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Building a USB Chessboard Interface for < $10!

Ok, this is just awesome geeky-ness.

Recently I purchased one of these <$10 USB Chessboards. The hardware appeared to be pretty decent, however the software was just horrible. I couldn't save pgn files, I couldn't interface with things like Fritz..bottom line I was beginning to think it was a waste. However, not willing to leave well enough alone I decided it was time to build my own software interface for the board.

I'm a software developer/CTO by trade so interfacing with this USB HID device was a relatively straightforward operation. In the end I was able to develop a simple dialog that the locates the board and then allows you to pick a "Window" to send the moves from the board to.

Here's a view of the dialog.

Ok, now here's where the coolness really gets going, each time I make a move with the Chessboard it "sends" the move to Fritz (the selected window). Important note, in the dialog above it looks like I'm interfacing with Chess.com Live Chess, however I'm not, I'm replaying an old game with Fritz.

Here's an example of what is sent..

e2e4

Fritz will take that input and immediately make the requisite move.

So thoughts?

-f

Comments


  • 7 months ago

    m-rmo

    Hi guys,

    Just an update on these "Dream Cheeky USB Roll Up Chess" boards.

    The device can work under Linux too rather easily. They show themselves as a very simple HID periphery, and the protocol was already reverse engineered for the rather similar "Dream Cheeky/Dream Link USB Piano". Using libusb, a usermode support program was already written by somebody else and is available here, http://usbpiano.sourceforge.net/
    (I wouldn't be surprised if differences are minor with respect to other, apparently very popular, USB missile launcher toys by the same company, for which a variety of Linux hacks are available).

    Device and Product ID are apparently the same as for the piano keyboard. Then it is simply a matter of claiming the device, and looping through usb_interrupt_read. The pressed square returns a long integer, from A1 to H8.

    With this, it is trivial to interface i.e. to Crafty. With its "speech on" shell option and the text2speech Festival program, computer moves are read aloud and a play well enjoyed :-)

     


  • 8 months ago

    tewald

    luffyzanderssen You can suspect that if you want, but you'd be wrong. Not sure if you're accusing Fragilio of lying or just being inaccurate. I got mine a year or two ago, and it had gone UP to about $15 or $20 by then, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, Dream Cheeky discontinued the item. If there were inexpensive sets that would interface well with a PC, this forum probably would not be here. BTW, what did you see for $75? Does it interface with a PC? I haven't seen anything other than Dream Cheeky under $300 or so.

  • 12 months ago

    luffyzanderssen

    i only see a $75.00 set for sale on amazon and that's still the cheapest one i've ever seen.  i suspect that there was never a $10.00 set in existence to begin with.

  • 12 months ago

    LinuxMan

    I am building a chessboard based on RFID. What is the protocol in passing the data to Fritz or Chessbase? I can, perhaps, supplement your program. Can you comment on this?

  • 13 months ago

    legitandfair

    Hi Matt,

        Amazing work! I didn't know there was such an active and enthusiastic crowd of DIY USB chessboard builders on here. I too would like a copy of your interface software please. My email address is [address-deleted]@gmail.com. Thank you!

  • 15 months ago

    yusufmotiwala

    Looks like Dream Cheaky is difficult to find now, any source still selling it?

    Thanks

  • 19 months ago

    yasrr

    Hi Matt, just picked up a Dream Cheeky, would really appreciate a copy of your software. My emails gambit256@gmail.com. Thanks a bunch.
     

  • 22 months ago

    jaguilar992

    Hi Matt, I was reading about your work and Bryan`s work... and I want to make a chessboard like this.. can you send me a copy of your software, my email is jaguilar992@gmail.com thanks...

  • 22 months ago

    viveiros

    Amazing! I have a Dream Cheeky and I really want this software! Would you please send me a copy? My email is caiofranco@uol.com.br

    Thanks, regards from Brazil,

    Viveiros

  • 2 years ago

    rnorsworthy

    Hi,

       Does anyone have a Dream Cheeky board they'd like to sell?  Looks like they're not making them any more.  If so, you can contact me at rnorsworthy@yahoo.com or 832-816-8006.

    Thanks, Robert

  • 2 years ago

    Carjavurlo

    I just read your fascinating story of how you came to the practice of chess ...This story deserves comment in forums chess!
    I wondered if your software was possible to visualize the two games (or more) simultaneously on the computer ...
    Suppose you have two boards Sisch and connect to the USB ports on my computer ... Could see the 2 games?
    Working with children in the practice of school and would like to organize chess tournaments where parents and teachers can enjoy the game ..

    Again, sorry for syntax and other errors ...

    Javier Uria

  • 2 years ago

    fragilio

    Javier,

    Thanks for the kind words! Check your inbox and enjoy!

    Matt

  • 2 years ago

    Carjavurlo

    Fragilio:
    You're a genius!

    I would like to request the shipment of its software as I am putting together my own board at home (then send the photos to see how it was)
    My email is carjavurlo@hotmail.com
    thanks

    Javier Uria

    PS: I do not speak English correctly, I used the google translator. Sorry for the syntax.

  • 2 years ago

    zknight7000

    hi Matt, can I get a copy of the software?

     

    thanks,

  • 3 years ago

    fragilio

    Sure send me a pm with your email and I'll send it to you.

    Matt

  • 3 years ago

    Pinguchess

    Hi Matt

             Searching on internet i just find trough Bryan your web page..I said to my self: I need to make this chessboard. So, I bought the Dream Cheeky USB chess board and I will need if is possible, the software.  How I can get this ?

    Many many thanks for this Smile

    Regards.

    Cristian Miranda from Argentina.  

  • 3 years ago

    hmp4450

  • 3 years ago

    fragilio

    UPDATE!!!

    Dream Cheeky boards are pretty much impossible to find now, so we built a new design. 

    This new design is hardware only, no interface software needed, works like a USB keyboard. Cheap and easy to assemble.

    Find out more details at my blog. http://sishchess.blogspot.com

    -Matt

  • 3 years ago

    luffyzanderssen

    hi, me and a buddy thought it would be cool to either buy one or make our own sensory boards but I can't find a cheap one for sale.  Does anyone know if the dreamcheaky board is still for sale anymore (i couldn't find it) or another one like it? 

  • 3 years ago

    swetye

    Here are a few screens of my attempt at a USB board.My camera is on the blink and had to use my web cam to get the screens. Works good overall even though it is a bit crude.Might make another one sometime...Thanks for the Interface Fragilio.

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