I am on a roll, and happy to be, as my excitement for this world and journal peaks with today's update! Things are not slowing down as we approach the mid-season finale... finally... lol.
Okay, so we need to definitely install a railway to the new mesa biome. It’s not too far from HQ, and I have enough blocks to do it. Only problem is…
Yeah, ghasts definitely tried to pick fights with me. However, I am no stranger to such fights, having been through a similar conundrum whilst building terminal zero. Here, we’ll begin terminal one, or expressway Q1. While Q0 travels southeast, Q1 will travel straight south.
I’m working on my curves here.
This is how far I made it before I ran out of blocks. I guess I didn’t have enough. Oh well, horse travel will be fine for now until we complete the tunnel.
So, there are two trips we need to take here. The first is to collect a lot of sand.
The second is to collect a lot of clay.
We’ll be using both, though largely sand to make concrete. That’s because we need to complete the tangent floor today.
First, we need more diorite. I'll take it from the SRF entrance stairwell and replace it with black concrete.
It's much sleeker that way.
At first, I started with black concrete for the roof. However, I find that it doesn’t match the intended aesthetic, which is an underground tunnel. This looks too tacky, and far too “futuristic.”
Sometimes, simpler is better. Stone slabs work much better, and the colors are much more fitting. I’ll keep the roof lined with glowstone lamps every six blocks.
So, we’ve got the look figured out, but you may have noticed that we have several unfinished segments of this floor! What are they all for? Today, we’re going to address that.
The introduction of generators beckons the need for another type of redstone machine within the modular system – that of modifiers. The behavior of modifiers is similar to generators, except that rather than generating power, they modify the inputs in some way. Think of modifiers as filters – if we choose to plug one in, we can add a modification to the generator’s input and further customize the way the base behaves.
I’ve constructed a diagram to help you visualize exactly what is happening, and what Starlight HQ can do with this new system.
We’ve already done the bulk of the work in the last couple sessions, completing the principal link editor and computer system. Today, we’re going to build a few small modifiers that can be optionally “plugged” into the computer, if you catch my drift.
The tangent floor is going to be home for all of these – after all, you didn’t think that long tunnel was for nothing, did you?
Two of the first modifiers we build have purely technical functions that regulate the modular system: Starlight Balancer and Starlight Inverter. Notice that each modifier has an ‘AUX in’ switch. This is the equivalent to plugging the modifier into the computer. These are plugins, after all. The reason we have the modifiers as separate entities is because we want the ability to use them on any generator, not just the MISC. Yes, there will be more generators coming.
These first two modifiers are very simple machines with just one feature each – an on/off switch. That’s because their functions are technical. The Starlight Balancer will regulate inputs/outputs that cause lots of lag in the base. Starlight Inverter is a simple redstone wire that will invert the output signal of whatever it is modifying – useful for essentially doubling the customizable options for the MISC (and future generators).
Let’s look at each in a bit more depth.
Starlight Balancer is essentially a very specific type of lock. For slower computers, you probably wouldn’t want to use some features like the Night Lights at all. Even good computers like mine can suffer from lag spikes when the Night Lights are animated, or when anything animates. Pistons also cause a lot of lag, such as the sugar cane farm. So, when you enable Starlight Balancer, you lock all of these things from being used. Links involving the Night Lights will not work, the sugar cane and tree farms will turn off (meaning anything linking them won’t work), the chicken farm will turn off, and Landing Pad will lock.
The balancer will also focus on redstone, keeping certain operations in the link editor from happening. You won’t be able to perform multi-link operations, which aren’t yet installed into the MISC. These will require additional memory registers, which will effectively be turned off by the balancer. Significantly reducing redstone usage in the base is the goal of this modifier – if you have a slower computer, or you simply want to keep the base quiet, you will turn this on.
Starlight Inverter is simpler to build; it’s a single redstone wire that essentially just inverts the signal. You can send that to the MISC to invert the state of output links.
We will build a third modifier today, Starlight Compressor, which will be quite a bit more involved as it will perform a number of functions.
The Compressor will modify signals based on item input. As such, it actually doubles as an item sorter, which is precisely why I’ve placed it here. It’s next to the MISC to shorten the redstone wires, and next to STAS to make it centrally accessible from anywhere in the base.
When the Compressor detects input, it will regulate certain activities in the base that relate to the items being processed. For example, if you are tossing in unmined ores to be smelted, the Compressor will override MISC links to perform actions that expedite this process (‘compressing’ the links and behaviors), such as moving them into a transport pod to have them automatically smelted. This means we’ll need to build a new furnace room which is automatic – something already overdue.
Note that in order for the Compressor to have any function, you’ll need to plug it in by enabling the ‘AUX in’ option. This will be the case for every modifier we add to the base, since they are not generating their own outputs but are instead processing input from generators. However, the Compressor is slightly different, because it’s actually two different machines built into one. Independently, it can just be an item sorter/smelter without being plugged in. It becomes a rather powerful modifier when you do plug it in.
To start on the wiring, I’ll first give you an overview of the six switches, so that you understand exactly what options you get with this machine. It’s going to be quite a flexible addition to the base with everything it can do, but that also means the wiring will get a little messy.
CLOCKWISE from top left lever:
- Threshold – Sets the quantity of items necessary to begin compression. If the lever is off, then you need at least a full stack of items. If the lever is on, then you need at least ten stacks of items. Otherwise, if you input fewer items, there will be no compression input to the modular system. Note that this option refers to items detected on immediate input – so, you have to input the required amount of items right away, not over several trips, because the threshold is determined by a timer set to the amount of time necessary for a stack (or ten) to funnel through the hoppers. This is useful if you want to use the Compressor as an item sorter without taking advantage of any other features; you would set the threshold to ten and input fewer than that. Likewise, if you have a full inventory of items, but don’t want compression to start immediately, you will equally find this useful.
- Amplitude – turns the Compressor output wire into an analog wire which will decide how much the Compressor will modify its target generator. For our purposes, this effectively means that a comparator will be used to determine how full the minecart is (dependent on how many items we throw in to be sorted), and that output signal strength will impart different effects on the generator.
- Target destination – the hoppers will funnel items into a minecart, which will transport them to one of two locations. Keep the lever off to send them straight to a storage collection unit (this will need to be installed in the SRF control floor). Turn the lever on to send them to the automatic furnace room which we need to build. Items that don’t need to be smelted will be automatically left out and sent to storage.
- Balancer – built-in balancer which performs the same function as the Starlight Balancer. While the Compressor works, other machines in the base can be turned off temporarily until compression concludes (i.e. sugar cane farm, Night Lights, tree farm).
- Automate generator input – you can channel the output from the Compressor back into a generator of choice by enabling this feature, which will automatically activate the generator you wish to affect. For the MISC, this means that the Compressor will have the ability to automatically create specific links that relate to the items being sorted. We still have to build the furnace room, but when we do, we’ll give the Compressor the ability to automatically build the following temporary links: furnace room > transport pods, transport pods > SRF farms. This way, the Compressor is able to automate several base operations at once by modifying the MISC. As we build more generators, we can give the Compressor more functions with this feature, as it is generator-dependent.
- Type – type of compression performed. If you leave this off, it will compress normally (hard). Turning this option on will allow soft compression – that is, items will be processed in batches rather than sorting. Useful if you have several types of items to smelt, such as ores, clay, and netherrack, and you don’t want to separate them. You would use hard compression to keep the clay and netherrack from smelting (because they won’t sort out on soft). This will also affect the other features, since everything is based on item input.
Notice also that you can plug modifiers into the Compressor. Not only can modifiers filter input from generators, but they can also filter outputs from other modifiers. So you could hook up the Balancer and Inverter to the Compressor to create even more interesting behaviors (though, this might not be practical since the Compressor already has a balancer built-in, and an Inverter would not have much effect as of now). Not all modifiers will allow this ability since it isn’t always useful, but some will.
Right then, let’s get to the wiring! We can’t do everything today, but we can at least get the principal functions working.
First thing’s first, the question: How do we choose which modifiers to plug into the generators? If they are essentially plug-ins, then we need the ability to decide which ones go where. This will be especially important once we start building more generators, so that we can choose what generators are to be modified.
For this, we need a separate component, which I’ll build right off the wall here.
This room will function as the modular mixer, where we decide what modifiers to add. This mixer also functions to connect all the machines together, as every component of the modular system will essentially be connected here in some capacity. For each generator we build, we’ll need a completely separate unit with gates for every modifier. This means that for every new generator, we multiply the number of new gates by the number of modifiers. Redstone fun, am I right?
We’ll be using a number of AND gates in order to allow the modifiers access to their respective generators. Simply, we’ll have an AND gate between the mixer and the ‘AUX in’ toggles (which plug it in), and then another AND gate between the ‘AUX in’ and ‘on/off’ toggles (which activate it). Now, again, we’ll need a separate set of AND gates for every generator. So, when we go to build a second one, guess what? Two more gates multiplied by however many modifiers we have. Right now, that will be three.
Above, you’ll see the third set of AND gates. These both collect the input from the generator (left side) and dispense the modifier’s output back into the generator. The top gate is for the Inverter; the bottom is for the Balancer.
^ The MISC feeds input into the modifiers through the locked repeater, which will keep the active state while it is generating power.
The Balancer will restrict access to the Night Lights for modular linking. Any links composed involving the lights will not work.
For now, that’s all we can do, since we don’t yet have multi-link setup on the MISC (wherein, you guess it, you’ll be able to compose 2:1 links). Let’s move onto the Inverter.
This is a simple wire, but it took me a hot minute to decide exactly what I wanted to invert, since any major inversions within the MISC will cause the generator to behave strangely.
^ That’s when I remembered this output line we installed a year ago, which uses comparators to detect exactly which line is receiving input. We’ll use the inverter then to invert this output signal, which has yet to be utilized. How do we accomplish this?
A XOR gate, which says that when both inputs are on/off, the output is off. The output is only on when either the MISC or the Inverter is toggling input, which allows us to invert the output signal.
My plan is to use this output signal to feed the MISC into other generators and other potential components throughout the base. This means that the Inverter does not yet do anything tangible in the base. But, we’ve set it up such that it will have some functionality later. Ideally, then, this will be useful when we build the furnace room, modular farms, finish STAS, and finish the transport pods – all things that need to be completed so we can hook them up to the MISC.
The Compressor will be a much more practical modifier, so let’s get to the wiring.
First we’re building the two hopper timers, which will send output to the rest of the modifier to begin compression after enough items are received. For the first timer, you need to throw in a stack of items (which is 32 items in the timer).
Likewise, the second timer requires ten stacks (or half the amount in the timer, all five stacks).
^ This timer is for the piston visuals, which we’ll work on next. This is essentially an array of nine pistons that move akin to a sine wave, acting as a visual aid to tell you that the compression process is taking place. I think the visual is quite fitting for this build, which is why I’ve chosen it.
It’s a simple timer that requires each piston to be one-tick off to create the ‘wave’ effect.
Here, you can somewhat see it in action now. It will activate when the timers receive enough input, because this is also a visual cue that the modifier’s other features are working (all options funnel through the torch that starts the timer, i.e. the on switch).
For the options, we start with the threshold, which just chooses between the timers. Whilst one is locked, the other is unlocked. Just don't toggle it after you throw items in, or you'll mess everything up.
Amplitude will need to be installed later when we get the minecart setup. For target destination, well, that’s an easy switch of tracks that must be completed later when we build the rail.
For the built-in balancer, I’ll hook it up to the Starlight Balancer to achieve the same effect – in this case, it is only temporary while the Compressor works. Easy enough with another AND gate.
Again, we need a total of two ‘AUX in’ gates, which serve the sole purpose of plugging the Compressor into MISC.
Above is the AND gate for the built-in balancer. To achieve output and activate the balancer, you need all three inputs: (1) the ‘AUX in’ from the MISC, (2) toggling the balancer feature in the Compressor, and then (3) comparator output from the Compressor itself when it is on. As such, the balancer works while the Compressor is on, and then automatically shuts off afterwards.
Other than that, the Compressor will perform functions of its own – it does not need a generator to do this. Generator input will feed into the Compressor and use its functions to modify its output.
The item sorting system is important, but it won’t matter until the minecart gets to where the furnace room will be. As such, the ‘Type’ option cannot be added until we build the rail. And we aren’t doing that today, because we need the furnace room first.
Finally, the ‘automate generator input’ feature, which will be a fun one to install. Basically, I have to figure out how to sneak several more wires into the MISC adder in order to unlock the machine, install several links temporarily, lock the machine, and then reset the links upon the completion of compression. Basically we’re building an AI.
So far so good, though I will say that the redstone wiring is indeed a mess, bordering several other builds like Landing Pad (which figures). Thankfully, we have enough room to build the remaining features; I’ve made sure of that. I like the challenge of building compact, though, because I am constantly thinking about how to preserve space for future developments. In this case, the Compressor is one such future development.
I’ve built another segment here to house three more modifiers: Starlight Limiter, Corkscrew, and Angler. We won’t build these today as we have other priorities, but I’ll give you a brief overview for what I intend each to do:
- Starlight Limiter: Same idea as the balancer, except this modifier will strictly limit how many generators are used at once. Obviously, this won’t be useful until later when we build more generators. While normally, you’ll be able to use as many generators and modifiers as possible, this modifier will only let you use one generator at a time.
- Starlight Corkscrew: Practical modifier which will allow you to create timers that control when things activate. With it, you can set delays on anything. Useful for if you’d like the farms to activate, say, twenty seconds after you return from the Nether, as opposed to immediately (twenty seconds is about how long it takes to get from the Nether Temple to the SRF using STAS).
- Starlight Angler: Proof-of-concept modifier which will let you create a chain reaction effect between two or more generators (one generator becomes a modifier for another generator, basically). Again, we won’t need this until we build more generators, but it should allow some cool behaviors.
You can see that modifiers are going to add explosive flavor to the modular system, which is the next step now that we have built the base system. I’m happy to have introduced several today, and to begin brainstorming more things we can have them do. Now that you have a comprehensive idea of how they work, and how the modular system works, I would invite you to brainstorm with me! What other ways can we manipulate the base behavior? I’m always looking for new ideas, because now the modular system gives me lots to work with.
From here on out, nothing related to the modular system will be simple, but that's good. It means we're making significant progress with Starlight HQ's massive transformation. But with all the redstone fun we've been having, maybe it's time to reflect. After all, Violet is still locked up in the Tropic Fortress...
Next up... Session 242 - "The Mystery Deepens"