Monday, July 27, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 29, 2020

Hello, and welcome to a scorcher of an Observer for week 29, 2020.  Scorcher?  We are in the middle of a "heat wave" here in the Greater Vancouver area, and it's a toasty 30c outside.  But let's take a look at some cool Lego Great Ball Contraptions that have appeared on YouTube over the last week.

Builder Rimo Y is back another factory line style module.  This one appears to be moving a lot of parts at a high rate of speed, so I'm curious how long it would run before shaking itself apart? 🤔

Next up, a simple module that looks great.  I like the use of the cheese slopes spaced out with the grill tiles in between for the output ramps.  I feel like the grills are helping to slow the balls slightly as they flow down the ramp.

Lastly Pinwheel shares a nice simple "cruisin" module that features a car driving along while the GBC balls pass by.   I like how easy it was to be re-skinned.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

V-22 Osprey no longer coming to stores August 1st.

So the Osprey set has been cancelled, and we won't be discussing the politics of why here.  So instead let's talk about the tangible effects of the set being cancelled.

First let's speak on the demise of Lego Power Functions as it currently exists.
The Lego Group has stated that the Power Functions line of electronics will be sunset at the end of 2020.  This follows the 2019 discontinuation of the 84599 Rechargeable Battery Pack which is now over $100 used on Bricklink.  The 84599 was the only modern purist way to have variable speed control and be able to plug it into a wall.  Variable speed control is crucial in developing GBC modules, as it allows for various test situations to ensure module reliability.

84599 Rechargeable Battery Pack
Now while most veteran GBC builders today are using the older discontinued 2868b 9v Train Speed Regulators.  Many of us are looking to move forward with the Powered Up (PUP) line of products so that we will be able to quickly and easily buy new components direct from Lego should the need arise.  The current issue is that none of the current powered up hubs allow for AC power, and none of them have a rechargeable component.  As well they are very expensive because they include a small circuit board and bluetooth radio inside each one.  (Lego Education hubs do have rechargeable batteries)


PUP Control+ HUB

So where does the V-22 Osprey fit into all of this?  TLG hinted at a "Simple Battery Box" over a year ago during their PUP workgroup.  It was supposed to be a device that would operate like the current PF battery box offering a simple "on/off" for the PUP motors.  We rejoiced in knowing that "it may arrive eventually".

Well with the reveal of the V-22 Osprey set, many of us were delighted to see that the simple battery box would indeed be released, and be more functional then we expected.  It had 2 motor ports and offered axle holes connected to each switch that would allow for interesting connections to flip the switches.

PUP Simple Battery Box and L Motor

Well now that the set has been cancelled, we are nowhere closer to having a cheap solution to run our PUP motors.  Some are speculating that the parts may become available on Lego's Bricks & Pieces  on August 1st.  We will have to wait and see.

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Weeks 27 & 28, 2020

Welcome to another GBC Observer post for 2020.  Some great modules have shown up over the last few weeks and here are some of the interesting ones.  As always, if you'd like to chat about Lego GBC, come join us on the Discord server where there is plenty of Lego GBC and Lego related discussion.

First up is a module featuring the new waterpark slide pieces found in some new 2020 sets.  The novel thing here is that the builder has decided to run the conveyor chain inside the tube.  That is something new and quite ballsy.

Something we've been talking about recently on the Community Chat Discord is building a bowling themed GBC module.  Well too much talk has resulted in someone else building one first!  While this is quite a basic looking bowling module, I like the use of the BW2018 pump and modification to add a ball putter.

Pinwheel is back with another large ring module.  Using his hail-fire wheels as a bucket passing module.  I always enjoy seeing how those large rings can be used in different ways in GBC.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Lego GBC Observer 👁 Week 26, 2020

Good morning everyone, and apologies for the late Observer post.  I've taken a small break from GBC building to do what every AFOL dreads: sorting, and organizing!  I'm hoping to be back building GBC next week, now onto this weeks interesting videos.

First up, the nonsense wars channel brings us a new module using a new linkage.  As always the design and build process is well narrated by Pikohan resulting in an enjoyable GBC module walkthrough.

Kevin Mitcham shows us the latest version of his lifting arms sweeper.  The interesting thing about this sweeper is how low the pickup is, Kevin mentions it is approximately 4 plates high!  I have seen him use a variant of this to recover the balls at the output of his train module.

Master builder Akiyuki shows us an updated version of his spiral lift.  I've seen reproductions of his earlier design fail frequently at convention layouts, so hopefully this new design is easier for adopted owners to keep running.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Updated Module - RISE+RUN Version 2

Recently while going through my collection of modules, I took a hard look at my RISE+RUN module and had to make a decision.  Tear it down, or rebuild it to work reliably.  I decided on the latter since the original had zero run time at BrickCon 2019 due to it jamming as soon as it was put on the table.

The main issue was the piston steppers at the front of the module: Brick built, poorly.  They would catch on other bricks, and then gears would jump and become desynchronized.  My solution: Do a "full technic" rebuild of the module, removing 90% of the system brick leaving only the transition ramps and input bin tiling.

The results are a sturdier, more reliable module.  I replaced the "piston steps" with smaller tipping ramps.   I've also added a phase adjustment knob, that allows for tuning the ramps to pass balls without any hiccups.

Please enjoy a short video of the module in action below.