Deep Blue Costume




Introduction: Deep Blue Costume

Let me set the scene a bit: It's the summer of 1997 and World champion chess player Gary Kasparaov has been beaten in a six game match by two wins to one with three draws . But not by another man. A machine, built by men, has beaten him. IBM's Deep Blue could evaluate up 200 million positions per second, and capable of calculating 11.38 Gigaflops.

In honor of that stunning piece of engineering, I set out to make a suit, that, upon wearing it, I would be transformed into the most logical of logic machines ever built, a chess playing computer!

All that, using just a great big pile of these dinky things:

It is not a perfect replica, by any means; I took many artistic liberties. I was inspired by Deep Blue's portrayal in S2E20 of Futurama, Anthology of Interest. It is rather the stylized idea of Deep Blue, the pop culture impressions of a thinking machine trapped in a big black box.

I used almost exclusively surplus parts to make this thing, so it ended up only costing about 30 dollars. Otherwise though, this costume took quite a bit of work, and erm, it was a bit on the more cumbersome side. But whose else has a mainframe costume? Incidentally, it was so cumbersome that It took me about 15 minutes to shove my way from one side of First Avenue to the other, missing the costume contest registration by just a few minutes. Once there I promptly put it in the coat check so I could breathe.

The frame of the costume is the remains of several cardboard boxes spliced together with duct tape, and the "thinking" lights on the front are controlled by the innards of about 27 little electronic dice, all wired together in a monstrous chain. Another set of lights scrolls back and forth over the speaker grille sorta like KITT, making the AI presence ever clearer. I added a pair of intake/outtake fans so I could breathe ever so slightly better inside, and finally a voice changing box to speak in a robot voice and say great classic things like, "Pitiful creature of meat and bone," and "How about a nice game of chess."

"Not all problems can be solved by chess, Deep Blue. One day, you'll understand that. "
- Al Gore

Step 1: Oh Right, the Electronics.

We're already at step five sooo ... We must have covered all the hard parts, right? Oh. Yeah. Soldering.

This is the hard part. Or at least, the most grueling, horrible, and obscenely-underestimated-and-badly-planned-for part. This is the part where we go from 40 or so chintzy electronic dice to the greatest chess playing computer the world has ever seen.

We are talking ((27 dice x 7 LEDs each x 2 Leads) x 3 solders steps) = 1,134 solder joints.

And that's just for the LED step. It's doable. And totally worth it, though.

"This will only take a few hours, we'll just do that the day of Halloween." Bad idea. I recommend a couple weekends free for this part. And a lot of fresh air breaks for recovering from the solder fumes.

Incidentally, I did construct a rudimentary solder fume removal device out of an ac fan, copper tube, and some dryer ducting. It ran from my workstation to the oven vent. I recommend either that, or working outside. Seriously.

The pictures run through this step by step, but here's a summary of what needs to be done:

  • Disassemble all the dice. Remove the batteries and pzieo buzzer.
  • Mark the polarity and desolder the LEDs and the spring jiggle switch.
  • Solder wires to all the LEDs. I used purple for the marked side, and white to the other.
  • Resolder the newly elongated LEDS back on, matching polarity to the dots on the circuit board.
  • Resolder the battery cases.
  • Wire the left terminal of the switch on every circuit board to the left terminal on all the others, and repeat for the right terminal. They will form a long daisy chain, each on soldered to the next and the last item in the chain is the switch, wired the same way.
For comparison, here is how the dice start out (a huge pile of them chirping wildly):

And here is what they look like when I tested them all wired up for the first time:



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    Wow, that turned out so great! I'm thinking of making one from 1/4" plywood as a shell for my rack!

    Dude! Where did you get the Kraftwerk shirt! It's AWSOME! btw I never say dude, I think that may be the first time.

    1 reply

    Oh, wow. That is probably one of the nerdiest costumes I've ever seen. I Approve! :D

    4 replies

    no, an HEV suit would be the nerdiest

    Agreed lol. I have to throw in the comment though that if anyone besides me saw the documentary on how rigged this game was and why it was so hard for him to beat Deep Blue, even though it ended as a tie.

    I saw the documentary you are talking about, Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine, and I was both fascinated and disappointed. IT was really stilted and badly researched, yet it is to date the only documentary n Deep Blue that I know of. It doesn't answer any of the questions it raises with any depth and really said nothing at all for all its ambiguity.

    hah, thanks!

    It strikes me you could have used red LED Christmas lights if you could rig up some sort of portable power supply.

    That is truly amazing.

    What do you think, Deep Blue? -King to a-1 Not everything can be solved with chess, my computery friend.

    1 reply

    yay, someone who understands :D

    hey thanks!

    deep blue = todays gameboy