I’ve had this idea for nearly a year now that the version of chess in the Harry Potter series should be made a reality. I knew that due to my inexperience of using the Raspberry Pi and my lack of knowledge about the game of chess or electronics, this project was going to be challenging project but I still felt that it was something that could be achieved using the contacts and resources I had at my disposal. I’ve been meaning to find a reason to fully complete this project, I thought that my A Level coursework would be the best excuse to make this idea a reality.
After some browsing of the internet, looking at various robotic contraptions used to make a similar system through the years, I decided to base my main system on the system found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Arduino-Powered-Chess-Playing-Robo/#step0 I felt that this was as similar to the initial idea I had considered. Thankfully, the website gave instructions on how to construct the system which meant less planning for me, which is always good for the time constraints of A Level coursework.
The main issue was my lack of ability to play or understand the game of chess. I felt that the best way to program the rules and the game would be to learn the legal moves of each piece and to code them into the system straight away enabling me to program the coursework without having to waste the time learning all the rules of chess prior to programming the legal moves and the game.
After programming the game, the next task was to build the chess board. I used two 28BYJ-48 stepper motors, along with a 4tronix PiStep board in order to move the framework which consisted of: three drawer runners, gears and racks, various pieces of wood of various sizes along with an electromagnet controlled using a relay module and an external power supply. I put the main framework together pretty much the same way as is outlines on the previous link (so I don’t want to type out the method again, mainly because I’m lazy). Due mainly to my incapability at measuring, the electromagnet was put lower into the casing of the top stepper motor than the original instructions. Below are some of the development photos.
After fully assembling the framework, the last physical elements of the system were the magnetic chess pieces and the board for the game. The chess pieces I manage to pick up from a charity shop for a small amount of money, considering the lack of funds for the whole of the project. The board was thankfully laser cut by the technology department at school, meaning that it was done to a decent standard for free.
After piecing all the physical pieces together, the very last part of the project was to the program in the physical moving of the pieces including configuring the motors to each square on the board. Apart from take a long time I had very few programming issues along the way. Once the full configuration and the motor movements had been coded in the game can be played to a certain extent.
Although this is as far as this project has reached, mainly due to lack of funds and time due to my looming exams, I plan to continue working on the project to improve it to make it as best as it can be. The main issue at the moment is the lack of the ability to move pieces around other pieces on the board. Currently, if you’re moving a knight, all pieces in the way of the moving piece have to be moved by hand. I hope to either make the system move pieces out the way or move around the pieces already on the board. I also hope to include the ability to input moves through the use of a microphone meaning that it could become more like the desired Wizard Chess from Harry Potter which I hope it could become.
Below I’ve linked the YouTube playlist which is updated with all the latest videos from the development of the system.
All in all, I’m pleased with how far it has come in such a small amount of time which I’ve spent on the property. I’d like to make a special thanks to Ed for helping me with the electronics side of the project which I’d never encountered before.