Tuesday, May 14, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 21, 2019

After taking apart a few modules and doing a bunch of sorting I'm almost ready to start building again.  Let's take a look at some interesting Lego Great Ball Contraption modules that have appeared on YouTube over the last week.

Seasoned GBC builder Lasse Deleuran has updated his wheel design to increase reliability, reduce part count and added the ability to stack the modules.




Here is some footage of what appears to be a french GBC layout with some interesting modules.




Aussie builder Owen puts on a small layout.  One of my favourite builds from Owen is the "Catch n Release" where the output is self regulated by the weight of the balls in 2 different widgets.




Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Titans of GBC collaborating @ Skærbæk Fan Weekend


Beyond the Brick has announced that 3 of the world's most influential GBC builders will all be participating in the GBC @ the SkΓ¦rbΓ¦k Fan Weekend on the 28th and 29th of September later this year.

Akiyuki Kawaguchi from Japan

Tom Atkinson from the USA

Maico Arts from the Netherlands

This will be the first time these GBC heavyweights will be collaborating and should make for an epic layout.  I'm hoping they bring some never before seen modules to display for this special occasion!

8 Foot Duplo Slide

A while back I saw a slide like this in a European GBC video and really wanted to try building one as well.  I ordered 20 of these Duplo slide pieces from Lego replacement parts and have finally gotten around to filming it.  The motion of the balls is quite interesting from certain angles.

I'm hoping to work on this slide some more and turn it into a bi-directional bypass module.

Friday, May 10, 2019

8 minutes @ BrickCan 2019 plus module breakdown details.

I've uploaded the last of the BrickCan 2019 footage in this 8 minute video showing several clips of the GBC loop up close.



Here is a list of my module failures/breakdowns during the event.  (Dropping balls is not included in this list)


EV3 Counter

I left the brick powered on with the program running when I went home on Friday night after the Friends & Family event.  I realized this at home and brought new batteries for the next session on Saturday morning, sadly the Brick was completely wiped, my program was gone and brick settings like "Sleep Timer" were reset to default


Solaire

The well known jam that can occur if balls gets trapped between the technic connectors and the ramp drop in as it is rotating.  This happened several times, but the module is now clutched so it was a quick clear/fix by putting the module in reverse for a second.


Whirligig/Ronald

After 4 hours or so of runtime balls started to get jammed between the pushing axles and the exterior walls.  This was fixed at the show by changing the axle holding the exit beams/axles from a 10 to a 12 and adding a 2L beam w/ axle hole to brace the wall at the outside.


 



GBB-8C2

Frequent anti-jam activations, this was due to the un-level table.  I had to shut it down a few times, once to clear out a 2x2 tapered round brick (droid head) that somehow made it's way up into the pump.


Jade Dragon

The output piece inside the dragons mouth (1x4 black tile) would sometimes fall off if the speed was too high, this happened around 3-4 times throughout the event.  It was easy to fix and keep the module in the loop.


Chicken Pump

The module was not built using all of the bracing included in the original BrickWorld 2018 instructions so it anti-jammed enough that it eventually tore itself apart.  It was repaired and reinforced but continued to open itself up.  I eventually removed it from the loop on day 3.  

After it exploded the first time, someone in the crowd pointed to the TNT brick and said that was the problem.  πŸ˜‚


Matt's Mine

The 3rd step in my stepper was getting worn in and started to wobble and pop on each stroke.  I tried to repair it, but it would require a bit of a rebuilt with brick I didn't have handy so it was removed on Day 3.  Lawrie showed me some ideas on how to rebuild it to fix the issue which I will be doing sometime soon.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 20, 2019

Week 20, the one after BrickCan.

A lot of GBC layout videos have popped up over the last week, and if you didn't see ours from  BrickCan this weekend here it is.



Second up Lawrie does a walkthrough of his layout at a show in Syosset New York.  I like this video because he explains quite a bit about whats going on with each module.



Here's a look at Great Ball Contraption seen at Swebrick event Klosskalaset 2019 in BorlΓ€nge.  Some cool MindStork modules in here.



And in this last video Andre brings us a layout from Comic Con Wels 2019.  Lots of familiar modules in here in new colours.



Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

BrickCan 2019 GBC Report

BrickCan 2019 has come to an end, and the GBC layout that suddenly appeared on Thursday has now faded away.


Here are the stats we recorded on Day 1 (Friday)

Number of Modules: 56
Number of builders: 8

Layout Length: 20m
Length x Width: 6.8 x 3.5

Number of Balls: 400
Average Ball Lap time: 11 minutes


Highlights for me include

Dave DeGobbi bringing a proper elevated gateway module.  This is the first time we had one at BrickCan, and I don't think I can go without it ever again.  The module had a larger version of his "cheesy buckets" cheese spiral to lower the balls which seemed to work well and also had the ability to mesmerize the public.

Everyones reaction to the Toilet Module I brought.  There was lots of laughing and shouting "IT'S A TOILET" all weekend.

Lawrie flying in from New York with his famous 9 hole putt putt golf layout.  Seeing it in person was very cool!


Running the GBC

BrickCan is a bit strange in that the public sessions are in 2 hour blocks, with a 30 minute break in between.  This allows for scheduled breaks to eat, rest, or fix modules which is great!

Lots of modules needed fixing including my Chicken Pump module which exploded twice, and continued to have issues even after being repaired/reenforced.

It was really hot because the lighting is poor in that area so they add a few standing lamps which seem to emit a lot of heat.This made standing around quite tiring, I think next year we will have to bring some fans or get them from the venue.

The public was good, with very little module grabbing, however lots of dropped ball grabbing was going on, and someone tore down 2 sides of the fencing at some point on the last day.

In Conclusion

It was a good event, and a great GBC layout!  I learned quite a bit and also had some fun.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Great Ball Pit Live @ BrickCan 2019!

I'm at BrickCan 2019!  If you want to follow along please visit the greatballpit instagram page where I will be uploading photo's of the event as they happen.  As well you can jump into the GBC Community Chat server where I will also be posting some content and chatting with everyone throughout the event!





Tuesday, April 30, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 19, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer for week 19, of 2019.

First up Dunes shows us his mod, of Ryk's mod of the BW2018 ball pump.  Ryk made it larger so it could be used as more of a reservoir, and now Dunes has added the Turntable Mod I created and put even more of his own work into it!



Mindstork has created a Donkey Kong themed module which looks great!  My favourite thing is the minecraft micromob face used for Mario.



Maico has shared one of his latest layouts, lots of modules from different designers in this loop!


Have a great week everyone!

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Better Ball Bin

Not content with my smaller 30 ball bin, I went back to the drawing board and came up with something that is much more then just a ball bin.  I present to you the Better Ball Bin.


Features
  • Holds 95 Balls Securely.
  • Double Hinged Lid stays out of the way when opened.
  • Easy Pour Slot provides a controlled flow of balls when emptying the bin.
  • Flip up 10 brick tall measure for GBC Standard I/O compliance testing.
  • Extra Parts and Tool Storage (25L Unjammer included).
Instructions can be found here on github, or linked from my instructions page.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Getting Ready for BrickCan 2019

It's almost time for another Lego Con and that means another collaborative GBC layout!  I will be heading to BrickCan 2019 in nearby Richmond, BC May 2nd-May 5th.

Event Website Here: http://www.brickcan.com/

River Rock Event Page: https://riverrock.com/event/brickcan-2019/

BrickCan is a smaller con with AFOL attendance capped around 250.  This will be my 3rd year there and I plan on bringing around 20 modules.  In order to support that I've upgraded and updated my infrastructure now with 8 Train Controllers, more power extensions, a large amount of fencing, and new promotional material.  As well I have a new large bypass, and have rebuilt/repaired many modules over the last year.


BrickCan 2019 Loadout
Please introduce yourself even if I look busy, I'm always happy to meet other people who enjoy Lego GBC!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Turntable Top for Ball Pump

I've just released some instructions for the turntable top I built for the BW2018 Ball Pump.  This should also work with any other ball pump.  I have not included an output ramp, but there is a Technic pinhole that is available to connect something.


With this top you can adjust which direction you want your output to face, as well there is several accessible technic pins, pin holes and the main gear rack so you can modify this to do whatever you can imagine.  (Maybe even motorizing the main gear rack to spin the output).

Instructions can be found on the instructions page or you can jump directly to the PDF on github here https://github.com/greatballpit/LegoGBC/blob/master/Instructions/turntable-top.pdf

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 18, 2019

Welcome to week 18 of the GBC Observer for 2019.

There was quite a few new GBC videos that appeared on YouTube over the last week and here are three of my favourites.

Ethan one of our discord community chat members has created a new module which looks like it was inspired by my Whirligig module.  This module called Bananagig uses the banana gears as a nice smooth ramp for the balls to be pushed up and over.  Instructions are available and are linked in the video description.



Akiyuki shows us a module that uses the newer coaster track. The way the driving arms change angle before connecting to the coaster carts is really well done!



BVB is back, and it looks like he has finished his reboot of the Akiyuki ball factory. I really like that this new version does not sit on a baseplate, and looks quite rigid.


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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

New Boutique items available for purchase.



I'm happy to announce the availability of some new GBC gear featuring 3 original designs by the Great Ball Pit.  All of the shirts have a single clean logo on the front, and are available in a variety of colours.  Please visit the Boutique over on Teespring to see more!

All purchases directly support the Great Ball Pit, and if you are a member of the Discord Community Chat you will be granted the Supporter tag.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

"Powered Up" now available at Lego Shop @ Home

So I just looked on Lego Shop@Home (here in Canada) and quite a few Powered Up components are now available for sale.  (Note all prices quoted in this article are in Canadian Dollars)


Intersting things:
  • They are now calling the "Boost Hub" the "Move Hub".
  • Both Medium motors have different prices, with the "simple" one costing $14.50 more. πŸ€”
  • The Powered Up LED lights are no longer showing up for sale.

GBC Cost Analysis:

  • Power Functions Battery Box + PF M-Motor = $18.48
  • Powered Up Hub + PU M-Motor = $89.98
Disappointingly, even at $90 the powered up components would still require a "Smart Device" or the $30 remote control to even turn on the motor.  Let's hope that some adapter cables will appear that allow us to power the newer PU motors from older PF power sources.

GBC is already quite an expensive theme to build and these new components are really going to push the price up.  I would recommend that everyone continue to stockpile Power Functions components over the rest of 2019, and get a good quantity of the 9v Train Controllers as well.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 17, 2019

It's week 17, and here are some interesting GBC videos I've discovered on YouTube over the last week.

First up is a narrated walk through of a "simple" train module from a member of BayLUG.


Lasse has returned to work on one of his older GBC modules.  The tilting dump mechanism is fun to watch.


This last video is a stepper, what caught my eye was the ball bin that looked like Swiss cheese.



Have a great week everyone!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Quick Look - GBB-8C (Version 2)

Here's a quick look at the second version of my GBB-8C module.  The first one failed hard at BrickCan 2018, so I wanted to quickly fix it for BrickCan 2019 which is coming up in a few weeks on the May the 4th weekend.

The new version uses the rock solid BrickWorld 2018 Ball Pump designed by Brian Alano.  Instructions for the BW2018 ball pump can be found here: http://www.greatballcontraption.com/wiki/File:2018_Brickworld_Ball_Pump.pdf

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Spring into GBC 2019 Contest

Looking for a reason to build GBC this weekend?


A few of the builders over on the GreatBallPit Community GBC Chat are hosting a "Spring into GBC 2019" module building contest**.  Build a GBC module up to 48x48 in size, prizes include official Lego GBC balls and some other great stuff.  Detailed rules and prize information can be found here: Spring into GBC 2019 Contest

The official Discord server for the contest can be located here: https://discord.gg/E8fRkUG

I'm looking forward to seeing what is created for this contest!

**This is not an official greatballpit.com challenge so please direct any questions about this contest to the associated discord server.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 16, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer for the Week 16, 2019.

First up let's take a look at this video from "Antons Mindstorm Hacks" YouTube channel.  He shows us how the new 28 tooth gear can mesh with other Technic gears.  If you didn't know, Lego has introduced a new Education product line called "Spike Prime" and it has several cool new Technic parts, and programmable HUB.



Next up is an interesting new lift mechanism that I haven't seen before.  This one is from Bananaman2018



And in this new layout video, Cadder takes us through the GBC @ the Sydney Brick Show.



Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

GBC Instructions - Emmet's Red Crane

GBC Community Chat Member Pinwheel has released instructions for his Emmet Red Crane Module.  I really like this module and look forward to building it sometime soon!





They can be found here: https://bricksafe.com/pages/pinwheel/emmets-red-crane


You can see this module in action below at this recent TwinLUG GBC display.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 15, 2019

Welcome to week 15 of the GBC Observer.  Spring has arrived and with it, several new GBC modules and layouts have appeared online.

Here is Beyond the Bricks BrickWorld Indy 2019 GBC layout walkthrough with Tom.  There are several new modules here including the upcoming BW2019 workshop module!  Can you spot it?



Next, here are some interesting modules from what appears to be a recent BayLUG meeting.  The top of the ball pump is simple but interesting to watch as the balls bubble up and sit around.



And in this video Ben shows us the 3 modules he's built from the 42055 Bucket Wheel Excavator set.  He's arranged them in a small layout which is clever.



Have a great week everyone!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Quick Look - Space Balls the Contraption

Here's a quick look at the Benny Space theme I applied to Ryk Field's REF03 module.



Instructions for Ryk's module can be found here: https://github.com/rykfield/REF03-16x16-Stepper/blob/master/REF03%20-%2016x16%20Stepper.pdf

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 14, 2019

With YouTube search currently disabled, the Great Ball Pit Discord Community has stepped up with a bunch of new GBC videos over the last week.  Click HERE to join in on the chat, no signup required. 

First up Rohan puts on a small show in Australia πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί



Next, Pinwheel and BigFoot from TwinLUG put on a small show at their local Science Center.



And Brian Bell from DixieLUG gives us a walk-around from BrickFair NC, both FakeSpaceSquid and Brian have modules in this layout.



Have a great week!

Monday, March 25, 2019

New Lego GBC Module - EV3 Counter

I've recently completed my EV3 Counter GBC Module that I will be using at BrickCan 2019.  I consider it a utility module so I decided to leave it rather plain looking.  I may return to it at a later date to make it look a bit "nicer".


It uses a Power Functions M Motor to power the conveyor which is using the new extra large sprockets (part #: 6253463)


Battery life is yet to be determined, but I'm pretty confident the 6AA should last throughout the weekend since the EV3 Hub is not driving any motors.



If it ends up being reliable at BrickCan 2019 I plan on releasing instructions and the EV3 program.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 13, 2019

Welcome to the GBC Observer for week 13 of 2019.

First up we'll take a closer look at Lawrie's EV3 dump truck that runs on train track.  This allows it to be used as a corner module, or return balls to the beginning of a GBC loop.



Beyond the Brick takes us through the GBC modules at Bricks Cascade 2019 in this next video.  "Everything jams eventually"



In this last video we see the layout from BrickWorld Indy 2019.  Theres a few new modules in here, I like the one with the oval racer track that's just pushing balls around.



Have a great week everyone.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Free Instructions Updated + GBP Update

Hi everyone, I've finally finished updating the WM01 module instructions which completes the task of moving them offsite to GitHub. Check out my GBC instruction page HERE.


As well I've finished my EV3 Ball Counter module (video forthcoming) and I should have time to build / repair one more module in time for BrickCan 2019 which is at the beginning of May.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 11, 2019

Hey everyone, welcome to week 11 of 2019.  A few new interesting GBC modules have appeared this week.  But before those, let's start with a more in depth look at John Sherman's layout from Bricks Cascade 2019.



Korean builder Sung Joon Yoon is back with an interesting take on a stepper/pusher module. I have not seen one done this way before.



Here is an interesting take on a GBC train. It doesn't look like it would meet any of the GBC standards, but it has an interesting triple car loading mechanism.



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Lego Technic Axle article by Huw

Huw has written a pair of articles on the history of Technic Axles.  I really enjoyed learning more about these parts that we frequently use when building GBC.

They can be found on BrickSet at the links below.

History of Technic Axles Part 1

History of Technic Axles Part 2

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 10, 2019

Hey everyone, it's week 10 of 2019 and here is your GBC Observer!

First let's look at the GBC from Bricks Cascade 2019.  Modules by Kevin Mitcham, John Sherman, Josh Gay, and Rick Vogt.  Thanks to Adam's Brick Junction for the video!



Want to get started in GBC?  Lawrie shows us his variation of the first Brickworld Workshop module (GBC DONAHUE).  This module is cheap, reliable, and a great place to start!



Since there wasn't too many new modules seen over the last week I thought it would be fun to look at this Akiyuki layout from 2010.  Lots of NXT/Mindstorms stuff going on here.


Have a great week!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Upcoming GBC Events for the Great Ball Pit

Some people have been asking which events I will be attending in 2019, so here is a list of the Lego conventions in 2019 I will be at with some of my GBC modules.  If anyone has any GBC specific questions about these events please feel free to email me @ matt@greatballpit.com and if I don't know the answer, I can put you in contact with the GBC coordinators at these events.

BrickCan 2019

May 2-5
River Rock Casino
Richmond, BC
http://www.brickcan.com

BrickCon 2019

October 3-6
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
Seattle, WA
http://www.brickcon.org


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 9, 2019

Welcome to Week 9, of the 2019 GBC Observer series.  We have several layout videos this week, so enjoy!

Maico has shared his "follow the blue ball" video from Lego World 2019. This layout features a world record 279 modules.



Beyond the Brick has released their Brickvention 2019 GBC walkaround which shows a  the modules in more detail than some of the earlier videos.  Thanks to Rohan for the shout-out!



Huw has shared this video of the GBC layout @ Reading Brick Show 2019. I like use of those odd shaped Technic panel pieces in the down chute of the overpass.



And last since I forgot to post my latest video to the blog here is a small 4 Lego Minecraft module layout.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 8, 2019

Welcome to week 8 of the GBC Observer here at the Great Ball Pit.

First up is a nice large conveyor and square tower by Sung Joon Yoon. It is a pretty tall module, and I appreciate the simplicity.

 

Next, Lawrie gives us a closer look at the GBC Catapult module he built using images and video from Beyond the Brick videos.  The original module is by Tom Atkinson.



The last video this week shows us the GBC layout from Lego World Copenhagen 2019.  There are quite a few modules running in this layout.  They must be quite reliable as there is not  many GBC techs hanging around.  A few copies of my Solaire and Whirligig modules also make an appearance.



Have a great week everyone! 

Monday, February 18, 2019

New Lego GBC Module - Winter River

I've recently created the 4th and final module in my Minecraft theme series.  It's a tipping ramp module called "Winter River".  It uses my WM01 module as the lift mechanism, and the balls gently roll around in the river before falling out to the right.




I've always enjoyed seeing these table style modules where a large quantity of balls can roll around before exiting.  So I figured with WM01 as the conveyor this would be a great close to a series of four modules that use different lift mechanisms.

My Lego Minecraft GBC Series
  • Morgan's Mine: Tipping Ramp
  • Matt's Mine: Triple Stepper
  • Chicken Pump: Ball Pump
  • Winter River: Conveyor
The tipping ramp simply "Bolts on" to the WM01 module and is powered by the meshing of the 40T gears.  It took me a little while to get the right speed and amount of tilt correct for the table.  I used a bunch of pieces from the Minecraft Polar Igloo 21142 set for the decoration.

While this is not a complex module, I enjoy watching it operate with it's slow motion.




Tuesday, February 12, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 7, 2019

Hey everyone, I haven't been able to build much over the last month for a variety of reasons. Luckily for us, there is a ton of great new modules that appeared on YouTube recently.

Akiyuki is back with a great new lift mechanism that is similar in function to his stuck ball machine.  A pair of robots grasp at the air until they catch a ball which they spin around and toss into the output.



Berthil has done an updated and improved version of my Separation Anxiety module.  It runs very smooth and has a GBC standard compliant input bin, nice work!



While we are looking at brick separators, let's look at Sawyers latest which also features them as part of the lift mechanism.



Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 6, 2019

Quanix is back with version 3 of his Pneumatic Ball Factory.  This one has quite a few different mechanisms, including a new turntable mechanism, as well as an interesting build for a simple conveyor using the older tread/chain and some rubber dampers.



A new German builder has appeared and uploaded several interesting GBC modules.
Here is one of them.



Here is an interesting Korean conveyor build that looks similar to one that Maico has done in red previously.



Have a great week everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Lego GBC balls price drop?

I recently looked on Lego Bricks and Pieces and noticed that the price has dropped on the orange Lego GBC balls. This time last year they were listed at $1.27CDN and they are currently $0.81CDN.

In November 2016 I placed my first order for GBC balls and they were $1.01CDN each.

Here are the February 2018 Prices

 

And here are the February 2019 Prices



I have no idea what type of data Lego uses to price their parts but now seems like a good time to buy a few.... Also why are the white balls always out of stock?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

GBC Event Map by Lawrie

GBC builder Lawrie George from New York has created a pretty nifty map of upcoming events that will feature a Great Ball Contraption layout.



You can visit Lawrie's YouTube page HERE

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lego Technic "Control+" reveal, and PF L Motor revelation?

Last year AFOLs were informed by the Lego Community Team that Power Functions would be phased out.  Many discussions took place between the AFOL community and Lego, and you can read more about it in the post from last year HERE.


Control+ (The new bluetooth system for Lego Technic)


Yesterday Lego revealed what would be replacing Power Functions.  It is not called Powered Up like we were told.  Instead it is a new brand of Bluetooth controlled components called CONTROL+

The first set to include CONTROL+ will be a massive Liebherr Bucket Excavator based on this real world machine.


The set is said to have over 4000 parts, 2 Control+ Hubs (which each have 4 outputs) and 7 motors.  As well the model will be able to send telemetry back to the mobile device controlling it.

The new Control+ Hubs are said to use 6xAA sized batteries each, and battery life has yet to be reported on.

This new set will be available August 1st, 2019, and is reported to be priced close to $500USD.

PF L Revelation


Community chat member Brian B brought up a very interesting item that all of the recent Technic sets from 2018+ that did include motors, were motors of the "L Size".

2018
42080 - Forest Harvester
42082 - Rough Terrain Crane

2019
42095 - Remote Controlled Stunt Racer

I'll speculate here and say that by doing this, it allowed them to scale down production of both the M and XL motors, and focus on having L motors produced to be used in the final sets that include Power Functions.  In fact 42095 might be the last set that has any Power Functions motors included!

It is quite possible that M, L and XL motor production has stopped completely, and what is being sold now is remaining inventory.

If you are planning on GBC'ing in the future you should definitely grab a few extra motors sooner, rather then later.