With all the cobblestone, ore, and other goodies coming into your inventory through your boring machine, fueling your furnace operations is going to become a high priority. Fortunately, Rotarycraft has two ways to use energy for smelting purposes. A slightly later-mid-game option is the lava smeltery which cooks 18 items at a time (and quickly), but which requires both rotational power and a constant supply of lava. More practically at a relatively early stage in the game, you can use one of two heaters to heat a vanilla furnace. The one called simply the heater requires rotational power and fuel, while the friction heater requires nothing but rotational power. It is this last option that I’m going to use for this build. Furthermore, I’m going to take advantage of an option for passive power generation in Rotarycraft to power this friction heater: solar towers. This project is big, and will take two lengthy posts to describe.

Using the Friction Heater

The friction heater is placed adjacent to a furnace (or a blast furnace). When it is given sufficient power, it spins and grinds against the side of the furnace, causing its internal temperature to rise without the need for fuel (if you’ve used Factorization’s heaters to power a furnace, the idea is the same). One advantage of doing this is that the furnace cooks a lot faster with a friction heater than it does with just coal or a bucket of lava. The friction heater requires 8192 W of power at 32 Nm (meaning 256 rad/s). This means that one steam engine could power two of these with 2:1 gearboxes set to torque mode and a constant supply of lubricant. This is, in fact, the easiest and quickest way to get started with friction heaters.

A total view of a sample setup where one steam engine powers two friction heaters.

A total view of a sample setup where one steam engine powers two friction heaters.

The starting point is typical: a pump sends water into the back of the steam engine. Lava or ignited netherrack heats the steam engine from below. Here I have a cooling fin on top of the steam engine to keep it from exploding.

The starting point is typical: a pump sends water into the back of the steam engine. Lava or ignited netherrack heats the steam engine from below. Here I have a cooling fin on top of the steam engine to keep it from exploding.

The power is divided equally using a shaft junction. These two lines now each transfer 8192 W of power, but at half the required torque (16 Nm each). 2:1 gearboxes in torque mode solve that problem.

The power is divided equally using a shaft junction. These two lines now each transfer 8192 W of power, but at half the required torque (16 Nm each). 2:1 gearboxes in torque mode solve that problem. Pictured are diamond gearboxes which don’t use up their lubricant. The lubricant line is there just to illustrate what you might need with steel or stone gearboxes.

But you don't want the friction heaters running all the time, do you? Their noisy. I have here sent the power first through clutches. A comparator detects if something is in the furnace, emitting a redstone signal that activates the clutch and sends power to the friction heat. And Bob's your uncle.

But you don’t want the friction heaters running all the time, do you? They’re noisy. I have here sent the power first through clutches. A comparator detects if something is in the furnace, emitting a redstone signal that activates the clutch and sends power to the friction heat. C’est magnifique, no?

But, hey, that’s too easy. And steam engines are really, really loud. And they run all the time. Okay, okay, admittedly, there are ways to set things up so that you can turn them on and off, namely using a dispenser with a lava bucket that dispenses to the space directly underneath the steam engine, or using a dispenser with a flint and steel to ignite netherrack under the steam engine and a piston or something to put the fire out. But do you not understand that I’m trying to make a case for using something other than a steam engine? Why not use the all but silent and environmentally ethical power of the sun? If God meant us to use steam, he would have given us … uh … the Industrial Revolution … .

But God did NOT give us the Industrial Revolution. That was England. So we’re using solar power, like the good book says.

Making a Solar Tower

***Note: I am using the current build of Rotarycraft, which is v24b. Reika has let me know that as of v25, solar mirrors will no longer use normal glass but blast glass, which can only be made in a pulse jet furnace. This means that solar power will not be a viable early-game alternative (probably a good thing for game balance – solar power is slightly OP at the moment, assuming you have a good supply of ender pearls; ender pearls are easily obtainable from Ender Forest biomes – another mod by Reika). Instead, if you want to use passive power generation, wind power works great. The power of four wind turbines merged is equivalent to that of one steam engine. Like the solar tower mentioned below, you’ll need to use 4:1 gearboxes to generate the right amount of torque if you’re wanting to power two friction heaters.***

Solar towers in Rotarycraft are complex multiblock structures that are scalable. They consist of a column of at least two solar tower blocks surrounded by a number of mirrors. Water must be supplied via pump to the bottom solar tower block. The mirrors reflect sunlight toward the solar tower (and the mirrors intelligently turn based on the position of the sun – quite a nice touch!), causing water to boil and turn an internal turbine, creating rotational power that is accessible out the bottom of the tower. A full-size solar tower produces hundreds of kiloWatts of power, but even a modest one consisting of four tower blocks and eight mirrors produces something like 70 kW during the day. This is more than enough for our purposes.

Once again, you'll need a pump.

Once again, you’ll need a pump.

Send this water into the bottom solar tower block.

Send this water into the bottom solar tower block.

Put at least two more solar tower blocks on top of this and attach at least four solar mirrors to the second-to-bottom solar tower block. At noon, this structure will produce about 20 kW of power at 1024 rad/s (meaning 20 Nm of torque). You can make smaller towers, and you can make much larger towers. Try experimenting with different numbers of tower blocks and mirrors.

Put at least two more solar tower blocks on top of this and attach at least four solar mirrors to the second-to-bottom solar tower block. At noon, this structure will produce about 20 kW of power at 1024 rad/s (meaning 20 Nm of torque). You can make smaller towers, and you can make much larger towers. Try experimenting with different numbers of tower blocks and mirrors.

Like I said, this produces at noon 20 kW of power. Make sure you've made an Angular Transducer to get readings like this. Rotarycraft is unplayable without this basic tool.

Like I said, this produces at noon 20 kW of power. Make sure you’ve made an Angular Transducer to get readings like this. Rotarycraft is unplayable without this basic tool.

Power comes out the bottom of the tower.

Power comes out the bottom of the tower.

From here, the setup can be almost exactly the same as that pictured above with the steam engine.

From here, the setup can be almost exactly the same as that pictured above with the steam engine.

The main difference is torque: there's less of it. So instead of using 2:1 gearboxes you have to use 4:1 gearboxes, unless you solar tower is bigger and is producing more energy. It's pretty easy to build a solar tower that makes 65 kW or more, in which case you don't need gearboxes.

The main difference is torque: there’s less of it. So instead of using 2:1 gearboxes you have to use 4:1 gearboxes, unless your solar tower is bigger and is producing more energy. It’s pretty easy to build a solar tower that makes 65 kW or more, in which case you don’t need gearboxes (unless you want to power more than two friction heaters).

A DC electric engine is all that is needed to power the water pump, but when I first built this in my survival world I decided to use a wind turbine to power my pump. The problem with this is that it kind of overpowers your pump. All a pump needs is 1024 W (4 Nm at 256 rad/s). A fully functional wind turbine produces four times that, still at 4 Nm but now at 1024 rad/s. A pump powered by this kind of wind turbine will work so fast that it sucks up all the water in a 2×2 AND a 3×3 pool. I had to build at least a 4×4 if not 5×5 pool to keep the pump from draining it more quickly than it could replenish. It reminds me a note I put on a broken vacuum cleaner at work a few years ago: “This vacuum doesn’t suck, and that’s not a good thing.”

Next Steps

At this point, all you have to do is connect the solar tower up to your friction heater with shaft blocks and bevel gears. But solar power being what it is has a problem with nighttime, namely, it no work. So how do we make solar power work for us day and night? There’s probably a way to do this strictly with Rotarycraft (using an industrial coil), but I’m not just playing with Rotarycraft. As I’ve said before, I’m trying out a suite of mods by Reika, one of which is a small but powerful mod called Electricraft. So next post, we dig into electricity Reika-style, which is (once again) more complicated than most tech mods make it, but the effort is (once again) so worth it.

Next time ... Electricraft!

Next time … Electricraft!

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