Right well that was a long and complicated weekend of minecrafting!
The RedPower Factory
Finally got this operational at last after a lot of work and redesigning, although currently it is purely a storage warehouse for RedPower components rather than a factory in the traditional sense.
There is an initial input point downstairs (currently a chest). From here there is a sequence of 18 sorting machines – 12 bound to a specific colour and 6 that currently serve no purpose. Items arrive from the input into a chest and sorting machine combo. The sorting machine will assess the item against it’s filter rules. If it can sort it, it will tag the item with its colour. If it doesn’t recognise the item, it will tag it with the colour white. It will then output the item back into the tubes.
RedPower Tubes are intelligent, and obey some logical rules to dictate where items will go, instead of the random nature of the Buildcraft pipes. In this case, when tagged with a colour, they will try to go to the closest “valid destination” (ie, storage location such as a chest or other machines) behind a coloured pipe (not simply to the nearest coloured pipe as I discovered). This means I don’t have to worry about having separate pipes for everything at this stage – As long as it’s tagged with a colour, it will go where I want it to.
If the item is tagged with one of my 12 used non-white colours, it will go upstairs. If it is tagged with white it will go to the next sorting machine, where it will be retagged appropriately. If it’s tagged white after the last sorting machine, it will return to Dragonstone’s storage loop (basically since the RedPower factory is the last stop before the overflow facility, the pipe just goes to next door).
As before, storage is divided into 12 colour coded bays upstairs. Once the pipe goes upstairs, it splits into 12 branches, colour coded, for each bay. Items will arrive at the bay they have been colour coded for. Upon arrival, they enter another chest & sorting machine combo. It’s worth noting at this point that a sorting machine can sort up to 40 different items into 8 colour coded sets of 5 items, which is the setup I use. The bay sorting machine will sort the items it receives into one of 8 colours – basically rainbow colours plus black. Although it should be unnecessary since it should be impossible to receive other items, the bay sorting machines will tag any unrecognised items with white, and send it down the overflow pipes. If a sorted item cannot go to its allocated chest in the bay (ie, chest is full), it will seek out the next valid destination of its colour – Which is in the overflow pipes.
The overflow pipes grab any overflow from all 12 bays, and have colour coded pipes for every colour (all 16, not just the 13 I use in the factory at present), and any items that get sent down here will leave the factory and go back into the storage loop around Dragonstone, eventually going into the overflow facility to be dealt with as appropriate, or if they are not processed in the overflow facility, to be returned to the “unsorted items” chests back in the citadel tower.
Now, I still need to divert the storage loop to connect up to the start of the RedPower factory, and connect the end up to the overflow facility, but other than that, everything is working as intended. I still need to set up filter rules for new items as I go, but this is no different to any items stored in the citadel – Any items which can’t be sorted or filtered anywhere in the storage loop will be sent to the “unsorted items” chest inside the citadel, letting me know that I need to set up a filter somewhere.
Although it isn’t set up as such currently, the intention is that – like appropriate items in the citadel’s warehouse – Items which can benefit from repairs using a talisman of repair will be stored in an alchemical chest with a talisman in it, so that they happily repair to maximum durability while in storage. Things like screwdrivers, handsaws, Paint cans/brushes, diamond drawplates etc.
I will still need to set up some kind of factory automation too. A lot of RedPower stuff is quite unusual in terms of recipes and requirements, so may be hard to automate production from the very start (like for example, chuck ores in a box, and they get macerated, smelted and stored). However I expect that I can easily automate an array of furnaces to be automatically restocked from a condenser making coal from items manually input to it. Similarly, automating input for items to these furnaces is impractical, as these need to be implemented correctly with ratios or the entire system will grind to a halt. Instead I anticipate having to manually input the alloy components to the furnace, but then automatically extract the products it makes. This will be particularly useful since Alloy Furnaces regular grind to a halt because the amount of input you can place in it frequently makes multiple stacks of output, but there is only one output slot, and production grinds to a halt. Some of these extracted items may be able to be automatically processed further, others may need to be sent into the automated RedPower storage system.
The Quarry Filling Machine
I finally got around to implementing automation for this, so that I don’t have to manually jetpack down to the bottom of the quarry in order to refill the machine with dirt and coal whenever it tickles my fancy, otherwise it runs out of stock in 30 minutes or less.
This was obviously a pain in the arse from a logistics point of view. But of course, having a construction box – as made by machines like a Quarry or Filling Machine – tends to cause Framerate lag in nearby chunks whenever you look in their general direction, and this lag tends to get worse the longer you are online nearby. For me, in my capital city, This is long and often, so the lag gets pretty bad, and I frequently choose to log out and in again to “clear the lag” so to speak.
Automating it so that I can get the damn thing filled and removed has been on my list of priorities for a while. However, since this is still “new tech” for me (I’ve only ever built one) I was lazy in figuring out how to automate the damn thing. Thankfully, it really is as simple as I’d hoped.
My setup is I have 1 filling machine, placed after defining a filling area (just like a quarry, Although it requires a third dimension). The filling machine already has its template in place - which for a “solid fill”, is the entire 3x3 grid filled with Brick Blocks. This machine is powered by two Steam Engines, both with a constant redstone signal so that they remain on. To the side, I then have two condensers: One configured to make dirt, the other configured to make coal. Both condensers are connected to a filter. A Transposer would also get the job done, but I have used a filter because I can specify a single unit of Dirt or coal in the filter to be extracted per tick. If I didn’t do this, It would try to draw whole stacks if possible, meaning that there is way too much in the pipes. Much better for server performance this way. There is then separate pipes going from the Coal Filter to the engines, and the Dirt Filter to the *SIDE* of the filling machine. I have the filters activated by a single Timer, on 0.750s (in order to resupply the filter at the same rate it is currently depleting dirt. Although a case could be made for using a second, and much slower timer for the coal filter (maybe 8s-10s) since that is consumed a lot slower. I’m not entirely sure which solution would be more economical as far as server performance is concerned. Don’t Forget: RedPower is smart – Those filters won’t output items into the tubes if there is nowhere to end items too because space is full (ie, coal won’t be spammed into the tubes because once the machines are stocked, the filter won’t output more until space becomes available).
Looking at the map, It’s still going, although possibly just creeping into isometric view now, which should be about half the quarry filled. I’m looking forward to finally removing that once it’s job is done, hopefully tonight, or worst case tomorrow, unless it’s run into some unforeseen technical difficulties (it should have had plenty of stock to get most if not all of the hole filled on its own).
Now that Mjolnir (aka, my Red Matter Hammer) is being powered by my two Klein Star Drei’s, I’m able to 1-click excavate large areas. When in 5x5x5 mode, this is perfect for excavating railway tunnels (which are 3x3 hole surrounded by a ring of marble brick, making it 5x5 total). One click excavates the tunnel hole plus the walls, ceiling and floor, meaning I can quickly replace what was mined with marble brick. As opposed to first digging the tunnel hole, then replacing the floor, then the walls, then the ceiling. Bah. It took too long. Especially for the length of tunnels we need on the server.
It would be INCREDIBLY quick to construct the tunnels if one person mined it out with a Red (or Dark) Matter Hammer/Pick and Shovel, and one or more people didn’t the Marble Brick filling in work. So maybe if people are up for some community work at some point
Despite this incredible efficiency, I don’t think I’d be quite ready to retire the Thunderbirds (read: Railcraft Tunnel Bore’s) just yet. For those times you just can’t be arsed to dig a tunnel, they do come in handy, even at their ponderously slow speed. Plus, at the new tunnelling depth of Y=35 (Standing at sea-level is Y=63), they should be unaffected by surface water, including the deepest of seas. They could still run into problems that might stop them (such as underground water/lava lakes, or deep holes), but these should be much less frequent than before, at the old Y=54 tunnelling depth as used by the red line.
The new tunnelling is so quick and easy that I have already excavated (and marbled) far enough north from Dragonstone on the green line to reach where the junction for Laketown will be (Although I’m going to build the station first, so that I can line it up with the junction perfectly without any course corrections
At this point it’s become pretty clear that each station is somewhat unique in its design. Each has its limitations on how far it can dig down, how wide it can go below the surface without interfering with other nearby buildings and constructions, where entrances need to be and where track must head off to. Not to mention that when it comes down to wiring and stuff, it’s impossible to remember the exact layout of wiring by heart.
So basically, while each station will look the same in terms of the how the platforms and junctions look and operate, Designs for the actual station buildings, layout of staircases down to platforms, and “behind the scenes” wiring may vary between stations. What I’m trying to say is: Stations will not be “photocopies” of each other, but will still adhere to the same basic design principles. Station platforms and junctions will we uniform across the server so people know how to operate them. “Behind the scenes” wiring will make use of the same colour coded wiring between stations, even if the layout of those wires does not match identically to another station. So you can always be sure that the green wire does THIS and the red wire does THAT. And so on and so forth.
Dynmap / Server Performance / Important Stuff
Once again, put off upgrading the Dynmap again since the server was acting up a bit again over the weekend. Plus the usual suspect RAM issues. Simply put, I don’t want to be upgrading the Dynmap if it’s going to require more RAM when RAM has already been riding rather high the past few weeks.
That said, since the server came back up after it’s troubles on Sunday, it seems to be performing closer to expected RAM values, although it was creeping up a bit by the end of last night.
Just check your machines aren’t too adventurous, don’t have dodgy wiring/piping systems, that there aren’t half contructed railcraft furnaces – all the sort of things which might be causing issues. If in doubt, get me to pop over and give it a safety inspection, as I’m pretty familiar with most things that could be at fault.
One side-effect I noted from the server restart was that all my Iron Buildcraft pipes had reverted their output directions to “down” instead of the direction they were previously set too. If you use any of those, be sure to give your pipes an inspection and correct them as necessary, or you may get into a situation where items will get stuck in an infinite loop in your pipes, or potentially spill out on the floor, which if it happens fast enough, for long enough, will slowly lag your chunks out to an unplayable level.
There may also be other unintended consequences as well (FYI, I had to re-install the modpack on the server, which may or may not have reset mod configurations). One probable – though unconfirmed – scenario is that Railcraft Tunnel bores have probably forgotten that they are allowed to dig though marble, basalt, ruby ore, emerald ore and sapphire ore.