Automated Chess Board - Harry Potter Style

My name is Michael Guerero and I’m a recent graduate from Cal Poly Pomona, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I just recently started building my own projects to build up my portfolio and gain experience in prototyping.
In this project, I set out to replicate the Wizard’s chess game from the Harry Potter series, because I liked the idea of using technology to emulate magic in the real world.

The box was made from quarter-inch MDF, with steel rods for the linear bearing blocks to slide across. I added various scrap pieces of wood to make supports, to hold the stepper motors and limit switches in the proper locations. A pair of timing belts are used to move the electromagnet along both axes. Each chess piece has a loose steel ball inside, which gives the magnet a way of attracting the plastic pieces.

The code starts by zeroing both stepper motors and returning the electromagnet to position A1 on the board. The serial monitor will prompt the first player to enter the square address of the piece to be moved, and the location for the piece to be moved to. The magnet moves to the first square, turns on the magnet, and then moves to the next specified square.

When the piece is being moved, the magnet will initially offset to the corner and then move along the lines between squares, which allows pieces to be moved around each other without colliding (for example, this allows the knight to be moved without having to first move the pawns in front of it)

> Watch the project in action on YouTube

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