Return to Minecraft

Over the past two-and-a-half years or so I have been keeping a persistent Minecraft world on my home computer. Every now and then I’ll start up the server and delve into my little Minecraft world of a couple of weeks or months. Every time I do I invite a couple of friends to continue their own creations. It’s been a while since I last played Minecraft, but I recently started up the server again and have been hard at work creating new structures.

Here is an overview of most of the “civilized world” in my server:
In the center-left is my main home: a large house made of marble mined from the Nether.  Some other points of note include:

  • The World’s Tallest Tower (center) – a cylindrical tower that reaches the maximum height allowed in the game.
  • The Great Southern Wall (center-right) – a giant wall which was constructed to keep the civilized lands safe from the desert to the south.  Just FYI, I build this wall before I even heard of Game of Thrones, so, no, I wasn’t copying it.
  • The Great Warehouse (right) – a sprawling warehouse filled with racks and racks of chest.  I was inspired to build this when the fourth Indiana Jones movie was announced.
  • The Obsidian Tower (upper-right) – a tower made of obsidian, built by one of my friends.  It is not quite complete.
  • The Missile Silo (center) – a large ICBM sits in the southern end of civilized lands, ready to inflict mutually assured destruction against any nuclear enemies.
  • The Black Pyramid (center-bottom) – a black pyramid constructed of netherbrick.  The interior is completely dark and acts as a sort of arena for killing monsters should the need for special materials only dropped by them arise.

There are many other individual structures too numerous to list, and there are extensive networks of underground tunnels and spaces which are not easily viewed.

Here are some more photos of just a few things built within the world.  There are many more impressive structures and vistas besides these:

The Obsidian Tower.
One of the earliest creations was a village containing a variety of smaller buildings.
One of the many bridges situated along The Great Road — an absurdly long road I’ve worked on which stretches out far to the East.
The Great Road features many beautiful views.
The view from the rear of my main home base. The Black Castle is perched atop a distant mountain, silently menacing the surrounding lands.
A cozy chalet along The Great Road.
A coastal desert fortress constructed by one of my friends.
One of my friends is currently constructing a giant statue made to look like the humanoid characters in the game.
An admittedly poor view of Little Egypt which lies immediately south-east of my main home base.
A view of the rear of my mansion. There are many animal pens and a good deal of farmland near my mansion which were built for resource gathering. The bell tower on the left was a copy of a similar tower I saw photos of online. In the distance you can see the Portal Temple, which was the site of the world’s first portal to the Nether.
A statue created as a tribute to all miners. This was constructed at the mouth of one of the many mines along The Great Road which were struck for the stone needed for its construction.
I mentioned earlier a “Great Road”. This is a project in the world where I have created a long, east-west running road across the Minecraft world. The last time I measured, it took about half an hour to walk from one end to the other.

This “Great Road” begins at the eastern coast of the area where everything started and runs westward. During this most recent return to Minecraft, a new megaproject was started in which The Great Road was to advance to the west, across the ocean. The Great Bridge to the West will be the largest structure in the world once it is complete.  It’s beginnings are visible in the lower-left corner of the overworld map near the start of this post.

You can get a feel for how long the bridge is from the following image. Here we see much of the known world, and The Great Bridge to the West is in its initial stages, reaching only 3/4s of its planned final length.

The Great Bridge to the West is not yet complete. Here are some progress shots:

Initial planning the east landing and overall bridge superstructure.

I decided I wanted the bridge to made up of repeating segments in order to break up the monotony of building a bridge that was identical along its entire length and to give it some aesthetic character. After a couple of refinements I settled on an acceptable segment design.

Here we see the construction of the eastern abutment and the prototype superstructure segment template.

Initial preliminary construction of three bridge superstructure segments depicting the three layers of each segment.

My friend, being a little overzealous, started creating bridge segments right away. What I wanted to do first was to just have the three progressively completed segments to act as a guide, and to first create a skeleton of the bridge spanning the entire length of the ocean before building the superstructure segments on top of it, layer by layer.

An overview of the bridge’s initial progress.

Construction of the bridge skeleton is temporarily halted when it hits a good-sized island. A small base of operations was set up on this island.

The skeleton reaches across the entire ocean. Without the segments filled in it is easier to count how many segments span the entire ocean. I planned to use this information to design additional support structures for the bridge (e.g. pillars, suspension towers, etc) but I’m not 100% what I will do (if anything).

The first layer of the superstructure is complete.

The skeleton of the bridge without the segments completed continues off into the night.

With the skeleton complete, the meat starts being added, one layer at a time across the entire span of the bridge.

Side view of the eastern end of the bridge. The building on the shore covers the entrance to the mine used to gather materials for the bridge and includes storage and smelting facilities.

A depot was built along the bridge at the point where the large island that interrupts it.

Beneath the depot are some buildings, farms, and a mine.

Prior to this particular megaproject (which my friends are helping me on) there was another megaproject in which a bridge across a sea far to the east was built. This bridge — known as The Great Bridge to the East — was, at the time, the largest structure in the world.

Here are some shots of its construction:

Initial two tower foundations are done up to the surface and the outlines of the bridge proper are being contructed:

Aerial shot of the bridge and tower foundations:

The tower foundations were build up right from the sea bottom:

The tower frames going up:

Tower outlines at night:

Filling in the towers:

Tower construction:

The towers dark and ready to be lit:

Lighting the towers:

View from the interior of one of the towers as it is in the process of lighting up:

Nearly completed bridge at nightfall:

View of the west bank approach:

The completed bridge as viewed from the east bank:

Near large constructions like this I usually create a small home base. Here’s the interior of the one near this project:

Another megaproject in the world is the East Gate.

Custom Soundboard

I recently purchased a small circuit board (the FN-BC10-PN) which can play up to ten custom sounds. Each sound is linked to an open circuit to which you can wire up a button. You can plug the thing into your computer as a USB device, upload the files, then disconnect the device and use it on its own as a little sound player.  You can wire up power to it directly or use a USB power source, and you can wire up a small speaker or plug in a set of headphones for output.  The thing even supports serial communication so that you can hard-wire it to a computer (think Arduino) and control it programmatically.

I’m keeping my plans for its use a secret at the moment (nothing nefarious, I assure you).  If my idea works out, I’ll definitely make a post about it.  Don’t expect anything too soon, though.


I came across a problem with the device, however, and I wanted to record the solution so that others who are experiencing the same issue might get their issue resolved.

The device worked fine at first, but it stopped playing sounds after plugging it into my computer and then removing it. I can’t recall if it stopped working after the first time I plugged it in, or if it took a couple of times. I used the Windows option to safely eject the device; maybe that caused the problem? Anyway, the basic problem is that the board stops working after you plug it into a computer — even if you don’t modify the contents of the board’s memory.

What normally happens when you use the device is that it flashes a tiny light on the board when it is playing a sound. After plugging the thing into Windows once and removing it, the device no longer played sounds, and the little light no longer flashed.

After emailing back and forth with someone from the website I bought the thing from, I was eventually provided with a solution which worked.

Normally you place the sound files in the root folder of the device’s memory: up to ten files named 001.mp3 to 010.mp3 (.wav files are also supported). The device comes with ten default mp3s in the root folder, so you don’t actually have to upload any files in order to test the board once you get it.

The solution to the problem I experienced was to create ten subfolders in the root directory numbered 01 through 10, and to then move the corresponding mp3 file into each directory (e.g. 001.mp3 into subfolder 01). That’s it.

If anyone out there is having problems with their FN-BC10 not working anymore after plugging it into a computer, this is how you solve the problem.

The guy I emailed said something about Windows putting a hidden file or something on the drive when you plug it in, and that this was the cause of the problem. I’m going to have to investigate what that’s all about.



Cup of Ice and Fire

It has been something like twenty years, but it has finally returned: Cinnamon-flavored Slurpees!


I had only seen this flavor once, many many years ago.  The flavor wasn’t really all that great, but the experience was something entirely new: an icy cold drink which burned my mouth.  I never, ever thought I’d see this flavor of Slurpee ever again.

It’s not really a crazy hot flavor or anything.  It does have a decent cinnamon flavor, though, for a cold drink.

I’ll probably never buy this flavor again, actually — it’s really just the fact that I never thought I’d experience a cinnamon Slurpee ever again…and now here it is.

So, Universe: if you are suddenly granting food-wishes, please bring back Mexican Chili flavored flavored Bits & Bites (or was it Nuts & Bolts?).  Also, those big, round jaw-breaker-like lollipops that came in grape, orange, or cherry flavors.  Thanks.


X-wing: Cobra

Not content with ruling the entire world, Cobra Commander has set his sights on outer space!  Piloted by highly trained Star-Vipers, this new fighter — Codenamed Nemesis — extends Cobra Command’s grasp to the stars.

I painted a Kihraxz fighter from the X-wing Miniatures Game over the past couple of days.  I wanted to come up with a color scheme that would look nice, and it occurred to me to try the common colors used in a lot of old Cobra vehicles from the early 80s G.I. Joe toy line.  I think it turned out rather well.

The Cobra insignias on the side didn’t turn out as well as I’d like.  I created them using water-slide decal paper I purchased for my laser printer. The decal material is very thin and transparent, and the dark blue background of the ship overpowered the thin layer of toner that was printed onto it. To remedy this I tried to hand-paint parts of the Cobra symbol so that they would show through the decal. It worked quite well, but my estimates on the size of the logos was not quite spot on.

Original paint job:

“Cobra” paint job:        I wish my smartphone could take better quality photos. So much of the detail is lost in these images.

I like this color scheme and I may try it out on more ships.

“I shall call him, ‘Mini-Bee'”

I painted up a miniature version of my car:

I’m not entirely happy with the sloppiness of the paint job.  My model-painting experience is almost entirely in acrylic, and this job was done with enamel.  I figured enamel would be more durable for something like this.  Unfortunately, enamel is a bit harder to work with and is less forgiving than acrylic.

The paint I used was Humbrol Black Satin 85.  It does not look very much like satin paint to me, though.