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Sp!at 22nd March 2011 11:24 PM

Tutorial: Making a Minecart Station
I'm starting to get the hang of building stations now so thought I would put together a tutorial on the steps I take. In this tutorial I muck things up a lot but it is relatively easy to fix issues when things go wrong - as you'll see. The key is to use dirt blocks exclusively until everything is working, then replace the dirt with your desired material.

The station ends up looking fairly complex but I build and complete one bit at a time so hopefully it isn't too difficult if you complete each step before proceeding to the next.

To build a station you will typically need:
  • About 100 blocks of dirt
  • About 100 pieces of track
  • 7 mine carts
  • About 100 pieces of redstone
  • About 10 redstone torches
  • 1 button
  • 1 lever
  • 2 wooden plates
  • 1 stone plate
  • 1 redstone repeater
  • 2 hours of time

The Site
In this location I already have an existing track coming from Spawn and then continuing on to the initial station I built. When laying that track I had always planned on building a station here so had built a 2-way booster at this future station location.
After hollowing out a bit of a shell I start using dirt blocks to plan where the track will go. As mentioned previously, by using dirt blocks it is easy to correct mistakes (which happen frequently).

In the picture the tracks shown are the end of the existing booster.
Tracks are laid over the dirt blocks so it is easier to see which tracks will be going where. In this design the far track will be the Arrivals track, the near track will be the Departures track, and the middle track will be the Booster for both Arrivals and Departures.
Dig a slope for the Booster track and the Departures track down 4 levels.

Sp!at 22nd March 2011 11:25 PM

The Cart Dispenser
The idea here is that reserve mine-carts sit in the dispenser and are released when required. The return track feeds back into the dispenser.
Hollow out a typical booster channel on the rock 4 pieces long. At the end place a half block. This is where the waiting carts will sit ready to be launched. Returning carts will fall from the top and keep the dispenser full.

I've turned the exit track 90 degrees so the carts in the dispenser have a North South orientation as this is the default orientation for mine-carts.

I accidentally hollowed out the wall between the booster circuit track and the dispenser. You'll see that I patch this back in later with dirt. I should have hollowed out the other side where the coal is - this will be done soon in the instructions.

Now we'll return to the top level and redirect the Arrivals track over the dispenser - but before we do that we need to know the coordinates of the dispenser.
Stand on the dispenser and click the F3 key. This will show full info on the screen including your coordinates. The dispenser is located at 771, 60, 796.

Using the F3 key is extremely useful when trying to work out the position of blocks where you are working blind.

While standing on the dispenser, dig straight up so the hole will be easy to find in the next step.
Return to the top and dig the Arrivals track to drop over the dispenser pointing in the same direction of the exit track. Laying tracks North-South will ensure the orientation of carts in the dispenser will be pointing in the right direction. If your dispenser has an East-West orientation and you log-out, the carts will reposition themselves North-South when you log back in.
Return to the bottom and dig out two more booster channels next to the dispenser. The middle track will be the booster for the dispenser, and the outer track will be to return the booster to its looping circuit.
Leading off from the middle booster track, hollow out more rock and create another standard looping booster. This is the engine that drives the dispenser.

To help with understanding where we now are, the sliver of wood in the image above is the half block we used for the dispenser.

The loop will be powered to be released by a button in the station when we've finished.

You can test the result by powering the junction in the loop.
Now that the dispenser circuit is complete you can load 4 carts into the various booster and dispenser positions on the tracks.

Sp!at 22nd March 2011 11:26 PM

The Booster Circuit
Now that the mechanics of the dispenser have been completed...
continue the Booster loop under the station and then loop it back to the station level.
Then break the track and build a 3 x 3 loop as shown.
Hollow out another booster channel for this 3 x 3 loop but instead of the usual 4 blocks, make this 6 blocks long for added power.
The basic construction is complete so you can place 2 carts in now.

Sp!at 22nd March 2011 11:26 PM

Wiring the Booster Circuit
Now we need to wire-up the Booster circuit so when pressure plates on the Arrival and Departure tracks are activated, the booster cart is released in the right direction.

Using the F3 command stand on top of each underground junction in the booster circuit and also each position on the Arrival and Departure tracks at station level that you will be wanting the plates to activate the booster circuit. Record these numbers because we will be working underground for the wiring.

In this example the Departure track junction block is at 769, 60, 794 and the Arrival track junction is at 771, 60, 794.
Dig underground 3 blocks and then dig an area where you can place redstone torches directly under the two junction boxes.
Return to the surface and see the effect power has on your track. One of the torches activated the junction (the one closest to us) but the farther junction wasn't activated. The torch under this one needs to be in an off state to activate the junction.
Back underground again, provide power to the block with the torch and it will turn it off.

Also note that in this picture, on the left, I have placed a redstone torch under the dispenser junction. Might as well pop this into position now as well.
Back on top now all the junctions are activated.
At station level, place 2 wooden pressure plates on the Arrival and Departure tracks. Throw an object onto the plates to activate them. Eventually the plate on the Departure track will be replaced with a stone plate but using this now would mean we can't test the circuit unless someone stands on it.

Now return to the lower level and connect the blocks under your pressure plates to the torches we had positioned under the junctions.
Start to connect up your track circuits. This image shows that I hadn't allowed the change of direction with the Booster circuit joining where the return track should be. At this stage we just want to test it so use dirt blocks to work around the problem and then we'll fix this later.
With all the boosters in place and the tracks reset, activate the Departure plate to power the booster track.

Crap! It's coming from the wrong direction! I've wired the plates up to the wrong junctions. Now you know why I use dirt blocks for this part of the construction.

What I'm testing here is that the booster cart can return to its circuit underground. As it turns out there wasn't enough power to return it, so...
... extend the length of the booster channel for this cart. Instead of 6 blocks it is now 7 blocks long and re-testing now reliably returns this to its circuit. Each length in a booster extends the distance an unoccupied cart can travel by about 8 track lengths.
Now that everything is working, replace the Departure wooden plate with a stone plate and remove an extra track piece from each circuit so the carts don't overshoot the plates.

Note that now I have corrected my earlier issue of Booster circuit so the Arrival track can be laid flat again.
While testing I found that my Arrival track wasn't reliably pushing carts back into the dispenser. By removing blocks from the corners it allows the cart to travel the correct distance to drop back into the dispenser.

Sp!at 22nd March 2011 11:48 PM

Hail Cart Button
Next we need to wire up the dispenser junction and attach that to a button in the station.
Back on your station level place a lever on the block you want to have your button and start building the wiring underneath. A lever is used at this stage so we can have the circuit activated while we build it. It is much easier to build with an active circuit because you can spot issues as the wire is laid.
This is long circuit and doesn't quite reach where we need it to go.
A repeater will extend the range of the current.

Note in this picture the circuitry hits the dirt block and the power is off after this. Unseen in the picture is a redstone torch extending from the far side of the dirt block. This is to invert the current so that the dispenser junction is activated correctly.
Return to the station level and replace the lever with a button.
Now you can test that the basic layout is functioning correctly.

At this point our station is essentially constructed. So now we need to concentrate on the tracks leading into and out of our station.

After finishing the basic set-up I thought of a couple of improvements which are shown in the above image.

First of all, the Arrival track didn't need to snake back around the way it did. All I needed to do was have the fall into the dispenser with the right orientation. So now the track enters from the front rather than snaking behind.

There is now a piece missing on the Arrival track so the cart stops here before reaching the wooden plate. This gives time to the passenger riding the cart to get off and push it forward. The old way the passenger had to get off fairly quickly before the booster cart would run away with the cart.

Sp!at 23rd March 2011 06:23 AM

Track switching
Now we need to focus on the tracks that lead into and out of our station.
Before starting any work my Arrival track is only connected to the station I built earlier and the Departure track is only connected to spawn.

Lets look at the critical area a little closer...
In this image we can see the current state of the tracks. The problems we need to solve are:
Both tracks leading in to the station need to always use the Arrival track.
We need a way of choosing which track we will use when departing the station.

A word of warning, I screw this up pretty badly and then have to patch what I did.
So this revision brings both tracks automatically into the Arrival track so my incorrect thinking is that I just need the ability to switch the new junction (the junction near where the hand holding the track piece is). How wrong I am!
I power the junction with a redstone torch and even now I still don't see the problem. I'm now considering the departing carts in my mind - which this setup works for, but I stopped thinking about the arriving carts. Can you spot the problems yet?
I was aware that carts arriving from my original station would be automatically diverted on to the spawn track and would miss my station completely so I thought this was the answer.

Carts arriving from the right now are diverted, and I can switch departing carts to either track.

Have you spotted the flaw in the logic yet? I hadn't so I blissfully continue on.
Using F3 over the junction I get my coordinates.
Back at the station I place a lever, turn it on, and start laying wire toward my junction. This will need to be activated from below so out comes the pick.
The wire affects a redstone torch under the junction.

Now to return to the surface and test the linkages...
Lever down will divert departing carts to spawn...
And lever up will divert carts to my other station.

At this point I realise that I had completely disregarded carts arriving from spawn. Crap!!! This isn't going to work!

I try to think through various options. I was considering the so-called south-west rule but my track needed to travel east. I was considering building a track bridge to divert traffic.

In the end the solution was fairly simple...
Where my old junction was is now an unchangeable special cross-road. All traffic coming from spawn travels straight across and onto the Arrivals track. All traffic from my other station travels around the curve and onto the Arrivals track.

By placing my junction switch at the end of the slope then departing carts can be diverted either to spawn or to my old station.

A quick change to the circuit under ground...

And then test the results...
Lever up diverts departing carts to spawn.
Lever down and the carts will travel straight across the junction and then curve onto to the other track leading to my other station.

So in the end the solution was fairly simple, but it did take a bit of trial and error to arrive at the answer. :)

Sp!at 23rd March 2011 06:23 AM


Coming soon

MadMax 23rd March 2011 11:46 AM

Would you typically have one line of tracks or 2 between stations, as in for both directions, or use the same track?

Nice work I will have a go at some stage.

Sorontar 23rd March 2011 12:57 PM

This will be helpful on the Creative server. It has 2 railways from spawn. One goes from near the town square to Wormstrum's city and the other goes from spawn.station to the harbour bridge and back. The bridge railway has two tracks so that people can go in opposite directions. It also has boosters at various stages. There are diversions for potential stations near Obsi's Mansion and a station at spawn. However, I had trouble working out how to organise a looping track so that people could get off at a platform or get on. Does your design have separate departure and arrival platforms?

I also had trouble with the boosters sometimes slowing the cart down depending on its speed. I think your booster design may improve it. I might have to go and change them sometime.


Sp!at 23rd March 2011 02:39 PM


Originally Posted by MadMax (Post 3087011)
Would you typically have one line of tracks or 2 between stations, as in for both directions, or use the same track?

Either really. I'm making this for a single track that branches to two locations. As long as the in-bound tracks all end up at the same place then it doesn't matter what sort of track structure you take. :)

The next part of the tutorial will be on track switching so that will be more relvant to this question. I've taken the screens but haven't processed them yet.


Originally Posted by Sorontar (Post 3087072)
...I had trouble working out how to organise a looping track so that people could get off at a platform or get on. Does your design have separate departure and arrival platforms?

Yes. My design has different departure and arrival tracks. The arrival track allows you to get out before the cart is taken back into the dispenser. The departure track waits for you to be seated before sending you on your way. :)


Originally Posted by Sorontar (Post 3087072)
I also had trouble with the boosters sometimes slowing the cart down depending on its speed. I think your booster design may improve it. I might have to go and change them sometime.

Yeah. Boosters can be a bit of a pain. I read that if a cart enters a booster area head-on (boosters on the same level) the result will be a bit of a slow down. If you hit the booster at an angle then this isn't a problem.

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