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Forum - Studless vs "the spec"

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As we all know, the spec commands an in-basket 10 x 10 studs wide and 10 bricks high, with an opening of 8 x 8 studs. For convenience, in the remainder of this post I'll use "n-bin" as shorthand for "n x n bin with n-2 x n-2 opening". As we also all know, Technic elements feature heavily in GBC module construction. Yes, it's perfectly possible to build a module with minimal Technic, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

When the GBC spec was developed, there was nothing incongruous about these two facts. But in the intervening decade LEGO have moved Technic away from bricks held together mostly with studs, and into the studless era of beams held together exclusively with pins. One of the side-effects of the studless system is that building odd-width structures is much more natural than even-width, so making a 10-bin often requires either shoving an extra beam on the side (asymmetrical, ugly) or mucking around with half-beams (less stable, fiddly). It's far easier to make an 11-bin or a 9-bin. But which should you choose?

One could argue that since the spec says 10-bin, and that exceeding the spec is equivalent to meeting the spec, then it has to be an 11-bin: a 9-bin is no good. But that is the lazy answer, based on a spec that was written during an era of different construction paradigm, and may not be the best answer. The size of the input bin is a compromise between being big enough to allow some flexibility in module placement and output behaviour, and being small enough that the resulting structure is not overly large and the balls are concentrated in an area small enough to do something useful with. Who's to say that when he was making that decision Steve wasn't saying to himself "Well, a 9-bin would be ideal, but it'd be silly to use an odd number and an 8-bin is definitely too small, so I'll go with a 10-bin".

So, if the GBC standard was being written today, with the prevalence we have now of studless building, how big would the input bin be?

The height of the bin is less of a problem, but still there are issues. Sure, we can say that 10 bricks is exactly equal to 12 studs, and that the symmetry argument vanishes in the vertical dimension so an even number is fine, but we come back to the baseplate + studs argument we had here.


Posted by Captainowie on 17 October 2015 at 08:22.

It would be easier for me to make an odd n-bin with studded elements than an even n-bin with studless elements, so I speculate the answer would be an odd n-bin. 11-bin seems large, so probably it would be a 9-bin. Not a compelling enough argument for me to want to change the standard. I would just build an 11-bin. It's compatible and follows the hueristic of being generous in what you accept.

An 11-bin does technically exceed the spec, but that's never(?) a problem in practice. I would change the Rule 2 to read "The in-basket should have an opening that is at least 8 studs by 8 studs, and should be 10 bricks tall (plus studs)."

Slightly off-topic: it occurred to me last week that ultimately it is up to the GBC event coordinator to decide what is standard for her collaboration. Of course, if GBC coordinators start using different standards, we've lost the benefit of a standard.

Posted by ALittleSlow (administrator) on 20 October 2015 at 04:02.

Check the Standard; it indicates that the 10x10 input bin is the minimum size, while the 10 brick height is the maximum height. This allows the module to receive a batch of 30 balls and be able to hold it, and allows the previous module to have it's output feed at a minimum height of 11 and still be able to fee any module placed after it.

Posted by on 18 December 2015 at 08:46.