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 👁 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 💰 The Money Bin 💰 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.


‣ 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 If that doesn't happen I will pick another person.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

GBC Observer 👁 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 👁 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 Skærbæk 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


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.


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.



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.  😂

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 👁 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 Borlänge.  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!