Posts by Gus_Smedstad

    I feel like I’m running out of things to do in Gregtech. Oh, there’s a lot of potential projects, but they all seem to be power-related. I’ve got enough power, at least for now.

    For example, I could set up high octane gasoline synthesis. That’s a big project, involving the synthesis of several new compounds, including methanol, acetic acid, gasoline, nitrous oxide, and ethyl tert-butyl ether. Cracking one or more of my existing products would probably be helpful, but not essential.

    I could make a large combustion engine.

    I could make a thorium reactor. I spent some time in creative, testing that out. I’ve got a stable design that produces 295 EU/tick in EU mode, or 950 heat / tick in fluid mode, which could be converted to about 2600 EU/tick. I think, my tests were inconclusive because I didn’t build enough large turbines to consume all the steam, and I’m not 100% certain how much steam I’m producing. I think it’s 76,000 L/sec, but it’s hard to measure.

    High octane gasoline would reduce my oil consumption, but I’m not really outpacing the fairly mediocre 200 L/cycle (25 L/sec) crude oil source I’m drilling. In the same vein, the 512v single-block combustion engines combined with the steam plant are keeping pace with demand. I don’t really need the large combustion engine or the reactor.

    I might do any and all of them just to have something to do, but I’d rather have a project that didn’t feel power-related.

    Man, tungsten takes forever to smelt. 10 minutes per ingot! I really had no idea it was going to be this slow. It doesn’t help that you can’t speed up the blast furnace until you’ve got higher heat capacity coils, and the tungsten steel coils aren’t good enough to allow an overclock.

    My first priority, then, over improving my turbine rotors, is to upgrade my blast furnace coils. It’s going to take a while to smelt enough tungsten steel to make the 128 HSS-G required to make HSS-G coils.

    I did finish upgrading my electronics line to epoxy board tech, so I can now make Extreme (tier 4) and Elite (tier 5) circuits relatively quickly. Though I hadn’t anticipated quite how much carbon fiber this requires to make the nano-CPU wafers. I’m running lots of charcoal through the macerator just to make carbon dust for this.

    My clean room is now 7x7x5 (5 x 5 x 3 interior). I’ve got 4 engravers in there, with a hopper for each kind of input on the outside, and a single output. That’s 9 ports, 4 input, 4 power, and 1 output. I can’t add a 5th unless I consolidate power input. I guess I don’t really need the capacity to run all 4 at once.

    I could of course just open it and re-configure lenses any time I need to a different type, but that means a delay while the room get clean again. At least testing for 100% clean level is automated, so the machines stay off until it’s safe.

    Power consumption is now regularly running over 2000 EU/t, so the turbines are running continuously, and I’m burning cetane diesel for additional power. I’m not exactly clear on how much diesel I’m consuming.

    In fact you can use any rotors, just be sure that optimal flow is more than actual flow. Turbine running at 80% of flow just make 80% of its maximal EU while turbine at 120% will make 100%.

    You know, I really intended to focus on this, but I got sidetracked by automation. Because I love automation.

    Point 1 is wrong. A turbine running at 80% of optimal flow makes 64% of its maximum EU. Any time you’re running below optimum, output is (flow * flow / optimal flow). There’s a percentage efficiency penalty in addition to the reduced flow. You really, really don’t want to feed a turbine less than optimal flow.

    Point 2 is true, but irrelevant, since you can also throttle the output of the boilers so it matches or comes close to the total optimal flow, using programmed circuits in the boilers. Throttling is better than overfeeding the turbines, because it doesn’t waste boiler fuel.

    My issue wasn’t “how do I deal with excess steam production,” because I’m already doing that. My issue is that I want maximum EU/t given my boiler limits, and the large turbine rules are fiddly if you want to do that.

    I’m aware of HSS-E turbines . I need to make two upgrades of my blast furnace coils before I can make HSS-E, from Nichrome to Tungsten Steel, and from Tungsten Steel to HSS-G. I’m still thinking of them as “unavailable,” even though I’ll have the tech once I process enough tungsten. I’ve only got about 30 Tungsten Steel right now, but more is on its way.

    That said, 2x HSS-E rotors consume 60,000 L and produce 2100 EU/t. 2x Ultimet + 1x vanadium steel consumes 63,000 L and produces 2180 EU/t. The latter produces more energy because it’s a closer fit to the boiler capacity. Like I said, it’s the knapsack problem.

    I’m really playing this for automation. I enjoy setting up assembly lines. If I could get a decent VR version of Factorio, I’d play that instead, but this is what I’ve got.

    Never the less, I think my approach saves time most of the time. Off the top of my head, the situations are:

    - Lines that involve multiple machines. These always save me time, because I don’t bother doing this unless it’s clear I’m going to be doing a lot of hand carrying of materials from one machine to the next.

    I’ve got some pretty extreme examples of this. Ore processing, dust consolidation, and electronics are the major ones. Ore processing is obvious, since it involves 4-5 steps for almost everything and it’s something you’re constantly doing. Dust consolidation drove me crazy with how tedious and common it was before I could afford the chest regulators that make automated consolidation possible. Electronics often involves 2-3 steps to get the target circuit once you’re up to Extreme (EV) circuits.

    Ore processing and dust consolidation is a single assembly line that involves at least a couple of dozen machines fed by a single unified conveyor belt, and emptying on to an output belt that returns all products to the input belt to be examined again. The belts make no assumptions about processing; each machine filters for what it needs. Thus I can dump an ore block into the macerator and know I’ll get full centrifuged / electrolyized dusts from it. It also auto-purifies the miscellaneous impure dusts delivered by train.

    There are images of it in the screenshot board.

    This category includes the assembly lines for plastics, which always involve a couple of steps. Demand for evertything but PTFE is pretty constant, as polyethylene makes machine hulls, pipes, and surface mount electronic components, polychloride makes plastic circuit boards, and epoxy makes epoxy circuit boards. It would be a nightmare to have to constantly re-purpose a chemical reactor every time I wanted more of any of these.

    As it is, if I want another stack of tiny plastic pipes, I just grab a stack of plastic ingots from the solidifier, configure the nearby extruder with the shape I want, and pop them in. No need to make ethanol, covert ethanol to ethylene, and then covert that to polyethylene, it’s all automatic.

    - Dedicated machines that duplicate existing machines, but at most only have an input and output buffer. I do this if the machine has a required liquid / gas input, like chemical reactors, or if the existing machine is inconveniently far away and I’m going to need it often at its present location.

    The only real “5 minutes, once a week” machines that fall into this category are assemblers with more unusual liquid inputs. The molten redstone one, for example, is really just for making Advanced rails. Still, it takes me less time to make these once and forget about them, than to fiddle with purging the inputs of a general purpose machine.

    - General purpose single-block machines, usually with input and output buffers. The metal bender, wire mill, lathe, etc. I use these constantly, and I’m usually dumping 3-4 stacks of ingots into them at a time. They don’t feed anything. Generally they don’t need to be reconfigured because they don’t have liquid inputs. The main one I have to re-program is the metal bender, which is usually in mode 1 (plates), but sometimes needs other modes to make rebar, standard rails, or double-thickness plates.

    - The ore drills. These do take considerably more time to set up than just going out and clearing the vein by hand. Partly because of the drill setup, but also because it means running a rail out to a distant site, and that’s time consuming.

    The main argument for them is that they’re 3x as productive as mining by hand. It took me a long, long time to find even one tungsten deposit, so getting 3x as much from it is important. That the drill produces a lot of byproducts from small ores and nearby veins is just gravy.

    That, and I find mining by hand incredibly boring, and setting up a drill isn’t a mindless task.

    I’ve felt from pretty early on that some sort of wood auto-farming was important for charcoal and energy, not building. But then, I’ve only used IC2 with Gregtech, and vanilla IC2’s energy demands may not be as high.

    Forestry’s worth having just for the project workbench. It’s a huge improvement for crafting that’s the core of any Minecraft experience. It’s own attached inventory, a limited memory of recent recipes, and no need to worry about leaving stuff on the crafting grid.

    As an alternative to Forestry, I’ve played a bit with Ancient Warfare for auto-farming food and wood. It’s considerably easier than Forestry tree multi farms, and more thematic if you hire NPC lumberjacks to run the Ancient Warfare tree farms. The main problem is the NPC hirelings are idiots who tend to get stuck on trivial obstacles, and get killed if you miss a dark spot and a zombie spawns inside your protected area.

    Project Red for redstone logic seems valuable with just about any mod. Redstone wires work SO much better than vanilla’s redstone dust trails.

    Railcraft gives you some pretty good tanks in addition to the trains.

    I don’t like Thermal Dynamics and its progression, which feels forced and arbitrary. Yet I’m using it anyway for the Mechanist’s Workbench and, to a lesser degree, for its auto-crafter. Signalum Workbenches are expensive since they eat ender pearls, a very limited resource barring an End farm, but they’re like a (mostly) better version of Forestry’s project bench.

    I say “mostly” because the top-tier version has a larger inventory and more memory slots than the Forestry workbench, but it’s significantly clumsier to use. The memory slots are manual, not automatic, and there’s no way to craft a full stack of things at once. Still, there comes a time when less inventory juggling is worth the drawbacks.

    Speaking of calculating things, I’m finding large turbine math kind of irritating, and I haven’t even built a fluid cooled reactor yet.

    Large turbines and large boilers both have start-up costs, so it’s important to match steam production to steam consumption as closely as possible. You can throttle large boiler output, which I’m doing, and that helps considerably, but I’m vaguely irritated that I’m forcing my 64,000 L/sec boilers to perform at less than maximum.

    I’ve got tungsten now, so I’m contemplating upgrading to large rotors. I’d kind of like to bring the total steam consumption up to closer to 64,000 L/sec, and the numbers aren’t friendly. It’s basically the knapsack problem, taking a variety of different-sized rotors and trying to make them add to 64,000.

    I’m looking at 130% and 140% efficiency rotors of 400k+ durability. I can make and afford vanadium steel (130% / 9000), titanium (130% / 21,000), tungsten (130% / 21,000), tungsten steel (140% / 24,000), ultimet (140% / 27,000) and tungsten carbide (140% / 42,000). Actually, tungsten carbide is only 384k durability, but I’m including it because it’s close, and the flow rate is dramatically higher than the others, which means fewer turbines.

    There’s no combination of 140% rotors that comes that close to 64,000 without going over. 2x Ultimet is 54,000, and Tungsten Carbide + Tungsten Steel is 66,000. My best bet is either Tungsten Carbide + Titanium (63,000) or 2x Ultimet + Vanadium Steel (also 63,000).

    Since I’ve already built 3 turbines, I’ll probably go with the latter. Higher durability, and less demand on tungsten, which is still in short supply.

    This is also on my mind because I’m vaguely feeling that I ought to make a thorium reactor or two because of the lutetium issue. Though if I’m doing that primarily for lutetium, I could just say screw efficiency and make EU reactors, which are a lot simpler and don’t require large steam turbines.

    I’m using machine controllers. I habitually use machine controllers on all multiblock machines, at a minimum to turn them off if the output bus or hatch gets full. I wasn’t aware that I was glitching an auto-shutoff feature if I did this.

    For the drill I just disassembled, a machine controller was also necessary because it regularly ran out of drilling fluid. It needed to be forced on regularly.

    Calculate exact fluids for chemical reactors? Plunge the inputs? I don’t do that. For any machine with a liquid input tank, I build dedicated setups for that task, or tasks if their are multiple things I can do with that fluid.

    For example, I have a chemical reactor taking oxygen that does nothing but make sodium persulfide for ore washing. It’s a common, repetitive task that’s never going away. I have a chemical reactor that does nothing but make titanium tetrachloride from chlorine. I have one filled with water that makes crystals from dusts and sodium, such as nether quartz dust -> nether quartz.

    Similarly, my fluid solidifiers are all dedicated machines. They’re LV, cheap to make and cheap to run. I’ve got plastic, PTFE, polychloride, and epoxy solidifiers. Heck, I’ve even got one that makes snowballs for Pam’s cooking.

    I even do this with assemblers. The ones filled with polyethylene and soldering alloy are the ones I use almost constantly, but I’ve got a couple for more unusual tasks like molten redstone and concrete (for plascrete).

    I do have a metalworking room with some general purpose machines. A metal bender, a wire mill, a lathe, and a cutting machine, each with input and output buffers. None of those are dedicated to specific tasks. Even so, I’ve built dedicated wire mills and metal bender chains for my electronics room, since those demand fine wire and films constantly, and running regular wires and plates through a second time was getting too tedious. It’s so much easier to just put redstone and copper in one end and get fine redstone alloy wire out the other.

    My base is all about automation and assembly lines. I do as little hand-carrying as I can manage, and I still do a lot more than I want.

    I’m not clear on how the activity detector cover would help with checking whether the rig has finished, since the rig continues to run after it’s exhausted all the ore.

    I don’t particularly want to stop when the main vein is done. What I really want to know is when the site is completely exhausted, including small ores and ores from nearby veins that happen to fall inside the drill’s operating radius. The work involved in setting up a mining site is considerable, so I really want everything I can get out of it. Even if some of the return is low-value stuff like small iron ores.

    One thing I noticed was that if you include an input bus and mining pipe, the drill will maintain a stack of 64 mining pipe in the main block. When it finishes and starts back up, pipe that would exceed 64 in the main block goes into the output bus. I could divert any mining pipe returned into a separate chest, detect whether there’s anything in the chest with a comparator, and broadcast that information with a wireless redstone cover.

    I’m aware that the large chemical reactor overclocks faster than the small reactors, but I haven’t seen a case yet where I cared enough about that to make a 3x3 block instead of one or maybe two single block reactors. I’ve made some 800 ingots of titanium, and haven’t felt the need. Time to smelt the titanium is slower than making the titanium tetrachloride in the chemical reactor.

    I’ve noticed some chemical reactions are slow, but generally it hasn’t mattered because they effectively run in the background, and with buffering they don’t hold anything up. For example, making circuit boards at LV is slow, but if I keep a stockpile of a couple hundred, I’ve always got enough on hand when I want them.

    There are some LV blocks in my ore processing that feel like they’re holding things up, but they aren’t chemical reactors. I should really replace them with HV blocks, I built most of the line when power was in much shorter supply.

    The Lithium deposit played out, so I went about disassembling the ore drilling rig. Incidentally, if there’s some way to automate detection of when this happens, I’d be interested in hearing it. The drill will continue to move up and down while consuming lubricant and power and producing nothing. My train kept running back and forth doing not much.

    I tried to send the Lithium train to a siding, but screwed it up and sent both the Tungsten and Lithium trains off to the siding. I discovered the hard way that rear-end collisions between trains don’t seem to have any negative consequences. Unlike the earlier, unseen collision that produced an explosion.

    Processing the tungsten is taking a long time, so I thought I’d take a stab at upgrading my electronics assembly line to use epoxy circuit boards. Partly just to have a goal, but partly because 2kV stuff requires Exteme circuits, which are slow to make with plastic circuit boards. The Epoxy board process should be much faster and less expensive in materials, since the plastic board process involves 6 good -> 2 advanced -> 1 extreme, and the epoxy process is 3 advanced -> 1 extreme.

    Epoxy turned out to be more involved than I expected. Prior plastics (polyethylene, polychloride, PTFE ) were pretty simple. This one required benzene and Propene, neither of which I was producing, and a 3 liquid chemical reaction, which meant 2 liquids in cells rather than piped in.

    For benzene, I added a distillation tower to my pyrolyse oven, giving me toluene, creosote, and benzene. There are a couple of ways to get benzene from heavy fuel or refinery gas, but they produce a host of byproducts I don’t know how to use yet. For Propene I’m converting ethylene, which I’m producing from ethanol. Ethanol is a byproduct of my tree farm, and “free” if the demand isn’t too high.

    To deal with the 3 liquid problem, I made a large chemical reactor, which can deal with 3 liquid inputs directly instead of needing fluid cells. First time I’ve seen the point in making one.

    It took me a while to summon the energy to look into this.

    I loaded a pre-collision backup and tested the locking track logic with a minecart placed in various locations. The signal logic worked as expected in each case. In hindsight, I really should have done this before starting the trains.

    I have a backup that clearly happens within moments after the crash. The debris is still at the intersection and hasn’t despawned yet. It’s clear the electric lithium ore train was in the intersection, and somehow smashed into the steam tungsten ore train that was waiting to enter the intersection.

    It’s possible it was just a timing error caused by chunk loading on game start. The crash definitely occurred within seconds of when I started that session, because it’s a start-of-session backup. If so, it’s just spectacularly bad luck that they were there exactly then.

    It’s also possible the tungsten locomotive was too close to the crossing track. The locking track was immediately adjacent to the X intersection track, and I suppose the hit boxes of the two locomotives might have collided even though they weren’t in the same block. I’ve noticed the collision testing of carts in general is erratic.

    I moved that locking track 1 block back, so there’s a full block separating it from the intersection. The other 2 locking tracks aren’t anywhere near crossing track.

    I also added an additional test that looks at the tungsten-return track. If there’s a train within 12 blocks, an outbound train can’t enter the intersection. A race condition should no longer be possible, by the time the inbound tungsten train reaches the locking track, either the outbound train has left the intersection, or the outbound train is locked down because it detected the inbound tungsten train early.

    Isn’t that really a Minefactory Reloaded question? Since it’s not really the power source you want to shut off, but the machines?

    Since there’s no such thing as an “electric engine” in Gregtech, I’m guessing you’re using a Forestry Electric Engine to convert EU to RF. Which you don’t actually need to do, since Gregtech power sources will drive RF machines directly.

    In any case, the single-block power sources (Combustion Engine, Steam Turbine, Gas Turbine) in Gregtech shut down if the source isn’t demanding power. I’m not sure whether your Minefactory Reloaded machines continue to draw power after they’re full. I’ve never used it. Most machines I’ve used from most mods stop drawing power if they’re full, but there are exceptions.

    If you really do need to shut off the machines, you’ll need some way of detecting whether they’re done. I doubt you can test whether internal storage is full. Gregtech has methods of doing that, but only for Gregtech machines.

    One possibility, again assuming it’s necessary, is to put the output in a chest and test whether the chest is full with a comparator.

    Gregtech power sources can be shut off with a Machine Controller cover, though again you usually don’t need to. You can also place a shutter module on a power cable, and use a machine controller cover to control that via redstone.

    It appears I spoke too soon. I noticed I hadn’t seen any ore deliveries for a while, so I thought I’d go check on the trains. I found that they’d collided and destroyed the intersection between the tracks in an explosion.

    I have no idea what happened. I guess I’m going to restore some backups, find a point before the explosion. Maybe conduct some tests. I’m not clear on whether it’s a mistake on my part, or just Railcraft being buggy (which it often is).

    I’m not entirely sure how to test the intersection, beyond maybe placing a cart at various places on the tracks and seeing if the locking tracks are activating the way I planned. There’s always the possibility it was a timing issue I didn’t foresee.

    I may give up entirely on signaling and running multiple trains on one track. The costs of a failure are too high, particularly if either of the trains are carrying rare material. If trains colliding resulted in them getting stuck rather than exploding, it’d be OK, but losing the track, cargo, and both locomotives really isn’t an acceptable risk.

    On a more Railcraft related note, I’ve got 2 ore trains running on a single line now. I discovered a few errors and oddities along the way, as I thought I might.

    The signaling works fine. I’ve had 2 trains at the station several times now, where one train is waiting for the other to finish unloading. I haven’t witnessed both approaching the switch point yet, though, and that’s the only part that isn’t dead simple, as I mentioned before.

    The charcoal loader for the steam locomotive was initially in “wait until full” mode, but that caused the locomotive to wait forever. I don’t know why. I changed it to “stop when no more items get moved,” and that worked.

    Similarly, I forgot to set the fuel and lubricant unloaders at the tungsten depot to “stop when fluid stops moving.” Instead both were in “wait until empty,” which held the train. Since the locomotive was shut down, it just mean it was waiting at the depot despite having a full load of ore.

    The electric locomotive is doing something weird. While unloading at the station, it flips direction. This happens because it’s idle, rather than pulling, and the cart behind it bumps into it when it finishes loading fuel. This has the effect of reversing the locomotive. Forunatly, when the ore finishes unloading that bumps the locomotive again, and it’s facing in the right direction when it gets pushed past the track re-starting the train.

    I don’t see any way to prevent this, it’s just a bug in the way Railcraft behaves. It’s also unpredictable, because the steam locomotive goes through the same process and yet doesn’t flip around when it gets bumped.

    The worst case scenario, should it stop flipping back, is that the train gets stuck in the station. The locking tracks for the loaders are all set to one way, so it can’t actually start backing up. Backing up would be really, really bad because the signaling system can’t handle trains going the wrong way on one-way track.

    I built my first multi-fluid pipe to deal with a congested pipe area.

    I’ve built multi-fluid pipes before, but only because the situation seemed to require it. The exhaust of the electric blast furnace, for example, can produce a variety of oxides, though usually it’s sulfur dioxide or carbon dioxide, and I’ve got a multi-pipe with fluid filters sorting that out. My spray paint factory also has a multi-pipe setup, but no fluid filters because the pipe leads to paint tanks, and those effectively filter the paint because the paint in the pipe can’t enter a tank with a different paint color.

    Anyway, I put a tungsten electrolysis machine in to my ore processing line, and it needed a hydrogen line, but the area below it was completely blocked off by other pipes. So I created a combined sulfuric acid / hydrogen line, and split the hydrogen line off after it went down to level B3.

    I initially set it up with 4 fluid filters, one each for where the hydrogen and sulfuric acid entered, and one each where they exited. My reasoning being that I didn’t want back-wash from the multi-pipe to contaminate the source pipes.

    Then I discovered that fluid filters are also one-way valves, prohibiting any flow from the pipe with the filter to the multi-pipe. The input pipes couldn’t have filters on them. I realized since the flow was always intended to be one-way anyway, I could just put pipe shutters on them, configured to only allow fluid to pass into the multi-pipe.

    For color coding, I painted the pipes red (for hydrogen) and put a checkerboard of bronze plates on them, coding them to be also orange for sulfuric acid. At connection points I couldn’t paint the pipes or they wouldn’t connect, so I used red alloy covers there for the red.

    The pipes were 9x plastic pipes, since that’s slightly cheaper at 9 polyethylene than 4x pipes, which are 12 polyethylene but allow higher throughput. I view the plastics as essentially free, since I make from ethanol I’m making as a side product of my tree farm. The covers I used for color coding were more expensive, adding 2 bronze to the cost of each pipe, but I’m swimming in extra copper and tin from my ore drills so I don’t care.

    Finally got my signaling system up and running on my ore railroad. I’m pretty sure I got everything correct, but I haven’t built a second train yet, so I’m not 100% certain it’s safe yet.

    My experience is that it’s easy to overlook minor things. In running a single train, I discovered I hadn’t set a couple of locking tracks to “train mode,” so they immediately locked the train in place as soon as the locomotive entered the new block.

    The basic signal block logic is very simple, but the real issue is the switching point where the Tungsten train goes one way and the Lithium train goes another. That’s the point where a collision is possible if the signals aren’t right. I’m pretty sure a deadlock can’t happen, at least.

    The problem is that compared to Factorio, Railcraft’s signal support is rudimentary. Railcraft’s “signal blocks” aren’t full fledged train signals, they’re just detectors. The actual control is done by locking tracks, and anything involving track switches requires that you wire the logic yourself.

    I’m using AND gates from Project Red. Each locking track looks at 2-3 track segments, and only lets the train pass if all of them are clear. The entrance from the base can leave 2 ways (Tungsten or Lithium), and crosses track returning from Tungsten. All those need to be clear before the train can enter the intersection. A train returning from Tungsten needs to check that the Lithium train isn’t in the intersection, either coming or going.

    I also discovered that Railcraft’s electric locomotives are unsuitable for distances of 600+ blocks. The electric rails transfer power very, very slowly, and the train ran out of power well before getting to the Tungsten site.

    I went electric initially because a steam locomotive eats significant fuel and water even if stopped unless you shut it down. If you shut it down, it takes a long time to reach operating temperature when you re-start it. “Idle” mode reduces consumption, but not nearly enough, given how long the train will spend waiting for the drill to fill the train.

    Adding charcoal fueling and water loading to my train station proved to be easy, and the steam locomotive had no difficulty reaching the Tungsten site and returning without needing additional water. A one-way trip eats about 1200 L of its 6000 L tank, and 2-3 charcoal. I just adding some control tracks to shut if off while it’s waiting at the Tungsten depot, and restart it when it has a load of ore.

    From now on, any future mines or oil sites will get serviced by steam locomotives. Which seems like regression, but the steam locomotives are just more reliable for long distances.

    Gregtech sometimes has me doing some weird things. Though in fairness it’s also interaction with other mods.

    I set up a second ore drill over the tungsten vein. My first drill is still running. Both are quite distant from my base, about 300 and 600 blocks away respectively. I use a Railcraft train to bring ore back from the first drill.

    I could just divert the train to the tungsten, since the older site is fairly low priority stuff now. Instead, I decided I’d rather set up a second train, and that means Railcraft signals. A lot of them, actually.

    Railcraft signals require various dyes. I’m auto-farming red, blue, green, and black dyes right now, but now I need yellow, and Railcraft won’t take sulfur as a substitute (which many recipes that consume yellow dye will).

    Rather than go out foraging for lots of dandelions, I decided I’d tech up some dandelion IC2 crops with decent growth and yield. So I’m doing a lot of gardening right now. “I’m breeding dandelions because I want tungsten” doesn’t sound like a logical connection, but in fact it is.

    Of course there are more direct routes to the same goal, but I gravitate toward what Dwarf Fortress players call “dwarfy solutions.”

    I finally put the effort in to do a test. It helped that I already had a pre-built titanium boiler / large turbine setup in Creative.

    Running 128 charcoal through the boiler consumed 29,600 L of water. The large turbine returned 26,900 L of water. So, only 2,500 L of water destroyed during startup, far less than the 17,000 L I estimated, or the amounts I thought were being consumed each cycle in actual usage.

    A single-block distillery produces 6 L/sec distilled water at a cost of 32 EU/L. A 128v distillery produces 12L/sec for 64 EU/L. 5,000 L water destroyed per cycle by 2 boilers = 160k EU to replace at 32V, or 320k EU at 128v.

    The distillation tower produces 625 L/sec of distilled water at a cost of 3.8 EU/L at 128v. It’s 100x as fast as the LV block, which is understandable given that the material cost is around 30x as much and uses more valuable materials, and 8.3x as energy efficient.

    Interestingly enough, the distillation tower recipe destroys water, since it’s 576 L water in and 520 distilled water out, and the single-block recipe is 5L for 5L. I don’t really care, since it’s the destruction of water inside the distilled water loop that concerns me, not the original source water.

    I don’t think I’ll put in the investment. 320k EU/cycle is about a 1.5% loss, and doesn’t warrant the cost and effort of a distillation tower.

    Yes, I’m sure that I didn’t build my boilers across chunk boundaries. I use NEI’s F9 option to verify that before building any multiblock machine. That doesn’t fit the observed behavior anyway - if the steam was vanishing, the turbines wouldn’t run, and I wouldn’t get power.

    It’s fairly clearly a bug in boiler startup, because it behaves properly once the boilers are running. It’s consistent with the idea that the boiler eats fuel and water at 100% while heating up, but only produces a fraction of its rated steam output while heating. Overall efficiency is about 30% during heating according to the wiki.

    For a titanium boiler that means 17,000 L of water per boiler gets eaten without producing steam, each time the boiler starts. That’s roughly the loss I’ve observed, though I haven’t measured it properly in Creative yet.

    Switching back to regular water is unworkable. I built the large turbines originally primarily because boiler water consumption was a serious problem. That it increased efficiency and improved power output was secondary. Two titanium boilers eat 426 L/sec of water, and my water collection was not keeping up over the long run.

    I’ve since throttled the 2nd boiler, so they’re collectively producing 55,000 L/sec of steam instead of 64,000, or only 1000 L/sec more than the turbine consumption. This means that the net consumption of the boilers is 7 L/sec distilled water. A single 128v distillery produces 12 L/sec of distilled water, so the distilleries are easily keeping up now.

    I calculate it’s costing me about 2 million EU to replace the lost water per boiler startup. If the boilers run once while filling the 20 million EU buffer, that’s a 10% loss. Under continuous load it drops to less than 1% as the boilers run for a long time between starts.

    I haven’t looked at the cost of distilling water in a distillation tower vs. the single-block distillers. I think of distillation towers as being large and expensive, it didn’t cross my mind that a water version is only 2 blocks high. Still very expensive compared to a couple of 128v distilleries, but maybe worth doing anyway.

    Turns out there’s no simple light fuel -> toluene conversion. Water cracked light fuel produces heavy fuel and naphtha, and steam cracked light fuel produces heavy fuel and toluene, but there’s no direct single-block distillery recipe for light fuel -> toluene.

    For the moment, I’m going to let it slide, since I surveyed the precise location of the tungsten, and I’m not in dire need of iTNT immediately. The problem may resolve itself when I set up a heavy fuel cracking setup, or high octane gasoline synthesis. Light fuel cracking is very far down my list, particularly since it produces products I can’t use right now.

    I did a little re-wiring of my power grid, so there’s now a 2kV trunk feeding several HV branches, rather than the 2kV battery feeding almost directly into a single HV transformer which feeds the rest of the base. I was having power distribution issues. Immediately after wiring it my consumption went from 2000 EU/t (the limit of the 4 amp HV line) to 3000.

    Distilled water destruction under continuous load continues to be a problem. I may add a 3rd distillery producing water for that system, though the amount of power I’m using for that is starting to feel excessive. It’s eating most of the power increase I got for switching to large turbines.