Chess Computers Improve Since 90s

The AlphaGo computer has been in the news recently for beating the top Go player in the world in four out of fiveĀ games. This evolution in computing is a giant leap from the 90s when computers were still struggling to beat humans at chess. The landscape has indeed changed, as [Folkert] shows us with his chess computer based on a Raspberry Pi 3 and (by his own admission) too many LEDs.

The entire build is housed inside a chess board with real pieces (presumably to aid the human player) and an LED on every square. When the human makes a move, he or she inputs it into the computer via a small touch screen display. After that, the computer makes a move, indicated by lighting up the LEDs on the board and printing the move on the display. The Raspberry Pi is running the embla chess program, which has an Elo strength of about 1600.

While the computer isn’t quite powerful enough to beat Magnus Carlsen, we can only imagine how much better computers will be in the future. After all, this credit-card sized computer is doing what supercomputers did only a few decades ago. With enough Raspberry Pis, you might even be able to beat a grandmaster with your chess computer. Computer power aside, think of the advancements in fabrication technology (and access to it) which would have made this mechanical build a wonder back in the 90s too.

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MP3 player barely larger than an SD card

If your board fabrication and soldering skills are up to it, you can make your own tiny MP3 player. This rendition is just about half again as large as a standard SD card, whose slot is on the bottom of the board seen above. The heavy lifting is taken care of by a VS1011 MP3 decoder which also has its own stereo headphone driver on-chip. There’s no display and it seems that most of the 4k of program memory on the PIC 18LF88 is being used. Too bad, we’d love to take this to the next level, attaching it to the head unit in a car and spoofing the communications as if this were a CD changer.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Homemade music player

Sadly, this pocket mp3 wav player doesn’t come close to the capabilities of even an iPod generation 1 yet, but you have to give [Owen] props for making it in less than 24 hours. The system consists of a Propeller MCU (cleverly wired to be swappable with “shields” similar to Arduino systems), SD card for song storage, and an LM386 for audio. While the setup is a little dull, and only plays through songs non stop with no controls whatsoever, it certainly is a good start in the right direction for a cheap and simple portable music player. Of course some planned changes are in the works, include an accelerometer (gesture based controls?), etched PCB, docking station, and a case. We’re surprised there is no form of screen planned, considering Owen appears to have a rather good handle on touch interfaces; perhaps he’s waiting for revision 3.