USB Chessboards

Bryan Whitby features a nice USB Chess Board website with a lot of information and links on USB chess boards. On this site, you can find details on hardware and software for connecting a chess board to a tablet or computer. A must read for anyone who enjoys playing computers but prefers playing on a real board. I, obviously, especially liked the video of Frank Walls Android USB board that features Chess for Android . I have embedded the video below.

Chess OCR

Gerhard Roth wrote various very interesting chess OCR applications that enable you to scan chess positions from books and open these directly in your favorite chess application for further analysis. Much faster than manually entering these positions through a position setup editor. The application supports the Android sharing mechanism I blogged about a while back. For example, as illustrated below, first open a chess book at an interesting position, then invoke Gerhard's OCR application to scan the position, and finally select sharing to open, for instance, Chess for Android for further analysis with your favorite UCI or XBoard engine. Chess for Android version 4.5 also introduced a fast way to invoke Gerhard's application. Long press the notation window, and the select Retrieve Position. This will bring you back in the OCR application again (or give you a choice if several such applications exist) to scan the next position. Great job Gerhard writing this

Chess for Android v4.5

It has been a while since the last update, since I have been a bit busy at work, but I finally had some time for two new features in Chess for Android, version 4.5 now available through the playstore or as direct download : Spoken chess text (option to announce all moves) Retrieve position function (direct link with Gerhard Roth's OCR app ) To enable the new chess speech feature, simply press the menu button, select "Options", and then enable the "Spoken Moves" option (see check-mark below). After that, Chess for Android announces the chess moves made on the board, as well as the final outcome of the game. For now, only the english language is supported. A follow-up posting will go into more detail on the OCR feature.

Chess for Android on a Smartwatch

A few days back I got a very kind email from Branko with some pictures of Chess for Android running on a Galaxy Gear smartwatch. I never tested a much smaller screen, and was glad the scalable drawing methods displayed the board rather well. Thanks Branko for these pictures and your nice email!

Eyepiece Projection Continued

Because the 26mm eyepiece does not fit in the Meade basic camera adapter, and the 9.7mm eyepiece has too much light loss in my modest Meade ETX-90EC, I purchased a 15mm eyepiece. This eyepiece fits comfortably in the adapter. Less magnification than the 9.7mm eyepiece, of course, but therefore also less light loss. Below already a quick result (taken at dawn) together with two pictures from the September 7 posting (taken during the day) for comparison. The slight curvature in the picture is a bit worrisome, still have to look more into that. Can't wait though to try some real astrophotography with the new eyepiece. prime focus (rear port) 9.7mm eyepiece projection (adapter) 15mm eyepiece projection (adapter)

Prime focus vs. eyepiece projection

Since the moon is back at a normal hour, I could do some more experiments with astrophotography. Below a comparison between prime focus and 9.7mm eyepiece projection photograph of the moon using an Meade ETX-90EC. Disappointing result for the latter, since a digital zoom on the prime focus photo is much more clear.


If you are following me on Facebook or Google+, you probably noticed that lately I have been less busy with chess programming . Instead I have been spending  free time at my Meade ETX-90EC telescope getting familiar with astrophotography . Here are some of my first pictures using prime focus configuration (single shot manual exposure, using mirror lockup and remote control to minimize vibrations).  I really like the clarity of the moon picture and was happy seeing the ring of Saturn so clearly. I also tried eyepiece projection configuration , but found this extremely challenging. Due to the inherent light loss at higher magnifications, it is very hard to find and focus the object (hints from experienced astrophotographers welcome!). Today I have been experimenting with the different configurations during daytime. Below you see some sample pictures of my neighbors house number sign, taken with the camera's 300mm telelens for reference and three ETX configurations (n

More chessbase compatible engines

More engines were added to the Chessbase compatible engines for Android package . Many thanks to the engine authors for their explicit permission.

Chessbase compatible engines continued

I am about to release a next version of Chess for Android that recognizes engines in the Chessbase compatible format discussed in the previous blog posting. The new version is available as direct download or from Google Play . With this release, all engines installed in this format (either the engines that ship with the Chessbase for Android application itself, or engines installed in this format, such as my own Engines.apk package) are available for direct import in Chess for Android as well as in the latest Chessbase for Android . Together with sharing capabilities, this greatly enhances the 'chess ecosystem' on Android, since chess GUIs can now be used interchangeably in a much simpler manner. As before, engines authors that want to be included in the package can drop me an email.

Chessbase compatible engines

Chessbase announced UCI engine support in Chessbase for Android too. Great news! I have packaged some chess engines in Chessbase compatible format so that they are directly available in that application. I will also release a new version of Chess for Android that supports this format to keep the chess ecosystem complete. Simply download and install my Chess Engines Package, available at  Google Play . For now, the package only contains a few engines, but any chess author that wants to be included is welcome to drop me an email with permission to include the binary in the application.