I’ve been doing some experimenting with horizontal dropper chains recently. Vertical dropper chains used as an item elevator are commonplace. The idea behind the vertical dropper chain is to use a comparator clock to send repeated redstone signals to a column of redstone torches adjacent to the dropper chain so long as there are items in the bottom dropper.
However, so far I haven’t seen that horizontal dropper chains are as commonly used as vertical ones, which seems to me to be a shame, since droppers are super cheap to make and a chain of droppers can transport items very quickly. Furthermore, they can be combined with well-known vanilla sorting mechanics (using hoppers) to make sophisticated item sorting systems without the need for mods. In this post, I’m going to showcase some different styles of horizontal dropper chains and a couple of examples of sorting systems built on horizontal dropper chains.
Horizontal Dropper Chains
Dropper chains are going to need at least a 3 block wide by 2 block tall space for its entire distance. Like a vertical dropper chain used as an item elevator, everything starts with a comparator clock. The redstone signal produced by the comparator clock not only powers the first dropper, but the signal is then relayed by a series of repeaters to every dropper in the chain, very rapidly moving items from the first dropper to the last and into a destination inventory.
Sorting With Hoppers
Putting It All Together
With two of the three dropper chain designs shown above, you can actually use hopper filters with the dropper chain to create a sorting system for your base in vanilla Minecraft. I’ve been working at it for a few days, now, and it seems to me that the most number of different items you’ll be able to sort into a single chest is two. This is strictly because of the space needed for the various redstone mechanics. I suspect there are ways to compact things even further than I have done, but I doubt it could get so much more compact that you could filter four or more items into a single chest. Because of the way hopper filters work, you can only filter one kind of item per dropper in the chain.
But this isn’t really a problem, because in vanilla Minecraft there really aren’t that many kinds of items, and what you want to be able to do is dump everything from the last mining trip into a deposit chest and have it sorted into a few double chests, or you want the output of your automatic farms or your mob grinder to go directly into a warehouse and be sorted into specific chests. The huge number of items and blocks added by most tech mods really are going to require the advanced item sorting mechanics added by those mods. My point here is that basic sorting doesn’t strictly need those advanced sorting mechanics.
I’ve built a couple of example systems in the last couple of days in creative mode. Here are some pictures:
Not only do these sorting systems work, they are tons of fun to build. I also find them a great deal more satisfying to build than a Buildcraft or Thermal Expansion sorting system, as useful as those are. If you have any suggestions for how these systems could be improved or questions about how they work, write them in the comments.