Not going to answer individual posts right now—it's late and I've failed to retain my sobriety—but I do want to say that I've read and appreciate you all very much!
I haven't played much since I started this thread until just a couple hours tonight. I remembered to test putting a block under the dispenser (didn't do anything), but forgot to check with F3 for the chunk borders.
I moved them all down one. They all light fine. That would be missioned solved except . . .
Now not all the dispensers for the water buckets double pulse. Can you believe that? After all that, now thee water—the one thing that worked—is left running. Clearly glitched behavior. Very, very frustrating and tiring, as I'm sure you guys know very well. That's why I'm here posting about it!
I really want to get this finished before Optifine comes out for 1.14. I saw no reason to upgrade to 1.13, so I never did, but I want stone brick fences and natural stone slabs and stairs, so I want to upgrade this time around. Trouble is, I'll have to retrofit my skeleton XP farm. I'd rather just use this.
I'll look more closely at Derman's latest build with the lever. Lever might be better anyway, and that looks really clean and light! Maybe a different build altogether is needed
If you look at the first part of post #17 I made, you may have that lag issue with the water buckets ...
And so i did! In the end all I needed was a lever, with a straight connection to the F/S dispensers and a monstable FED (which i found on YT) to the water dispensers and i made the test farm below, worked perfectly!
My whole goal was to have a button and make the double-pulse centralized so I didn't have to have repeaters at each portal, but glitches just kept that from happening. Otherwise, this seems like the simplest setup I've seen. Works great! Almost no time between flip of the switch and the portals activating or deactivating.