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Robot Dreams – LEGO Great Ball Contraption Module

LEGO fan Jason Allemann is well known for his LEGO kinetic sculptures. Jason also openly shares instructions for most of his models on his website, JKBrickWorks.com, so other LEGO fans can learn from them. Interestingly, although Jason’s expertise is with mechanical models, he never built a LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC). GBC models are very popular with LEGO fans who are interested to explore the mechanical abilities of LEGO’s powered and robotic systems.

We talked about LEGO GBC models and the LEGO GBC standard previously, but to recap, here is a summary from GreatBallContraption.com:

A LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) is a machine which receives soccer balls or basketballs from one module and passes them to another module, rather like a bucket brigade. Modules built according to the GBC standard can be assembled into a collaborative display without pre-planning or modification. The GBC standard is minimal, permitting the builder great flexibility in designing the mechanism by which balls are moved from the input to the output. The otherwise pointless handling of balls, and the myriad ways this is accomplished, gives great ball contraptions the impression of a Rube Goldberg machine.

Jason writes on his blog that he has been thinking about building a LEGO GBC module for quite some time, but it wasn’t until recently where he actually set down to give it a go. He felt particularly inspired after meeting Japanese LEGO fan and GBC master builder Akiyuki, who runs his own YouTube channel, Akiyuki Brick Channel.

Jason’s first LEGO Great Ball Contraption is comprised of a row of color-coded robots passing balls down the assembly line. Since this was Jason’s first GBC module, he didn’t want to make it too complicated, and thus kept the mechanism fairly simple. And as Jason has a lot of experience building kinetic sculptures, he wanted to focus on the design aesthetics of the model. In the video below, you can see Jason’s robot assembly line in action.

As you can see, the module features four robots, , each with a unique design and personality, set in an industrial looking backdrop, passing the balls down the line. Is this their dream job? Or are they dreaming of doing something more fulfilling? Jason is leaving it up to the viewer to decide.

Jason’s GBC module was a huge hit, and many LEGO fans were asking for further details and building instructions. So, in a recent follow-up video, Jason explains some of the key design elements of the project. The biggest design feature is that the structure is completely modular, and can be configured to include any number of robots. Each robot uses a passive gripper mechanism to pick up and drop the balls, transferring them to the next robot down the line. Watch the video below to see how it all comes together.

Very interesting, isn’t it? Unfortunately detailed building instructions are still not available, but Jason says he may still release them at some point. In the meantime, if you carefully look at the video, you should be able to reproduce the key elements. And if you would like to tackle this project yourself, and you’re short of mechanical components, you can get them at the LEGO Power Functions section of the Online LEGO Shop.

What do you think? How do you like Jason’s robot assembly line? Have you ever tried building your own GBC module? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below!

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • brickmaster April 16, 2020, 11:12 AM

    I would love to build this to learn about GBC techniques. I hope Jason will release instructions at some point. All we need is the two end modules and one in the middle. As he said, it’s modular, so we can always add more robot modules.

  • lifelibertylego April 16, 2020, 1:25 PM

    I can’t believe this is his first gbc! It’s fantastic! I love that each of the robots has its own unique color and design.

  • LEGOJeff April 16, 2020, 2:10 PM

    It’s crazy how Jason comes up with this stuff! I agree with others who said I would love to build this just for the educational element. Most of the GBC I have seen is skeletal, focusing only on movement. Jason has so much experience in sculpting, he made his GBC

    • LEGOJeff April 16, 2020, 2:11 PM

      Sorry, I somehow hit the submit button before finishing the sentence. Anyway, all I was saying that his GBC looks more finished than any of the other ones I have seen.

  • Okosh April 16, 2020, 4:26 PM

    Please, Jason, release a parts list for the modules!

  • The Other Mark April 16, 2020, 9:23 PM

    I really like this build and would love to build it myself. Even with just one robot.

  • mr. marmelade April 17, 2020, 11:38 AM

    Amazing! This should be made into a set!

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