Minecraft Xbox 360 1.7.3: How To Use Pistons & Redstone Circuits

Adam Barnes


With the release of pistons to Minecraft, it’s time to learn some of the more complex mechanisms for your world.

Published on Jul 17, 2012

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has finally been updated to include pistons. At first it's a seemingly insignificant feature; we look at what this new block means for 360 gamers, and detail some of the ways it can be used.

While shears and usable repeaters might seem like the most interesting new feature, with the addition of pistons your mechanisms can now be far more creative than ever before.

On the simplest level this means you can create automatic minecart systems or hidden doors, but with an active mind and a lot of time you can even create self-repairing bridges or elevators.

You’ll also need to understand how Redstone works – a feature that many Xbox 360 Minecraft players might not have experimented with at all.

Don’t worry, as we’re here to help. What follows is a series of simple Redstone circuits, how you can create them, what their uses are and even a few examples of how these could be combined with pistons in your Minecraft world to help you create complex machines.

How To Create Redstone Circuits In Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

Redstone circuits are, at their most basic, electronic wiring used to enact particular actions in your Minecraft world. At its most basic this is as simple as using a pressure pad to unlock a door.

But they can be used to create some pretty elaborate machines, whether it’s automating a farming system or a handy underground minecart railway.

You’ll need a lot of Redstone ore if you’re hoping to create some circuitry, which can often be found underground. The ore itself can be placed on top of a block to create Redstone wire, which will transport the input ‘signal’ to its location.

Redstone ore can also be combined with sticks in your inventory to create Redstone torches, which provides a consistent signal.

The most basic use for Redstone is to have buttons or levers activate doors or other objects. Take a look at a simple example below.

We recorded this footage on PC because it has access to console commands, but the results are the same on Xbox 360.

As you can see, once activated the Redstone signal opens the locked door, and will keep it open for as long as the signal is active. 

Redstone signals are ‘placed’ into blocks – in this case the block beneath the door. Providing the object you want activated is connected to a Redstone signal, your object will be activated.

It is important to note, however, that Redstone wiring will run out of power if it runs for too long. Power will travel for 15 blocks before dissipating, so use repeaters to keep the signal going. 

This video highlights the use of repeaters, and how it can extend the life of a Redstone signal.

Repeaters can also be used to slow down the signal input, with four different speeds – the initial state being the normal signal speed. These can be used multiple times to create a delayed signal – useful for timing traps or giving you enough time to reach an door before it closes again.

Check out this video, which highlights how timing repeaters can alter the speed of a signal.

Creating Special Redstone Logic Gates In Minecraft

So that’s the basics of Redstone usage, now for some logic gates. These are circuitry creations that can provide a specific result. There are a number of possibilities, but we’ve only listed the most common uses.

The NOT Gate

This is the simplest of all the circuits in Minecraft, which inverts a signal. In other words, it turns and ‘on’ signal ‘off’ and vice versa. 

It’s useful for alternating the state of an object – for example, rather than opening a door when activated the signal in fact closes it.

This can be combined to other circuits whenever you want to invert the required action. Check out the short video below of a NOT Gate:

The AND Gate

As the name suggests, this Redstone logic gate requires two inputs to be active before the output is activated. It’s a very simple logic gate that can be used for a number of purposes, such as requiring two hidden levers to unlock a closed door.

For this you’ll need Redstone ore and Redstone torches. Levers are the best because they provide a consistent signal, but you can combine this with a Toggle Gate (below) to provide a permanent signal from a button or pressure plate.

Here’s the AND Gate in action:

The XNOR Gate

This one is a little more confusing than the AND Gate and is used to enable two inputs (levers, buttons etc.) activate the same object. In our example below, we’ve used a door.

It’s trickier to build and requires a number of Redstone torches, but its uses are many. The simplest would be a locked door activated by an interior and an exterior lever or button.

The example shown has the levers attached to the circuit itself, but these can be relocated and connected to the system with Redstone wire.

Remember that, if you’re building this circuit underground, you will need space two blocks high to attach the Redstone torches.

Here is an XNOR Gate in action:

The Toggle Gate

As you might expect, this is a specific gate that enables you to toggle the state of an object with two different inputs.

As an example, this could be used to activate an object until another specific action is activated and resets the object to its original state.

This could be an automated minecart system that halts carts in a specific location ready for embarkation or unlocking a secret area that then closes on itself after the player enters.

This Gate uses a permanent input in its natural state to keep the object ‘active’, but then uses pistons to break that connection to turn the signal off. Redstone signals cannot pass into wire on a block higher if another block is in the way.

Take a look at the video below that demonstates how a Toggle Gate works. Remember, you’ll need two different inputs for this particular gate to work.

The Minecart Timer

This is a very simple mechanism that lets you activate an object at regular intervals. This is useful for creating traps or other automated systems that activate consistently.

It utilises rail tracks, a minecart, a powered rail and a detector rail. Check it out below:

Using Pistons In Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition

Now that’s all the technical details out of the way, here are a few examples of how the pistons added in the latest patch can be used in your creations.

There are two types of pistons, a standard piston that will push blocks and a sticky piston that will then pull the block back with it.

Remember you can use each of the circuits above to combine with these examples, whether it’s using the timer to regulate them, the XNOR gate for an opening and closing function from two switches or the Toggle Gate to activate it in one location and reset it in another.

Minecraft Pistons Used For Creating Secret Doors

To create a hidden door you’ll need a bunch of sticky pistons; you’ll need as many as the blocks you want to move. 

This is the simplest function of pistons and can be used to conceal your most prized possessions away from the rest of the world – particular useful if you play online with ‘friends’ who can’t keep their hands out of your storage container.

Minecraft’s Pistons Used For Altering The Flow Of Water

Despite looking like a single prong, an extended piston still counts as a ‘full’ block, and will therefore block the flow of water. 

This is useful for creating pathways through a waterfall, revealing a hidden shelter or – for the more technical among you – altering the flow of water to create automated farming systems.

Check out our simple example below:

Minecraft’s Pistons Used To Create Traps And Pathways

While this is similar to the hidden doors example, this shows just another way that pistons can be used to reveal or conceal particular parts of an area.

It’s great for making an area inaccessible until the input is activated or, in the example shown below, in tricking your friends into falling into a burning magma pit.

Alternatively you can used this method to push players off treacherous peaks or suffocate them by trapping them inside a block after lowering a block onto their head.



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