Checkmate with the magic hand: igus linear systems enable chess pieces to slide


igus linear systems enable chess pieces to slide

The student project “Chess Buddy” allows chess to be played without a partner using a low-vibration linear system from igus

Chess is one of the most popular mental exercises and it’s not only fun with a game partner, but also alone. With the “Chess Buddy”, Sebastian Jahn and Julian Krydl have developed a new generation of chess robots as part of their diploma thesis. It responds directly to the moves of the human counterpart and shifts the pieces quite autonomously. The motor-driven inner parts of the Chess Buddy consists of two precision aluminium shafts on which lubrication-free drylin R plain bearings allow an electromagnet to position the chess pieces by sliding smoothly and quietly.

Two players are always needed to play a game of chess. If there is no partner at the moment, the Chess Buddy from Sebastian Jahn and Julian Krydl is now available. They developed the chess robot as part of their thesis at the Linz technical centre at the School of Mechatronics. The goal of their project was to design a machine capable of moving pieces on a chessboard itself, to recognise the moves of the human player, as well as to reset false moves. Both the development and the construction of the robot were undertaken by the students themselves. For the design, the engineers decided to deploy the robot beneath the chessboard.

drylin linear guide ensures movements of the magic hand

Julian Krydl and Sebastian Jahn chose magnetic chess pieces for the implementation of the chess moves. These have the advantage that they can be positioned by means of an electromagnet under the chessboard on a two-axis linear system. After first using noisy recirculating ball bearing guides for the linear system, Sebastian Jahn turned to the Young Engineers Support (yes) of igus. After a joint deliberation on the site with the igus field service, two precision aluminium shafts with drylin RJMP polymer bearings were used. These ensure a smooth and gentle operation due to their freedom from lubrication. Nema 17 stepper motors drive the linear system. In order to recognise what kind of move the opponent has played, the Chess Buddy reads the moves using hall sensors. The sensors detect whether a magnet is placed on the field or not and calculate the traction. The subsequent chess moves of the robot are then controlled by a computer programme and implemented by the linear system. The level of difficulty of the robot can be adjusted according to the skill level of the human player, so that the chess robot is perfect as a training partner.

For more information