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!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Module Rise and Run


Today I'm sharing one of my latest modules I call Rise and Run.  This module uses two mechanisms to move the balls along.  The first mechanism is a small step, which raises up to 3 balls to an awaiting ramp of steps.  The second mechanism (the ramp) then tilts upwards allowing the balls to tumble down the stairs and out of the module.




It is powered with a Lego Power Functions L-Motor, because I needed the speed of the M-Motor along with some more torque.  It is not clutched and I found the M-motor would sound strained when pushing up one of the ramps.



This was a fairly quick module to build, it was finished in 2 days.  It's using a fairly common power train that has been used in many other modules by other builders.  There is a long axle that runs along the bottom of the module and power is branched off once for the tilting ramps, and again for the steppers.  Using worm gears to take power off the driveline increases the torque and keeps things running smooth.  The downside being that it really slows things down, and that's why I went with an L-Motor instead of an XL-Motor.



If you have any questions about this module feel free to drop a comment below or on the YouTube video page.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Lego GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 23, 2019

Welcome to Week 23 of 2019.  The Lego GBC community chat members have been building quite a bit, here are some videos they've posted over the last week.

Brian Bell has created a pleasant looking stepper module using some of the new parts that debuted with the Lego Education Spike Prime announcement.  He uses the new 3x3 biscuit piece as well as the 2x4 bricks with axle hole.



Pinwheel has shared his new "High Stepper" module which brings the balls up quite high.  It's a clean looking module that seems fairly straightforward in its construction.




Ryk shares a video of the GBC layout @ one of the BrisBrick events in Australia.  There is a long return train in front which surprisingly seems to be able to keep up with the amount of balls passing through the layout.



Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Lego Powered Up! Part 3

This is a follow up to Part 1 and Part 2 of the discussion of the next generation of Lego motorized and programmable products.

Last Week Lego hosted a Fan Media event and a talk was given about the roll out of the Lego Powered Up! line of products.   They showed several slides, and then did some interviews taking questions from AFOL media.

So far this is what falls under the "Powered Up!" umbrella of products:
  • Lego Education WeDo 2.0
  • Lego Education Spike Prime
  • Lego Boost
  • Lego Technic Control+
  • Lego Duplo Train
  • Lego City Powered Up
This video from the "Assembled" YouTube channel shows all of the above products and has the program designers answering some questions on the products.



The Good News
  • There will be a "Technic Simple Battery Box" that should be able to turn motors on and off without needing a bluetooth connected device.
  • They are working on rechargeable packs for some of the PU hubs, probably the Powered Up HUB and maybe the Boost HUB.
  • There is still talks of a Powered Up <-> Power Functions compatibility cable.  What we need for the Lego GBC community is a cable that will allow us to connect the new motors to our older 9v Train Controllers.
  • They talked about a possible firmware update to allow the bluetooth hubs to offer basic functionality when not connected to a bluetooth controller.
The Bad News
  • No release date for the simple Technic battery box.
  • Prices for all of this new stuff is much higher than the current power functions.
  • No mention of a Mindstorms EV3 successor

Powered Up GBC Modules in the wild?

Has anyone else publicly displayed a Lego GBC from any of these components?  As far as I know, I have been the first and only person in the world to display a Lego Powered Up Lego GBC module at a public layout.  That was my Lego Boost Pachinko @ BrickCon 2018 which was surprisingly very reliable.  The only drawback was needing my phone to be used for the Boost App whenever the module was turned on.



Technic Control+

The first Technic Control+ sets should be shipping sometime in the second half of 2019.  The massive Liebherr Bucket Excavator (42100) has been delayed until October.  Following that should be the Rock Crawler set that was shown to attendee's at BrickCan 2019 which also used the Control+ system.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

New Module πŸ’° The Money Bin πŸ’° and 1000 Sub Giveaway!

In celebration of hitting the 1000 subscriber milestone on YouTube I've created this fun module based on Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin.  GBC balls are not cheap, and Scrooge is hoarding as many as he can!

The module meets the GBC standard for input and output, and the lift mechanism is a conveyor powered by a PF M-Motor.  It's a modified version of my "Tall Technic Conveyor".


 


The trap door is a fairly straight forward floor of beams that are counterweighted with some system brick.  The chute can be switched to either recirculate or output the balls, it is operated with the red lever attached to the 40T gear.  This drives a 8T gear that moves a flap inside the chute.



GIVEAWAY DETAILS

‣ I am giving away a sealed copy of Lego Technic set 42071 Dozer Compactor.
‣ I will be picking one random person who has commented on the YouTube video page at 12:00PST May 31st, 2019.
‣ I will post the name of the winner in a pinned comment on the YouTube video page.
‣ They will have 72 hours to email their contact information to contact@greatballpit.com If that doesn't happen I will pick another person.



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

GBC Observer πŸ‘ Week 22, 2019

I've been building quite a bit over the last few days and managed to finish the 1000 sub celebration module as well as another module that will be revealed at a later date.  It looks like some of the guys from the Discord community chat have been busy as well.

First up Tunnel_Cat has created a mining themed module which is decorated really well.  I'm not sure how the lift mechanism works... but it does appear to work, which is all that matters.



Rohan has created a different "big circle" module, this time using part of older bionicle masks as the scoops.


BayLUG appears to have caught the GBC bug, resulting in a lot of videos lately.  Here is their layout at a local maker fair.

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.