Dave McCLain's "Lazy Man's Chessboard"
(view movie  <1.1M>)


A Lazy Man’s Chessboard

I. Basic Overview-
    This mechanism is connected to the serial port of a Macintosh computer, and its purpose is to move the pieces on the chessboard as the user enters where they want a piece to go.  Our task consists of constructing a mechanical “robot”, and, using Turbo Pascal, to program it in order to carry out a task, in my case it moves the pieces for you.  (Note:  This machine does not play chess against you, it only moves the pieces.)  My mechanism consists of three axis:  1) x-axis; moves the entire gantry.  2) y-axis; moves the forklift from left to right.  3) z-axis; moves the forklift up and down.  In addition, all of these axis have limits put on them, designated by the black switches.

II. Programming Aspect-
    The programming aspect of this project is rather intense.  Sending binary code out of the serial port runs the stepper motors; however, you have to be able to designate between each motor.  The theory is that if you send a continuous pattern of 9, 10, 6, 5 out of the serial port the designated motor will move in a continuous rotation.  In order to keep track of where the pieces are on the board, an 8 x 8 matrix was created.  If the user wants to take an opponent’s piece then the program has to know that the taken piece must be moved before the other piece can be put in its place.  Also, if a pawn makes it to the other end of the board, then the program must know that the user is allowed to exchange it for another piece.

III. Hardware Aspect-
    The serial port of the computer is connected to a black interface box, and then connected to a breadboard through an eight-pin connector.  This breadboard is wired for our specific projects, and consists of different connectors, wires, hex inverters, and peripheral drivers.  On the breadboard the binary from the computer has to be address-decoded so that the different motors can be “turned on” when they need to be.

IV. Conclusion-
    Once every part of the project is working and complete I will have successfully built a computer-controlled chess machine; which can be used by anyone who wishes to play chess against a friend and is too lazy  to move the pieces.  Think about it, who wouldn’t want a machine to move the chess pieces for the?  Think of it as just another convenience in life.