Print Chess Pieces, Then Defeat The Chess-Playing Printer

Chess is undoubtedly a game of the mind. Sadly, some of the nuances are lost when you play on a computer screen. When a game is tactile, it carries a different gravity. Look at a poker player shuffling chips, and you’ll see that when a physical object is on the line, you play for keeps. [Matou], who is no stranger to 3D printing, wanted that tactility, but he didn’t stop at 3D printed pieces. He made parts to transform his Creality Ender 3 Pro into a chess-playing robot.

To convert his printer, [Matou] designed a kit that fits over the print head to turn a hotend into a cool gripper. The extruder motor now pulls a string to close the claw, which is a darn clever way to repurpose the mechanism. A webcam watches the action, while machine vision determines what the player is doing, then queries a chess AI, and sends the next move to OctoPrint on a connected RasPi. If two people had similar setups, it should be no trouble to play tactile chess from opposite ends of the globe.

Physical chess pieces and computers have mixed for a while and probably claimed equal time for design and gameplay. There are a couple of approaches to automating movement from lifting like [Matou], or you can keep them in contact with the board and move them from below.

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Lonely? Build Yourself A Chess Robot!

[Oriol Galceran] has constructed an interesting robotic chess player for his end of school project. It’s called the ChessM8, and is an impressive feat considering [Oriol] is only 17!  He’s using an Arduino Mega that connects to the host PC via a Python script.

The AI can be any chess engine that uses the Universal Chess Interface protocol, which [Oriol] points out that most of them do.  We’ve seen other chess robots here before, along with others that you can play on your wall and uses Nixie Tubes. But [Oriol’s] build is the largest of them all.

He says there’s a network of REED switches under the chess board to detect when a piece is present or not. It would be interesting to know how he dealt with debouncing issues, and if Hall Effect sensors might have been a better choice. Let us know in the comments how you would detect the chess piece.

And be sure to check out the video below to see the chess robot in action.

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Tiny Chess Playing Computer

We have covered many chess computers in the past, but we think this might just be the smallest. Enter the PIC Blitz: A tiny low-cost low-power computer that can play lightning chess.

It’s based on a PIC16F628A microcontroller, which only has 3.5kbytes of flash and a mere 224 bytes of RAM. For comparison, Boris (one of the first consumer chess computers), utilized an 8-bit microprocessor with 2.5 kbytes of ROM and 256 bytes of RAM.

PIC Blitz has a full fledged chess library: it knows all the moves, all the basic openings and even changes its evaluation function weights as the game progresses to keep the game interesting. The creator [Mark Owen] quips about some of the additional techniques he utilized to make up for the limited processing power; including “pondering time”, a difficult and slow user interface, and of course, a barely-comprehensible LCD.

If you’re interested he has released the files under Creative Commons, and has a link to the PCB layout on the project page – we won’t link it directly though, since it goes straight to a download.

[Thanks Martin!]