Instructables
Picture of LED Chess Set - Simple Version
Tetranitrate previously posted an excellent instructable on how to make an LED chess set here:

http://www.instructables.com/id/LED-Chess-Set/

I found it through BoingBoing, but couldn't be bothered making one that looked so flash. I just wanted one to work, quick and easy. So all credit to Tetranitrate for the concept and what follows is a quick and easy solution to get a 'similar' result.

This Instructable shows you how to turn a glass chess set into one with glowing pieces that go out when you take them off the chess board.

It uses:

40 LEDs $7.50 Australia (I love Jaycar - electronics supplier)
a resistor or two Free from junk
some copper wire 2m maybe. Free from junk
glue - I used Crystal Clear Araldyte $17.00 or so. Have heaps left.
a glass chess set $5.00 from toy store
Unwanted phone charger Free from Junk - if you don't have one, a friend will.
Solder Free from around

If you have glue, the rest should be less than $15

Tools:
Soldering Iron (can manage without)
Pliers for twisting wire
Knife for stripping wire
Something to cut wire with

Some soldering is required but if you can't, you could still get a working one by just twisting the wire.

Took me about 4 hours to assemble.
 
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Step 1: Get some copper wire

Picture of Get some copper wire
You need strands of copper wire that are twice as long as the length of your chess board plus a little for twisting the ends together.

I got mine by using a cutter knife to slice the edge off some electrical cable and then peel the plastic off to expose the wire.

I then pulled the wire out of the plastic.

Wrapped it around the chess board with about 3cm/1 inch going past the edge of the chess board. I did this to get the correct length.

Cut the wire at the desired length. Remove it from around the chess board and separate the wire into strands. You will need 16 strands of copper wire. The stuff I used had strands about the same thickness as wire in a (twistem, bread tie, freezer bag wire).

Not trying to troll, but it's surprising how many chessboards are not set up properly. Please google and show us the right way.

alhowell134 years ago
The colours do mean stuff! it means how much resistence the resistor has. your lucky you didt blow your LED's
... and learn about grammar. Plural of dog =dogs, Plural of LED = LEDs. Leave out the apostrophes and you will look both learned and literate.
I think u got to the wrong place, it's a chess instructable, not a grammar course.. -.-"

For grammar go to ==> www.learngrammar.com !
I know that this is not a grammar course, BUT good grammar and good spelling help a reader to understand the instructable more easily.
eltimbalino (author)  bobster5804 years ago
Hi Bobster580, Not sure why you bother commenting on the grammar of a commenter, but if there is a page on my instructions where I've used poor grammar (excuse the Australian spelling though) please let me know so I can fix it. You might like to know there is an instructables group called LED's (sic).
eltimbalino (author)  alhowell134 years ago
Hi alhowell13, Yes, the little thin stripes are code for resistance values, but I was referring to the backgroud colour that covers the whole resistor. If that background colour can effect this project working, please reply with advice for makers.
alhowell134 years ago
you seriously need to learn about electronics.
eltimbalino (author)  alhowell134 years ago
alhowell13, you are so right. I built my own 2 stage bass amp from a Jaycar kit with thousands of little coloured bits. The instructions assumed that by looking at the circuit diagram I would have just known it was DC (which means direct current current). Well I plugged AC into it (which is the other one) and blew one of the boards up. I had to pull out all the bits that had turned brown and put matching ones back in. Got it working though. So yeah, if there is stuff that I have left out or if you have any suggestions to make this instructable easier to follow, please jump right in and add them via comments. Appreaciated.
Now, we need to hook a microcontroller up to the board and a couple sensors to tell which piece is where, multiplex the board and have it change the piece colour based on threat to the paticular piece :) would be a great training board then.
goethes6 years ago
Hi,here's my red and yellow version, tribute the national flag of CHINA,my motherland. I use a 3V CR2032 and no resistor, and the yellow LEDs dim when red ones being on the chess board, not good. BTW, the red king and queen are misplaced...
IMG_0165.jpg
eltimbalino (author)  goethes5 years ago
Hey Goethes, Thanks for putting the photo up here. It looks really good. I can see what you mean about the yellow ones. You may find that the read ones have a lot less resistance than the yellow ones. Putting a resistor in the red ones may help. You could just do one or two red ones with resistors and see what it does. It should go like this with the ---- meaning wire:



So that they just make a line with a bit of wire at each end just like the LED has to start with. I don't think it makes any difference which leg or what direction the resistor faces.
really appreciate the advice, thx!
I'm just trying to get some things straight in my head. I have a power supply that is 3V, 300 mA. If I use 32 LED's that have a forward voltage of 3V, would this be enough? The LED's I had planned on using come out of a christmas light set, so I'm not positive on their specs. At 3V, 9mA I got a nice amount of light out of one. I know a rule of thumb is 20mA per LED, but with 32 LED's at 20mA, that would be 640mA, over twice that of my power supply. Would they just be dimmer if the power supply could not supply that kind of current? Or would the power supply overheat? I'm trying hard to grasp all this, but it's giving me a headache. Any help is much appreciated.
eltimbalino (author)  thegrimace12345 years ago
Hi theGrimace1234, I think you have two options. You could go down the path of Frollard by seeing his comment below. This is likely to be a good learning experience and deliver a better result. Or you could do it my way, and just make up the board first. Then tuck some LEDs under the wire and switch on. If they glow really bright and a bit yellowish, turn it off quickly. If they are too dim, boost up your power. If they were too bright, you can try adding more along the edge till they look alright. As for blowing up your power supply, I think this is really unlikely to happen while your LEDs are still working. Surely the LEDs would burn out before a power supply, but I am not 100% certain. I would definitely risk it though. Once you have done it, please post a photo like goethes did, I love seeing the results.
T-K6 years ago
this is awesome! nice idea of the power grid. im aussie too, and jaycar rocks! did you watch the olympic opening ceremony?
What a neat IDEA
Shut Up Now6 years ago
if each piece has a resistor, which limits the input voltage to what the piece needs, then wouldnt that solve the problem of overloading the leds at the end of the game? im new with electrics.. some wise person please explain!
eltimbalino (author)  Shut Up Now6 years ago
Yes, SUN, you are right. If anyone is adding the resistors into the each piece, you won't need to put the 4 extra LEDs on the edges. Though you may like to still put one there because that shows you which end of the board those pieces start at.
frollard6 years ago
Great instructable

One thing it needs - each piece needs ITS OWN resistor to maintain correct power distribution.

Since all the LEDs are in parallel, the formula is pretty simple and there are plenty of online calculators available.
Calculator 1

Numbers you will need: The voltage of your input adapter, likely 5 volts, might be as high as 24.
The forward voltage of the LED, usually around 1.5-2 volts for red, 3 for green and 4.5 for white/blue. Check the spec sheet to be sure you're below the MAX, or you will have a fizzled LED.
The forward current (amps, or milliamps in this case) is how much current the LED can turn into light. Most bright leds dont go above 20-25 mA (milliamps - thousands of an amp). Small 'indicator' leds like those on the front of a vcr rarely exceed 10mA, if not 5mA.

Example:
Input 9 volts DC
LED forward voltage: 2.8 volts
Max current: 15mA
resistor = 470 ohms, 1/4 watt

Plug those numbers in, and you will get a resistor value in ohms (or kilo-ohms). Since you already order your leds online, grab a pile of resistors, 1/4 watt is overkill, you could get away with 1/8 watt

If you can get an AC (Alternating Current) adapter close to your LED voltage you still need the resistors, but it means you can place the pieces either way, without worrying about polarity (+/-) Just make sure the power supply does not exceed the max REVERSE voltage. Thats another story.
Any questions feel free to ask.
eltimbalino (author)  frollard6 years ago
Thank you Frollard. I was hoping someone who knew more about this stuff than I do would offer some advice. It would not be that hard to solder in a resister onto a trimmed leg of an LED and bend it into place the same way. If anyone has trouble following Frollards advice, post here so that this Instructable can improve from your experience.
You're very welcome - you have a great chunk of concept, just need some practical electrical engineering to make it more streamlined :D
Ward_Nox6 years ago
a thought i had w the other one you might want to make a stand for the board to give it a better look and w a little extra work you coul use the stand to underlight the board in blue
eltimbalino (author)  Ward_Nox6 years ago
Hi Ward, That is a good idea. I was thinking of getting a marker pen and colouring in the frosted squares. But maybe a blue light would pick out the frosted squares and not the clear ones making them stand out better. I wanted to do the chess pieces blue and green, but a blue LED cost like $2 compared to the red one for 14cents or so. But just few to light the board up might not be that expensive and I could run them off the same power Maybe I will do that and pull the 8 extras off the edge. I will have a play. If anyone beats me to it, please flickr link a picture in the comments.
well you could use EL wire for the board or even the wider stuff i forget the name of
magelord6 years ago
You might have some problems if you put a chess piece down backwards. As in the cathode has positive voltage instead of the anode. If you look through an LED the lead(wire) with the small tab is the anode(where you put positive voltage). (anode)----|>----(cathode) So if you put the LED on backwards it puts reverse voltage on it and it might pop. So a diode put in series with the LED would help with that. ----|>----(diode) then ----|>---(LED). Just google using a diode for ideas. It wouldnt take but a simple diode.
Nice job. I will definitely try this in the future.
Nice re-make of Tetranitrate's Instructable, really quick and easy to do, kind of. Great Instructable, I love the way you described and made the instructions clear, definitely going to give a +5/5 stars.
eltimbalino (author)  GorillazMiko6 years ago
Thanks GorillazMiko, I was not sure if I was overdoing it, but I figure better too much than too little.
Sweet!
eltimbalino (author)  Tetranitrate6 years ago
Thanks, I am glad you approve.
gmjhowe6 years ago
nice rework! good job
Kiteman6 years ago
Hmm, not as elegant as Tetranitrate's original, but certainly much quicker, especially if you don't have a sand-blaster. It's given me some inspiration as well...