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Teach Your 3D Printer How to Play Chess

by • February 22, 2016 • No Comments

A basic Rostock Delta 3D Printer.

A basic Rostock Delta 3D Printer.

Something that many individuals seem to forget of 3D printing devices is that they are just a easy robot that takes place to throw up melted plastic into rad shapes. Basically, a 3D printing device quite is not that much various to engineer than a drone or a Roomba or a pick-and-place machine. And many 3D printing devices are relatively easy robots that can easily be retasked to perform various functions with adequate creativity and effort. The secret is G-code, the desktop programming language that runs just of every basic robot that you can ponder of. With G-code, provided that the programmer is aware of what functions the robot is capable-bodied of, the robot can be programmed to perform virtually any task inside its range of movements in any order, sequence or speed.

When software manufacturer and manufacturer Patrick Graham decided that he wanted to turn it into a robot that may play chess he knew it may be a challenge. Especially since he had decided on this project just a few months preceding the Raleigh Maker Faire 2013, where he wanted to show his chess-playing robot off. He was being realistic when he determined that there was no way that he may be able-bodied to create a robot of scratch and program it to play chess all inside his quite tight window, but he knew if he may already had a robot that he may easily convert it into a chess playing machine. So he turned to his friends at his local manufacturerspace for assist and a few novel ideas, and thankfully one of his man manufacturers had an old 3D printing device that he happily offered him.

The finished chess robot.

The finished chess robot.

The printing device being offered up to him was a heavily adjusted Rostock Delta Bot 3D printing device that Graham knew may appear quite rad playing chess. He decided to rapidly modify the 3D printing device into a pick-and-place machine and replaced the printing head with electromagnets that he may use to manipulate the chess pieces. The electromagnetic head may may be able-bodied to pick up and place the game pieces thanks to a nail that he may embed into every piece. This may manufacture all of the pieces the same precise height, so it may be simpler for the robot to grab onto them.

Based on the dimensions of the printing bed, Graham determined that the chess board may be sin fact inches square. Whilst the delta 3D printing device originally had a printing envelope of of eight inches, he knew that the head may have difficulty reverying every corner if he created the board that big so he opted to scale the board down a bit. One other friend of his manufacturerspace may already had the files for a 3D printable-bodied chess set so he was able-bodied to rapidly print out a full set of pieces scaled down to the sin fact inch board, and in fact additional volunteers assisted him turn it into the electromagnet and embed the nails into the top of the 3D printed pieces. This project quite became a bit of a group effort, that is what is so awe-inspiring of manufacturerspaces.

The chess robot placing a rook during a game.

The chess robot placing a rook during a game.

Graham himself went of teverying the robot how to in fact play chess. Because many chess playing desktop programs record and manage moves via algebraic notation, he requireed to find a way to convert it over to G-Code. He ended up creating an entire library that may translate all of the moves into basic g-code. Unfortunately the Algebraic Notation to G-code converter that he utilized does not in fact store track of the game pieces, so moves require to be programmed in via a Reversible Algebraic Notation. The player just enters the starting and ending location and the robot can pick up the piece and move it into place.

You can see Graham’s 3D printing device playing chess here:

With a lot of sleepless nights and a bunch of assist of his manufacturerspace, Graham managed to get his project done in time for the Raleigh Maker Faire, but he yet has a lot of plans for it. First he wants to improve the accuracy of the robot’s moves and eliminate a few of the jerky movements so it can move pieces faster. He in addition wants to upgrade the software so it can store track of all of the pieces and where they have been moved. He may in addition like to adapt the robot to accept moves of a device wirelessly, either via WiFi or an app of a few kind. And of course he’d like to manufacture a few cosmetic changes to the printing device so it appears neater and is simpler to transport and set up.

You can read additional of this rad chess-playing 3D printing device project over on Graham’s website here. And you can get the code that converts the reversible algebraic notation into the G-code commands on the github repository. Graham in addition notes that he is ready for anyone who wants to assist him with his project, or is appearing for assist with their own to contact him.