[Tony] sent in a Nixie tube chess set he’s been working on, and we’re just floored with the quality of this build. The chess pieces glow without any visible wires, the board is extremely elegant with touches of gilding and brass, and extremely well designed using (mostly) materials and components contemporary to the old Russian Nixie tubes.
Instead of numeric Nixies, [Tony] chose IN-7 and IN-7A tubes originally made to display scientific symbols such as A, V, and ~. To power the these tubes, [Tony] used 64 air-core transformers underneath each square on the chess board, allowing these Nixie tubes to be powered just like an induction charger.
Even though his blog posts are a little thin on details, we’ve got to hand it to [Tony] for an amazing build. He says there will be a kit available that includes a gigantic PCB, but we wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how much that will cost.
You can check out a pair of videos of the Nixie chess set in action after the break.
Continue reading “How about a nice game of Nixie chess?”
[tinkartank] wrote in to tell us about the chess board step sequencer he built. It’s a great piece of work that combines the wonderful classical erudition a set of chess pieces confers with modern technological musical equipment such as a monome.
The build began by routing small holes underneath each square and fitting very small and fragile reed switches. Sixty four of these switches are wired into rows and columns then attached to the digital inputs of an Arduino Mega. To close these reed switches, magnets are implanted into the base of each chess piece so whenever a piece is on the board is moved a circuit closes.
On the control side of things, [tinkartank] built a very nice control panel to change the key being played*, the tempo, an ‘arpeggio dial,’ number of steps, and if there is a whole or half step in between notes. With this control panel, [tinkartank] can play just about any scale.
How does it sound? Well, the Arduino Mega outputs MIDI so realistically it can sound like anything imaginable. From the video demo (available after the break), we really like the interface and a reed switch array chess board is slowly climbing up our ‘to build’ list, if only for all the cool stuff you can do with one.
Continue reading “Chess board step sequencer”
[Matias] is just getting into hobby electronics and decided to push the limits of his skill by building this game clock. He comes from a software design background and that really shows through in the UI design seen in the video after the break. We enjoy the journey through his prototyping process which started with an Arduino and a breadboard, and ended with this standalone timer.
After building the first working prototype with four buttons and a character LCD, he migrated to a plastic ice cream container as an enclosure. This worked well enough, but the flimsy case needed an upgrade. As he looked toward the next version he decided to move to an Arduino Nano board to save on space. The rest of the components were soldered to some protoboard, with a pair of pin headers to receive the Nano. The finished board is the same length as the Nano and only about twice as wide.
The box was modeled on the computer (it looks like SketchUp to us be we could be wrong) then cut from pieces of Masonite. It hosts the character LCD with a pair of arcade buttons for each player to shift the time burden to his or her opponent. The middle button pauses the game, and there’s a trimpot on the back to adjust the screen contrast. [Matias] managed to include a surprising number of settings which will make this little box useful for a wide range of game types.
Continue reading “Building a game clock for Go or Chess”
Need some gears? Got a timing belt?
[filespace] sent in a neat build he stumbled upon: making gears with plywood and a timing belt. Just cut out a plywood disk and glue on a section of timing belt. There’s some math involved in getting all the teeth evenly placed around the perimeter, but nothing too bad. Also useful for wheels, we think.
Huge chess sets are cool, right up until you try to figure out where to store the pieces when they’re not being used. [Jayefuu] came up with a neat solution to this problem. His pieces are cut out of coroplast (that corrugated plastic stuff political campaign signs are made of), making it relatively inexpensive and just as fun as normal giant chess pieces on a tile floor.
<INSERT MARGINALLY RELEVANT PORTAL QUOTE HERE>
[Randy]’s son is in the cub scouts. Being the awesome father he is, [Randy] helped out with this year’s pinewood derby build. It’s a car shaped like a portal gun with the obligatory color-changing LED. The car won the ‘Can’t get more awesome’ award, but wheel misalignment kicked it out of the competition during qualifying rounds. Sad, that. Still awesome, though.
These people are giving you tools for free
Caltech professor [Yaser Abu-Mostafa] is teaching a Machine Learning class this semester. You can take this class as well, even if the second lecture started last Thursday.
Turning an Arduino into a speech synthesizer
[AlanFromJapan] sent in this product page for an Arduino-powered speech synthesizer. We’re probably looking at a relabeled ATmega328 with custom firmware here; to use it, you replace the micro in your Arduino Uno with this chip. The chip goes for about $10 USD here, so we’ll give it a week until someone has this proprietary firmware up on the Internet. There are English morphemes that aren’t in Japanese, so you can’t just ‘type in English’ and have it work. Here’s a video.
Six things in this links post. We’re feeling generous.
What would you build if you had a laser cutter? [Doug Miller] made a real, working fishing reel. No build log or files, but here’s a nice picture.
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.
Continue reading “Board games over IP means telepresence chess”
[Arthur Benemann] started a little project for his electrical engineering program, and suffered the worst case of feature creep we’ve ever seen. He just posted an instructable of his picChess project that is able to play chess on a VGA monitor with a keyboard, with sound, a clock, temperature sensor. Apparently, [Arthur] was bored one evening and threw in an implementation of Conway’s game of life.
[Arthur] chose a DSPIC33F μC for his project with everything laid out on a bread board. He’s quite proud of his VGA routine, the first time he’s ever used DMA. We’re really impressed by [Arthur]’s chess engine – his is the first homebrew chess engine we’ve seen on Hack A Day. Although the engine is a brute-force search with Alpha-beta pruning, the engine itself seems fairly advanced that will even supports castling.
Although a few rules aren’t supported and the ELO rating of the engine isn’t known, [Arthur]’s engine should still be able to beat an amateur player. A fairly impressive feat indeed.
Check out [Arthur]’s video after the break.
Continue reading “Playing chess on a microcontroller”
You can get class credit for the coolest things these days. Take for instance, this Automatic Chessboard that [Brian] and [James] built for the final project in one of their classes this spring. We just looked at a robotic chess setup on Monday that used a gripper mounted on a gantry to move the pieces. This one’s a lot more user-friendly and borders on magical. That’s because the moving parts are all located below the board and could be hidden from view if a proper case were built around the edges.
There are two main components to this build. The first is a grid of reed switches that detect the moves made by a human. This works because each piece the human player uses has a weak magnet glued to the bottom which is just strong enough to actuate the reed switch and let the computer sense what move was just made. On the robotic side of things this works like a plotter. Each of the computer’s pieces has a metallic disc glued to the base. What basically amounts to a plotter under the board uses rare-earth magnets to grab the computer’s piece and drag it to the next playing position.
The use of two separate magnetic systems provides some interesting design challenges. You can see the device in action in the video after the break, and a full writeup and source code package is available at the blog linked at the top of this feature. But for your convenience we’ve also mirrored the PDF whitepaper after the break which lays bare all of the juicy details.
Continue reading “Automated chess set does it from below”