I now own 3 digital chess clocks:
- DGT North American
- DGT Easy Plus
- Duel Timer
So as an Engineer, I figure I can make something that can address all of these issues. This is likely to become a massive project, so I will break it down into manageable chunks.
Phase 1 - Choose a Microcontroller
Based on what I have found on the interwebs, I am looking at the Arduine Uno R3. Everything needed is onboard, just plug in and start programming. Here are the specs:
Microcontroller ATmega328 Operating Voltage 5V Input Voltage (recommended) 7-12V Input Voltage (limits) 6-20V Digital I/O Pins 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output) Analog Input Pins 6 DC Current per I/O Pin 40 mA DC Current for 3.3V Pin 50 mA Flash Memory 32 KB (ATmega328) of which 0.5 KB used by bootloader SRAM 2 KB (ATmega328) EEPROM 1 KB (ATmega328) Clock Speed 16 MHz Length 68.6 mm Width 53.4 mm Weight 25 g
Phase 2 - Learn to program the microcontroller
I can get the Arduino as with a starter kit that includes enough components and instructions for some first projects. Plus there a lot of tutorials and videos on the web with instructions. Failing that, I might even read some books. It shouldn't take too long for me to be able to write the code for an elementary count down timer that switches to the other counter when a button is pressed.
Phase 3 - Integrate the Displays
Right now I am looking at the HD4470 20x4 LCD display, one for each side.
The 8 custom characters would allow me to design a segmented display that would use 3 lines for the time H:MM:SS and the 4th line for information such as delay countdown (or increment), period, and move counter. I mocked up something with only 5 custom characters that might look like this:
This display can be controlled with just 6 digital lines, one of which is the enable. If I understand correctly, I could control 2 displays with just 7 lines, with a unique enable going to each display, and the rest of the data going to both.
Phase 4 - Build the Case
For the first attempt, I will probably just use a clear plastic box, some large buttons and LEDs to indicate which player to move. That would leave me 3 more digital pins to add Pause, and setting buttons.
The ultimate goal is to make a nice wooden body with mechanical buttons that click into place, just like my wife's nice Jerger analog clock.
Pressing the Start Button
Publishing my thoughts here forced me to spend some time thinking about what I would need and doing some research. It also gives both my readers a chance to guide me back to the right path if I am starting out in the wrong direction. So now is your chance; leave me some comments.
I'll publish some future posts with status reports and pictures as I make progress.