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LEGO Great Ball Contraption (Layout 2012.9)
September 22, 2012 9:14 PM   Subscribe

Lego Great Ball Contraption (Layout 2012.9) (Previously)
posted by klausman (31 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Saw this a few days ago and had a conversation about whether this is a de facto Rube Goldberg device or not.

It doesn't do (accomplish?) anything physical.

Still, this is really neat engineering. Love the error bypassing mechanisms. Wonder what the 'steady state' after-failure-accumulation looks like.
posted by porpoise at 9:19 PM on September 22, 2012


Rube goldberg or not, there are some pretty sweet mechanisms in this thing. It's like they got out the mechanical engineering edition of a thesaurus and looked up "conveyor".
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:33 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spent seven minutes on the edge of my seat wondering when it would sort the basketballs on one side, the soccer balls on the other, the random colors off somewhere else. Spoiler: This doesn't happen.
posted by mochapickle at 9:52 PM on September 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Agh, it doesn't accomplish anything but waste seven minutes of my day!
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:24 PM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


love the noises
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:29 PM on September 22, 2012


BLISS
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:45 PM on September 22, 2012


Wow!! You know, I used to play with legos when I was a kid. These new toys, starting with Mindstorms, just vault the threshold of what can be called "LEGOS" in the original sense: those uniform rectangular blocks.

Don't get me wrong, I freaking love the stuff that they've created, but its somehow a different kind of toy now. I dunno.

Peace,
Capt. Luddite
posted by mmorelli at 11:30 PM on September 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh it accomplished something, it made me go wow, and wonder what the effect of seeing that would have been if I was a young pup again. I'm certain it would heve inspired me.
posted by quarsan at 11:47 PM on September 22, 2012


I'm with mochapickle... That was so frustrating to watch. It never separated the ball types!
posted by panaceanot at 12:08 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It either needs little yellow Legoman operators at regularly spaced control consoles, or a picket line of unemployed Legomen protestors, who are presumably blocking access to the ball sorting equipment.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:19 AM on September 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Separating the balls would require computing power, which is antithetical to the pure-mechanical nature of the machine. (Yes, I know he has some mindstorms controllers in there. But in theory they could be replaced with mechanisms.)

He's got some clever mechanisms in there and a closeup is even more impressive. Dude knows his engineering.
posted by DU at 2:30 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't do (accomplish?) anything physical.

Sure it does: it brings the universe ever so much closer to its inevitable heat death.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just noticed his channel has the internals and details of a LOT of the mechanisms. Awesome.
posted by DU at 2:32 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those detail views are super sweet, thanks for posting. I am not so good at the lego mechanical thing, but it is fascinating to see.

This book (with free pdf download) shows off a bunch of simple mechanisms, that could be built into bigger things.

Now, excuse me while I go build some houses.
posted by jonbro at 2:48 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have the simple machines book but haven't had time to build from it yet. Other two books are on the gift list.
posted by DU at 3:43 AM on September 23, 2012


This video is in desperate need of Powerhouse.
posted by dgaicun at 6:47 AM on September 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ball sorter modules are pretty common elements in Lego GBCs, and this guy does have a particularly clever one. It's apparently not used in this layout? I didn't watch the whole thing.
posted by rlk at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2012


What was that jazzy but slightly sinister Looney Tunes music they played behind assembly-line scenes?

Needs that.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:04 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah! nm
posted by Egg Shen at 7:11 AM on September 23, 2012


I love GBCs, and I thought he had some really clever mechanisms. Thanks for sharing.
posted by not that girl at 7:58 AM on September 23, 2012


The Lego soccer balls and basketballs are in relatively short supply, and are no longer being made. So I'm told. My kids and I are interested in doing mini ball contraptions, and it's very hard to find any of these balls at the on-line sales sites. In June, I was at Brickworld in Chicago and had a chat with the guy at the Great Ball Contraption about where he got his balls. He basically said obsessively watching BrickLink and being prepared to pay ridiculous amounts of money for them. Then he said, "I lose a dozen or more balls every time I bring my set up to something like this. Eventually, we'll all run out of balls and that will be the end of the Great Ball Contraption."

I said, "Well, you could use some other kind of balls...like marbles or something."

He looked at me like I had grown a second head.

I said, "So, you're a purist, then."

Just so you all know: We've passed Peak Lego Ball. Enjoy the Great Ball Contraptions while you can.
posted by not that girl at 8:07 AM on September 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is really cool! While the layout makes for easy presenting, I wonder what this would look like compressed to have move vertical and a much smaller footprint. I used to spend hours staring at the ball machine outside the Tech Museum trying to see what this overview (of a different machine) covered in 7 easy minutes.

(To be pedantic, a Rube Goldberg machine "is a deliberately over-engineered or overdone machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion", so this machine is arguably not. Or arguable is. /derail
posted by fragmede at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2012


Ah, this was the creative-whimsy chaser I needed after the ghoulish Rollercoaster Tycoon video FPP. Thanks for this!

I'm curious to know if the contraption-builder ever had one of these as a child: TOMY Big Loader.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:42 AM on September 23, 2012


Akiyuki is a rabbit-hole of Lego Mindstorm wonder. He has some nice how-to videos on how to get started on this. For instance, I was blown away when I saw all the balls being shot through a basket. How could it have been engineered so precisely? Turns out, it can be tuned.

And somehow I (and I'm sure you all as well) stumbled on this cool, unrelated, lego clock.
posted by chemoboy at 9:54 AM on September 23, 2012


... its somehow a different kind of toy now. I dunno.

Yeah, in my day it was alphabet blocks and tinker toys.

Now go outside and get some fresh air. You're starting to look like some pasty-face engineering geek.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:57 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's kind of scary how delighted I got when both the red and the blue ball hit the plinko jackpot.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:42 PM on September 23, 2012


If a neighbour showed me anything like this, I'd smile and back out of the room slowly...
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. That guy sure has balls.

I mean, like, there must be hundreds of 'em. Just sayin'.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong, I freaking love the stuff that they've created, but its somehow a different kind of toy now. I dunno.

Very little of this GBC, and even less of them in general, is run by computation. Lego motors have existed for...30?...40? years now. The rest is clever mechanics.

(Unless you are complaining about Lego Technics in which case a] that system existed before Mindstorms came out and b] I will fight you.)
posted by DU at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2012


OK, the Ball Factory module of this thing is just insane. Dozens of movements, all synchronized, but absolutely none of those electronic controls the young kids are into these days. Every mechanism is connected by linkages to a single friggin' motor.

Do you know that feeling when you discover that is so awesome, but so specific to your interests that you can't explain to others why it's awesome? Yeah, this is that.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:20 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, the Ball Factory module of this thing is just insane. Dozens of movements, all synchronized, but absolutely none of those electronic controls the young kids are into these days. Every mechanism is connected by linkages to a single friggin' motor.

Oh, my God--you are totally right about that and I would never have noticed it on my own. It is totally awesome. Thanks.
posted by not that girl at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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