Minecraft Excavator | Automated Mining
This is really an exploit of a glitch I found with the Minecraft Piston Mod, so you'll need to download that mod and install it in order to make your very own Minecraft Excavator.
How does it work? Pretty simple really. Let's start with the piston mod. The piston is designed to push blocks. When powered with redstone and activated with a lever, pressure plate or button it will extend its pressure plate in the desired direction. This has a variety of applications, but I found a very useful one when I placed a piston on its side facing a wall with one block of space separating it.
I then placed a block of sand between the pressure plate and the wall and activated the piston. As expected, the piston extended its usual one block length. When I powered it off and it retracted however, the sand was nowhere to be seen. Nor was the stone wall in front of the piston. It had pushed a hole right through the wall to a depth of 16 blocks. Everything was gone.
Clearly this has mining applications. The only downside of this technique is that the blocks that are 'destroyed' when the piston pushes through simply disappear, so you know, theoretically if you did this through a diamond vein, you'd destroy it all.
If this annoys you and you want a real automated mining machine, then you want another mod called Industrial Craft. It's a more complex affair, but it allows you to create a whole bunch of machines, including a drill that burrows into the earth and spits out what it has collected on the surface, taking all the effort out of mining.
I still think this is a nice way of drilling an exploratory mineshaft though, and anyone who likes exploiting glitches will probably giggle with glee at least once when they try this and it actually works. I'd get onto this one fairly quickly however, I have a feeling that the creator of the mod will be fixing this in the not too distant future.
Installation is simple. The mod requires Mod Loader v5, so if you have that installed already, simply pit the .class files in the minecraft .jar as usual. If you've yet to use Mod Loader, download version v5 and make good use of it. If you're still stuck on v4, it's probably time to move on. Most mods worth their salt have updated to a v5 compatible version and v5 really has improved the way mods work together, at least as far as I can tell. I installed this Piston Mod and the Creeps and Weirdos mod (two very different types of mod) and they both work very well with one another. So there you go, anecdotal evidence from a complete stranger. I'd feel comfortable taking that.