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Great Ball Contraptions

13468912

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  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,203
    Wow, that one even looks beautiful too. Sometimes GBCs can look a big ugly, but the finishing is excellent, even rounding off the corners. Maybe it needs some extra tiles on the uprights to hide those studs too?
    Fizyxdmcc0
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
    CCC said:
    Wow, that one even looks beautiful too. Sometimes GBCs can look a big ugly, but the finishing is excellent, even rounding off the corners. Maybe it needs some extra tiles on the uprights to hide those studs too?
    I would go plates then tiles to make it even with the existing plates. Also maybe add some to the bottom and at the top of the tower.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    Last weekend I had the pleasure of displaying my modules alongside Maico Arts and Ben Jonkman, the Dutch GBC masters, in Norway.

    In doing so I learned a lot about collaborative GBC displays so I thought I'd document it here to, hopefully, encourage the adoption of best practice at Bricktastic:


    1. Controller

    - Controllers should be wired so that turning it clockwise operates connected modules in the required direction.
    - If the module(s) require(s) less than full power it should be indicated on the controller somehow

    Why? If your module requires attention while you are not in attendance others will be able to control it.

    2. Polarity switch

    - Ideally every module should be fitted with a polarity switch to enable it to be turned on and off without affecting other modules connected to the same controller.
    - It should be set so that pushing the lever towards the wire sets it to operate the module in the required direction.

    Why? Again, it makes it easy for others to attend to you modules if needed, and be confident that they can set them operating correctly again.

    3. Bring a box of spare parts

    - Bring a good selection of the parts you use in your modules, including motors.

    Why? You may need to perform repairs, or make modifications, to your modules if they are not performing correctly. It's far better to make changes at a show, where they can be tested thoroughly, than waiting until you get home.

    4. Make a couple of ball containers

    - Size 8w x 10h for catching balls in

    Why? If modules fail or need attention they can be temporarily replaced with a container to catch the inbound balls.

    5. Make a 'ball hook'

    - a long axle with a 2l or 3l thin liftarm at one end

    Why? To dig out balls from tricky places.

    ---

    I may add to this if antthing else comes to mind.

    Addicted2OxygenPaperballparkstluxbandit778greatballpitFizyxsid3windrMAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
    Oil! (silicone or teflon)

    When in doubt, lubricate (drip into the motors as well). Use a dropper, squirt bottle, or syringe for tiny amounts, don't make a mess with spray (still have rags for wiping though).
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    I've not had a need to lubricate my modules yet.

    If you use it and it gets on the balls then they spread it everywhere, and if friction is causing plastic dust it's probably better for it to be dry so it can be blown away rather than the oil turning it into a sticky goo.
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
    That's why I suggested droppers not spray. The internet says it makes large mechanisms run a lot smoother. You put it on potential trouble areas before parts start grinding away, or at least clean them before oiling. Once oiled they'll never grind again.
    Fizyx
  • greatballpitgreatballpit Vancouver, CanadaMember Posts: 85
    @Paperballpark Love the spiral module and the plinko widget.

    @Huw was there a video of the layout you participated in with Maico and Ben?

    I've been pretty busy lately with not much time for GBC, I'm working on a few modules slowly.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    stluxAstrobricks
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    That's why I suggested droppers not spray. The internet says it makes large mechanisms run a lot smoother. You put it on potential trouble areas before parts start grinding away, or at least clean them before oiling. Once oiled they'll never grind again.
    I just let them grind away, and replace them when they get too worn ;) That's what I did with my trains anyway!
  • 77ncaachamps77ncaachamps Aspiring Time Traveler Stuck in the West (US)Member Posts: 2,442
    Is this from a Lego set?


  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,467
    edited May 2018
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
    That's why I suggested droppers not spray. The internet says it makes large mechanisms run a lot smoother. You put it on potential trouble areas before parts start grinding away, or at least clean them before oiling. Once oiled they'll never grind again.
    I just let them grind away, and replace them when they get too worn ;) That's what I did with my trains anyway!
    *GASP* :O Where's PETL! LEGO abuse!
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    I bought an extra Bucket Wheel Excavator a couple of weeks back, to use for spares.

    This is 90% made from parts in the set:



    It's not finished yet - it needs an input and a lift to the left 'in slope', and it needs tidying up somewhat, but it's getting there!
    FizyxricecakeLittleLoridavetheoxygenmanFowlerBricksAddicted2Oxygen
  • PeteMPeteM Gallifrey (near Bristol)Member Posts: 442
    I love this thread - I have zero talents in this area so am endlessly fascinated with the variety of contraptions people come up with. So with all this sterling work, is there any chance of a Brickset forum layout at, say, Steam this year? 
    Fizyx
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    Huw and I will be doing a collaborative GBC layout at both Bricktastic and STEAM. Others are welcome to contribute if they want to! :)
    PeteMHugeYellowBrick
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    Nice work Jamie! 
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    I'll do a video either this afternoon or tomorrow, but here's the (pretty much) finished thing:





    Bonus photo of my worktop, with all the BWE parts:


    77ncaachampsstluxLittleLoriSirBenBrickfan50FizyxAddicted2Oxygendmcc0datsunrobbie
  • CyberdragonCyberdragon Maryland, U.S.AMember Posts: 541
    edited June 2018
    Looks like a Lego mad science lab. Scatter some more cogs around to enhance the effect even more. :P
  • greatballpitgreatballpit Vancouver, CanadaMember Posts: 85
    Hey everyone,  it's been quite a while since I've created a new video.  Here is my latest, it's a rebuild of the first GBC module I ever made.  The new version is called Greylime XL and has some new stuff to make it more functional like the bigger input bin, and stow-able output ramp extensions.



    GothamConstructionCoLittleLoriFizyxPaperballparkricecakeBrickfan50
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    Cool... I like the one with the brown slide next to it at the end, I've not seen that one before. Nice and simple by the looks of it.
    Fizyx
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    Very nice!

    I have tomorrow to get everything ready for my 'dry run' display at Lymm on Sunday. I need to fix one of my modules, build a 'return' module (to run along the back of the display) from scratch, build a couple of ball containers, and build a ball hook.

    The next chance I'll get to do anything will be next Friday...
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    Good luck, and glad to hear you have a dry run before Bricktastic. Let's hope it doesn't throw up too many issues.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    Well, I spent seven hours yesterday building a 'return runner' module, to take the balls from the end of the line of modules and return them to the start. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to display my modules at Lymm today! The return module is 3m long!

    The intention was to display all my modules, with the exception of my loop-the-loop one. When I got there I realised the 'return' module wasn't long enough for me to have my balldozer module working, so that got left out too.

    Setup went well, connecting everything went well (apart from the two original power adaptors not working), and it was all running fairly well. Robert had offered to lend me 300 balls, which he brought along, but it turned out that about 250 of them were Bionicle Zamor spheres, which are too large!

    My main problem was that the two triple-circle lifters I have were not working very smoothly. I swapped the M motors to XL motors, which made them run better, but then one of them threw a gear. And then the other one did. And when I fixed them, they looked like they'd throw a lot more, so I took them out of the layout.

    Re-builds required there, I suspect. Unless a miracle happens, they won't be shown at Bricktastic. The remaining 11 modules ran well-ish for most of the morning, and you can see a video of them below:



    I only say 'ish' because my 'river run' module (the green one at the start and end of the video) broke after about half an hour. I fixed it, and half an hour or so later it broke again. Then again 15 mins later, then 5 mins later, and eventually it was so problematical that I just took it off altogether. I'm not sure whether it's fixable so that it doesn't break - I pulled part of it apart to remove something it was slightly catching on, and that didn't fix it, so...

    That left 10 modules. Then my Minecraft (Brickworld) module stopped. I suspected a thrown gear or a slipped axle, but no, the M motor was dead. So that got removed from the layout too. Odd, given that there's not really much load on that module. I plugged it in again 10 minutes later and it worked fine... But by then it was out of the layout.

    So the remaining 9 modules ran until the end. My Archimedes Screw module jammed occasionally, when balls got caught just as the bottom of the screw was coming around, but there's not much I can do about that. My Spiral Lift module started jamming occasionally early in the afternoon. I thought I'd worked out why, and kind of fixed it, but then it started again near the end, with no visible reason why. Again, I suspect a rebuild of the central column may be needed, and I may be able to do that before Bricktastic.

    The other seven modules worked almost flawlessly, which was nice to see! It was a nice little exercise and dry-run for Bricktastic, and I was very glad that I did it. The 100 balls I had were probably just about enough for the 9 modules I ran most of the afternoon with.

    Building a 10x10 tub was very useful! As was a poking stick I made from a 32L axle, and the polarity switches I connected to every module. Interestingly, yesterday when testing my return module, I somehow managed to kill one of the polarity switches completely dead :/

    I'm looking forward to Bricktastic now! Setup didn't take as long as I feared, and strip-down was pretty quick too.
    LittleLoristluxGothamConstructionCogreatballpitricecakeMAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    edited June 2018
    There's no better way to find out whether your machines are reliable than running them for hours at a time! I've found plenty of weaknesses in mine that way. I'll have several modules that I've not exhibited before at Bricktastic so I'll be expecting to find some with those.

    As I said above somewhere, bring spare parts and work on them at the event if they cause problems. Then you can test them properly again while there.

    I've had problems with M motors as well. I think they just overheat internally or something and as you have found will run again if left for a while. I'll be bringing spares in case.

    A good thing about GBCs is that they robust, easy to transport, easy to set up and put away again, far more so than the houses of parliament!
    LittleLorigreatballpit
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    Yes, I need to bring a lot more spares! I don't have any spare M motors, although I might bring some from modules I don't run.

    As for my Palace of Westminster, that takes half an hour to setup and 15 mins to put away, so definitely quicker than my GBCs! ;)
    greatballpit
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    I'm pretty sure I've worked out why my spiral module was jamming, so I know how to fix it now (which is very quick to do). I'm also looking at whether it's necessary to redesign the side supports a bit to permanently stop it happening in future.
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 903
    ^ This is simply tremendous, wonderfully hypnotic!  A great variety of modules in there, high and low, up and down, side to side - just the thing to get people interested in Technic!

  • greatballpitgreatballpit Vancouver, CanadaMember Posts: 85
    Lots of great modules in that layout, several new mechanisms caught my eye.  Thanks for the video!
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    It's been a long and exhausting day! I had to take 2 unreliable machines out the circuit and had a servo motor fail on another, of which I had no spare. 

    Otherwise mine have pretty much behaved themselves although a few need tweaking to improve reliability.

    Now to do it all again tomorrow...
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    I had to rebuild part of my balldozer this morning, which I hadn't previously had at a show, as it was destroying the bottom section of the ramp within 5 minutes. Once that was done, it was surprisingly reliable for the rest of the day!

    I also managed to get my two unreliable modules to run fairly reliably, which was good.

    It was indeed a long day though - we had the modules running for over an hour before opening to test them.
  • nexandernexander Glasgow Member Posts: 908
    Video of our layout at Bricktastic. 
    Love it. It's a strangely relaxing combined with my brain trying to work out the mechanisms!

    Any of your sections coming up this way in a few weeks or is it just Westminster?
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,701
    Astounding work and ingenuity there.
    Paperballpark
  • MAGNINOMINISUMBRAMAGNINOMINISUMBRA Member Posts: 993
    Just wanted to add my two cents guys and say how damn impressive that module run was - I've just watched the video four times in a row!  I think @nexander put it quite poetically as it is both relaxing and hypnotic while still totally engaging as your brain attempts to work out exactly what is going on!  Is the 'Bulldozer' module the one where there red and black 'pusher' forces the balls up that metre or so long incline at about a billion miles an hour? 
      Pretty sure that's my fave - there's a LOT of kinetic energy being controlled there.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    nexander said:
    Video of our layout at Bricktastic. 
    Any of your sections coming up this way in a few weeks or is it just Westminster?
    No, just my Palace of Westminster.
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 5,088
    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
  • greatballpitgreatballpit Vancouver, CanadaMember Posts: 85
    @Huw & @Paperballpark Any issues with using the Telescope pieces with the conveyor lifts?  It looks like a good piece and was wondering if they fell off during operation?
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    ^ No there weren't. Huw used those, I used Technic pins. I'm going to swap all mine for telescope pieces, as I had a couple of issues with the pins, and Huw had none.

    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
    It uses a polarity switch to change direction, but the middle setting for the switch is 'off'. So it needs to run at speed so that it doesn't just turn the thing off when it gets to the top of the ramp - especially when pushing some balls.
    AstrobricksMAGNINOMINISUMBRA
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,001
    The telescope piece is ideal as it connects properly, unlike pins, and holds the balls securely even when vertical. 
  • MAGNINOMINISUMBRAMAGNINOMINISUMBRA Member Posts: 993
    ^ No there weren't. Huw used those, I used Technic pins. I'm going to swap all mine for telescope pieces, as I had a couple of issues with the pins, and Huw had none.

    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
    It uses a polarity switch to change direction, but the middle setting for the switch is 'off'. So it needs to run at speed so that it doesn't just turn the thing off when it gets to the top of the ramp - especially when pushing some balls.
    Well there you go - I thought it was just because it looked so damn bad-ass travelling at that rate of knots 
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 5,088
    ^ No there weren't. Huw used those, I used Technic pins. I'm going to swap all mine for telescope pieces, as I had a couple of issues with the pins, and Huw had none.

    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
    It uses a polarity switch to change direction, but the middle setting for the switch is 'off'. So it needs to run at speed so that it doesn't just turn the thing off when it gets to the top of the ramp - especially when pushing some balls.
    I wonder if an extension could be mounted to the switch to give the pusher some added leverage. Then maybe it could travel slower. Of course, if it’s reliable the way it is, then no need to bother.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Near ManchesterMember Posts: 4,214
    ^ No there weren't. Huw used those, I used Technic pins. I'm going to swap all mine for telescope pieces, as I had a couple of issues with the pins, and Huw had none.

    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
    It uses a polarity switch to change direction, but the middle setting for the switch is 'off'. So it needs to run at speed so that it doesn't just turn the thing off when it gets to the top of the ramp - especially when pushing some balls.
    I wonder if an extension could be mounted to the switch to give the pusher some added leverage. Then maybe it could travel slower. Of course, if it’s reliable the way it is, then no need to bother.
    You mean like I've already done? ;)
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Minnesota, USMember Posts: 5,088
    edited July 2018
    ^ No there weren't. Huw used those, I used Technic pins. I'm going to swap all mine for telescope pieces, as I had a couple of issues with the pins, and Huw had none.

    ^ yes it is. Not quite as reliable today!
    I’m curious why you chose to run it at such a high speed. It seems like the turnarounds would just shake things to pieces.
    It uses a polarity switch to change direction, but the middle setting for the switch is 'off'. So it needs to run at speed so that it doesn't just turn the thing off when it gets to the top of the ramp - especially when pushing some balls.
    I wonder if an extension could be mounted to the switch to give the pusher some added leverage. Then maybe it could travel slower. Of course, if it’s reliable the way it is, then no need to bother.
    You mean like I've already done? ;)
    I should’ve guessed :)
    Go longer!
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    Have to say that my balls boys @Huw, @Paperballpark and Mac did me proud this weekend.

    And for the record chaps, you were worth every penny! 
    PaperballparkHugeYellowBrickGothamConstructionCostluxHuwricecakesid3windrdrdavewatford
  • greatballpitgreatballpit Vancouver, CanadaMember Posts: 85
    I've done a build of the Brickworld 2018 Module, tweaked the design, and converted it to run off my simple shared power system.



    drdavewatfordsid3windrstluxGothamConstructionCo
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