Instructables
Picture of LED Chess Set
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It all started with an idea I had many years ago.

I had just picked up a cheap-o glass chess set at my local arcade for the low low price of only 15,000 tickets. The novelty of playing with glass pieces quickly wore off, and I wondered how I could make it better. The thought of illuminating the set seemed very appealing, but there were so many different ways that could be done.

I could put alternating colored lights under the board following the checkerboard pattern. The light would shine up through the glass board and make the pieces glow. The problem with this design is that the pieces would change color with each move, and (since the difference between the two sides is not black / white but frosted / clear) this would make game play somewhat confusing.

I could put a small battery and light inside of each piece, so the two sides would each be different colors. This would probably be the simplest way to get glowing pieces; however, this design is not without its problems. The batteries would need to be replaced. Their lifespan could be extended if a small sensitive on/off switch, activated by the chess piece being in an upright position, were added. This would complicate the design though, and still only be a temporary solution, as the batteries would need to be replaced eventually. This design (with the switch) does have one more advantage. It gives the chess pieces two states, on and off. I liked the idea of the chess pieces being illuminated while they were in play (upright and on the board), and dark while they were out (dead and off the board).

The final design I chose (which will be explained in more depth in the next step), was to have each piece contain an LED that would be powered by a conductive board. The board is plugged into an outlet, so there is no need to worry about the power running out. While the pieces are on the board they are "live" and illuminated, and while off the board they are "dead" and dark.

I made a stop motion animation of game six between Kasparov and Deep Blue. The animation does not end with checkmate, because when Kasparov saw that he was going to be beaten by a computer, he threw a hissy fit and stormed off.



 
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AWESOME!

Jan_Henrik6 months ago

Very cool!

lawson4u21 year ago
Is this possible on a larger scale. For example a giant chess patio set. Made with rgb leds embedded in glass construction blocks inset in concrete. The pavers would be controlled and light and up like a dance floor.
maxxion2 years ago
This is amazing, I'd love to make this...but how much does the project cost? (Assuming one already has all the tools)
i made this, and it is beautiful! though, the wire should be cordless :P
How can a _wire_ be cordless? :P
Google powermat, or wireless power.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Wireless-Power-Transmission-Over-Short-Distances-U/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_power
apender3 years ago
or if no capacitors could as well use a capacitive touch screen over a grid of bicolor LEDs, if there is such a thing, or RGB ones if not. the touch screen connected to a microprocessor to activate corresponding light. and knowing the last color setting can activate correct color to stay same as when the pieces started.
apender3 years ago
capacitors to keep the glow during "moves"
It looks GORGEOUS, but I think I might be missing a couple of things.

What kind of protection is there to prevent it passing mains power if the "wall Wart" were to go wrong?

With both contacts flush with the surface of the board wouldn't you be risking a shock if you happened to touch it?

Why cover an already conductive steel plate with copper tape? (It just seems redundant)

Apart from these points, it's a beautifully documented project, than you for sharing it.
I can answer your first two questions... :P

1.- Since the 'wall wart' uses a transformer inside to lower the voltage from 127VAC to 3VDC, the output wires are physically separated from the mains because transformers use two separate, electrically insulated coils of wire (they transfer energy via magnetic fields). If one of the coils happened to short out (this rarely happens during normal use), then yes, the power supply might blow up, but it would be extremely unlikely for it to pass the mains voltage to the output.

2.- The LEDs are operating on 3V. 3V is what you would get if you wired two AA batteries in series, and is way too low to give anyone a shock.
Thank you for that, and I still think it's beautiful project.
Now you just need to light up the board, i suggest using black lights which will provide some light, showing the grid spaces, but will not distract you from the game pieces.
skrubol3 years ago
Did you use carbide for this? I believe PCB's are really tough on drill bits (the fiberglass is the tough part, not the copper,) The kinking might be because your bit got dulled.
jongscx3 years ago
I wonder how hard it would be to power the pieces wirelessly like the powermat chargers...
Very cool! This would be so sick using glass insulators off of telephone poles! It may take a while to find them all, but you would have a huge chess set and it would look sick!
karnold703 years ago
Annnnd just had another thought. You could cast the peices with the led's inside... although if you got them 2/$10, it's probably not cost effective.
On the other hand, this would allow you to use colored plastic with all white leds, or use the 'superflux' type of leds, especially if using the copperclad board I suggested earlier.
Again, hats off to your inovation.
karnold703 years ago
Just had an interesting thought.. instead of a copper 'washer' and the little 'lead' just kind of hovering in the center of the peice, why not cut the washers out of copper CLAD IC board, and simply etch it?
All in all, however, a MOST excellent idea and instructible.
zygomatic6 years ago
Very good work. A couple points of advice - I noticed your wall wart isn't regulated. Most LEDs draw about 20 mA of current, so if you have a full board, you're overloading your transformer, which would make your LEDs dim because the voltage will drop. When you have fewer pieces on the board, you won't be loading the transformer enough, so you risk shortening the life of your LEDs. Overall an excellent Instructable.
Tetranitrate (author)  zygomatic6 years ago
Each piece gets brighter as the game goes on, so it builds suspense and the game gets more intense. It would be cool to have a current overload trigger and a small amount of gunpowder (or as I like to call it, funpowder) in each piece, so if there are particularly few pieces on the board they will all explode. This gets me thinking... What if there was a new hardcore form of this game that were half chess and half Russian roulette. When it is not your turn, you get to protect yourself with an explosives shield. When it is your turn you have to be fully exposed to the board in order to make your move. Each piece would be about 6 inches tall and filled with LEDs, a current overload trigger, and gunpowder (In essence each piece would be a glass shrapnel grenade). It is in both players interest to end the game quickly, because the longer the game goes on, the more likely it is to detonate the pieces. It will be called Death Chess, and we can use it to win dirt or gasoline in the post apocalyptic future (dirt for waterworld style apocalypse, gasoline for mad max).
lolz
did you consider to put wireless power for leds into the chess figures?
If in the case of a russian roulette type thing, the chess board has to be life size so it's SURE to kill you. :D
now you can have it for real.
the world chessboxing championship.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Wcbd0dJpQ
http://site.wcbo.org/content/index_en.html

There are rules, but don't ask me what they are:)
HAHAHA! I love that idea, anything that combines strategy and death, Im in.
godofal4 years ago
nice instructable, im thinking of doing it wireless, but that's just an idea i have rightnow, dont know if it's possible/buildable :D
about like this
chimeforest4 years ago
Amazing instructable!

I was wondering though:
    1. Do you have to use copper and steel plates, or would any conductive metal work?
    2. If you hooked this up to a battery would it still function? if so,how big of a battery would it have to be?

This chess set is super awesome.
1: it doesnt really matter, altough copper is the best conductive-wise
2: it would have to be the right voltage, in this case 3V, wich is 2 AA or AAA's. might need 2 pairs in paralel to get enough juice to run it for the longer matches though or use a 9V battery with a 3.3V regulator (and some caps) like this one
peabnuts1236 years ago
As far as I know (and I who knows, it may be different in some cases) the longer lead on components is positive. Whereas in this instructable it states the the longer lead is negative. Just thought i'd point this out...
that is true
perhaps they wired the input power supply the wrong way?
It really depends on whether they are common anode or common cathode LEDs. They could swing either way.
erm, that's only true in bicolour or RGB LED's
in single colours it's always long = + short = -
so dan is prolly right, (s)he wired the power suply backwards
kingtrae4 years ago
 dude, the only thing that would make this board better is if you used either LED's or fiber optic thingies from the circus to outline the boxes.  SUPER DOPE though!  thanx for sharing!
wazza1235 years ago
This is so cool like a winter chess set
russian55 years ago
This is wickedly awesome. Definitely gonna make this. 5/5
firesketch6 years ago
Awesome, very nice. Would have used different colours though, I think green and blue are too similar. Maybe red and yellow :P
haha red and yellow are just as similar as green and blue. i would do red vs blue.
lol red vs blue is hilarious even though i have never played halo
yes it is.
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