Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sish Chess Video

Ok, I had a little too much fun with the camera last night, however I now give you the first Sish Chess video.



Thursday, March 15, 2012


The other day I received a FedEx package from a fellow USB Chessboard enthusiast. James "Jimmy" Patterson sent me one of his vinyl boards with wire leads ready to plug into my Teensy.

Wow Jimmy! Thanks for taking the time, effort, and expense to send this to me, it's very much appreciated. I'll get my hands on a new Teensy and wire it up in the near term.

Next, I'd like to get a listing of engines and interfaces people have used either the Sish or the Dream Cheeky with?

So far I've tried:

Fritz 12

Chessbase 11




Now while all of them have been interesting, I've found Chessmaster the most helpful as it has the gradually increasing opponent skill level options. Let's just say I'm much better at building Chessboards and Chess pieces than I am at actual Chess (But I'm learning!).

Any other good packages for building up your skills gradually?



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Flip switch!

Tonight I added a new "flip" switch to my Sish board.

This switch is wired from GND and the "Flip" pin (see wiring diagrams).

The end result is I can switch to playing black by simply toggling the switch. Here's a picture of the wiring on the underside of my board.
and here's a close up of the toggle switch (it's attached with simple hot glue).
The end result is a board that allows me to play as black or as white readily with no manual flipping of the board.

Next up?

I've got a number of ideas, including potentially incorporating the DGT protocol, which would allow for usage of a Sish board natively with clocks and high end chess software.

Also looking at LCD screens..


Friday, March 9, 2012

My first Sish Board!

I couldn't resist.

After getting my new jumper wires I hooked up my first Sish board this evening.

I also used my chess pieces I cut last year.

Turned out pretty nice, I'll take some pictures of the wiring tomorrow and work on getting the Sish code files for Teensy and Teensy++ uploaded this weekend.

Going toe to "toe" against the computer is much more fun when there's a physical board.

More details tomorrow.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Improved wiring, inspired by USB Chessboards

What can I say?

I hope Bryan Whitby @ USB Chessboards understands imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I spent last night wiring up a couple of nice termination strips and easier to bend stranded wire to my switch arrays.

The end result is below, much cleaner, much less likely to be stressed.

Thanks for the idea Bryan!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More Sish boards being built

Looks like I'm already the last one out of the gate.

Bryan Whitby, the accomplished computer chess board hobbyist from the UK sent me photos of his portable Sish unit.

Bryan's wiring always evokes great "wiring envy" from me. Look at how clean that looks!

Bryan has elected to wire his board and connect it to this side portable unit using two Ethernet jacks. Ethernet provides a convenience connection mechanism for chess board interfaces as each jack interfaces 8 wires.

Great work Bryan!

Hopefully I won't stay behind the 8-ball much longer as FedEx promises my hook-up wires should arrive on Friday. I expect I'll setup a nice terminal row like Bryan has done. In fact after looking at his design I'm thinking I have a little bit of work ahead of me tonight.

More pics as I progress.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sish boards being built

Wow, build it and they will come.

I've got a You Tube video below from Jimmy Patterson. Jimmy and I worked together to build the first Dream Cheeky based USB interface board a year or so ago. Well Jimmy was very excited to build his first "Sish" board and put together a quick video of the board which I've posted below.

In addition, I have a couple of pictures of my board in progress. For the initial stock board I chose a 1.75 inch square board from House of Staunton. Why 1.75? well late last year I started making Chess pieces in my wood shop, in fact my first post on this site has a shot of them. Anyway, those pieces are designed for 1.75 inch square boards..who wouldn't want to play with their own custom made pieces?

Gallery of Hazmat's pieces at

Ok, so here's a few of the build process, I started with a fresh House of Staunton board.

Then I used a ruler and piece of chalk to make the holes.

Afterwhich I used my dremel hand attachment to get the pilot holes started. If you don't have a Dremel you are missing out, I have one with lots of attachments and a drill press mount. Sure, I have a full set of woodworking tools but..the dremel is just damn handy.

Now the board is drilled and ready for tactile switches.

And here are the switches. I glued them down with a hot glue gun. On some this worked great, a handful required extra persuasion. The jury is still out on whether this will hold for the duration however.

Lastly I started wiring things up. I used simple 26 AWG uninsulated wire to connect all the switches, it was easy to work with, this is such low voltage it doesn't matter.

Now that's where I'm at now. I am sourcing some simple jumper wires to make connecting the rows of swiches to the Sish/Teensy easier, I've also built a small poplar "shelf" that will sit drilled into the bottom of this board and hold the Sish/Teeny. I want it to be tighly held, but also easily removable should I decide I want to remove it later. (For a future 2.0 board :) )

More pics next week when the rest of the parts arrive.


Teensy and Teensy++ (Sish and Sish++) Pin Assignments

Started work on my board this weekend, hmm, what I know in software is counterbalanced by my lack of soldering skills. :)

Ahh well, I have a few adjustments to make today, a couple of trips to the store planned, and a decent chance at a completed board by the end of the day. On the whole it looks beautiful, but it is a House of Staunton board, so I'd have to really screw it up to make it look bad.

In the meantime, here's the pin assignments for the Sish and Sish++, depends on if you but a Teensy or Teensy++.



Let me know if you have any questions. I'll be posting a few more pictures of my board build later today/this week. Then once I'm happy with everything I'll post the .hex files to make your own board.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Basic Wiring Diagram for the Sish

Here's the basic wiring diagram for the Sish Chessboard. Bryan Whitby @ USB Chessboard was kind enough to put this together and allow me to post it here.

As you can see it's pretty straight forward, using simple tactile switches (Normally Open) you wire each row and column (rank and file) in sequence. These sequences will in turn be attached to the Teensy on specific pins to form the Sish.

Pin diagram for the Teensy and Teensy++ to follow.



Quick update

I have the core programming for the first Sish and Sish++ (Teensy and Teensy++ based) modules ready to upload tonight.

The following capabilities exist in this version:

1. The Sish works as a USB Keyboard, it sends keystrokes for the corresponding moves into the computer "a1e2", etc.

2. The Sish has the following toggle switch options:

a. Toggle Enter -> Sends the [Enter] command to the computer after every move pair, "e2e4", etc.

b. Toggle Flip -> "Flips" the board, ie what was "a1" is now "h8".

3. The Sish also has a "backspace" switch for erasing moves as entered. Use this to avoid needing a keyboard if you make a mistake during a move.

I'll upload the wiring diagrams and in process pics as I convert a House of Staunton board into the first Sish Chessboard this weekend.