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This page was originally created by ShneekeyTheLost. Other contributors can be found on the credits page.

For version 3+ of Thermal Expansion (Minecraft 1.6.4 and above), please view Getting Started (Thermal Expansion 3).

Thermal Expansion for Newbies

(A reference guide for the rest of us)

So, first off, what does this mod do?

  • It brings your production to the industrial age, with machines that smelt more efficiently and returns more output on ores!
  • It also revolutionizes your Minecraft Joule (MJ) Power System. More on this later.
  • It also has machines which provide utility; these can either be ease of use or lag-reducing techniques.

Why might you want to use this mod?

  • You can't find a rubber tree among all the extra biomes around your immediate spawn, and you want to get your industrial setup going anyways.
  • You want to get started with another mod, and there's a machine which requires a lot of Water supplied to it.
  • You want a reliable source of Lava without all the lag that pumping Lava pools out of The Nether can provide.
  • You want to set up an extensive power network with mods other than IndustrialCraft 2 (IC2) (and addons to IC2).
  • You want to set up a fully automated refinery that you can deposit any kind of ore into and have it automatically produce ingots, particularly if you have space constraints or want a very compact design.

What mods does this mod work well with?

Forestry and Buildcraft both synergize well with this mod. Several Forestry machines require a steady water supply which this mod can provide. The machines in this mod can also be configured to automatically output to an attached pipe or inventory. Both also have alternate methods of producing the same type of power. Railcraft also works well with this mod as it uses the same type of power and also has additional means of producing it.

To begin with this mod, you will need to have already accomplished the following:

  • Established a 'home' or 'base' that will at least keep Creepers off of you
  • Done a bit of mining, down to Gold/Redstone level. No Diamonds are necessary to get started
  • Have about a half stack of Iron Ingots and at least a dozen Copper Ingots and Tin Ingots, as well as some Gold Ingots and a half stack of redstone. You might also need some Silver.
  • You will also need a good bit of Glass to get started, so sand is something you'll actually want to snap up as you come across it. About a half a stack will get you started.
  • One of your first machines will also need a couple of Brick blocks, so if you see any Clay, grab it.

That's really about it. Once you get some Iron, Gold, Silver, Tin, Copper, and Redstone... you're ready to get started!

The Basics: MOAR POWER!

Many, but not all, of these machines require power to run. This power is measured in MJ, or Minecraft Joules and is produced by Engines. MJ produced by Engines is generally measured in MJ/t or Minecraft Joules per tick. There are twenty ticks per second, although those on servers might experience different numbers due to lag. Power draw for these machines is also generally measured in MJ/t.

So, let's get to generating power! The first step is deciding which Engine to use. There are lots of different engines which have differing outputs, differing fuel sources, and differing mechanics. If you haven't checked it out yet, go look up the NEI Tutorial and then search for the word 'engine'.

Yea, there's a lot of them, aren't there? Well, don't let that confuse you. Right now, our requirements are: easy to make, can be made with the materials we have on hand, can produce enough MJ to keep our initial machines powered, and runs on a fuel you have easy access to. For this reason, I would suggest the Steam Dynamo which is also a part of this mod. Note: This is not the <something> Steam Dynamo, nor is it the Sterling Engine. The complete name for this is the "Steam Dynamo". It's the one that requires something called a Redstone Transmission Coil in the recipe.

Now then, this engine runs on Coal or Charcoal, and also requires Water to convert into steam to run itself. Coal is easily found, and charcoal is simply logs which have been cooked in an oven, but a supply of water? Fortunately, there's a solution to that as well. This machine is called the Aqueous Accumulator. Don't worry, it doesn't require any power to run at all. Look up the recipe in NEI.

Get used to that Machine Frame, it's needed in virtually all of the machines in this mod. However, this isn't particularly painful to make... a Gold Ingot, some Iron Ingots and some Glass. Next, you'll need the servo, which requires some Redstone, Iron, and more Glass. Then you'll need a Bucket, still more Glass, and some Tin. I hope you found some Sand nearby.

Right. So, what does this thing do? Well, if you put Water source blocks on two sides of this machine, it will function as an infinite water source which automatically pumps water out. Nifty, huh? Also, take some time to check out the interface, there's some new things here that I want to point out to you now.

Redstone and Configuration panels

Notice on the right hand side, there's two little tabs? Let's go over them briefly. They are unique to this mod (at the time of writing this guide) and are one of the revolutionary concepts which makes this mod interesting.

The first one is the
tab. Clicking on it opens up a little panel that determines how Redstone alters the function of the machine. Clicking on the
button will render it independent to Redstone activate. It will become active when it has work and inactive when it doesn't. It'll also tell you under Control Status if redstone signals are enabled or disabled. The other button determines if it needs a redstone signal to function (the picture of the lit redstone torch, with Signal Required: High) or if applying a redstone signal will disable the machine (picture of the unlit redstone torch, with Signal Required: Low). This helps you better automate your machines, and make more compact designs with redstone running near machines that won't affect them if you don't want it to.

The second is the config panel, which is where a lot of the magic of this mod happens. You might have noticed the orange squares on all of the sides other than the front face. You might also notice in this panel how there are also orange panels on all of the icons other than the front face. Yes, the two are directly connected, and it also has to do with why the liquid bar has an orange outline.

You see, when making very compact machine layouts, you can often have situations in which you really want to automatically pass the output of one machine to another, always. However, there are also situations where you don't want the output of one machine to go to another machine. This helps you customize that.

Unlike any other mod that I am aware of, Thermal Engineering machines will automatically output to an adjacent valid inventory or machine. In the case of the Aqueous Accumulator, it will automatically output water to anything that can accept water as a liquid directly adjacent to any side other than the front face. However, you can also click on the sides in this panel, and you notice that you can make the orange disappear, and you can make the face appear "flush". The colorless face is useful for inputting energy and is used primarily for RedPower 2 Tube compatibility. The 'flush' face is a side of the machine that will not input or output anything from that side; so if you want to run a pipe right behind your Aqueous Accumulator which is handling some other kind of liquid and you don't want to get water in that pipeline, you can click that side to flush and it won't mix.

Go ahead, play around with it a bit so you can get a feel for which sides corrolate to which of the buttons on the panel. It orients itself according to the direction the front face is pointing, rather than any arbitrary cardinal direction, so placement facing has a large part in this. The front face will never connect to anything.

Back to Basics

Right, now you've got a feel for this little mechanic, and you want to go ahead and get this done already. No problem. Determine where you want your machines. You're going to want this Engine to be about three or four blocks behind it. Yes, you do need some room, you'll grow into it, don't worry.

One block below where you want your engine, put your Aqueous Accumulator. Also dig out a one block hole on the left and right, and fill these with water. Open up your Accumulator's interface, and you should see it rapidly filling with water. Good, it's working. Now to make your engine.

You'll need 11 Copper Ingots for this Engine, eight Sticks and eight Cobblestone blocks, a Piston, and something called a Redstone Transmission Coil. Let's look up that recipe in NEI. Looks like it's one Silver ingot and a couple of redstone, so not too bad.

Look up the recipe for the gears in the NEI. It's basically four sticks, then four cobble around the wooden gear, then four copper ingots around the stone gear... and you'll need two of them.

Right, so we get the Engine made. Let's drop it directly on top of the AA and click on it. Hey cool, we've got water automatically flowing into the engine! Now it just needs some Coal or Charcoal to get fired up and it can start producing power! Unlike most Buildcraft-style engines, as long as you have Redstone configuration set to Enabled/Low, you won't need a redstone signal to make it run!

But first, we're going to have to figure out how to transmit that power. For now, we're going to have to use Conductive Pipes. You're going to need a Wooden Conductive Pipe and some Gold Conductive Pipe. The Wooden Conductive Pipe is your 'input' energy pipe. Engines have to be facing a wooden conductive pipe to be able to transmit energy through the pipes. The golden conductive pipes transit energy with minimal energy loss over distance.

Production Line - Getting the most out of your ores

Okay, now you've got power! So, what do we do with it?

Well, first, let's go over some of the materials we're going to need for this step:

  • 4 Gold, some iron, glass, redstone, and Copper. No tin or silver this time.
  • You'll also need a couple of brick blocks, so get some clay. I hope you're near a shoreline. You'll also need some flint.

Well, the first machines we're probably going to want is going to be the Pulverizer and the Powered Furnace. Let's start with the pulverizer. Look up the recipe in NEI.

Yep, you guessed it, another Machine Frame. This time, however, you're also going to need a Redstone Reception Coil. That's a gold and two redstone. This is going to be used in any machine in this mod which requires power input to function.

So, in addition to those two things, you'll need a couple of Copper Ingots, a couple of [Flint]]s, and a Piston. Not too hard. Now place it down and let's look at the GUI.

Well, that's a bit more colourful of an interface, isn't it? Go ahead and pull up your Config tab and we'll figure this out.

This time, for colours, you have Blue, Yellow, Red, and Orange. Blue represents the Input, red represents the Primary Output, yellow will be your Secondary Output, and Orange is BOTH your primary AND secondary output.

Wait... primary and secondary output? What's up with that?

Well, some ores have a 5-10% chance of not only doubling your ore's production by producing two pulverized ores of the same type, but also producing an additional pulverized ore of a different kind. With Copper, there's a very small chance of producing a bonus pulverized gold, and with gold, there's a chance of getting a bonus pulverized copper. Silver and lead also share the same relationship. This bonus metal goes into the yellow slot.

Now then, throw some fuel into your engine and fire it up! You will notice, if you look at the Pulverizer, that there's a blue bar on the left which is starting to fill up. This machine can store up to 4800 MJ of energy in its Redstone Reception Coil, giving you an energy buffer if you run out of fuel. Also, the speed of the machine will be determined by how full the power is. If the machine detects that it is running low on power, it will decrease its speed to conserve the remaining power. So for maximum speed, you're going to want it to be more than halfway charged.

Another thing about these machines, with respect to power, is that it won't draw or ask for power when it doesn't need it. This is exceedingly handy if you have several machines hooked up to the same power pipe, so it won't be drawing power which is needed elsewhere, and allows you to be more efficient with your power output.

So, Wooden Conductive Pipe in front of your engine, some Gold Conductive Pipes hooked up to the back of your pulverizer, and now it's running. Great, time for the next machine, the Powered Furnace.

Now, don't get me wrong, your plain ol' vanilla Furnace has helped you get here, but it's rather... inefficient. You have to smelt things in groups of eight, or you 'waste' fuel. It also isn't the fastest in the world. Time for an upgrade. Let's look at the recipe in NEI.

Yep, just like the Pulverizer, this one also needs a Redstone Reception Coil and a Machine Frame. Then it's just a couple of Copper Ingots, a pile of Redstone, and a couple of brick blocks, which might be your tripping point if you aren't near a body of water. I would suggest putting this underneath your Pulverizer for now, and setting the bottom face to orange (all output). Don't forget to hook up a Golden Conductive Pipe in the back. For now, make yourself a Chest, and put it to the right of the Furnace. I want to show you something cool.

Open up the GUI for the Powered Furnace. Nothing too fancy here, one input in blue and one output in orange. Set up the input to be the top face and the output slot to be the right face. Now throw an ore block into your Pulverizer.

When the Pulverizer is done, it should automatically eject the pulverized ore into the Powered Furnace, which in turn should automatically start up and smelt the pulverized ore and deposit it into the adjacent chest.

Cool, we've got some automation going!

By now, we have:

MJ power production, a Pulverizer, a Powered Furnace, and we've configured them to automatically pulverize and smelt all of your ores while you're off doing something more important.

The other machine you may want to consider at this stage is the Sawmill. It increases the amount of planks you can get from logs. It can also be used to reclaim resources from wooden objects, which can also get you back other resources. For example, if you put a Bed into the sawmill, you get three Wooden Planks back and you get your three Wool back as well.

But wait! There's more! Stay tuned for our next episode, in which we kick it up another notch and discover a few other machines along the way!

See also