Monday, May 25, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 21, 2020

Good morning, afternoon, or perhaps evening where-ever you are.  Welcome to the Lego GBC Observer for week 21, 2020.  There hasn't been too much new GBC activity over the last week, so a few of these choice picks are from earlier in the year.

First up is a speed-o-meter module from Bananaman, these types of modules have been done before, and use a differential mechanism to adjust the "speed" indicator, which will decrease over time unless balls are flowing through the machine.  Good stuff 🍌🕺.

Next, Snowy has created a new conveyor module with an interesting feature (which you'll have to see for yourself).  While the feature is relatively simple, I've never seen this on any other module.  This will allow for some basic audience interaction, very creative!

And for the finale this week, Lawrie walks us through his glow in the dark WORLD OF LIGHTS segment he did for the last Brickworld Virtual event.  My favourite is the super heroes shooter tower with the glowing balls being shot through the air.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

New Lego GBC Module Video - Catamaran Remix

Today I'm doing the official reveal of my 42105 Catamaran Remix Lego GBC module.  This module uses parts from the Lego Technic 42105 Catamaran set, and has resulted in a vertical sweeper module that actually floats! (Video linked below)

It was challenging trying to figure out how to incorporate the sails into a GBC module, and in the end they ended up being used as part of the input bin and output ramp.  The worm gears included in this set allowed for a proper gear reduction, and the pontoons worked as a large stable base for the module.

In order to achieve the floating, I had to add a few Lego boat weight pieces to help balance the weight in the stern of the boat.

I've run this module at a few events now both live and virtual and it has had no issues.  The input bin does not meet the standard for 30 ball batch, but smaller batches of 10 or less seem to work okay.

Instructions will be available in the boutique soon, so check back later if you are interested!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 20, 2020

Week 20, 2020.  If only there was 20 videos to feature, or perhaps a video with 20 modules...

First up is a shooter from smartbricks. Shooters have been done many times in many different ways, but the simplicity of this module is the stand out feature to me.

I love the nonsense wars videos because the builder (pikohan) is very informational.  In this video, he walks us through the creation of this stepper that uses a circular motion to achieve the lift.

And here we have Riku K's finished "Oldham Coupling", this is definitely a "can't stop watching" type of module.  It's part of his Modular Module series, where one input/powertrain can connect to many different types of modules/outputs.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Video of my Lego GBC loop that was shown at the Brickworld Virtual Con Spring 2020

I recently participated in the Virtual GBC loop that was happened at the Brickworld Virtual Con event, last Saturday.  5 other builders and myself prepared a home layout and then walked through it while answering questions and providing some additional information on each module in the layout.  Hosts Bob, Rafe, and special guest Tom Atkinson kept things interesting and enjoyable as we ran through each of the loops twice.

It was a fun time and I hope to participate in the June show as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Brickworld Virtual GBC this weekend.

After a successful practice run earlier today, I'm happy to announce I will be participating in the Brickworld Virtual GBC this weekend on Saturday May 16th starting at 11am EST (GMT-4).  Several other GBC builders from around the world have come together to provide Lego Great Ball Contraption entertainment at this event.  I will be running a layout with 14 of my modules, and answering questions along the way. ⚽🏀

If you would like to join in on the fun, more information can be found at the BW Virtual website here:

Monday, May 11, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 19, 2020

Welcome to Week 19 of the Lego GBC Observer not so live, from the not so secret lair of the Great Ball Pit! Some interesting modules and mechanisms appeared over the last week, and these ones deserve a second, third, and forth look.

First up, builder Riku Katsumata brings us a new mechanism that is very interesting. It uses a flywheel and some interesting motion in the technic beams to rotate the structure.  This is similar to one of his previously spectacular builds the "orbit overlap".

Normally I like to feature "GBC Standard" compliant modules, but this tiny scissor lift is very interesting. I'm curious about it s long term reliability for a convention ready module.

Mindstork is back with a new "Dumpster" module.  It reminds me of his other popular module, the "cradle tipper".  It's nice to see new modules that are using the Banana gears, I have a pile I need to use up.  One of these will be on my build table if instructions are ever released.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 18, 2020

Welcome to week 18 of the GBC Observer for 2020.  Now that I'm 95% moved in to our new home, I'm happy to get these posts back on track and on time!  So take a look at some great GBC videos that have recently appeared over on YouTube.

Nonsense Wars has created a great "multi-stepper" that uses 3 different types of stepper mechanisms in one module. He also steps us through some of the design and build challenges that was faced when creating this module, nice job!

Kevin Mitcham shows us a home layout that would have presumably been brought to BrickCan 2020 this year if it wasn't cancelled due to Covid.  There is a few new modules in here and everything seems to be dialed in, thanks for sharing Kevin.

Huw is back with a new spike prime based module that solves a major issue with creating scissor lift type mechanisms.  A whole lot of force is needed to get the lift started when it is in its collapsed position.  This is solved here by using the newer large actuators that can provide that strength needed to get it moving.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 16 and 17, 2020

Welcome to the GBC Observer for Weeks 16 and 17 of 2020.  I've been busy setting up my new Lego studio, and plan to start building and recording modules in early May.  A lot of interesting modules have shown up over the last little while, here are some of my favourites.

MSK has created a nice module that takes inspiration from vintage flight sim toys.  The different types of aircraft make this one fun to watch.

Sam F has created a ball pump that looks like a mashup between the BW2018 and a Lasse D pump, as well he's created an interesting chimney out of lightsaber bars.  It appears that these can be linked  up for shared power which is a nice feature.

This side stepper by Pinwheel is a very clean looking module with some great motion.  I'm looking forward to building this one as it would colour match my reservoir module perfectly.

John Sherman has created a new type of stepper that uses the macaroni elbows to help guide the balls up the steps.  Nice parts usage in this one!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 14 & 15

Welcome to the Lego GBC Observer for week 14 & 15.  Apologies for the missing post last week, but I have been busy moving into our new house (which will allow me to create a great Lego building studio!)  It seems like everyone else has been busy building and here are the interesting GBC videos I've spotted over the last week or so.

First up is a well themed module featuring a fire truck, it's built using a ball pump that has an unconventional horizontal check valve.  I'm curious how it would run over a long period.

Nonsense wars shares the second iteration of his "not scissor lift". I really like this lift,  it gains a lot of height with a fairly compact mechanism.

Builder Alex P shares his version of a Pusher Upper style module.  This one looks really nice with the striped pushers, and he has provided instructions in the video description.

In this last video JK Brickworks gives us a detailed breakdown of his Robot Dreams module.  As always, Jason clearly explains how everything works.  There are some great "Techniques" being used in this module.

Have a great week everyone.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 13, 2020

Welcome to week 13 of the Lego GBC Observer for 2020.  With so many people staying home, a lot of interesting new builds have appeared.  Let's take a look at some of the more interesting ones.

GBC Andre has created a neat lift using 2 pairs of Samsonite gears.  I've seen something similar to this before, but what makes this different is that he is using 2 different sized pairs of gears.  I think this is a great looking simple module.

In this next video, Ben has created what I would call a hybrid lift.  It's half stepper, half jigsaw, and I've never seen anything quite like it before.

Alex P has created a new module from the parts in the 42082 Rough Terrain Crane set.  The main lift is a ball pump, that feeds a water wheel.  Along with the agitated input bin this appears to be quite a robust module.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 12, 2020

Welcome to week 12 of the Lego GBC Observer for 2020.  Several builders have been busy building new mechanisms and modules. (Can you say that 3 times fast?)  Let's take a look.

First up is a home layout by Mindstork.  There are a lot of new modules in this layout, and the cycling one is quite funny.

Now let's look at another "Nonsense Wars" production, the Slide and Spin.  This module has some interesting intermittent motion thanks to a differential and a stack of clutches.  The use of clutches for additional mechanism timing is new to me, and quite clever!

This next layout from somewhere overseas has a lot of new modules, some using original lifts and some repurposing older designs.  It's a good sized loop with around 30 modules.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Weeks 10 & 11, 2020

Apologies for missing last weeks observer post, but with everything going on all around the world and my upcoming house move you could say I've been pre-occupied!  I've just had the chance to catch up on the latest GBC videos on YouTube and found some great modules that I'll share below.

Sawyer has built a nice EV3 "Robot Arm" module which appears to use 3 motors to lift balls in a bucket before dumping them into the output.  These robotic modules are always fun to watch.  I'm curious how much it will "drift" if it was running at an all day event.

Rimo Y has built a "factory style" module that has two stages to the lift and dump of each ball cart.
It looks like it uses quite a bit of parts.

This next module is simple, and I love simple modules.  Why do I love simple modules?  Because they are reliable and/or easy to fix!  Here we have a Minecraft themed 10x10 stepper.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 09, 2020

Welcome to week 09 of the GBC Observer for 2020.  This week we will take a look at a few convention layouts as well as a very cool interactive module.

First up is a video I took from the VLC Booth that was at Fan Expo Vancouver 2020.   A total of 4 club members contributed to the layout and it was enjoyed by a lot of people.  Also shown is the prototype of my latest module the 42105 Catamaran Remix.

Next let's look at 2 videos from Bricks Cascade that happened in Portland last weekend.

First is a video of Kevin's loop.

Next is a video of Neil and Josh's loop.

Lastly take a look at Pinwheel's newest module which happens to be interactive, very cool!

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 08, 2020

Apologies for the late post, but here we go.  The GBC Observer for week 8 of 2020.

First up a utility item that every GBC builder will need at some point, ramps.  Nonsense Wars talks us through his thought process when designing ramps for use in his GBC layouts and testing.

Next up, this interesting module uses a chain drive to lift up small levers in sequence that propel the ball forward.  On the way back down the chain resets the levers.  Now I don't think this would meet the spec for one ball per second, but if you had 2 or 3 of these going at the same it might be possible.

And here is Huw's take on a ball sorter using the newer Lego Education Spike Prime kit.  It's using one motor to drive the wheel, and then a colour sensor and motor to sort the balls into the correct output area.  Very simple, elegant, and expensive thanks to the pricey Spike Prime components.

Have a great (short) week everyone!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 07, 2020

Welcome to week 07 of the GBC Observer for 2020.  I've just returned from participating in my first collaborative layout for 2020.   We did a 3 day show here in Vancouver at Fan Expo where my LUG had a booth where we displayed both Lego GBC and other Moc's.  Video forthcoming.

Now onto this weeks interesting GBC videos.

Dunes has created a path splitter for his GBC layout, it uses an Akiyuki style rotating lift to raise the balls up to a ramp where the balls are send either to the left or right depending on the timing.  Apparently the timing can be adjusted to split the balls faster or slower via a gearbox.

In this next video, Riku has taken what was an EV3 controlled module by Akiyuki and rebuilt it using only mechanical mechanisms to control the movement.  Quite impressive.  This situation is very similar to when Pinwheel  recreated my Boost Pachinko module without the boost HUB.

Looking to build a simple module that is GBC Standard compliant? Sam F has created this simple conveyor which uses the smaller treads and has some nice features like an anti-jam mechanism if it's run in reverse.  Instructions are available in the link in the videos description.

Have a great week everyone.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 06, 2020

Welcome to week six of the GBC Observer for 2020.  With spring on the horizon and all of these new modules appearing, I'm hoping that this is a good indicator that GBC season has arrived!  There are a bunch of North American Lego Conventions kicking off soon and hopefully some exciting new GBC layouts appear!

Now onto this weeks videos.

If you haven't seen it yet, here is Jason Allemann's first GBC module.  Jason is well known in the Lego community for his builds, and has contributed to 2 published Lego Ideas sets.  This module features a simple stepper that feeds into a line of robots who pass the balls along to the output.  Visually it's very clean and fun to look at with the different robot builds.  Plenty of mechanism remains unhidden offering even more visual interest.  I like that Jason identified and solved the classic issue of balls stalling in the input bin by making the side walls asymmetrical using a curved brick on one side and some angled bricks on the other.  The GBC sign is pretty snazzy as well!

Have you guys seen Rohan's 5 mini-golf holes?  He's taken Lawrie's base design and done some great theming here.  I love the Fabuland and classic space ones.

Delwely's going full GBC now, and I really like the simplicity of this shooter module.  I may have to replicate this sometime soon :)

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 05, 2020

A few new modules appeared over the last week on YouTube, here are 3 that are worth a look.

Prolific GBC re-engineer dunes has completed his version of John Sherman's Ball Thingy 2. Ball Thingy 2 was inspired by a French builder and is fairly reliable from what I've seen in person.

This next module from Rimo Y is an interesting new design using 2 wheels that alternate to pick up balls in an indexed motion.  The weight of the wheels on the arms is quite substantial so the motion is pretty jerky which may impact long term reliability.

Delwely, one of our newest community chat members has created a nice little double shooter module using the engine piston pieces.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 04, 2020

Welcome to Week 04 of the Lego GBC Observer for 2020.

First up is a G-Model from Ben who has taken the parts from the Corvette ZR1 set and added a 40 tooth gear and motor to create a unique module.   This module uses a very interesting "hoeken" motion to lift the balls up and out.  Nice job Ben, building new modules from existing sets can be quite challenging!

Next up Lawrie gives us a tour of Brickvention 2020 highlighting his favourite modules in the layout.

In this next video, Caz walks us through the GBC layout at latest "London AFOLs" event.  There is a module in there that makes me want to get some of those large Duplo ball tubes to experiment on.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 03, 2020

It's only a few weeks into the year and we have some great GBC collaborations to look at this week.

First up, let's visit Australia and check out the GBC Layout at Brickvention 2020.  Thanks to Rohan for this walkaround.  My favourites are Rohans "The Mine" interactive module, and Ryk's Hulkbuster dozer.

Next let's visit the latest BayLUG meeting where the GBC guys showed off some new modules.  I really like the mechanical switching modules like the waiter and the grab and spin.

Here is a French layout with some interesting modules!  The ball accelerator is neat, and I also like the pusharm powered by a conveyor.

LittlePlasticBrick has recently built a reservoir module, sharing some nice shots of the gearing and all of the features.   A reservoir is something everyone should have in their GBC collection. By putting one at the start of your GBC section in a collaborative layout, you will be able to stop the flow and make any repairs on your modules without worry.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 02, 2020

Welcome to week 2 of the Lego GBC Observer for 2020.  Let's take a look at a few recent YouTube videos showing some interesting GBC modules and mechanisms.

First up, Sam F's mini elevator module.  This module passes balls up using pairs of half lift arms which is new to me, I wonder if it could be extended to run the balls to a higher output.

The next video is a recent Belgian GBC Layout from Mout.  There is a lot of classic modules in here, as well as a "new to me" monorail module.

Dunes has updated his Cup2Cup (BvB variant) with a nice long output widget.  I find those longer balls runs always entertaining to watch.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 01, 2020

Welcome to 2020!  A whole new year to discover, build, and collaborate on Lego Great Ball contraptions.  For anyone who is unfamiliar, this weekly GBC Observer post highlights interesting and new Lego GBC Modules that have appeared recently on YouTube.

First up for 2020, a brand new way to build a conveyor.  Dill.I.Am has used the Lego watch bands in his new conveyor build.  It's always fun to see oddball parts like this being used in a module.

Next, Puddy has created an interesting double scissor lift module.  Scissor lifts are usually difficult to get working due to the extreme load required to raise the lifts when collapsed, he seems to have overcome this issue.

And in this last video Lawrie walks us through the BrickFair New Jersey Loop that happened near the end of 2019.  Lots of new stuff in here, looked like a great layout!

Have a great week everyone!