Minecraft is a simple game at its core, but one feature has become almost feared among its players: redstone wiring and components. Redstone is that shimmering dust-like substance that can be found within caves in abundance, and which can be used to create various redstone components. It’s the Minecraft equivalent of electricity. Due to redstone taking inspiration from engineering, it can be difficult to get into it and know exactly how and what you need to do.
However, those who master the art of redstone are able to create truly impressive creations, from combination locks and automatic farms to a fully-fledged automatic item sorter that removes the need of cleaning up and sorting chests. This guide will explain every part of redstone you should know at a basic level.
It will not tell you how to build a combination lock, but it will give you an understanding of the components, which can help you make your own creations with a bit of imagination.
How To Get Redstone In Minecraft
To get started on any redstone build, you’ll need to go mining for redstone. It’s a pretty common ore to find, but you definitely need to go deep enough to find it, and you should have an iron pickaxe to break it successfully. Having an enchantment like Fortune III is recommended if you’re trying to get as much as possible at once.
Redstone is most abundant between levels 1 and 16, so check your debug screen if you’re not sure what altitude you’re on. Mining the ore will drop redstone dust, which can be condensed into a redstone block by placing nine dust in the crafting grid.
Note: In the upcoming 1.18 update, redstone will generate differently, between levels -63 and 15, as well as between -63 and -34, to compensate for the increased depth of the world.
What Do Redstone Components Do In Minecraft?
These are the basic redstone components you’ll find in the game and a brief description of what each one does.
Redstone Power Sources
Power sources are blocks that automatically emit a redstone power signal. Some are stronger than others, and many of them need to be interacted with in order for the signal to be turned on.
A Redstone Torch
The most basic power source, they will grant a power level of 15 to any blocks they come into contact with.
Placement of a redstone torch is important. A torch won’t power the block it’s directly attached to, but will power a bunch of blocks around it.
Its signal strength with redstone dust is 15 blocks before the signal dies.
A Block of Redstone
A full block of redstone will give a signal strength of 15 blocks when connected to redstone dust.
It will also activate any devices and blocks that are directly adjacent to one of its six sides.
Buttons put out a single pulse of redstone signal when attached to redstone dust wiring.
The signal travels for 15 blocks and activates any devices on its path. Buttons will also power the block they are attached to, as well as several blocks around them.
Since the button counts as a block, blocks facing, above or underneath it will also be powered.
Levers have the exact same range as buttons when used in wiring, meaning 15 blocks. They give out a continuous signal when the lever is flipped once, and can be turned off when flipped again.
A lever powers the blocks around it in the same way as a button, so any block it’s attached to will be powered, as well as those around it.
Normal wooden and stone pressure plates, when stepped on by a player, will send out a signal of 15 blocks. Stone ones will only detect passive mobs, hostile mobs, and players, no items. They’ll also activate blocks adjacent to them, as well as directly underneath.
Weighted pressure plates will have a stronger signal the more entities are crammed on top of them, whether it’s mobs or items dropped on the ground. Heavy weighted pressure plates require 10 entities to be activated.
This face-looking device does exactly what it’s name implies: it observes whatever block is placed in front of it. When the block in front of it changes, the observer sends a quick redstone signal pulse for 15 blocks max down a redstone dust wire.
The observer also powers blocks directly behind it.
A Daylight Sensor
The utility of this block is also in its name. It detects day and night cycles, and sends a redstone signal based on that.
You can choose day or night mode by right clicking the daylight sensor. Day mode emits a ten block redstone signal through redstone dust wiring when it’s daytime, and night mode does the same but at night. When active, it powers blocks directly around it.
Great for making traps and such, when a player steps into a tripwire string suspended between two tripwire hooks, it sends a 15 block redstone signal while the player or mob stands on top of the wire.
The signal dies when the player or mob moves out of the trap. Tripwire also activates blocks directly in the vicinity of the tripwire hook.
A Trapped Chest
Another great tool for traps and pranks, a trapped chest will activate any block or wiring within its direct range.
The signal is very poor, lasting only for one block, so you may want to use some additional repeaters for more elaborate traps.
A Detector Rail
This special piece of rail will send out a 15 block strong redstone signal through wiring, and power any blocks within its direct range.
If you’re looking to build a minecart system, this is a must-have component.
Comparators are probably the toughest component to understand. They don’t inherently have a redstone signal, but will rather output the same signal that goes into them.
Comparators have two modes: normal (the light at the front is off) and subtraction (the light at the front is on).
Normal mode: if the signal coming into a comparator from its side is stronger than the signal going into its back, then the output signal will be turned off.
Subtraction mode: the signal strength coming from the side is subtracted from the signal strength coming from the back. The resulting strength is then outputted from the front.
Redstone Devices And How To Use Them
On top of power sources, there are various devices that can be powered with a redstone signal, which will alter the state of the device to cause movement or some type of reaction.
Some of these are also just great additions to redstone machine and don’t necessarily require any wiring, nor can they all be powered.
Pistons And Sticky Pistons
Pistons are pretty straightforward. When active, they become extended.
Normal pistons will simply push blocks out of place, without holding on to those blocks. Sticky pistons on the other hand will hang on to any blocks, making them fantastic for creating secret doors.
Redstone lamps are just a simple source of light, which can be activated with redstone power and wiring.
When turned on, they give off a light level 15 in the surrounding area, making them fantastic lamps. Pair them with daylight sensors, and you’ll have automatic lights in your Minecraft base.
Not to be confused with dispensers, droppers will quite literally drop an item placed inside them when powered.
If a container is placed directly in front of a dropper, the items will be dropped inside the said container, namely a chest or a hopper.
Dispensers are very similar to Droppers, in the sense that they dispense items. However, their main specialty is the ability to fire arrows placed inside, making them great for traps and the like.
Note blocks can be used to make custom music in Minecraft. Right-click on a note block to alter the note that it makes, from lowest to highest.
A redstone signal will emit a sound from it, and by queuing a number of them one after another, you could technically recreate an entire song.
Hoppers are one of the most important items for automatic farms. Items dropped into a hopper will be sucked in and funneled into a container the hopper is attached to.
In particular, hoppers are great for automatic inventory organizers.
The powered rail is something every railway in Minecraft needs to keep the speed momentum of a Minecart.
At regular intervals in your railway, make sure to include a few powered rails, with redstone torches next to them. They will boost the speed of your cart, especially when going uphill.
Certain minecarts can be activated when they pass through a powered activator rail. Make sure that a redstone torch is next to the activator rail to ensure it actually works.
The classic example is a minecart with TNT, which will detonate when it passes through a powered activator rail.
A Minecart With Furnace
Also known as a powered minecart, the purpose of the furnace inside is to push the Minecart forward on its own.
It has the power to push other Minecarts quite efficiently.
A Minecart With Chest
This is a self-explanatory one, but it comes in handy with redstone railways.
Ideal for transporting items across your mineshaft, the minecart with chest makes for easy inventory management.
These are not just meant for target practice. Shoot an arrow into the target and it will send a signal of 15 blocks and power blocks in its vicinity.
Blocks That Can Be Powered With Redstone
There are many blocks in the game that interact with redstone, even if they’re not redstone blocks or devices by nature. The general rule is that any block considered transparent cannot be powered, while blocks that are solid and opaque, can be powered.
Any entrances, such as doors of all kinds from wooden to iron can be opened with redstone power sources like torches, buttons, and levers.
Pressure plates are a classic choice for doors. This also works for trap doors and fence gates.
As mentioned earlier with the activator rail, TNT is very susceptible to redstone.
Place it next to any source of redstone power that is either on by default or which has to be activated, and the TNT will detonate.
Solid And Opaque Blocks
As a reminder, any block considered transparent will not allow a redstone signal to pass through. Make sure to go for blocks that are full, solid, and opaque, such wood and wooden planks and stone variants.
Stay away from blocks like glass, stairs, and slabs, though slabs that are combined into a full block will work.
How To Wire Redstone
How To Use Redstone Dust
Redstone dust is your go-to wiring method when it comes to redstone creations. In order to deliver a signal from a power source to a device or to a block that needs to be powered, you need to connect the two with redstone dust. It’s sort of the binding glue between these two components.
The easiest example to showcase this is a simple redstone lamp that can be powered with a lever. The lever is the power source. Once flipped, a continuous signal is sent through the redstone dust wiring, until it reaches the redstone lamp. The redstone lamp is turned on, and once the lever is flipped again, it turns off.
The thing about redstone wiring that’s great is that it’s flexible. It can go in multiple directions, and even climb up blocks.
We’ll go over vertical wiring further down below, but generally speaking, climbing up one block isn’t going to break a redstone signal. The one thing to keep in mind is the strength of the signal from the power source, which is covered next.
How To Use Redstone Repeaters To Extend Wiring
A power source will send a signal of a certain strength. That means that the signal can only reach devices and blocks in a specific range. Beyond that, the signal will be lost and become too weak.
This is easy to spot just by looking at your redstone dust wiring while your power source is on. The brighter the dust looks and if it has a distinct particle effect, the stronger the signal is.
If the dust looks dark red and doesn’t move, the signal isn’t strong enough, and you need to extend your wiring with a repeater.
A repeater can be placed almost at the end of a chain of redstone wiring, and it will boost the signal back to its full strength.
The repeater can also be used to introduce delays into the redstone signal. If you’d like there to be a slight delay to how long a lever flip takes to turn on a redstone lamp or activate a device, the repeater can be used to delay the signal up to four Minecraft ticks.
How To Wire Redstone Vertically
Depending on what you’re building, you might want to have your redstone wiring done vertically. Luckily, most blocks, when powered, will affect any redstone dust or torch attached to them, which allows for the creation of various redstone ladders that deliver signals vertically.
Redstone torches in particular are fantastic for this, because they can power multiple blocks around them at the same time. They won’t power the block they’re resting on, but they can power blocks next to and above them, as well as adjacent to them.
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