Brians Arduino Based Board


Brian’s Boards

Brians design concepts are slightly different as he has explained elsewhere on this site:

Brian says:

Although it can all be done with the Rpi, I still used an arduino on the board because it can then be used to connect to Pi or to a pc running Arena. Would also be easy to upgrade to other single board computers that may become available.
I wanted the leds to light on four corners of the selected square, but you then need a 9*9 led array. I used 2*MAX2719 kits and dumped the led matrix that they were supplied with..

For the board I used a wooden tournament board from ebay (£22).
drilled 3mm holes at each square corner for the led’s and another hole from the back of the board in the centre of each square (not all the way through) to mount the reed switches and diodes. To allow space for the electronics and wiring under the board I will add wooden mouldings around the edges.


I want to recommend my method for the board because it is so simple and works so well.

I bought this board on ebay
drill a 3mm hole at each corner of every square for the led’s.
counter drill from the back not all the way through because the led base is bigger than the top
drill a 3mm hole again not all the way through to insert the reeds vertically. ( i use a bit of pipe on the drill bit to set the depth.(use needle pliers to bend the reed wires or you will break the reed switch). both ends protrude from the hole.
The reeds will stick out <1cm, also you need to mount the electronics on the back, so add a rim around the board 1-2 cm’s to allow for this.
so no need to hollow out the board and no pcb for the switches/leds required.



16 Responses to Brians Arduino Based Board

  1. Bryan says:

    Thanks so much for this site. You’ve inspired me to take on a similar project. I like the LED setup for Brian’s board. I’m assuming that those are 3mm LEDs since it said 3mm holes, is this correct? Also, are there any additional details available on the wiring schematic for Brian’s setup? I can’t quite make out how everything is connected via the photograph.

    • Max says:

      Bryan, You can use any size LED you want. Brian has one LED in each corner, so I guess smaller 3mm look better. I have on 5mm LED at the bottom right of each square. The logic and wiring are the same so its a matter of personal taste.
      As for a wiring diagram I reference this diagram for an 8×8 matrix on the Arduino, but its the same for a Raspberry PI. Instead of being driven by an MAX72XX you use an HT16K33 because Adafruit have written easy to use Python libraries. In both cases you just need to make sure you get the Anodes and Cathodes the right way around. See this Adafruit diagram. Its easy to try it out on a 3×3 matrix on a breadboard first.

  2. Brian says:

    They are 3mm led’s. but the photo of the front is my first prototype board, the one of the back is my second one with vertical reed relays. The led’s are not wired up yet in that picture.
    Note: it needs to be a 9*9 matrix of led’s if you use one in each corner of the squares. the HT16K33 is 16* 8 so a bit of fudging needs to be done, I’ll provide a diagram and photo when it’s done, but for it to work you will need the same software as well as the same wiring. and I am using an arduino, and I will upload my software to github

    • Sofian says:

      Hi Brian I just LOVE your design I ‘m in the process of doing the same concept.
      Can I have more details please?

      Thank you

      • Brian says:

        All the files are on github.

        Including the circuit diagrams (chesboard.fzz) in friting format.
        The arduino scripts and the modified picochess python scripts.
        Let me know if you need any more information.

        • Sofian says:

          Thank you Brian.
          it is very interesting.
          very good job

        • Sofian says:

          Hi Brian

          It is very difficult to find out what file is for what. – Can you arrange them in appropriate folder/function please?.

          On the Fritzing file the upper group (HT16K33) is not connected to the Arduino section. Is it straight forward or no?

          is there any photos or video to see how whole project work and how you inserted the reeds on the backside.

          Brilliant again thank you for sharing this amazing project.

          Warm regards


          • Brian says:

            Hi Sofian,
            The Arduino files are in the folder Arduino-Chessboard. After building the board you can test it works using the serial monitor from the ardunio sketch

            Chessboard.fzz is the wiring for the chessboard.
            The only connections from the arduino to HT16K33 are the SDA and SCL .

            All the rest of the files are for picochess. this folder structure must be kept intact and copied to the raspberry pi as is. This part can be difficult to get working if you don’t know python, so I would recommend downloading the picochess image from their website and after writing that to a sd card (instructions are on their website). replace the contents of the original picochess folder with my modified files.

            I will send photos of my completed build to Max, for him to upload here if possible.

            • Max says:

              Brian, yes send me any stuff you want uploaded, Max

            • Dooby kalisheeno says:

              Sorry i’m not to good with python. And i’m doing this as a school project. Can you please give me a detailed parts list for everything needed, and email me all required files, and explain how to run it. Because I couldn’t find all the required files on this website, and the install instructions weren’t easy to understand. Thanks.

              • Max says:

                Dooby, sorry don’t have what you need. You will see that Brian has given a Github address for his software, other sites such as the Solus Project describes construction in great detail.With that and Brians software , plus tips on this site you should have all you need, however if you are “Not to good with Python” you may want to build a simpler project first to improve skills.Like the NOX project on this site

                • Dooby Kaliisheeno says:

                  Thanks, I now think I understand the hardware part, but which reed switches would you recommend (size, website, and price). Also is all the required software on this website.
                  Stockfish I have, Chessboard I have. The program that talks to Stockfish I have, but is there a program that controls the LEDS, reed switches, LCD screen and communicates to the Program that controls stockfish?

  3. Dom says:

    I’m just starting to build my board, I hooked up a few reed switches to a MCP23017 and my Raspberry Pi. Using your code and working great, thanks very helpful. I was going to do the routed board and lay them flat but they seem to only close when the magnet is at either end with a dead spot in the middle. My board is intentionally a bit smaller so my robot arm doesn’t have to reach so far. Each square is only 3cm so putting them in at angles will be too close to the next square. So I think Brian’s vertical reed option will best fit my needs although I’m slightly concerned about over drilling, I’ll look for some pipe. With a robot arm I don’t need to worry about the LED’s. I have a Nokia 5110 screen to use as a display and a few switches to control it.

  4. Brian Loxton says:

    You can use the plastic sleeve of a cheap biro for the tube,

    Has anyone looked at using hall effect sensors for piece recognition.

    You could use north south poles for colour, then either different strength magnets or set the magnets in the chess pieces at different depths for the 6 piece types. Or a combination of both.
    These are the cheapest I’ve seen

  5. Viktor says:

    How much wire does one need to build the board with the 64 or the one with 81 LED respectively, including all the other ones for the reed switches and so on? I don’t have any wire yet and ask myself what wire and how much of it I need.

  6. Brian says:

    I used this,

    Also good for wrapping round header pins on the arduino ( if you have the wire wrap tool)

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