Tuesday, September 17, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 39, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer for Week 39, 2019.  The one 2 weeks before BrickCon 2019!
I've been busy doing some module cleaning, module repairing, and module packing for the upcoming trip to Seattle.

A lot of interesting Lego Great Ball Contraption videos appeared on YouTube over the last week, here are my favourites.

First up, Pinwheel shares a video from a recent TwinLUG meeting where they put together a small GBC layout.  I like the wacky sea life module, and also the friends mini-dolls helping out in the Akiyuki cup-to-cup.



Builder Riku Katsumata shows us his "Moduled Module", a ball piston type input/loader that has 4 different output attachments.  Lots of module abuse in this video, beware!



In this next video, Nonsense Wars shares his G-Model of the 42071 Dozer Compactor.  He explains why he built it and how it works.  I'll be building this one at some point.


Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 13, 2019

What's in my GBC convention kit?

As I prepare for a few upcoming events I thought I would share what's in my GBC parts/repair/utility kit that I bring with me to conventions.  My current kit is stored inside a small Plano fishing tackle organizer, adorned with some various Lego/Convention related stickers.


Inside everything is somewhat organized with different tools/parts stored in their own section.  From top left to bottom right is the following:



  • New Spare Motors: 1XL, 1L, 1M.
  • Larger Technic Bricks & Beams, Technic Plates
  • Spare Gears (2+ of each type)
  • Technic Pins, Bushings and Telescopes.
  • Various Technic Beam Variants (Dogbones, T's, Biscuits, HassenPins, etc)
  • Technic Connectors (all sizes)
  • Axles (2+ of most sizes), Spare Sprockets (1 of each size)
  • Smaller Technic Bricks
  • Tools, Larger Pieces, Sharpies, Labels, Pocket Knife, Brick Badge & Promo Bricks.


Here's a closer look at some of the parts stored inside.



One essential item I would also recommend you bring is Masking Tape.  You can use it to label various things like train controllers, wires, or modules.

What is inside your toolkit, and what do you store it in?  Am I missing some essential items?  Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 38, 2019

Welcome to the Great Ball Contraption Observer for week 38, 2019

Lots of new GBC and layout videos have popped up over the last week, and here are some of my favourites.

Nonsense Wars brings us a small layout from their latest BayLUG meeting.  There is a few new to me modules in here including the interesting ball batter, I like how there is a catch mitt for it.



Next up, Andre shares a layout he worked on with Lasse D and Peter.  Lots of familiar modules in here along with some new ones.  I like the output ramp using the orange technic wheel arch panels.


Ryk has decided to 1up me, after I 1up'd Pinwheel. Here is his Triple Splat module.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Great Ball Pit LIVE! (Upcoming events)

As we roll out of summer, I thought I would update everyone on where you will be able to see my Great Ball Contraption modules in person.  Stop by and say hello, I'd love to talk Lego GBC with you!


Maker Faire 2019
Saturday August 14th, 2019
Vancouver, BC
Science World - Booth 504 (Look for the Lego Battle Bots)
10AM-6PM


BrickCon 2019
Sat-Sun October 5th & 6th, 2019
Seattle, WA
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
10AM-4PM

Friday, September 6, 2019

Great Ball Pit featured on Lego Technic's facebook page

It's always great to get official Lego recognition for the GBC theme, and today the Lego Technic team on Facebook have shared my "Grainbow Sawtooth" module with over 250,000 followers!



Thank you to the Lego Group for supporting the Lego Great Ball Contraption community!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

New Module - Splatiyuki

Here is my latest module which is called Splatiyuki.  It is based off the Akiyuki designed loader for his "Cars with ACC" GBC module.  Differences are that I've replaced the Boost Hub with a Power Functions M Motor and some gearing.  I have also added a second counter-rotating splat lift.


I wanted to do something "interesting" for the output so I used up a bunch of engine intakes pieces to create a zig zag ramp.  The output ramp is designed to sit on the next modules input bin.


Big thanks to Akiyuki for releasing the instructions for the splat loader and making this module possible!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lego EV3 Program for a Lego GBC Ball Counter

Some people have asked if I could share the programming for my EV3 based GBC counter.  So I've cleaned it up a bit and added comments where I could.  It is now available for free download at my GitHub repository HERE.

Functionality includes the ability to save and restore your count, as well as reset the current BPS if you have a breakdown or stoppage in the layout that you want to ignore.

You will need a Lego EV3 Brick and a Lego EV3/NXT Touch Sensor.



You can see my original Lego GBC Ball Counter video here.



If you have any questions or comments on this you can email me @ matt@greatballpit.com or ask on the GBC chat on Discord which you can join by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 37, 2019

Welcome to week 37 of the GBC Observer for 2019.

Lots of great GBC videos this week!  I'm back in the Lego now, having updated my GBC counter software and building some new modules!  Lets get to the videos!

Akiyuki is back with another track based module which uses several Powered Up components to load and move programmed train cars around a track.  Everyone on the GBC Discord is loving the splat lift and several people have already built their own copies with custom modifications.




BVB has built an interesting module where you can direct the balls with a remote.  The idea is that someone can try and color sort the balls as a challenge.



Caz shares the layout that was at the London AFOLs GBC Show At Egham Royal.  There's a few  familiar modules in here in the uncommon Rainbow Warrior color scheme!



Have a great week everyone!

Friday, August 30, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 36, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer for Week 36, 2019.  A few days late, with some great-great ball contraption videos to share with you!

But first, where have I been?  I'm still here, and I am always checking in on the GBC Community Chat hosted on Discord HERE!  I've been pulled away from my Lego for a few months for various reasons, which included getting ready to move, and playing some of my favourite video games.  Recently attended a LUG meeting has gotten me back into the Lego!  I'm working on some new modules, and getting ready for BrickCon 2019 in Seattle Washington this October.

Now onto this weeks videos.

Bananaman is back with another unique module called upforks.  It has a robotic look to the movement which is always fun to see in a GBC.



Rohan shows us his latest build, which uses the uncommon octopus legs piece, very cool!



Here is a layout from the Cotswold Bricks and Trains Show (2019).  Lots of modules from Huw in this layout.



And here is one that I think deserves some attention.  It's a 2 mechanism stepper and wheel by Dill.i.am.  The compact size makes me think this could work well as a workshop module.



I hope you all had a great week!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 35, 2019

Welcome to week 35 of the GBC Observer.  A few interesting new GBC videos showed up over the last week, and here they are!

First up Huw shows us his Lego boost color sorter.  Huw spliced in a PF cable to power his Boost Hub which is an interesting way to solve the Boost HUB battery issue.



In this next video Sariel compares the older Power Function motors with the new Control➕ motors.  While not technically a GBC video, this content is still worth checking out.


Ryk's rebuild of the massive Great Ball of China module looks nearly complete.  Looks great!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 34, 2019

I've been busy auditing, repairing, and packing up modules for BrickCon 2019 coming up in October.  Here are some great GBC videos that appeared over the last week on YouTube.

Sawyer has built another interesting liftarm module which carries the ball before throwing it out.  I like how compact this module is.



Cadder shares a walkaround the GBC layout @ Canberra BrickExpo 2019.



Lawrie walks us through the Brickfair Virginia 2019 layout on Beyond the Brick.  Lots of new modules this year, and I'm looking forward to building my own mini-carden lift.



Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘€ Week 33, 2019

I've just returned from a wonderful week long vacation, and here is the GBC Observer for Week 33, 2019 "one day late" edition.

Lasse D has updated his ball pump to V3 which has a bunch of improvements.  It looks like it can clear balls really fast, so this would be a great batch catcher.




Lawrie shares the build secrets of his Stargate module in this next video.



10x10 steppers, have you built one?  Here is Ben's 10x10 stepper.  I like the adjustable output: 2, 3, or 4 balls.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 32, 2019

This is the GBC Observer πŸ‘€for week 32, 2019.  Let's see what's appeared over the last week on YouTube that deserves a look.

Akiyuki created a new module called "Peanuts" which uses the newer roller coaster tracks.  I like the built in recirculation ramp.



Lawrie goes over his GBC Rover in this next video.  I like how simple it is, I might be adding one of these to my layout in the near future. 



Last up is a small layout video from Cadder @ the North Sydney Brick Show.


That's it for this week, but expect a lot more GBC videos next week, as Brickfair, VA is happening this weekend.  Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 31, 2019

It's week 31, and it's summertime in the northern hemisphere, so not a lot of building going on these days.  Having said that, there is a lot of convention activity still taking place and BrickFair VA is just a few weeks away.  Here are some Lego GBC videos that I thought were worth a look if you haven't seen them already!

Sawyer has built a pick and twist type mechanism in his latest GBC module.  The use of the knob gears to rotate the lift arms is well done!



I think I shared a video of this layout from Sweden previously, but this take is filmed well and narrated well, so it's worth another look.


And if you missed this last week,  Lawrie made an appearance on Adam Savage's Tested YouTube channel.  It's a great interview, and shows off a bunch of the GBC that appeared at Bricks by the Bay 2019.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

New Lego GBC Module - Tiny Stepper

Here is a 10x10x10 stepper.  It was actually a bit of a challenge to get everything to fit in the small footprint.  It meets most of the GBC Standard but can only take around 20 balls, a little short of the 30 ball batch.  Having said that, it can clear balls quickly.

It uses a Lego Power Functions M motor, and a simple stepper lift.  Be sure to watch to the end to see the module BATTLE!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 30, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer - Week 30 of 2019.  A lot of new Lego Great Ball Contraptions have appeared over the last week, here are a few of the videos that I enjoyed. 

Nonsense Wars brings us some footage from the GBC @ Bricks by the Bay 2019. There is a lot of interesting modules in here like the black train that seems to have it's own conveyor belt module onboard.



pg5200 has built a clean looking new stepper module. It has a recirculation function which I really appreciate.



Bananaman is back with a new module, and lift mechanism. I have not seen a module using a mechanism like this before!



Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

9 Module Layout Video

I set up a small layout here at home last week to test out a few of my more recent modules.  Results were mixed, Rise & Run had some issues with the pistons that I will need to fix if I want to bring it to BrickCon 2019.  Everything else ran great, enjoy the video.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 29, 2019

Week 29, GBC Observer is go!  Here are the videos that appeared over the last week that caught my eye.

Caz shares some GBC footage from the Bressingham Brick Show.



Here's a Swedish layout from Klossfestivalan 2019, lots of "new to me" modules in this loop.



Here is a nice simple waterwheel from Animatronica.  It as a nice low input, but looks like it may be speed sensitive by the timing required for the balls to fall into the output ramp.



Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The future of GreatBallContraption.com


Several members of the GBC Community Chat on Discord attended BrickWorld Chicago 2019 earlier this year, and one of the topics of discussion was the future of the "GreatBallContraption.com" website.  It was revealed that the current ownership is looking for a person, or group of people to manage it in 2020 and beyond.

The current owner (Mr. Alano) as well as other GBC heavyweights like Mr. Atkinson have already checked in on Discord and the discussion is now taking place in the Symposium chat room.

If you would like to participate in the discussion you can join the chat room HERE.  Please introduce yourself when you arrive and you will be given access to join the discussion.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

New Lego GBC Module - Multipath

Presenting Multipath, my latest Lego Great Ball Contraption module!



This module was built with utility in mind, and its output can be split into two separate paths.


The lift mechanism is a stepper that loads 4-5 balls into the sports ramp half-pipe, where a vertical sweeper raises the balls to the output ramps.  Both output ramps can be set to recirculate if desired.  If only one output ramp is set to recirculate then this module behaves like any other, with one input and one output.



It's powered by a Lego Power Functions M motor, but you can hear it slightly straining in the video.  I may replace this with an L motor in the future depending on its performance at the next convention.

This module took a little while to get working right, the most challenging part was building  the linkage that swings the sweeper in a back-forth type motion.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 28, 2019

Welcome to week 28 of the GBC Observer!  I've been busy building a few new modules which I will be showing later this month.   Here are some Lego GBC videos that I found quite interesting over the last week.

BayLUG member nonsense wars gives us a walkthrough of his "Not Scissor Lift" module.  The lift has a great vertical motion similar to a traditional scissor lift.



Sawyer has created a flipping lifter that has an unusual motion due to the gears being used in a different way.



And here's another look at Pinwheel's contribution to last the massive BW Chicago 2019 layout.


Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Lego Star Wars Boost Commander now available!

Beep Boop, the new Lego Star Wars Boost Commander set (75253) is now available from Lego shop @ home.  It contains 1177 pieces and similar to the original Boost Creative Box (17101) it appears to contain 1 Boost HUB, 1 External motor, and 1 Color/Distance sensor.

Including the 2 motors in the HUB, that gives you a total of 3 motors to use in your projects.


The Lego Boost system requires the use of a mobile smart device (phone/tablet) to both code, and run your applications.  This is the biggest downside of the Boost system.  When I was running my Boost Pachinko module at BrickCon 2018 I had to leave my mobile phone running the boost app within range of the module at all times otherwise the module would stop functioning.




Only a few builders have created Lego Boost modules, here are a few recent videos I've found.

Brian is using both a Boost HUB and a Powered Up HUB to prototype a train system.



HRU Bricks has a hybrid Boost Lego Ball Machine which also features pneumatics.



A German builder has also built an interesting Boost powered Lego Ball Machine.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 27, 2019

🌞Summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and with it comes week 27 of the GBC Observer 2019.  Only two videos this week, let's go!

dunes has updated his "Tom Atkinson Perpetual Prototype Shooter" module.  This module is clean in appearance, and appears to work really well.



Here is the Beyond the Brick loop video from BrickWorld Chicago 2019.  It's a real whopper with over 390 modules in the loop at one point.  Lots of new modules appeared this year so grab some popcorn for the 90+ minute runtime.



Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 26, 2019

Welcome to week 26 of the GBC Observer!  BrickWorld Chicago 2019 took place over the last weekend, and I was told that over 390 modules were on the table at one point.  While video coverage has been spotty and not too many photo's have come out yet, I did spy several new modules on the table and look forward to sharing them with you next week when more media is released.

Until then, lets' take a look at what appeared over the last week on YouTube that caught my eye.

Sawyer has created a new module with an interesting platform that rotates in an unusual motion.  There are several complex mechanisms at work here.



Pinwheel has created an interesting factory looking module, with the balls being suspended from above as they travel towards the output.




Rohan has created a new module using the Powered Up system.  This is a great little module that allows for both manual and automatic modes.  It's nicely themed as well!



Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Powered Up Liebherr @ Rock Crawler Interview by Assembled.

The Assembled YouTube channel has recently posted a video interviewing several Lego Technic designers while they showed off the new Control+ models the 4x4 Rock Crawler, and Liebherr  R9800

Of interest to Lego GBC builders will be all the new parts shown and discussed including the new linear actuators, gears, sprockets and clutch elements.  As well they show off how the new Control+ application works and show that you can do some simple programming as well.

I would say that with 4000+ elements, 7 motors, and 2 hubs, the R9800 would definitely make a great GBC starter set!



Thursday, June 13, 2019

BrickWorld Chicago 2019 GBC SAWTOOTH Lego Great Ball Contraption Module

Today I present my version of SAWTOOTH.  A Lego GBC Module designed by John Brost.  This module was created for use as the BrickWorld 2019 Chicago GBC Workshop Module.  It uses a Jigsaw style lift and is powered by a Lego Power Functions M Motor.


I've skinned my version to be mostly light and dark grey, I also added a rainbow colour to the lift mechanism.  I call this variation "Grainbow".


I built mine only using the parts list, a video clip, and a cover image.  No instructions were available at the time of the build, which made this quite challenging yet satisfying.


Please enjoy the video.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Lego GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 25, 2019

I'm looking forward to seeing what new modules appear at BrickWorld Chicago 2019 later this week!  While we wait, let's look at these interesting Lego GBC videos I've found over the last week.

Dunes seems obsessed with Upslide, doing mods to the original, slimming it down, and now he's doubled up!



Lasse has finished testing his tipping ramp module and shares the results.



Maico shares a recent layout from the Netherlands, the Fabuland module is amazing!



Have a great week everyone!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Build & Chat w/ Matt (Live Stream) Recap

This last Saturday I was feeling inspired to try Live Streaming some GBC building again, and it seemed to go pretty well.  I think the 2 hour duration works well for me and allows for enough time to complete one project, and chat with everyone.

On the stream, I built Ethan M's Bananagig module, and did some fixes to my broken Upslide module.  Thanks to everyone who jumped into chat to talk about GBC!

Moving forward I will be doing a monthly live stream every 2nd Saturday of the month starting at 5PM PST (00:00GMT) This time allows for most of my viewers to be able to tune in.

The format is subject to change but I will most likely be:

  • First Hour: Building a module I have not built before (from instructions)
  • Second Hour: Tweaking some of my own projects.
Below is the replay from the last stream.



If you have any feedback on the live streams please email me or drop a comment below or on YouTube!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Lego Old Town Road GBC Module

I'm gonna take my lego to the old town road 🎢 I'm gonna build 🎢 until I can't no more.



Today I'm sharing my Old Town Road module based on the #1 song from Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

The module starts with a custom conveyor designed to look like an old wooden grain elevator.  It was based on my WM01 small conveyor, but I increased the height so that it could reach the "Old Town Road" part of the module.  I had to add a tensioner to the conveyor due to the increased height which  left some slack in the conveyor.


The balls exit the conveyor onto a ring of old racer track, where Lil Nas and Billy Ray are circling the Old Town Road indefinitely.  The balls are pushed around the track until they reach the split which allows them to go down a track segment and out of the module.

 

Since the Grain Elevator isn't physically attached to the Old Town Road, it can be placed anywhere around ring.  This allows this module to be used as a corner module or a U-Turn module depending on what's needed in the layout.

  




Lil Nas and Billy Ray have custom mounts with Lil Nas riding on a horse with his loot, and Billy Ray riding in a Red Sports car with his guitar.

 

They are driven around the track by an XL motor which powers a simple gear train to spin the 32L axles from the middle of the ring.  I put all of this into a mountain / mine type structure which is physically connected to the ring ensuring that is remains positioned correctly. 


The utility of this module being able to be a corner or U-Turn is something that I really needed in my collection of GBC modules.  I'm planning on keeping this one in my permanent collection.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Lego GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 24, 2019

Welcome to week 24 of 2019.  I've been busy building, how about you?  Here are the GBC modules that appeared on YouTube over the last week that I enjoyed.

First up, dunes shows up his modifications to Upslide.  The module is a bit slimmer now and seems to be running great!



FakeSpaceSquid brings us the layout from "Scouting for Bricks Virginia 2019".



Lawrie takes us through some new changes he's made to his putter module.  Be sure to check out the other videos on his channel and website for more Lego GBC instructions and information.


Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Spring into GBC Challenge Results

Over the last month, 3 of the community chat members came together to organize a small build challenge.  FakeSpaceSquid, Ethan M, and Brian Bell put up some great prizes for their "Themed GBC" challenge.

The challenge was to build a themed module, one that you may recognize, or one that told some kind of story.

There were 11 builders and each builder was allowed to vote for 3 other modules that they liked the most.

The results:

First place: Pinwheel and his "Super Mario Brothers" module.



Second place: The Scrooge McDuck "Money Bin" that I created for my 1000 subscriber milestone.




Third place: Tunnel Cat's "Another Day in the Mine" module.



Honourable mentions to all of the other entries which I've linked below

Bengineer's Crane and Truck



Ethan's BananaGIG



Joel's Christmas Module



Lawrie's Rover



Ryk's Power Miners Wheel



Brian's Stepper Module



Lawrie's Lapras Pokemon Pump



Dill.I.Am's Mountain Pump



Not shown is LittlePlasticBricks "White Castle Conveyor"  which was one of my favourites.  I'll edit this post and add the video if it every shows up on YouTube.

I enjoyed all of these modules, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone builds next!