Sunday, March 01, 2015

Building a better time machine

When I say time machine, what I mean is a chess clock. A few years ago I was involved in a project that was to add USB to a chess clock to aid TD and users in general who have trouble setting the chronos or other digital chess clocks especially in the large scholastic arena where the TD’s are expected to help set chess clocks.

I had worked on a proto type with a similar look and feel to the chronos.  I had a partner who was helping with supply chain and “ideas” but as things happen, my partner bailed and I was going through some “life stuff” that back burnered the project and the previous ~$2K out of my pocket start up costs for first prototypes etc.

I am at a point where I might resurrect this project again. But in 2010, USB was the siren call to help minimize set up time for users and lessen the headaches of my TD friends.  I am thinking today, USB would be nice but maybe a Bluetooth enabled chess clock so you can configure it with a smart phone?

What are your ideas fellow readers?  Do you see  adding USB and Bluetooth  for user interface of a chess clock a nice evolution? If so how much more would you be willing to pay for it?  What about the display?  How about other features ( move recording is not on the table for this iteration but I do have ideas on alternatives to DGT’s overpriced system). 

I may not be a great chess player, but I am a pretty decent engineer with experience in building things like this. So tell me what you would like to see in a “Time machine” from Blunderprone.


Jason Oliphant said...

so, first let me say that absolutely- would I welcome a redesign of the chess clock.

I'm not very familiar with many chess clocks, but the one I have seems very intricate. with lots of settings.. and not very intuitive to use.

from a tourney point of view, I don't understand why these kinds of systems aren't designed to network.

imagine a networked set of clocks. the tournament director, places clocks at each of the board. next he synchronizes them before the round; now each clock is automatically set up to the right time control, and set to begin at the start time.

if the players don't show up there is a countdown to default.

if one of the players needs help he bumps a button that pages the TD and suspends play.

at checkmate/ resign/ draw. a button is hit that ends the game and lets the TD know.

... then the network allows all these notifications to be made in the strictest of silence.

it would be beautiful I think. I myself would easily 50+ for such a thing; and I can imagine professionals paying up and over 100$ (after all whats some of the wood boards you see cost)...

on the other hand. the downside is that the bluetooth functionality, might be expensive and to make it really smooth, you'd want to have a good clock at each board.

that could go real money in a scholastic tourney, where there are probably already cost limitations about equipment.

you'd also need to be a little careful about creating lots of functionality that is best accessed by a cell phone. that encourages more cell phone usage during a chess tournament which, can create issues with cheating..

perhaps you should post a video on the operation of what you created before and some of its advantages over current available clocks.

Check2Check said...

If you do happen to continue the project might I suggest the inclusion of some form of display illumination on the regular black LCD displays (if you're planning on using them that is).
Both the Chronos and DGT clocks don't have this feature and I think it would be a nice touch. Being able to turn it on or off and adjusting the intensity of the illumination would be a plus as well.

reassembler said...

I like Jason's idea. For a while, watching (especially older) players hopefully banging the buttons in hope of lucking on the 40/90 setting... I thought "why is there no app for this?"

But I guess bringing smartphones into the room has drawbacks.

So networking them and letting the TD do it, that's cool.