs after he turns this in as his senior project on April 10th. Until then, you can enjoy a few of the videos he’s posted after the break.

via reddit

Comments

  1. healthy says:

    i tried to do something similar back in college and man i wish i knew what i did now (and had an aduino). it used a servo with an arm moving a magnet to engage pieces, and a keypad on the front so that you could type in the corresponding move (and your own as well)

    we were a team of mechanical engineering students so none of us had the programming chops to code the entire chess ruleset (valid/invalid move etc) or network the input stage. it ended up just being a proof of concept that was well received. (since we didn’t have reed switches under the board we ended up making the play surface out of clear acrylic with painted squares on the under-surface. visually i thought it was pretty cool)

    good work to the builder here, i’d actually really love this kind of device in my home. (and one at a distant friend’s)

  2. Gragg says:

    Awesome! I had this idea, but never got as far as building it. Don’t have the mechanical skill for an xy table that big. It could also be used to play against an ai, or hook it up to voice commands and you have wizards’ chess.

    • bd96 says:

      Same, got as far as a BOM even, but no table saw/router/etc. Hooking it up to an AI was also on my list. The fun really starts when you hook it up to an AI without telling the human player.

  3. Gragg says:

    I couldn’t tell if the z axis actually moves up into position or if it is a strong electromagnet of some kind. I’m surprised it gets such a good hold on the piece with all of those reed switched in the way.

  4. Praetor says:

    Now this is worth playing correspondence chess…cool.

  5. There’s also the issue of moving pieces out of the way which might be needed when moving a knight. I’m sure this is a solved problem because I know commercial self-moving chess machines exist, but I’m not sure if algorithms have been published on how to do it.

    • oxplot says:

      The way the captured pieces were moved out (by bringing them on the edge of tiles) should work for moving the knight as well. Of course, you need to have big tiles and small pieces so they can fit tightly near one another.

    • mark g says:

      If you watch the video, you’ll see the knight seems to have no problem sliding between. I would assume this was a consideration with the design of the board and the size of pieces.

    • From the comments in the reddit thread, the pieces were specifically chosen for their size. They’re small enough that other pieces can fit between them if they move along the lines in the chessboard grid.

  6. Alex Rossie says:

    Pretty epic would be nice if you could play against a mechanical board using the web interface.

    Just wanted to point out that tele-chess is all about the wait in my opinion.

    • Noshius says:

      I agree, the thing I love about correspondence chess is the fact that I can have hours or days to consider my move without annoying my opponent.

      That being said, this is completely awesome and extremely impressive! I would much rather use something like this than a computer screen. I would appreciate some sort of indicator of whose turn it is, though.

  7. fartface says:

    I built one of these in college but used LED’s on the board.

    Blinking red for the piece and solid red for destination. magnets in the base of the pieces and tiny reed switches under each square to detect that the piece was moved and send back a verification.

    Now I would do things different.

  8. austin says:

    i had an idea for this back in 6th grade but alas i never got around to it…pretty much works the same way as described here. (though many revisions were used for taking pieces from a mechanical shoot and that part of the grid opening to drop the taken piece to plotting a course to the out area and having other pieces on the board get out of the way as the piece marches its happy ass over there)

  9. vbpulse9 says:

    Great Project! how can you do a reed switch matrix and detect the pieces :O? i was trying to do one, but it looks very impossible to me =S, thanks!

  10. Jeff G. says:

    Hey,

    I am one of the guys working on that project. The laptop isn’t under the board, it is an arduino that does all the hardware control. The laptop connects via USB to the ardunio where all the game logic is controlled.

  11. Alex says:

    I have wanted to do this for years, but with backgammon which has the added complexity of multiple pieces per fork / space…

  12. mkay says:

    Don’t know where these guys hide their time machine. Just setting up the reed matrix and the servo would be a real PITA.

  13. Anon says:

    Should have designated parking spots for the pieces that are captured – that way the magnet system can reset the pieces for you when the game is over.

  14. fastfourier666 says:

    Next: animatronic battlechess…

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