Introduction: Micro Processor Chess Set

Picture of Micro Processor Chess Set
Rather than play the computer chess, why not make a chess set out of the computer!

This is version 0.1 (beta). If I can get enough Pentium "586" chips, I'd like to make a regulation size chess set.

Any constructive criticism would be appreciated!

Step 1: Chess Board

Picture of Chess Board

The board is the underside of a mother board, and 32 black microprocessor chips.  This creates the colors Green vs Black.  Each chip was attached with epoxy.

The principal hardware was left on the bottom side.  Legs for elevation are bolts press-fitted into the chassis mount holes.

All subsequent pieces were painted green or black, if necessary, to indicate side.

Step 2: Pawns

Picture of Pawns

The pawns are made from capacitors found on most CPU power supplies, with a plastic figure base attached with epoxy.

These were the hardest to standardize- 16 of the same parts was hard.  I salvaged through more than 12 power supplies to get the eight and eight matching parts.

Step 3: Rooks

Picture of Rooks

The rooks are power transformers from CPU power supplies, with heat sinks cut to size for crenelations.

Step 4: Knights

Picture of Knights

I found some high-end power supplies that had nice relays encased in plastic.  These made good bodies for the knights.  The heads were fashioned from inductor coils, cut into a c-shape.

The top corner of the relay was cut off at 45 degrees, providing an attach-point for the inductor using epoxy.  After attaching, the connection was improved by wrapping additional copper wire around the joint.

Step 5: Bishops

Picture of Bishops

The bishops are the armatures from hard disk drives, with green or black wire wrapped around the base.  The wire increased the base's cross section, improving epoxy attachment surface area.

Step 6: Queens

Picture of Queens

The Queens are (from base to top)-

1. Clock battery from mother boards,
2. RF choke filter ferrite core from data cable,
3. Electric motor core from pen-plotter motors,
      and crown made of-
4. Hard disk platter washer,
5. with 6 green/black (IR) LEDs for jewels.

Step 7: Kings

Picture of Kings

The kings bodies are made from motor cores of two paper shredders.

The crowns are hard drive washers, topped with the armature from old Zip drives- creating the holy seal.


manofpluto (author)2016-01-15


郁城高 (author)2014-11-22


yugioh54444 (author)2013-07-15


CrLz (author)yugioh544442013-07-16


fazgard (author)2010-03-09

Very cool.

GOnna have to empty out some spare parts bins this weekend and make one!

CrLz (author)fazgard2010-03-09

It's almost more fun exploring parts to use.  Motor and the inner parts of drives are filled with interesting parts.

A tip for the explorer: Since the electro-mechanical function is not necessary, I dropped each circuit board into the washbasin and cleaned the parts off with water.  This removed most of the dirt and residue common inside electric parts, definitely making the job nicer work for my hands.

pfred2 (author)CrLz2011-10-08

Board manufacturers wash boards after assembly in water. They expect new components to function after doing so as well. Place I worked for actually used a dishwasher to clean the water soluble flux off the PCBs after we ran them through our wave solder machine.

Trick is to just let everything dry out and it is fine.

shdsteel (author)2010-06-15

how do you remove the microprocessor chips?

CrLz (author)shdsteel2010-06-16

I used a razor blade / skill knife. the tool you buy at hardware stores. Easiest way was simply cut through the feet connecting to the circuit board. Then I just trimmed off the stubble with the razor.

pfred2 (author)CrLz2011-10-08

To desolder quad flat pack packages you can just blowtorch the back of the board and they fall right off. It does stink to the high heavens when you do this though! So it isn't an indoors friendly activity. Some use toaster ovens or frying pans for doing this too. I bet even a barbecue grill would work. Then a big empty cardboard box to catch the hot parts is used. This method is called the, "heat it and beat it technique". Because after you get the boards hot enough you quickly slap the boards against the inside of the empty cardboard box to dislodge as many parts as possible into the box.

It goes without saying you hold the board in big pliers and wear gloves to protect yourself from the high heat. Safety glasses are stylish as well to protect your eyes from molten globs of solder that can go flying. Most stuff ends up in the cardboard box though.

Pro tip: after you've slapped the board a few times into your cardboard box transfer the parts to another box, or tray or something so the little molten solder balls don't end up on your parts so much.

lookwhatjoeysmaking (author)2011-10-08

this is sooooooo cooollllll i wish i cold find all the parts to make this .

hopekiller30 (author)2010-07-22

i just wanna know y u would take apart computers just for the parts if like the board went beep everytime u moved that would of been ok or if it said the position u put it at that would be cool but y i bet those computers wanted to go onto the internet one more time before u ripped them apart

CrLz (author)hopekiller302010-07-24

Prototyping- I was exploring for parts, as much as building the idea.  So  the small waste was a lower priority.  (The crosses on the Kings are a great example, discovering parts with such character was a real exploration-accomplishment.)

That said, after slogging through the salvaging for this prototype, I'm buying most parts directly for version 1.0 : it becomes almost prohibitive to find enough of the same parts. (see my comment about the pawns).

No worries though- I'm buying straight from computer salvagers now, so all the parts I'm acquiring are headed for the junk yards already.  Everything I buy saves the waste.

hopekiller30 (author)CrLz2010-11-28

ok. just to remind u that u can always make it beep or say "A1" or something like that can always be done.

shdsteel (author)2010-06-27

what brand and style of paper shedder was it?

CrLz (author)shdsteel2010-06-28

Can't remember the brands.

The longer core came from a 15-page shredder I bought years back from Staples.

The shorter core came from a 8-page shredder a neighbor threw out. Similar design, it was probably a home-use shredder from Staples or Office Depot.

You may have some luck at thrift stores. When the shredders begin to fail, they first loose cutting power. An empty shredder will falsely appear to work. Some savvy people must realize this, and turn the shredder in for a tax-refund at a thrift store. I bought shredders on [(discount) * (thrift store discount)] by demonstrating this to thrift store-staff.

Good luck finding all the parts if you're making something similar. Best place I've found for 586 chips is from bulk electronics salvagers. Look them up on alibaba , usually selling chips for gold reclamation.

Exploring for parts is 60% of the fun!

shdsteel (author)2010-06-13

looks greatly stupendous! where did you get the motors?

CrLz (author)shdsteel2010-06-16

Ooops! (been a while since I salvaged these parts) Queens: motor cores from an old HP pen-plotter, I think one was the pen left-right motor and the other was the paper forward-back motor. Kings: Both motors from light weight paper shredders (two different manufacturers).

shdsteel (author)2010-06-15

ok thanks! and what about the heat sinks?

CrLz (author)shdsteel2010-06-16

Heat sinks came from what looked like on-(mother)-board graphics chips. Very old, pre-Pentium chips had these size heat sinks also, but those are hard to come by salvaging. One of the heat sinks came from an X-Box board. All that said, these are probably easier to buy new. ~ $5.00 off some sites.

danlab (author)2010-03-09

I love the idea, partially because nobody else will have a chess set quite like you do. It's just too bad it's to late for you to enter it in the Dead Computer Contest. And I think you're right, it would be better with bigger squares, but It is still a great project, keep up the good work.

CrLz (author)danlab2010-03-10

Thanks danlab.

I got lots of positive feedback for this beta, so I'll get started on the final.

lemonie (author)2010-03-08

Very nice.


CrLz (author)lemonie2010-03-08

Thank you lemonie.

Looks a bit crowded to me. If I can get enough large CPU chips I think the set would be just about right.

lemonie (author)CrLz2010-03-09

The Chess board is a representation of a battlefield, "a bit crowded" and I'm looking at a fight in a nightclub up there. I agree that these would show better spaced out a bit more, but they still look good as pieces.


CrLz (author)lemonie2010-03-09

Seems like using bigger chips will solve this then.  Most components were 20 to 30mm in size.  The chips I used were 27mm square (green spaces were 31mm).  The Rooks, in fact, slightly overlap black squares.

The "586" chip is 50mm, which should make a great fit for pieces constructed similar.

lemonie (author)CrLz2010-03-10

Yes these bigger-socket chips are more like it, but less easy to get a bag of I should think?
Another idea might be to get a red and a green PCB and cut squares out of them?


CrLz (author)lemonie2010-03-10

I'm hoping to connect with local e-waste companies to get enough chips.  More modern chips are sold in lots on alibaba or ebay , should be able to get the parts.

I'd like to incorporate custom PCB boards in the piece design, using the red and green PCB as the two sides.  Definitely would be a nice touch.

XOIIO (author)2010-03-08

Freaking brilliant!

CrLz (author)XOIIO2010-03-09

Gracias XOIIO,

It's good fun find cool parts scavenging.  Got lucky on the dual motor cores for the Queens, not quite as lucky for the kings.

knektek (author)2010-03-09

at the bottom actually have a power source, so that when the pieces are on the spots, they light up.

CrLz (author)knektek2010-03-09

That would be a natural fit for the Queens also!

In a dream scenario, I'd like to embed RFID chips into the pieces, and have micro-reader coils under each square.  Wire it all up and using one of the PC connections left on the underside, connect to a CPU, auto-tracking the game moves.

Definitely powering up the board would be a great fit for the concept.

nickodemus (author)2010-03-09

Awesome. I especially like the bishop in the third picture.

CrLz (author)nickodemus2010-03-09

Thanks nickodemus - I think I should use higher gauge wire for more detail in the clerical robes.  Couldn't scavenge up enough thin green wire though.

jeff-o (author)2010-03-08

I like it!  Very clever.

CrLz (author)jeff-o2010-03-08

Glad to hear it.

I'm a bit unsure about the motor cores for a computer-concept set.  However, the heft and appearance seem right.

jeff-o (author)CrLz2010-03-08

I've seen motors far larger than that pulled out of old computer equipment!  The company I worked for recently trashed an old 350MB external hard drive.  It was the size of a dishwasher, and used about 2kW of power when running.

So yeah, you're fine.

Lindie (author)2010-03-08

Really nice!

CrLz (author)Lindie2010-03-08

Thank you Lindie.

I think the knights need some work, lost a lot of appeal with my rough assembly.  But the concept seems OK.

=SMART= (author)2010-03-08

Looks awesome !
Great attention to detail !

a few great projects missed the deadline by a hairline, they should extend it a day !

CrLz (author)=SMART=2010-03-08

Thanks =SMART= !

Scavenging is largely serendipity- I was really psyched when I found the crosses for the kings.  Matches the typical Staunton set nicely.

The heat sinks for rooks was one of my first designs.  I wish I had found three more of the black spiky sinks, which look the part the best.

frollard (author)2010-03-08


CrLz (author)frollard2010-03-08

Thank you frollard.  Hope you like how the board came out.

Jayefuu (author)2010-03-08

It's such a shame this is a day late for the contest! It looks fantastic! Favourited :D

frollard (author)Jayefuu2010-03-08

I would vote an exception be granted...this is amazing!

laxap (author)frollard2010-03-08


Zaphod Beeblebrox (author)laxap2010-03-08


tanmanknex (author)laxap2010-03-08


CrLz (author)Jayefuu2010-03-08

Only a beta-test, not ready for full release yet.

Any constructive criticsms?

Jayefuu (author)CrLz2010-03-08

Nope! Looks awesome.

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Bio: CrLz : Ideas, ideas and ideas - Love it when I get one hammered out and working. Seems like there is plenty of room for creativity, in ... More »
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