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ElJere2706

[0.79] Stacking support beams to maximize ore mining

11 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Disclaimer: First of all, I would like to say that I am not claiming to have been the first one ever to come up with this mining method. Being that Terrafirmacraft is such a great mod, played by so many people, it would be absolutely pretentious of me to claim such a thing. I merely want to share with the community a mining method that I have found to be quite useful.

 

The purpose of this guide is to show a method of using support beams that I have found to be the one that allows to get the most ore out of a vein, both minimizing the cave-in risk and minimizing unnecessary mining.

 

First of all, a very brief overview of how support beams work. For this part, I assume that you understand the basics about support beams, since I will just point out a few characteristics that will be relevant for my later explanation.

As I’m sure most of us know, a single horizontal support beam (exemplified by the light-colored beam in the screenshots) will support any gravity-affected block up to four blocks away from it in the X and Z directions, on the same Y level as the beam, one above and one below. That is, a 9x9x3 area centered on the horizontal support beam.

Spoiler

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Now, the beauty of support beams, and what makes possible this method, is that they can be stacked. By this, I mean that vertical support beams can be placed on top of already existing support beams (on top of vertical or corner support beams that is, not horizontal). Therefore, a second horizontal support beam placed three blocks above the original one will stack its own 9x9x3 area-of-effect on top of the first one’s area, together creating a 9x9x6. Of course, a third one can be placed three blocks above that second one, etc. etc. You get the point.

pnmLuZTPp

Now, with this in mind, let’s see how it can be applied to getting the most out of an ore (or mineral) vein.

 

 

1. Locating the center of a vein

If you already know how to find the center of a vein, you can skip this whole section, and jump straight to section 2.

 

So, this is not exactly the main focus of my guide, since I mainly want to address the use of support beams, but it will be necessary to know where the center of a vein is. Therefore, I will explain how to find the center, but the same disclaimer I mentioned before applies here.

First of all, you’ll want to start somewhere that you know is close to, or around the area of an ore or mineral vein. Those little surface nuggets are a great hint, as I’m sure you all know. Random hits with a prospector’s pick will also do the job, but that uses up pick durability. However, minerals (i.e. kaolinite, graphite, sylvite, etc.) don’t have surface nuggets, so pro-pick will be your only option in these cases.

Once you found those nuggets, give the floor a tap with your pro-pick. Ideally, you want to see a message of the type “found X of Y” (where “X” will be “traces”, “small sample”, “medium sample”, etc., and “Y” will be the name of the ore or mineral). If you get “nothing found”, check around the area, you may be a few blocks away. In case that, despite having surface nuggets, you don’t get any reading anywhere in the area, then your vein is too deep underground to be detected by surface readings. I won’t discuss in detail how to find the vein’s center in that case, but it’s not so different as with surface readings, it’s just more hassle.

Spoiler

In the case I’ll be using to illustrate, I found some sylvite.

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Once you got this initial spot, check a couple of blocks away from it trying to determine in which direction the readings grow (both on the X axis as in the Z axis) and in which direction they decrease. Ideally, you want to find an area where you get “found a very large sample of Y”.

Spoiler

After a bit of poking around with my pro pick, I “found a very large sample of Sylvite”.

po4sWr2vp

This new reading will be your new starting point. If you didn’t find any “very large sample”, just take as your new starting point whichever your higher reading was. It is possible that you only find “traces”, don’t worry about it. You can now forget about your original starting point, you won’t be using it anymore.

Spoiler

The fence post closest to me marks my original starting point (“traces”), and the one just above the crosshair marks my new starting point (“very large sample”).

pnTAaakzp

Now, find the limits of your reading. That is, find where your “very large sample” turns into “large sample”, on both axes, and mark those points.

Spoiler

I usually make my markings with torches. Here, this torch marks the last “very large sample” block on one end of my Z axis.

pnKWt9Ahp

On the other end, I ran into a small obstacle: a ravine. Before the ravine, the reading is still “very large”, but on the other end it’s “traces”. Therefore, the limit would be somewhere between the two. You could just leave it at that and simply eyeball where the limit would be, but I wanted to be more precise. Therefore, a very simple building over the gap with some planks did the trick. If you’ve ever played Sky Wars, or Egg Wars or Bed Wars, you’ll know it’s really no big deal. The reading limit was on the second block over the gap.

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Also, keep in mind that going up or down blocks on the Y axis will alter your readings.

Spoiler

For example, I had a one-block rise on the terrain on my X axis. The two torches mark the two limits for the readings on the different levels. The difference is minimal here, but it’s good to keep it in mind for more pronounced rises or drops.

pmjvLqxOp

Once you’ve marked the four limits, find the center of it all by dividing the distance between both ends of both axes. Eureka! You’ve just found the center of the vein.

Spoiler

Here I marked it with the two-high fence.

po0sqHd5p

 

 

2. Choosing the best support beam configuration

The process I described above for finding the center of the vein not only gives you the center, but it also gives you an idea of the size of the vein, i.e. its approximate diameter. Not all veins are equally large, and choosing a support beam configuration will depend on assessing which one is best for the size of your vein. You don’t want to choose a small configuration for a large vein (this would waste ore), nor a large configuration for a small vein (this would waste support beams).

Let’s take a look at the four support beam configurations that I think could be used in most veins. They are presented in a scale from smallest to largest.

 

A. Single

The most basic support beam configuration is two vertical beams and one horizontal. Since “support beams can only be placed horizontally between two vertical beams that are up to 5 blocks apart,” the best way to maximize this single-beam configuration is, obviously, to take full advantage of the five-block-max span for the horizontal beam. This results in a 13x9 footprint of supported blocks (a 117 block area). In the screenshot I have marked the footprint outline with planks.

(The double-tall fencepost is the center of my vein)

pmj6YLpgp

 

B. Double

If you want to step up your coverage, you can go with what I call a “double support beam.” This is three verticals and two horizontals, where the both horizontals share a vertical. This adds 6 rows to the footprint (3 on each side), which results in a 19x9 (171 block area). In the screenshot I’ve left the planks marking the footprint of the single-beam, so as to more easily compare the increase. The new outline is marked with one-tall vertical support beams.

Notice that this footprint comes quite close to the torches that mark the limit of my “very large sample” reading. This doesn’t mean that past these torches there will be no ore, but it does mean that most ore will be in the space inside the area bound by the torches.

pmOZO93ip

 

C. Cross-shaped

This is one type of combination of two Doubles. Here, four horizontals share one vertical. This adds 10 rows, each one 9 blocks wide. It’s harder to describe since it’s not a rectangular shape, but check the screenshot. This configuration covers a 261 block footprint. The downside of this configuration is that it overlaps coverage, so it is not ideal, it doesn’t maximize its support beams.

pm3PS9kKp

 

D. Double Squared

This one, the largest one, is basically two Doubles put side by side so as not to overlay at all, but also not to leave a gap unsupported. It’s a 19x18, a 342 block footprint. The different-colored planks in the screenshot outline both areas of effect.

poXwQRDnp

This is a comparison with the Cross-shaped area of effect.
poOlshztp

 

So, these are the configurations among which, in my opinion, you should choose. Any bigger than the Double Squared would be a waste, since veins aren’t really that big. Now, which one to choose will totally depend on how big your vein is and how much you want that ore or mineral. For example, for rich hematite/limonite/magnetite, you’ll definitely want the Double Squared, even if it’s a somewhat small vein, since iron, and especially rich iron, is a prime resource in TFC. For my illustration, I’ve gone with the Double Squared, mainly because sylvite is quite rare (it only generates in one type of rock).

 

 

3. Implementing the chosen support beam configuration

Once you've chosen one of the configurations, it’s time to implement it below ground! As I said before, this implementation method capitalizes on the fact that support beams can be stacked on top of each other.

 

a. Vertical beams

Now, make sure you have a lot of beams in your inventory (between 1 and 2 stacks should do the trick), choose any of the vertical beams of your configuration, and, on that spot, start digging straight down! “Straight down” you may ask? Yes, indeed, straight down! I'm perfectly aware that this is generally considered a no-no in Minecraft, but actually, in Terrafirmacraft it’s not such a bad idea. In TFC you don’t have those vanilla lava pockets, which are the biggest risk with digging straight down, and you do have the upside of virtually avoiding any cave-in risk, since you are not removing any block from underneath another (as you would if you dug a staircase instead). The only risk is digging straight down into a cave, and even this would not kill you, since most caves are just 5 o 6 blocks of air space tall. This fall would not kill you, even with TFC fall damage. Really, the only risk is digging into one of those huge cavernous caves, but this is highly (highly!) unlikely. So yes, dig straight down. In any case, what’s life without a little risk? :D

Spoiler

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As you go down, you’ll notice that the amount of ore you come across increases and then decreases. This means that you approached the core of the vein, and then you passed it. Keep going down until you feel that you have left the vein behind. If you’ve dug like 5 or 6 blocks and haven’t found any more ore, it’s kind of safe to assume that you have left it behind. See screenshot.

Quote

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Now it’s time to begin raising the vertical beam. It would be a good idea at this point to press F3 and take note of your Y position, so that your other vertical beams go equally deep, although this is not absolutely necessary. Before you begin placing beams, it’s better to put down a block that won’t be affected by gravity. This is so that, if there were to be a cave-in, the block your beams are built on won’t be at risk of collapsing. I use a plank block, but smooth stone, bricks, etc. would also work. However, unless you brought those with you to the mining expedition, they are harder to make, for they require chisel, mortar, etc. This plank will be the foundation of your vertical beams.

After placing this block, just jump and place the beams, and then just keep holding the jump button and the right click. This will bring you back to the surface, leaving a beautiful long support beam in your wake!

Spoiler

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Rinse and repeat for all the other vertical beams in your chosen configuration.

 

b. Horizontal beams

Now that you have the vertical beams in place, it’s time to place the horizontal ones.

The first line of beams can be placed either one block on top of ground level, at ground level or one block below. However, I always place it one block on top because it’s simpler. The two other options imply digging away a strip of soil.

Spoiler

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Next, dig three blocks down.

Spoiler

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From here, dig up to the two other vertical beams and place the horizontal ones on the third block below the one above ground. By doing this, you are stacking the beams’ areas of effect, like I showed above.

Spoiler


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Again, rinse and repeat until you get to the bottom of the mine.

Spoiler

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Remember, for the Double Squared you need to do this on both sides.

 

 

4. Mine to your heart’s content

With all these stacked support beams in place, you can go to town on your mining! Just beware not to mine past the 4-block range of the beams. It may help to put an indicator on the 5th block, to remind you that those blocks cannot be mined. I generally indicate this by putting a torch.

Spoiler

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Keep in mind that only horizontal beams support blocks, not vertical ones. Therefore, in this direction, the last mineable block is really the third one after the vertical beam:
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If all is done right, your mines should look something like this:

pmVlDChCp
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Hope you enjoyed the guide, and hope that it was clear enough! Please, feel free to comment any suggestions on how to improve this method! Also, post screenshots of your mines, I’d love to see how other TFC players do their mining!

Edited by ElJere2706
Images' link was down
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Interesting method.  I'm always curious to see how others mine as well.  You definitely fall on the organized side of things.  After you've got your framework set up, do you just sort of 'swiss cheese' mine the ores, or do you mine in organized levels?  It seems like you're setting up for swiss cheese, but your screenshots look like you've got some level organization going on.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, I believe that a bit of organization allows you to get more ore, waste less time (and tool durability), and avoid pretty much any cave-in risk.

I do sort of a combination of both, Swiss cheese and organized mining. I mine all the ore in the area, but without unnecessarily mining tons of raw stone. The advantage of my support beam stacking is that, if you don't need to mine them, you can leave raw stone blocks floating around without worrying that they might collapse and destroy exposed ore. It allows for a more rational mining method.

For example, check this screenshot, it's my rich gold mine (cross-shaped beam configuration). Look at all the raw stone blocks that are floating around. If I hadn't set up the support beams prior to mining, I either (a) would have had to be constantly checking whether I'm going to mine underneath a stone block, so as to raise support beams for it, or (b) I would have had to mine absolutely all that stone. 'a' is very time-consuming, and 'b', besides being time-consuming, wastes a lot of pick durability. Therefore, I proceed from the top-down, mining all the ore, and the stone blocks necessary to expose them and get to them, but not more stone than is absolutely necessary.

Spoiler

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The only exception to this is when I mine for prime resources. That is, in my opinion, rich iron (any of the 3) and any type of garnierite. In those cases I want to get all the ore there is, without regards to how much stone I mine. I still apply one of the four support beam configurations I mentioned, but in these cases I do a sort of strip mining. Starting from the top, I mine corridors leaving two blocks in between, so as to expose all the ore in the vein, and I keep taking these corridors deeper and deeper until I get to the bottom of the vein. This is a screenshot of my rich hematite mine (double squared configuration), in which I applied this technique.

Spoiler

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I'd like to see how you do your own mines! Do you "Swiss cheese"? Do you implement your own organization? I'm curious to see.

Edited by ElJere2706
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Eh, nothing special about my technique in general.  I basically clear-mine level by level, leaving a 2-thick floor between.  I cherry pick the ores from this floor, and replace them with cobblestone to leave a smooth supported ceiling on the 'bottom' of the floor, and a smooth walking surface on the 'top' of the floor.   In between I mine alternating blocks to maximize raw stone gain (and naturally reduces pick usage a bit, since raw blocks pop off without the pick).   Easy to navigate, no dangerous drops, no jumping.  I like to keep it simple.  I'm not generally that concerned about time, and pick durability doesn't really concern me much, unless I'm at the very, very start, with my first copper or bronze pick - but then, I enjoy smithing and usually have 2-3 spare pick heads in a vessel on me at all times.  I just take it one 5x5 bay at a time, and stop going in a given direction when I get less than X ores per bay.  X varying depending on the ore in question and the richness, and how into mining I am at the time.  After I 'finish' a level, I wall off around the ladder shaft, and leave a door, so that when the level goes dark I don't have to worry about mobs jumping me on my way up/down. 

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Well, your method is a bit more grindy than what I do, but it definitely is thorough! Nice!

Also, this is a great idea!

On 2017-7-18 at 10:52 PM, Darmo said:

After I 'finish' a level, I wall off around the ladder shaft, and leave a door, so that when the level goes dark I don't have to worry about mobs jumping me on my way up/down. 

 

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Meanwhile, my mining method can only be described as special. I ignore support beams and allow cave-ins to occur as they may, taking care that they don't crush any ore (or me). I do this by placing planks or chiseled stone above my head, and by mining out any exposed ore that would be vulnerable to a cave-in before digging more stone. I usually get lost in my own mines because they follow the rough shape of the parts of the vein that I stumble upon by mining out from the center of the vein, but am only rarely trapped in because I leave myself enough durability on my pick to dig my way out of the caved-in entrance. The only time this results in large-scale loss of ore is when I am next to a cave without knowing it, but that can cause problems even with support beams. I usually don't get all the ore, but I have a fun time trying to climb out of my tunnels. Mobs aren't usually a problem because I usually dig most of the vein at once, or in rapid enough succession that spawn protection has yet to wear off, and because even when they do spawn they can't move around in the mine either, and it is usually easy to exploit the terrain to kill them.

Anyway, I might try your method on more valuable mines, because I like that it allows you to set up a framework for avoiding cave ins previously, and then  not have to worry about them from there on out.

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2 hours ago, Therighthon said:

Meanwhile, my mining method can only be described as special. I ignore support beams and allow cave-ins to occur as they may, taking care that they don't crush any ore (or me). [...] I usually get lost in my own mines because they follow the rough shape of the parts of the vein that I stumble upon by mining out from the center of the vein, but am only rarely trapped in because I leave myself enough durability on my pick to dig my way out of the caved-in entrance. [...] I usually don't get all the ore, but I have a fun time trying to climb out of my tunnels.

It sounds like fun! Sort of like a labyrinth-mixed-with-parkour adventure map. lol It sure is "special," as you said.

My method indeed allows you not to worry about cave-ins. As long as you mine within the 4-block range of the support beams, that is:

On 2017-7-16 at 6:30 PM, ElJere2706 said:

Just beware not to mine past the 4-block range of the beams. It may help to put an indicator on the 5th block, to remind you that those blocks cannot be mined. I generally indicate this by putting a torch.

  Reveal hidden contents

pmU9SXlWp

Keep in mind that only horizontal beams support blocks, not vertical ones. Therefore, in this direction, the last mineable block is really the third one after the vertical beam:
pn47V76Np

 

 

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Interesting mine construction choices! Mine typically resemble real mines in that I build a portal (entrance) above ground leading to an inclined shaft. From there, I target the vein by ProPick, and mine out a stope (hollowed area) from which I extract the vein.

Is it efficient? Not really... Is it cost effective? Perhaps not as much. But it does feel realistic :)

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58 minutes ago, Jmcm16 said:

Mine typically resemble real mines in that I build a portal (entrance) above ground leading to an inclined shaft. From there, I target the vein by ProPick, and mine out a stope (hollowed area) from which I extract the vein.

That does sound like it does a lot for the immersion of the game!

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There was an old channel that has now been more inactive as of late, but it consisted of a man who would actually go down in mines and document them on his camera:

Exploring Abandoned Mines and Unusual Places

His YouTube channel was what I used for references when I build my own mines (adapted of course to the game mechanics, most of the mines he enters has relatively less timbering (supports) than what a typical TFC mine would have), and I highly recommend if you are interested in mining history to check out his channel! He's explored mines that are 100+ years old! Perhaps slightly more modern mines than what TFC would be aiming for, but it works great!

Edited by Jmcm16
Changed the URL to the Channel Name
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On 7/24/2017 at 6:28 PM, ElJere2706 said:

It sounds like fun! Sort of like a labyrinth-mixed-with-parkour adventure map. lol It sure is "special," as you said.

My method indeed allows you not to worry about cave-ins. As long as you mine within the 4-block range of the support beams, that is:

 

Hmm... Sounds like an amazing adventure map! And TFC would work as a great base for it!

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