While Thermal Expansion’s item transport system, the Itemduct, lacks a specific mechanism for retrieving items for autocrafting, its autocrafting machine, the Cyclic Assembler, is a very powerful and useful device that uses RF energy to autocraft instantaneously. Furthermore, complex crafting processes can be compactly automated by placing a string of Cyclic Assemblers adjacent to one another.
Up until recently, one of the things that has kept me from using Cyclic Assemblers extensively in my survival world was the complexity of crafting large numbers of them. I know. This really is just laziness. But it’s the kind of laziness that is at the very heart of Minecraft automation: we like to automate the crafting tasks that make up a huge portion of what the game is all about so that, ultimately, we can sit back and watch the game play itself.
I finally decided, though, that it was time to start autocrafting in earnest. I’ve been to the End and have Ender pearls galore. I’ve got several quarrying options (the Quarry from Buildcraft, the Arcane Bore from Thaumcraft, the Ender Quarry from Extra Utilities), and my sorting and processing systems are currently being flooded with materials (I’m going to have to upgrade my Factorization Building of Ore-Processing Awesomeness in the near future). I really had no compelling excuse for putting off the building of Cyclic Assemblers other than how long it takes to craft them. What I really needed was a way to automatically assemble Cyclic Assemblers – a Cyclic Assembler Assembler, if you will.
To facilitate the early part of this build, I created a block I had seen nothing of online before: the Machinists’ Workbench. This block is essentially the Mk II crafting table from Redpower, having an internal inventory and slots for recipe schematics. In fact, the more I think about it, there are lots of things that TE does that are similar to Redpower, including the basic logic behind the way Itemducts work. Itemducts, like RP2 pneumatic tubes and unlike Buildcraft pipes, only send items out if there is a viable destination. Of course, RP2’s item transport, sorting, and autocrafting systems were far more developed than TE’s current offerings, but perhaps TE is planning on going even more into the RP2 direction? I certainly hope so, since Project Red, which is the more explicit successor to RP2 in many respects, is using an item transport system that is virtually identical to Logistics Pipes (even a lot of the recipes are very close). While the Logistics Pipes system is cool, it’s been done, and done well. I have trouble understanding why Project Red went this direction, especially since, so far, it doesn’t actually offer anything new in its own pipes.
Boy! I’m really putting the “ramble” back in “minecraftramblings.wordpress.com.” Where was I? Oh, yes. Back to the point, I used Thermal Expansion’s Machinists’ Workbench to quickly and easily make the seven Cyclic Assemblers I was going to need to make up the Cyclic Assembler Assembler. Seven Assemblers were needed for the following purposes: 1) three (or four) were needed to make the Tin Gears (I used three because I keep a barrel full of sticks; otherwise, I could have made this with an extra Assembler to turn wood planks into sticks); 2) one to make chests; 3) one to make a Machine Frame; 4) one to make a Redstone Reception Coil; 5) and, finally, one to put these items together with two copper ingots to make the Cyclic Assembler.
All but one of the materials (Gold ingots) only had one destination so filtering the items from the starter chest was easy. Fortunately, the gold ingots could be distributed evenly between the two Assemblers that needed gold ingots, so changing the pulling Itemduct to orange mode (round-robin mode) and making sure that it only pulled items out one at a time proved to be perfectly sufficient for the task. It is probable, however, that a different project will require an uneven distribution of some material or another. In such a case, Itemducts just won’t cut it. One can only hope that TE’s Itemduct system will soon be accompanied by more blocks or installable items that retrieve, maintain or regulate inventories, or filter items more intelligently. I prefer blocks, myself, which is why I still love Redpower2. Oh, Eloraam. Why did you forsake us?