It's not every day you see something that makes your jaw drop, but today, while watching the video of the largest, most intricate Lego machine I've ever seen, mine did.
The machine, known as the Great Ball Contraption (GBC), was built by a Japanese mechanical engineer in his house over the course of two years -- a total of a whopping 600 hours in construction time.
The monstrous 5 ft x 21 ft (1.5m x 6.5m) machine boasts 17 modules that can process 500 balls for a length of 101.7 ft (31m) at a rate of one ball per second. I know, it's hard to wrap your head around it without checking out the video, below, first.
It's not just the machine's enormous size that impresses fans, but the individual modules themselves, which are described as follows:
Spiral lift T2
Elevator and coaster
Spiral lift T1 & step
Catch and release
Belt conveyor & pinball
5-axis robot S750
The video of the device in action is a whopping seven minutes long, but if you're in any way interested in Lego and mechanical engineering, you really must check it out.
We have a game at home that is a bit like this, but nothing so elaborate. I have been to Legoalnd in Bilund a couple of times, but this even outdoes what they have there. I am sure the Lego people love this. Think of how many blocks they sold.
Wow. This is a magnificent machine. Who on earth has the time to build something like this? I hope it's on display somewhere. I've seen a machine like this -- but not as elaborate -- in a science museum.
Elizabeth M, I agree. It's quite ironic that a video on LEGO engineering was aired on Design News when in my Control Systems class I showed a couple of videos illustrating mechatronics applications using the LEGO NXT-Mindstorms kit. Such a cool video and I will definitely be showing this magnificent machine to my class next week. Awesome engineering!!!
,,,and not ONE loose ball, rolling on the wood floor! Then, at the point where the robot arm was taking shots at the hoop (and hitting about 90%) I burst out laughing!! ,,, So much fun, just to watch! Maybe the designer needs some suggestions on how to turn a profit on this ,,,,
1. Break up the modules individually and document as lessons in Automation.
2. Sell it to Disney. (heard they're in a "buying" mood; just paid LucasFilms $4B for STARWARS,,,)
Any idea as to basic Lego part count in this video? Not the motors, sensors, and controllers necessary from the MindStorm kits. I'm talking about the basic static Lego parts. They average about $.10 a piece (so a 500 part kit in the store should run about $50 in the USA). I'm curious about what we just watched cost the builder.
I was fortunate to visit BrickCon in Seattle last month. I saw a large-scale Hogwarts model in such intricate detail. I think I was looking at close to a quarter-million dollars in bricks alone.
TJ McDermott, I watched approximately 3mins of the video and I was blown away by the shear complexity of the machine. There's a lot of cool manufacturing processes and automation techniques that can be learned by watching this magnificent machine in operation. What a cool video!!!
That's a great site, Ann. Interestingly, this gadget with the same video is the top item on the news section of the Rube Goldberg site. Apparently, this video has gone viral. It certainly deserves that.
In some ways, building this contraption is no different than preparing to climb Mt. Everest. Both activities require time, money, and dedication. Both deliver very little besides personal satisfaction. Perhaps the gadget offers the greater good since it can be shared, as with this video.
I agree, Rob, on the amount of effort and its worthiness. Some of the comments, though, were pretty funny. I've been on both ends of the spousal disagreement about spending "too much" time at work or on a project, so I can relate.
Yes, Ann, I too have bumped into the spousal disagreement over projects. It's a fine line between serving your muse and serving your family.
John Lennon claimed his marriage broke up over the time he was spending making Sgt. Pepper. He said looking back that Sgt. Pepper wasn't worth losing a marriage over. That marriage was doomed anyway, but still it's an interesting comment.
Lennon's first wife was not a co-creator and fellow artist, like his second wife Yoko was. I think that can make a big difference: if spouses have similar, or at least parallel, interests they can understand each other better. OTOH, if my husband built that LEGO contraption or went off to climb Everest I'd have a lot to say about it.
Yes, the difference between Yoko and Lennon's first wife is that Yoko went to work with him. That solves a lot. So, if the person who built the Lego contraption had a spouse, perhaps they worked together on it.
Good point, Rob. I hadn't envisioned the engineer and his spouse working on it together, so much as her having a better understanding of his passion if she were a like-minded engineering or creative type. But I still don't want one in my living room.
Doesn't anybody find it just a little bit hard to believe that this is stting in someone's house in Japan???? The average japanese home wouldn't leave room for bed with this :-)
Just joking, this is absolutely brilliant I wonder whether he was inspired by the game Mousetrap (of which I still own one - like to use it to teach people the KISS principle), my guess he's probably not married (unless his partner shares this passion) but definitely doesn't have kids or pets lest he lose his marbles ((pun intended).
Rob, it has gone viral because my four year old grandson has watched it now about 2 million times!! Seriously, he's fascinated with it and after about the 30th viewing I thought I'd had enough — but I still find myself stopping as I walk by and watching with amazement at the contraption. Such creativity. But we have renamed some sections of it "Archimedes Screw 1, 2, etc." :)
TJ--I agree but then I was absolutely fascinated by the complexity. I would love to know the thought processes that went in to the planning phase of the project. LEGO must really love this one. It has to be a hit just about anywhere viewed. I don't do the U-Tube or Face Book thing but has the video been shown on these two social outlets? Any one know?
We went to LEGOLAND here, not too long after they opened it, from the abandoned CYPRESS GARDENS attraction. It was OK, the grandkids enjoyed it, but the park is dedicated to one goal..... SELL Legoland products. The displays are nice to look at, AND interesting from a technical viewpoint, to see the interconnectability of all the pieces. And, I understand through local radio & TV announcements that LEGOLAND has completed (earlier this year) a massive expansion of the park. I wonder where they've added the additional attraction parts, since they originally did preserve the northern end of CYPRESS GARDENS, which included the topiary, floral gardens, and, Esther Williams' practice swimming pool.
Maybe we'll venture back again, but we'll have to pick an opportune time.... AFTER the unrelenting heat & BEFORE the inundation of the annual "snow birds".
Eleven years ago one of those rare, brilliant moments emerged from the crack staff of Design News: Let’s put the tinkerers among our audience community to work in designing and building some truly wacky devices. And Gadget Freak was born.
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