Monday, December 24, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 52, 2018

Welcome to the last GBC Observer of 2018.  To end off the year I thought I feature 3 of my favorite modules that I built in 2018.

Simple, Elegant, and Reliable.  It is built using pieces that were released 13 years apart.  It has been copied and seen all around the world.  You should build a copy for yourself!  Free instructions can be found here.

Greylime XL
Greylime is the second version of the first GBC module I ever built "Greylime".  It features a simple conveyor, a recirculation function, and stowed output extensions.  The illuminated "Garage" can be used to display mini-figs or other small scenes.  This module won the "Belle of the Balls" trophy at BrickCon 2018 in Seattle.

Boost Pachinko
This module is powered by the Lego Boost system.  Both motors in the HUB and the external motor are used.  The distance sensor is used to trigger the jackpot functionality.
Future updates planned are a new game board, and perhaps some stand-alone functionality with a proper recirculation system.

The next observer will appear on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

New Lego GBC parts for 2019.

Today I thought we would look at some interesting new molds/parts that will be available in some of the 2019 Lego sets.

Large Sprocket
Available in set 42095 Remote Controlled Stunt Racer
A larger sprocket should allow for bigger, larger, conveyors?  This sprocket should also reduce the wear on conveyor links due to the reduced angle required to circle the sprocket.

Large friendly 10 and 6 tooth gears
Available in set 41366 Olivia's Cupcake Cafe
Some interesting new gears that do not have an axle hole.  We will have to add one in order to drive these gears.  They remind me of the older technic expert gears like the ones I used on my Whirligig module.

Pneumatic Fire Hose
Available in set 60216 Downtown Fire Brigade
Maybe these could be used to create a pneumatic GBC shooter or some sort of ball lifting mechanism.

Ninjago Spinner Cup
Available in set 70660 Spinjitzu Jay
A nice cup-shaped element that could be used to catch or hold GBC balls.

Wedge Slope
Available in set 75975 Watchpoint: Gibraltar
A new wedge slope will be great for input bins and other ball pathing needs.

Monday, December 17, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 51, 2018

Welcome to the second last GBC Observer post of 2018!  Lots of great videos showed up over the last week, and finally I've seen a holiday themed module!

Let's get into it!

Ryk has themed his REF03 module into a really cool Christmas module called "Snowball fight".  It features a fun suggestion that the white GBC balls are snowballs and the elves seem to be having a great time.

Here's a GBC layout of some non-standard modules that have some interesting ideas.  I like the 5 wide technic panel pusher (I've only seen 10 wides done before), and the idea of the dump truck on the conveyor is quite intriguing.

BVB has created a pneumatic scissor lift that interfaces with Akiyuki's V2 train system.  I think it's really cool that people are making additional modules that work with the Akiyuki Train system.

BlockheadUK has done a small update video and shows us her collection of "rainbow warrior" modules.  Nice stuff!

Monday, December 10, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 50, 2018

Only 2 more observers until the end of the year, and still no Christmas modules have appeared!  Seems like a bit of a slow week for GBC as everyone is probably busy with the upcoming winter holidays.

Korean builder SUNG JOON YOON is back again with a module that looks similar to one that Maico has.  My favourite part is the minifig on top controlling the arm.

BVB shows us how to fit as much Akiyuki train into as little space as possible in this video.  Lots of mods and custom stuff going on in here.

Sariel has put together a great list of tips and tricks in regards to the current Power Functions line of motors and controllers.  This is a great watch for anyone new to building Lego GBC.

That's it for now, have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018 Great Ball Pit Challenge - Winners

They came, they built, and they conquered the constraints.  Ten builders from two continents submitted their custom modules to the inaugural 2018 Great Ball Pit Challenge.  The builders were then allowed to vote on which of their competitors modules they liked the most.

With so many different design styles and lift mechanisms it was not easy to pick a clear winner.  After calculating the votes, it was no surprise that every module received at least one vote. 

Only the top two modules were eligible for a prize, so with no further ado here are the results.

Scroll Down


First Place
Serendibite's Jungle Tracks

This module is well decorated, and uses quite an unusual lift mechanism.  Two tracks work together to lift a ball up at seemingly odd intervals.  The fun jungle theme and mysterious lift mechanism garnered several first place votes from the other builders.

Serendibite wins the following:
- Brand New Sealed 42084 - Hook Loader
- A copy of my Upslide module's digital instructions.
- The winning module running on display @ BrickCan 2019 (with full credit to him) if a digital model is provided so that I can recreate the model.

Scroll Down


Second Place
Alex Popiel's White Lifter

This module is a seemingly simple conveyor lift, but if you look closer you will realize is that it is built to interface and drive Kevin Mitcham's shared power standard that is popular in the Pacific Northwest.  That means that this GBC module can power 4-5 other modules if they also follow Kevin's standard.  Alex has also provided instructions to this module which can be located HERE.

Alex Wins:
- A copy of my Upslide module's digital instructions.

I'd like to thank everyone for participating, and I hope you had fun building something under the constraints I provided.  Some of these modules would be great "Workshop" modules for future events so I'd encourage you to iterate, improve, and create instructions for them.

Good game everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 49, 2018

As the end of the year approaches several new modules have appeared.  No Christmas themed modules yet, but I'm sure we will see some soon!

Builder Riku Katsumata has improved his pneumatic module which is running much smoother then before.  The motor can run in either direction which is very nice, and the use of the older Technic Expert gears is a fun touch.

Ryk's latest module the Tumble Dryer is looking good.  I like the recirculation function.

A Japanese builder has created a nice module which moves balls around in pairs similar to the Akiyuki Ball Factory

Friday, November 30, 2018

Locking 30 Ball Bin

Now that I've joined a Lego club, I need a way to transport my GBC balls to meetings when I'm displaying a new module.  Previously I would just put them in a ziplock bag or a small plastic container.  That was not purist enough so I've now created a nice small locking 30 ball bin which conveniently holds 30 balls, the same size as the batch rule of the GBC standard.

This box is built using brick and beam techniques so it is very strong and shouldn't open on it's own.  It is locked using a 3L Friction Pin with Bush (In red).  The hinged lid has one extended beam to allow for easier opening.

I've also decorated a second copy of this box for Christmas.  If I saw one of these under the Christmas tree I'd be very happy!

I've created instructions for this box and they can be found HERE as well as on the INSTRUCTIONS page.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

New Lego GBC Module - The Throne (Flushing Toilet GBC)

I present to you "The Throne".  The throne is a flushing toilet GBC which has some great motion and sound as the balls circle the toilet bowl.

The lift mechanism is a modified BrickWorld 2018 Ball Pump that has had the gearing replaced and relocated.  As well it is now using a PF XL motor to lift the taller stack of balls.

The flushing mechanism is a simple see-saw balance mechanism, that tips (flushes) when it receives 4-5 balls.  The balls then travel down a ramp to a chute that has some inverted curved slope pieces at the bottom which help redirect the balls horizontally out into the bowl.

This module also has a "Great Ball Pit" style recirculation function that is spring loaded to ensure a solid switch.  This allows the module to run in either stand alone or collaborative modes.

I've added a couple of easter eggs to the module like the plumber in the control room, as well as a spider crawling up the tank.

If you were curious, the toilet bowl is made from the older sports arena corners in white.  They are around 15 years old and they only came in one set, a Snowboarding set to be exact.  Part #: 43086

Monday, November 26, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 48, 2018

Welcome to week 48,

A lot of great modules showed up this week so let's get into it.

BVB dropped this monster of a module on us, a very large Roulette machine.  The scale is great, and the double shooter is well done.

Mindstork brings us this literallty twisted module which is really well themed and has a "new to me" lift mechanism.  I've never seen a screw with the slides moving to pick up the balls.

serendibite has finished his entry for the Great Ball Pit 2018 Challenge.  It's a very well decorated jungle module using a very unconventional lift mechanism.  It's a pair of two odd shaped, and odd timed tracks.  Very cool!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

GBC Regional Culture

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about how I've noticed GBC differs based on the region it's built and shown in.

North America (West Coast)

Lots of shared power.  In fact so much so that workshop talks have been given to convention goers on this topic alone!

In the following video Kevin's shared power starts at 4:36.  Josh had 6 modules using 2 motors earlier in the event as well.  Both John Sherman, and myself do have shared power modules, they just weren't on the table at the time of this video.

North America (Mid West and North East)

Lots of brick built modules, and these layouts have some of the oldest GBC modules in existence since this is where Lego GBC started.  Home to the BrickWorld Workshop modules.  The world record for largest GBC layout frequently bounces back and forth between here and Northern Europe.

Northern Europe

Home to the Lego Group, and a lot of Technic built modules come out of this part of the world.  Maico has been doing GBC for a while and he has a lot of vintage technic built modules.

United Kingdom

Lots of very clean looking modules.  I've seen a lot of new lift mechanisms appear from this part of the world.


Lots of robotic and factory machine style modules.  Akiyuki is a master at making complex mechanisms look easy to build and run.

Australia / New Zealand

Lots of well decorated, brick built themed modules inhabit this part of the world.  Some of my favourite themed modules have been from this part of the world.

Monday, November 19, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 47, 2018

Welcome to week 47 of the GBC Observer.  Here are some of the Lego Great Ball Contraption videos that I enjoyed over the last week.

Beyond the Brick has a BIG BALL MACHINE video here.  What do you think of this bigger scale GBC?

Now I'm not sure where this is, or why they don't have a return loop.  But this was interesting to me because I saw someone has cloned my BB-8 ball pump, Upslide, Whirligig, and Jade Dragon module. They've also built a bunch of akiyuki's and Brickworld modules.  There is some other neat modules in here that I haven't seen before as well.

And lastly, here is a very nice moving wave module from a builder named Mind Stork.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 46, 2018

A little bit of a slow week for GBC on YouTube.  I know a few builders are working on modules for the 2018 GBP Challenge, but they won't be done for a while.

First up is a collaborative layout from the UK.

Next we have a Korean builder with a Technic built inverted tread lift.

And finally here is Ryk's final version of his 16x16 for the GBP challenge.  It's a very slick looking module, and he has been kind enough to provide instructions as well!

Have a great week everyone.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lego GBC Module - Chicken Pump

My entry into the 2018 GBP Challenge is this ball pump module themed up in Minecraft.  It uses the lift mechanism from the BrickWorld 2018 ball pump.  The chicken is built similar to the one in 21140 The Chicken Coop.


I've extended the input bin to be 15x8, this will allow for a little more ball collection, as well stretching it out to the left will allow for this to work a bit better as a left turn module.  There is a small ramp that can be used for recirculating if you rotate the chicken counter clockwise 90 degrees.


Overall this was a small fun build, and I'm happy to add it to my collection of Minecraft themed modules.  Here is a video of it in action.

GBC Observer 👁 Week 45, 2018

Good morning everyone,

Let's take a look at some GBC modules that have turned up over the last week, starting with 2 works in progress of modules that will be entered into the 2018 GBP Challenge.

Serendibite has come up with a dual tracked lift for his module.

And Ryk has also been able to create a really neat looking stepper into the small 16x16 space for the challenge.

And we will finish off this observer with an amazing one person layout from Huw.  He has 4 new modules in here, and my favourites are the Zamor sphere module and the twin Archimedes screw modules.

Monday, October 29, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 44, 2018

Its week 44 of 2018, it's been nice to see that for the majority of the year there is always some new GBC videos to look at.  Let's see what caught my eye over the last week.

First up is is a Korean Big Ball Contraption.  I've only seen Maico use those big balls in a GBC prior to this so it's pretty cool to see another.

Ryk shows off a few of his older modules.  I like the decoration on both of them.

Huw is back and shows off his latest module which is a nice looking ball accelerator.

Have a great week everyone.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Discord Module Challenge and 1000 Subscriber Giveaway

Several users on the discord GBC community chat were looking for something to build so I proposed the following challenge.  If you haven't joined the chat yet, click HERE it's free and easy to use.  We are always talking about Lego GBC and other Lego related products.

The BrickWorld series of workshop modules are great examples of smaller modules that would fit into this challenge.  Examples HERE and HERE

Module Guidelines
- Module must sit on a 16x16 baseplate, and be stable.
   - Building outside of the 16x16 footprint is allowed only for moving mechanisms, and output ramps.
- Module must meet the GBC standards for input bin height and capacity (30 balls).  Output speed needs to be "reasonable" which is around 1 ball per second, or 30 batch every 30 seconds.
- Module must use a Power Functions M, L or XL motor and be able to run at full speed using either a battery pack, or 9V controller set to max speed.
- Module does not need to be a "new mechanism".  Existing modules are welcome if they are re-skinned / themed nicely.

Challenge Details*
- Submissions will only be accepted in the Discord "challenge-2018" channel.
- Submission Deadline is December 03, 2018
- Submission must include a video of the module operating.  This can be either on YouTube or posting a video file to the challenge-2018 channel.
- Must live in North America, Australia, New Zealand, or Europe (for prize shipping reasons)
- By entering this challenge, you (the builder) are allowing me to post videos and additional content showing your module with full credit to the builder.

Each entrant will vote on their 1st and 2nd favourite module.  1st module vote counts as 2 points, 2nd module vote counts as 1 point.  The winners will be chosen based on which module receives the most and second most points.  You are not allowed to vote for your own module.  (My Chicken Pump module is not a contender, but I am allowed to vote.)

First Place Prize
- Brand New Sealed 42084 - Hook Loader
- Upslide Digital Instructions
- Module on display @ BrickCan 2019 with full credit to the designer.  (If you provide me a digital version or several pictures so I can build it)

- Upslide Digital Instructions

All entrants will receive the new "Great Ball Pit Builder" role on the discord server.

* I reserve the right to modify or append additional rules to challenge at anytime

1000 Subscriber Giveaway

As the channel grows, I wanted to let everyone know that I will be doing a giveaway when the YouTube channel reaches 1000 subscribers. 

- Brand New Sealed 42071 - Dozer Compactor

When that time comes, I will release a new commemorative module video.  To enter the contest you will just need to leave a comment on that video.

Monday, October 22, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 43, 2018

Week 43 was a big one for GBC, with some great layout videos and new modules appearing over on YouTube.

First up is the official Beyond the Brick tour of BrickCon 2018.  This video features John, Dave, and myself talking about our modules.  Big thanks to John for co-ordinating the theme this year, we had such a great time at this event!

Shadow Elenter a master Technic builder has released a great walkthrough video of the massive GBC layout at Lego World in Denmark.  4 of my designs made it into this layout which is awesome!

Builder yukihira shows us this really interesting "slanting up" module.  I haven't seen this type of mechanism before where the tilting motion keeps the ball moving in a straight path upwards.  Very cool.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

GBC Module - Boost Pachinko

It's been a long time coming, but here is the write-up and video for my Lego Boost module.

This module is a playable Pachinko game that pays out a jackpot if the ball goes in the correct opening.  It uses the Lego Boost Hub and external Boost Motor and Boost Sensor.

The Boost Hub motors power the aiming guide, as well as the jackpot door.  The external motor powers the conveyor, and the sensor is used to detect if the jackpot has been #triggered.

I've modified my Boost hub to work with AC power by using a small 9V DC power adapter.  This allowed me to run the module for many hours at BrickCon 2018 in Seattle without having to waste batteries.

This module had to be programmed on my phone using the Boost programming software.  It's not super complicated but it controls the following major functions:

Control the aiming guide automatically moving it back and forth.  As well you can manually take control of the guide and "play" the game trying to aim a ball into the jackpot opening.

Detect if a jackpot is hit, stop the conveyor and aiming guide, open the jackpot door, play a sound and then restart everything.

This version has 2 game area's available to play, it's really easy to swap them.  I plan on building an additional one for BrickCan 2019.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Double VIP points on Lego Shop @ Home

For any of you waiting to stock up on the soon to be discontinued Power Functions motors.  This week is a good time to stock up.  Lego has their double VIP point promotion on.  I've picked up a few more M-motors, extensions wires, and switches.

I actually burned out an M-motor for the first time at BrickCon.  It was on my Tri-sep module which was clutched and not under heavy load... some people have speculated that it was the motor that I used in my "World's tallest ball pump" video which it might be since I never marked that motor (which I should have).

I've also noticed that orange GBC balls are back in stock.  They are expensive, but if you want to test against what you'll use at a convention you'll need a few.  Search for part 72824 in the replacement bricks section.

Monday, October 15, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 42, 2018

Lots of new modules this week along with some nice layouts.

Jamie Douglas and Huw (from Brickset) set up a really good looking layout at a recent event.  Their modules are very well styled for being mostly technic.

A very interesting "sun" module.  The way the main wheel is moved is very different.

Ryk Field is back with a new module, it is a triple stepper and a bucket toss.  In this video all 4 copies are running off of shared power.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

GBC Observer 👁 Week 41, 2018

Week 41, the Observer after BrickCon.

J Douglas is back with his interpretation of a Lego Marble Run

An interesting layout with a really great interlocked Rings module.

And here is some footage from the GBC @ BrickCon 2018