Minecraft Piston

Pistons are crafted blocks that can push players, mobs and blocks when they are powered by redstone. Sticky pistons can push blocks like ordinary pistons, but they are also capable of pulling the block they are touching back to the resting position when they are powered off. Both types of pistons can only push or pull blocks in the direction that they are facing. They can push up to 12 blocks.

Pistons can’t push or pull obsidian, bedrock or blocks that have a tile entity, like note blocks, signs and chests. They also can’t move other pistons if they are powered when the first piston extends. Sticky pistons can’t hold gravity-affected blocks such as gravel and sand in place over open air. A block that is stuck to a sticky piston can be pushed to the side and off the sticky piston by another piston.

Appearance

Type: Solid Block
Requirements: None
Physics: No
Transparency: Yes
Luminance: None
Blast Resistance: 2.5
Tool: Sword (-2)
Renewable: No
Stackable: Yes (64)
Data Value (Piston)—Dec: 33, Hex: 21
Data Value (Sticky Piston)—Dec: 29, Hex: 1D

Minecraft Piston
Minecraft Sticky Piston

Crafting

A crafting table is required to make a regular piston, but a piston can be upgraded to a sticky piston in the 2×2 player grid.
Piston: Combine 3 wooden planks, 4 cobblestone, 1 iron ingot and 1 redstone dust to create a piston.
Sticky Piston: Combine 1 slimeball with 1 piston to create a sticky piston.

Functionality

When a piston is placed, the side with the extendable arm faces towards the player that placed it. There is no way to change the orientation a piston without harvesting and replacing it. Once a piston is powered, the wooden arm extends and pushes the block occupying the space that the arm moves into. The piston can push up to 12 blocks when it extends. However, a sticky piston can only pull a single block back when it is powered off, so other blocks pushed by the piston will not return to their starting position.

Pistons can push players and mobs when they extend, providing there is space for the entity to be moved to. Piston arms pass through entities harmlessly if they would push them into solid blocks. Pistons can’t damage living entities by forcing them into walls or other surface unless the player or mob is pushed into blocks that allow seamless vertical transition, like stairs or slabs. Entities can sustain lethal damage if they are trapped by solid blocks that are attached to piston arms.

Minecraft Piston Elevator

8x8 Elevator using pistons

Pushing Blocks

There are several limitations on the piston’s ability to push and pull blocks. Aside from obsidian and bedrock, pistons can’t move portions of dimensional portals (both Nether and End portals are immune), enchantment tables or mob spawners. Pistons can move blocks that support redstone or switch tiles, including levers and buttons, but the attached tile will be released as a dropped item when the piston is powered on.

Blocks attached to rails are a noteworthy exception to this rule. As long as the rail tile stays on top of a solid block in its new position, then the rail will stay on the block and automatically reorient its direction according to the rails around it. This applies to normal rails as well as powered and detector rail tiles. Trapdoors can also be moved safely providing the hinged side of the tile is connected to a solid block after it is pushed.

Pistons are also unable to effectively move many types of resource blocks. When a piston attempts to move cactus, pumpkin, melon or sugar cane, the block is destroyed and releases dropped resources as if it had been harvested by a player.

Powering Pistons

Pistons are activated when an immediately adjacent block becomes powered by redstone dust, redstone repeaters or a redstone torch. They can also receive power from blocks that are a single space above and to the side the piston block. Since redstone dust powers both the block above and below the space it occupies, a single trail of redstone can power two pistons effectively. Power cannot be transferred through a series of pistons without a circuit, even with the assistance of redstone repeaters.

Common Usage

Since pistons can function even when completely obscured by other blocks, they are often used to make concealed entrances and other mechanisms. Pressure plates, levers and buttons can trigger a circuit containing pistons, allowing players to invent number of elaborate and creative traps. Pistons can open the ceiling to flood the room below twith water, sand or gravel to suffocate intruders. Sticky pistons can retract the floor of a room or hallway, sending enemies to the bottom of a tall pitfall.

Pistons have a lot of applications in construction as well. They are an integral part of “self-repairing” structures when coupled with block generators. They can also effectively control the flow of water or lava, giving players a way to manage liquid flows without placing and destroying blocks. Pistons can transport blocks that would normally be destroyed if they were harvested, like ice and glass.

Pistons also enable the creation of advanced redstone circuits, which allow for the creation of simple computers with redstone dust, pistons and repeaters. You can use pistons to create logic gates that act as simple memory cells by storing binary information. The circuit can be arranged so that the result changes depending on which pistons are extended and retracted. This functionality provides players the opportunity to create working clocks and other complex devices through a series of simple circuits.

Other advanced applications for pistons include fast elevators that transport players through vertical distance faster than climbing ladder. There are several basic archetypes of functional piston elevators and dozens of variations of those models. For example, a zipper elevator moves players by pushing them with stairs that are attached to pistons on either side of the elevator’s tower. A spiraling circuit powers pistons in an alternating pattern up the tower, so that the player is forced to climb the stairs as they are pushed back and forth by the pistons.

History

Pistons were first introduced in a mod created and posted on the Minecraft forums by a user named Hippoplatimus. The block, and all of the mechanics it enabled, received a warm welcome by the community. It was later added to the standard version of Minecraft in the Beta 1.7 version. Several subsequent patches addressed various bugs and glitches associated with pistons and sticky pistons.

Interesting Facts

  • Pistons allow for the controlled flooding of agricultural areas, which lets players create farms with an automatic harvesting feature.
  • Pistons take less than 2 seconds to harvest with no active tool.
  • The metal brackets on the modern piston graphic are leftovers of a large iron band that was removed before the block was added to the game.
  • When a burning block is pushed by a piston, the fire tile will be removed from the block.

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