Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.com
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
It occurred to me today that although Great Ball Contraptions (GBCs) have been discussed on these forums a few times before, there's nowhere specific for people to post about them or about the modules they build, so I thought I'd create a thread for it. If it dies a death, then so be it!
I was also looking for the best place to post about the module I've just completed. It's an Archimedes Screw style module, but using the aqua slide pieces, which as far as I'm aware has never been done before.
I've also uploaded a video of it working here
(I'm not sure how to embed it though).
I don't want this thread to be just about my GBC though, I want to see all the weird and wonderful modules others have come up with, or are working on! :)
Shopping at LEGO.com or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.com • Amazon
Recent discussions •
Think there may be an issue with your video link. I just get taken to a Youtube page telling me I need to create a channel in order to upload videos.
It looks like an impressive piece of kit though - I'd love to see it running, as I can't see how the ball is driven up the screw.
I guess you could easily add a second screw to yours?
I think this is a great idea, each year they could have a new colour ball. It would open up GBC to a wider audience and be a great part pack (what sets has 10+ balls in?). I think the best thing for Lego to do is keep the size and price down. The sets could act as starter sets teaching people the basics of different ways to move the ball around. This would mean that you were encouraged to go away and make you own bigger version and keeping the size down would also mean after ten years you could having them all running on your bedroom floor rather than needing a warehouse.
As for adding a second screw to mine, I couldn't easily add one, no, as I use Technic liftarms as supports for the central column, to ensure it doesn't fall apart. Adding a second screw would mean I'd have to remove that support. Plus it doesn't really need a second one.
The second video is interesting. I tried seeing how the balls went down the slides, but I found that if the slide is too high, they often go down so fast that they fly out before they get to the bottom - you can see that near the start of the video - and you'd therefore need quite a large 'containment' area.
Plus I also don't think they would sell very well. It's surprising just how many pieces a GBC module uses - even the small ones. The smallest one I have (which is pretty tiny) has about 250 pieces in it, and the white Archimedes screw has about 1500 pieces in it. Then you'd have to add in the cost of the PF, so even the smallest ones would be about £30, with larger ones well over £100. They simply wouldn't sell in anything like the quantities Lego would need them to in order to justify investment and production.
I really like @SMC's idea though, that maybe you have some smaller ones that show basic ball movements and such, but not on a bigger scale. Something like that I feel like probably could sell, but I do agree that they would have to find a way to handle the PF between multiple sets, and probably keep them pretty small.
And I definitely admit it's something that will probably never happen, as much as I personally would enjoy it. :)
@Bumblepants Especially if they release a way to motorize it that doesn't wear/rub on the pieces. Definitely some great potential there!
I wonder how predictable the spin is. It would be really cool if you could use that spin to connect it up with the next mechanism. Like if you had a large flat area that they would spin across, and the spin would cause their trajectory to shift from going straight out of the slide across the flat area, to some rails or a small collection area off to the side or something. Would just be kind of neat to see a slightly unconventional transfer like that if the spin was predictable enough.
Jamie, I have seen other friends slides Archimedes screws, but yours is the nicest one to look at.
That double standing screw is downright amazing. I would have never thought to rotate the screw to stop the balls from flying off the slides when they have too much speed.
As for more GBC , I started a GBC blog and YouTube channel at the start of the year with the goal of getting some more quality Lego GBC content on YouTube.
I look forward to talking GBC with you guys, and will post my new videos here when they are released.
Here's my latest layout video, and a link to the blog.
And, welcome to the forum!
I started dabbling in GBCs last summer and have been hooked ever since. I've not come up with much that's completely original but I find it great fun watching videos on YT of other people's ideas then trying to reverse engineer and, hopefully, improve on them.
Many of those on YT look great and are very clever but lack the precision needed to run all day at a show, and that's where the challenge lies.
I do like yours with the brick separators :)
What I've really been having fun with lately is doing what PV-Productions does. You take a technic set and build a GBC module out of just those parts. (add a motor if needed) It's super challenging, but really fun, and more like a puzzle. I'm doing one with parts from the Mine Loader set right now... After 2 failed ideas I think I have one that is going to work well!
i appreciate @greatballpit’s site and associated videos but there are simply too many to peruse.
looking to build them for an upcoming STEAM night.
Also, is it necessary to have the 9v Train control?
I also like this one: http://www.greatballcontraption.com/wiki/GBCRamps
You don't need the 9v train controller, but it is best. You can just control it via a PF battery box, but that means you'll need to stop it and replace the batteries at some point.
These are two of the lifting sections - you can see that they're different heights. Each one is two plates higher than the previous one. They use Technic axles to stabilise them, moving through Technic plates. If you use too many of the Technic plates stacked together though, the axles will stick as they move through them.
Here's the mechanism, which is simplicity itself.
And this is the gearing - an 8-tooth gear on the M motor, connected to a 40-tooth gear driving the mechanism.
And here's a video of it working:
Maico Arts' basic module is a great starting point, http://greatballcontraption.nl/bi/Skaerbaek2017-v0.11-without-light.pdf.
It's the first module I built.
It's small, super-reliable, uses just regular studless beams, and also a great module to have in a circuit to regulate the flow of balls.
The instructions don't include a motor, as it's been designed to be ganged together with multiple units, but there's one here that can be used: http://greatballcontraption.nl/or you can just append your own, as I did.
No, you don't need a train controller unless you're planning on running them for hours at a show.
I like the look of your module PaperBall, it's funny how the same mechanism can be built in different ways. The internals of my reservoir stepper looks nothing like how yours is built.
https://brickset.com/parts/design-72824 via BnP or BL... That'll keep it all Lego!
The latter ones are definitely the best things to use - non-Lego 'marbles' or suchlike may be the correct size, but they might be different weights, which can affect how modules work.
As said, you can buy them from Bricklink or Bricks and Pieces, but they're not too cheap. Best thing to do if you intend to display with others, is to buy a couple of dozen for testing, and when displaying with others, check if they have balls - if they've been doing it a while they probably will.
(sorry, will forever be a little boy)
BnP is down for the holidays (...), so BL would be your place to go for now (opens back up in the beginning of next month).
Have you found a source of compatible transformers? I seem to have 2 more controllers than I can find them for.
I now have six controllers, so I need to find somewhere to buy another two transformers, ideally for less than £9 each. I originally thought that pound stores would sell them, but the ones I've looked in don't have any - everything is USB powered these days.
Hmm I wonder if you can get USB adaptors for them? I doubt it though...
There are cables on there which claim to take a 5v input and output 12v (how?), but they're over £5 each, and by the time you've bought a USB plug as well, you might as well just get a normal DC adaptor.
Oh and all of those cables are less than 1m long, which isn't exactly great.
Back to the drawing board...