Interactive Cell Board game

An electronic board game with magnetic piece detection and illuminated cells.

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The Helvetios project (named like this because it’s the star 51 Pegasi, where the first exoplanet was discovered) pretends to be a game board were each hexagon cell it’s retroilluminated and has detection of the pieces over it. This way, the game mechanics could be implemented based in a two way communication with the user: the status of the cells could be showed with the illumination and the user could choose the cell by placing a piece.

The illumination is due with various RGB leds for each cell to have an uniform colour distribution, and the piece detection it’s done with a hall effect sensor, so the piece has to have a very little magnet under it.

Depending if it’s necessary to know the pointing direction of the piece, each cell will have one or three sensors and the piece one or two magnets.

The cells distribution is done in various circuits, the first one has the leds and sensors. The leds are driven by a rgb led controller and the sensors are read by a parallel load shift register.


The required software is divided in three parts:

  • Low level microcontroller firmware: The microcontroller will manage the led drivers to show the desired colour and read the hall sensors. It will adapt all the data to abstract a higher level software to the cell distribution of the board and it’s control. Also will manage an USB connection as a client device and will implement the USB HID protocol.
  • A ‘Gamemaster’ software to manage the data from the USB connection with the board, control the game turns and all the game flow. Also could host an AI player to play against it.
  • A frontend with the interface between the users and the Gamemaster. Could be a web server, to a quick mobile implementation or other data server ad hoc to be used by a client player app.


Schematic of the boardgame with 91 cells

Adobe Portable Document Format - 791.38 kB - 03/11/2021 at 19:00


  • Schematics finished, time to place a looot of leds

    Abel Rodriguez03/11/2021 at 19:00 0 comments

    Well, I've finished the schematic so I've started to place the components. It will take a while due there are 559 components in total, with 273 LEDs.

    And this is the A4 prototype with only 91 cells, I have drawings of other bigger designs with 169 cells and even 505 in a 70x70cm board!
    This is made in only one circuit due the small size of the boardgame, for bigger boards I'll use smaller circuits as 'rows' and connect them, so it will be easier to design.

  • Laser cutting a 91 cells board.

    Abel Rodriguez01/19/2021 at 19:37 0 comments

    I've made a laser cut prototype of the board. It's the led diffuser an the top face of the board. I will start to a 91 cells board, due it fits well in a A4 sheet and I could make a single PCB with all the electronics. This will help to develop the software, later it could be escalated to bigger boards with more cells and grouping cells to simpler pcbs interconnected.

    This design will be a single board with all the sensors and leds. The microcontroller will have an usb connector to manage it from the raspberry or other system.

    I've cut also what will be the interface to the board, a little oled screen and some buttons to select and navigate the boardgame cells. This interface will be connected directly to the Raspberry Zero

    Also I've been busy making the schematics, now It's time to component placing and start to route the pcb.

    I will add later the schematics when are finished.

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Dan Maloney wrote 05/18/2020 at 20:26 point

This looks like fun. Wonder how it would scale up - I'm thinking ping pong ball LED wall, like Bitluni made:

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Abel Rodriguez wrote 05/18/2020 at 21:52 point

The hall sensor needs a little magnet very near or a big magnet. It detects a 3mm magnet at 5mm. I'm looking to scale it by cascading the drivers of the LEDs and the shift registers that reads the sensors.

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