Once upon a time in Minecraft, I wanted to do something revolutionary.  Something ridiculous.  Something so out there that surely it was not possible:

I wanted to turn a button into a lever.

In Minecraft, a lever is light a light switch.  One position is on, the other is off; one position sends a constant current into a circuit, the other stops the current.  A button is more like an electric doorbell – it sends a short pulse of current into the circuit, then stops.  Levers are great, but they’re kind of clunky, don’t look all that nice and they can only be in one place.  So if you want to, say, open or close a door from both sides using a lever, you can’t unless you can reach that one lever from both sides of the door.

However, using redstone circuits, it’s possible to take a button pulse and use that to toggle the state of a circuit in a way which is functionally very similar to a lever.  This is usually called a T Flip Flop, because – um – something to do with electronics I guess?  I think the T is for Toggle.  Let’s say that it is.  The beauty of a T Flip Flop is that there can be as many inputs – toggles – going into the circuit as you like.  So you can have buttons that, for example, open or close your door anywhere you like: one on either side of the door, even one in a secret control room somewhere.

Plus it looks way more slick than a clunky, chunky lever.

So last week I invented my first RS Latch in Minecraft, a great personal triumph for me.  This week, I slowly, painfully forced my brain to turn that initial RS Latch into a T Flip Flop through a long process of conceptualising, trying, failing and finally figuring out. Then I had a bit of a think, played around, stared at the screen for a while and eventually came away with a completely new T Flip Flop.  Then I had a further think and made it more efficient and compact – no longer just a theoretical exercise to see if I could do it, but something that was small, fast and quiet enough to be actually practical to use.

T Flip Flops were the main kind of circuit I copy-pasted from the Internet back when I used to wire up cool mechanisms for my friends.  They were the holy grail of redstone for me at the time.  I could never quite get how they worked but always felt just on the verge of understanding (chronic illness is not fun).  Now I’ve designed not just one, but three completely different T Flip Flops.  I’m still not a redstone expert, but this reminds me exactly why I stopped building buildings and started building circuits. The joy of figuring it out, making something that does something, and making it by allowing my own wits to go through the slow process of discovery, appropriation and creation – gosh, that’s something special.

(Click on the pictures to see more info about the circuits and how they work.)