I have to admit that I have a serious blind spot when it comes to redstone automation in Minecraft. It isn’t that I try it and fail or can’t figure it out, but that it never even occurs to me to bring that sort of thing into my projects.
Of course, that may be related to the type of projects I choose to take on in our world.
I am always the guy building roads and paths and laying mine cart track, all stuff that keeps you in motion. When my last base gets inconveniently far from the current location of the work I just make a new one. The old gets left in my wake, a rest stop for other travelers and maybe an attraction for tourist, but generally a place that doesn’t see much more practical use. The inevitable building, mine, lava fueled auto-furnace, farm, and corral will mostly sit idle once I am out of range.
So redstone likely doesn’t occur to me in part because it isn’t mobile. I would leave behind anything I built and just have to remake it at the next base if it were useful. And since I tend not to use it, I don’t even think about building redstone devices.
And doubly so when it comes to my current road building project, which will be about 18km as the crow flies, but more like 40km when one takes into account the twists and turns I make to find a path across the world without having to build multi-kilometer bridges across oceans. I’m now just 2.5km from the Mansion starting place but have built at least 4km of road that has snaked around mountains and seas alike. This is going to be a long project.
And my plan for the road to have a continuous strip of cobblestone the whole way (interrupted only by lighting) so you’ll never lose it and will be able to find it by crossing over it (and maybe some day that will be a rail line) slows me down as I need to quarry stone along the way. Sometimes I get it as part of digging out the path forward, but sometimes I just have to tear into the nearest hill to get some.
But the day after Christmas I logged in and went to my forward base along the road to find a gift. Skronk had been asking how to get to the road and while I was away, had walked out and set something up for me; a redstone cobblestone generating machine. He had dug out a big more of the small base to set it up and put up signs to guide me.
It uses a piston driven by a redstone clock mechanism to push cobblestone created by the interaction of lava and water out with a furnace at the end to stop the cobblestone from going too far in the limited space.
That seemed to turn out cobblestone at a respectable rate. The problem was that I was about ready to give up on that base as I moved forward. It was already quite a ways from the end of the road. But Skronk had foreseen that. The machine is fairly simple and so as part of his gift he put together a set of parts to build another one.
It looked much better at Christmas when all chests were wrapped up like presents. (See here.)
So as I moved further down the line I eventually copied most of his design and setup my own cobblestone generation station at the next big encampment, which also happened to be an NPC village on the coast where I was going to have to build my first long water spanning bridge.
I setup and harvested some there, then had a thought. The building was still a walk from the bridge site, maybe I should get it even closer… like right there at the bridge. I was also curious too see just how far a piston would push the cobblestone. So with visions of automated bridge building in my head, I setup another generator.
I quickly learned that a piston will only push 12 blocks, so I wasn’t going to be able to sit back and watch it cross the sea without me. But having it right there was still very convenient. I could harvest a couple of stacks and run out and build some more of the bridge surface, then come back and harvest some more. So Skronk has given me a new option for resources.
The only real issue is the speed of harvesting. With a diamond pick and a huge seam of stone, I can harvest cobblestone much faster than the machine can generate it. And while the machine is right there so I don’t have to haul the cobblestone very far, it can seem a bit slow. I have been tinkering with the timing on the clock to see just how fast I can get it to run. There is clearly a threshold where the piston moves too quickly and does not give the cobblestone time to form.
Meanwhile, the road work goes on, though I have to take a break and run back for supplies. My bow broke, my last flint got used up, I’ve run out of iron, and while standing at the end of the bridge I accidentally threw my diamond sword into the deep sea and wasn’t able to find it again. The hazards of construction work.