We were inspired by wizard chess from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, where players say where they want their pieces to move and by the power of magic, the life sized-chess is played out.
What it does
Our project uses magnets and a 2 dimensional CNC to move the chess pieces from under the board. We independently control the 2 axes of the CNC each with a stepper motor. This allows us to reach any square on the chess board with high precision. We 3D printed a linear actuator to move the magnet up and down to engage it with pieces. We also have a prototype to knock pieces off the board whenever they are captured. Additionally, our project uses Google voice API to recognize voice commands from the user and move the pieces to the specified square.
How I built it
We laser cut the chess board, chess pieces, and various parts for the CNC. We used 8020 to mount the board, CNC, and make the frame. 3D printed parts were used for the sliding components of the CNC and the linear actuator. To control the CNC we used one stepper driver and controlled the magnet using another stepper driver and Arduino. Both microcontrollers receive commands from a Macbook Pro running a python script that includes voice processing
Challenges I ran into
We had issues accessing the right parts for the CNC, leading us to improvise with what materials were at hand. This included having to change plans for magnets, rails, laser cut pieces, and stepper motors. A large road block was finding the right pulleys for the CNC and attaching the timer belt in a way that didn't interfere with the movement of the magnet carriage.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are proud of our ability to delegate work as a team, and how much we accomplished in the short amount of time. We went in knowing that this was an ambitious project, and managed that by each using our talents to make the project the best it could be, even including some nice decorative painting abilities or strong arms to cut our 8020.
What I learned
Our new knowledge includes Google API, how to make a CNC with only 2 motors, and new technology from some of our sponsors. Although our end project does not use the PYNQ, we were able to learn about the unique functionaloity that their board provides.
What's next for Wizard Chess!
The next steps include refining the bottom magnet and movement of pieces. After that, we plan to speed up this movement and make the voice recognition for moving pieces integrated into the board. Additionally, we want to add some fun Harry Potter themed background music and sound effects. We planned to also include an exciting ejection system using a piston and rubber bands to pop the pieces out when they are killed, adding to the fun. Finally, we hope to leverage this technology to bring chess and other board games for people with disabilities who do not have an easy time moving a lot of pieces easily. While making this easier for them, it also adds the magic of a real wizard-ing experience.