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The Great LEGO Ball Contraption…

by admin on January 12, 2014

in Featured Creations

(Written by Philip Verbeek)

My name is Philip Verbeek from the Netherlands. I’m 18-years-old and a LEGO fan. My specialty is making LEGO GBCs (Great Ball Contraptions). Today I would like to show you my latest project, the LEGO GBC-8. Maybe it will inspire you to make your on LEGO GBC on day. I even have the instructions available for download, if you are interested! 🙂

LEGO Great Ball Contraption by PV-Productions

This is not the first time I have made a LEGO GBC, in fact this is my 8th design. Some of my past LEGO GBCs included ball-launchers, ramps, elevators, grabbing claws, and more (see my website). This time I wanted to add even more, so the GBC-8 comes with elevators, moving ramps, and an undulating bridge. I also incorporated the LEGO NXT that allows me to track data about system-performance and control the whole thing with an Android app. See video below of how it all works!

Some fun facts about the LEGO GBC-8: I used over 2000 LEGO pieces and 2 XL motors (one for all the modules and one for the air-pump). The mechanical energy from the motor is transmitted to most of the modules via gears, or a network of strings woven through the bricks.

LEGO Great Ball Contraption Overview

I also used the LEGO NXT, so I can control the LEGO GBC with my smart-phone and wirelessly turn it on and off (a mechanical control-switch is added as well). The LEGO NXT is also used for measuring data; you can see the balls that have passed by, the average amount of balls per second and a clock to see how long the GBC has been running.

LEGO Great Ball Contraption from Above

Here is a list of mechanisms and functions of the LEGO GBC-8. Please note that not all of them have official names, so I just named them by the function they perform:

  1. Stop-Go Mechanism #1: Stops the balls and let them go by at the right time.
  2. Sinusoid: Moves the balls by making a sinusoid motion.
  3. Stop-Go Mechanism #2: Stops the balls and let them go by at the right time.
  4. Elevator: Lifts the balls to a higher level every time 3 balls can fit in the cabin.
  5. Bridge: Leads the balls of the yellow tower to the blue tower. When the elevator is down the bridge will go up and when the elevator is up the bridge will go down
  6. Stop-Go Mechanism #3: Stops the balls and let them go by at the right time.
  7. Vertical Pushers: Pushes the balls in a vertical way up.
  8. Color-Sensor: Takes measurements of the balls.
  9. Ball-Pump: Pumps one ball up at a time.
  10. Android App: Controls the LEGO GBC.

LEGO Great Ball Contraption Side View

If you are interested in building a LEGO Great Ball Contraption, you can download the building instructions for the GBC-8 on my website. Here is the link: Download GBC-8 Building Instructions. You can also check out my website for my previous LEGO GBC designs: PV Productions Website

LEGO Great Ball Contraption Instructions

Also, if you would like LEGO to make a Great Ball Contraption set, you can support my project on LEGO CUUSOO. If it reaches 10,000 votes, LEGO may consider making it an official LEGO set.

Great LEGO Ball Contraption on CUUSOO

So how about you? Have you ever built a LEGO GBC before? Are you considering it? Do you have any questions? Feel free to share in the comment section below. Thanks for reading! 😉

And you might also like to check out the Featured LEGO Fans and Featured LEGO Creations section for more inspiring LEGO projects.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris January 12, 2014 at 11:12 AM

I’ve never built one. Yours is cool. Great job.

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 7:19 PM

yeah, you did a great job! well done! 😉

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 7:20 PM

hey, like my new avatar! its more “me” you know!

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CD's Lego Blog January 12, 2014 at 11:50 AM

This is amazing!

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Steven January 12, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Always remarkable the mind of a child and young adult. Looking forward to him sharing his next venture into this foray. Great job.

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Majestic Kai Fan January 12, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Epic!!

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BLProductions January 12, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Awesome! The way everything works in sync is…wow!

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Legolander January 12, 2014 at 3:11 PM

That is one Cuusoo set that I would support.

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Yatkuu January 12, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Incredible! One question, why did you submit 4 different GBC projects on CUUSOO? I think that having several projects may prove itself counterproductive in the long run. I would suggest you only keep one and update it on a regular basis with your new designs.

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admin January 12, 2014 at 6:50 PM

That’s a really good suggestion. After all, LEGO only takes CUUSOO projects as suggestions anyway, and even when they get 10,000 votes they will re-design them according to their own specifications. Having several of similar projects just dilutes the votes. I would agree with you; keep all the designs under one project would be more beneficial.

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

really awesome!!! I wish I could build something like that.

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 6:46 PM

admin! PLEASE DELETE that last comment! 😳 its very important that you delete it.

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admin January 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

I just fixed your username. I assume that’s why you wanted me to delete it. Don’t worry, I have taken off your email address and got it fixed. 😉

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 7:21 PM

phew. thank you! I was starting to freak out there.

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Håkan January 12, 2014 at 6:54 PM

It’s pretty cool, and I can see you’re proud of it, but unfortunately I think there are very slim chances Cuusoo would accept something like this.

1st, the project would require thousands of pieces, and most of them ‘only’ for adding height and structure. and 2nd, I believe all the strings and loose parts would cause way too much friction and lack of stability in the long run. =/

It might not matter much if you consider the project a ‘kit’ for learning about various ways to make a GBC, but it’s a detrimental factor in the production of a ‘set’.

Well, anyway, it would likely have been an interesting process acchieving the contraption, and you seem to have gotten quite some recognition already.

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 7:30 PM

huh? where did all my comments go? oh well!

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admin January 12, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Uhm… that are all there as far as I can see… 😕

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ninja of stealth January 13, 2014 at 12:17 PM

oh 😯 awkward. they just weren’t there yesterday. 😳

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admin January 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM

It was probably just cached. I have never seen a comment disappear, so you don’t have to worry about that. 😉

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ninja of stealth January 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM

okay, cool! phew.

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ninja of stealth January 12, 2014 at 7:31 PM

whoa wait? how come my avatar has a donut on there? and cookies?

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Bohrok Tru January 12, 2014 at 7:35 PM

becuz you blend in with dessert.

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admin January 12, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Donar and cookies? What I see is a ninja! 😉

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ninja of stealth January 13, 2014 at 12:19 PM

yeah! dessert! (now I’m hungry) and the donut and cookies is on the belt. (would you call it a belt?) I didn’t notice that till I set it up.

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Plane Crazy February 23, 2015 at 5:47 PM

Where can I balls for use with GBC?

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admin February 23, 2015 at 6:28 PM

You can get them on BrickLink from many different sellers: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?pg=1&catString=473&catType=P&v=2

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Mel December 1, 2016 at 1:49 PM

I REALLY want to make a great ball contraption but don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?

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admin December 1, 2016 at 1:56 PM

Mel, I already sent you an email, but here is my response again in case someone else needs it:

You might want to check out the LEGO Great Ball Contraption wiki. It has everything to start out building your first GBC: http://greatballcontraption.com/wiki/Getting_started

As far as parts, it is a good idea to invest in some LEGO Technic sets, as those are the type of elements you will need. Or you can buy all the parts individually on BrickLink. Here is a link to where you can find the balls. They are all the same, just come in different colors and with different prints. The soccer balls and the orange balls are the most common used as they are the cheapest: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=473

There are also many video-tutorials on YouTube to build GBCs. Just search for “LEGO GBC Tutorial” or “LEGO Great Ball Contraption Tutorial”. Have fun! 🙂

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