Chessboard Project

Hi Guys,
I wanted some advice for a project I’m starting.
I’m aiming to build an electronic chessboard that can track position of the chess pieces on the board against rules of the game via software such as Stockfish.

I will have hall effect magnetic sensors under each square and magnets in each chess piece to trigger sensors they sit over the top of.

The of sensors will comprise of an 8x8 matrix with the 8 rows feeding into a raspberry pi via multiplexors.
Example: Rasp Pi - TCA9548A I2C multiplexer - MCP23017 I2C 16 pin port expander x4 - 16 sensors connected to each MCP23017

Since this is my first project I want to start simple in order to learn as I go along and work my way toward my final goal.

I’m wondering whether a raspberry pi zero would be adequate to handle such a project? My limited understanding had me believe the various models are either more powerful and/ or have more connections for various devices.
Does the raspberry pi zero have enough connections to allow me to connect up the sensors via the multiplexors and is it powerful enough?

this is my first attempt in the field which means I will need the basic tools and pieces; so any help with choosing the correct sized breadboard and anything that goes with it would be greatly appreciated.

Apologies for the long rant and I thank you in advance for your time.




You’ll certainly be able to tell where things are, but not what’s there. How is your system going to tell a pain from a queen?

You could try tracking changes from the starting position, but it’s bound to get lost along the way.

Rfid is probably too messy. Maybe some kind of pogo pin system could work?

Perhaps you could have the grid but have something in the chest pieces that knows where they are, communicated back via BLE?

Tricky one to do without just brute forcing it with a sensor in every square.

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I did wonder whether tracking changes will become lost along the way. Some have suggested adding LEDs to each square. That way the chess software monitoring the game can alert an illegal move and signify a return of a piece to a previous position that is visually comprehensible to the player. This does add another level of complexity which I will tackle on a future design. For now a LCD screen could do the job of informing the player of the computer’s piece being moved and whether a piece the player has played is legal. The program could also display on the screen a request for any piece position on the board


Hi Joe,

I like Oli’s idea of using pins to track the position of the pieces.

To check on the connections I would checkout this excellent site:
Note: most of the Pi’s have the same 40 pin configuration (GPIO)

The mux would be perfect for your project! (due to being able to change its I2C address)

I would recommend a Pi 3 or 4 for this project so that you are given more IO to work with (USB and full size HDMI) and more processing power.

There are some amazing tutorials and guides on micropython on Core’s site I would recommend checking out!


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Man!!! thanks heaps for the pinout site. That’s exactly what I needed.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the hall effect magnet sensors will work on the grid?
RFID tags on each piece does sound like a good idea for piece recognition. I’ve read proposals with this same idea in mind, maybe my next board?
I have a huge learning curve ahead of me, so thanks for your guidance.


Hey Joel,

Make sure to take a look on Thingiverse, looks like there’s a few versions of similar projects that should give you plenty of ideas.


This is very helpful Bryce, appreciate your help.


You’re welcome Joe,

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