***Inasmuch as I am moving my family and me to a different State next week, and inasmuch as I am finishing up revisions for a book of mine that is being published, in light of my resulting lack of Minecraft playing time this week, I hereby offer up to the Minecraft-blog-reading community this post, originally begun several months ago, rather than a further spotlight of the v25 update to Rotarycraft, GeoStrata, and Electricraft. Therefore, be aware that some of this information may be slightly out of date. Nevertheless, enjoy!***

Underground Biomes by Grom PE (originally by Exterminator Jeff) is an outstanding mod based on a very simple idea that adds tremendous aesthetic versatility to the rather bland gray stone of vanilla Minecraft. I’ve actually switched over to Underground Biomes Constructs by Zeno410 because of its addition of slabs, stairs, and walls for all of the stone types. These two versions, I expect, will find their way into a single mod before too long, but either way UB is now one of those mods that I cannot imagine playing without (or, as one sees stated so often on the forums, this really ought to be in vanilla Minecraft).

One of the side effects, though, of playing with UB , is the complication of your stone storage. You can’t simply have one double chest worth of cobblestone anymore. There are 16 new kinds of cobblestone (vanilla stone still shows up where lava and water mingle, so you have a total of 17 kinds of cobblestone), and 8 kinds of sedimentary rock (which doesn’t turn into cobblestone when you mine it). While you’re likely to only encounter 1-3 kinds of rock in a small area around your initial base, it doesn’t take too much exploration to gather generous amounts of all (or at least most) kinds of UB stone. Not that this is really that big of a complication. It just takes space.

Yup. A whole building dedicated to sorting and storing rocks. I'm such an interesting person.

Yup. A whole building dedicated to sorting and storing rocks. I’m such an interesting person.

Manual sorting, though, is a pain, especially when you get to the stage in Thaumcraft, as I have, when you have the Arcane Bore and are bringing up truckloads of cobblestone of various sorts from the bowels of the earth. So I decided recently to build a warehouse that would sort and store at least the 16 UB cobblestone varieties. I had at first thought of using Extra Utilities transport pipes with sorting pipes connected to each chest. What sorting pipes do is allow in a chest only the kinds of things that are already in the chest. Unfortunately, sorting pipes don’t sort by metadata, and all 17 kinds of cobblestone have the same block ID number (with different metadata). I probably could have used filter pipes, but I decided to build a vanilla hopper-based sorting system, something I’ve known about for a while but which I’ve never actually implemented in a survival game.

Just because it's a vanilla-based sorting system doesn't mean I won't use modded items, though. Behold! EE3 Alchemical Chests!

Just because it’s a vanilla-based sorting system doesn’t mean I won’t use modded items, though. Behold! EE3 Alchemical Chests!

Hopper sorting systems all depend on redstone comparators reading the amount of items in a filter hopper. When the number of items in that filter hopper reaches above a certain level (above 22 or 45 items), the redstone signal emitted by the comparator increases by one, turning off a redstone torch that has been keeping a second hopper from allowing items in or out (I used this kind of hopper system for my vanilla bucket refilling system). To send items across the filter hoppers, you can use a hopper chain, a hopper minecart, a series of droppers, or water. None of these systems is 100% accurate (meaning items slip through if you have no loop in the transport system and a catch-all chest at the end), but it’s accurate enough. Actually, I could have used Extra Utilities transport pipes without the sorting or filter pipes for a 100% accurate sorting system, but, hey, I wanted to try out a hopper sorting system.

It all starts here, the deposit chest. I use Extra Utilities transport pipes to get items from here into the sorting system proper.

It all starts here, the deposit chest. I use Extra Utilities transport pipes to get items from here into the sorting system proper.

The items go into a down-facing dropper which triggers a comparator clock to make the dropper inject the items into the sorting system.

The items go into a down-facing dropper which triggers a comparator clock to make the dropper inject the items into water canal that is the sorting system.

Items are carried along by streams of water. These streams pass over hoppers that do the filtering.

Items are carried along by streams of water. These streams pass over hoppers that do the filtering.

Inside each of the top hoppers is four sticks (one each in four slots) and 41 of one kind of cobblestone.

Inside each of the top hoppers is four sticks (one each in four slots) and 41 of one kind of cobblestone.

This makes a comparator next to each hopper emit a redstone signal of strength 2.

This makes a comparator next to each hopper emit a redstone signal of strength 2.

When one more piece of cobblestone enters the hopper, the signal increases to 3 and triggers the repeaters below.

When one more piece of cobblestone enters the hopper, the signal increases to 3 and triggers the repeaters below.

These redstone torches keep the bottom of the two rows of hoppers (which is the row that leads into chests) from allowing items through. The repeaters lead into the blocks on which these redstone torches are mounted. Therefore, when the comparator signal reaches 3, the redstone torch below that comparator turns off, allowing items through and into its chest. This automatically turns back on.

These redstone torches keep the bottom of the two rows of hoppers (which is the row that leads into chests) from allowing items through. The repeaters lead into the blocks on which these redstone torches are mounted. Therefore, when the comparator signal reaches 3, the redstone torch below that comparator turns off, allowing items through and into its chest. This automatically turns back on.

At the corner of each water stream, I have items enter into a hopper that puts them into an upward facing dropper. This triggers a slightly different comparator clock, sending the items through two droppers into the next water stream.

At the corner of each water stream, I have items enter into a hopper that puts them into an upward facing dropper. This triggers a slightly different comparator clock, sending the items through two droppers into the next water stream. The total system is made up of three water streams in a U-shape, at the end of which is a catch-all chest.

This whole process gets a little noisy, what with all that comparator clicking. So I use an Extra Utilities block to maintain blissful silence.

This whole process gets a little noisy, what with all that comparator clicking. So I use an Extra Utilities block to maintain blissful silence.

So there you are. My semi-vanilla rock sorting system. If you have any questions. Let me know!

So there you are. My semi-vanilla rock sorting building. If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

BTW, did I ever show you the bridge I built over to my wife's side of the river?

BTW, did I ever show you the bridge I built over to my wife’s side of the river?

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