Block of the Week: Dropper

Drop the beet!

It says a lot about the weird way that time is passing right now that it feels like I wrote about the dispenser a decade ago. In actual fact, it was only two and a half years. Since then, a lot has changed – the seas are fuller, villages are much more interesting, the Nether is much more scary, and the overworld is now inexplicably full of bees.

Normally I like to lump similar items and blocks together in this series – so I’ll write just a single article to cover both raw and cooked pork chops, for example. But for some reason, when I wrote about dispensers, I didn’t even mention their cousin – the dropper. So now you get a whole article about droppers.

Droppers were added to Minecraft all the way back in 2013 as a part of the Redstone Update. They landed alongside all kinds of nifty redstone tools, like comparators, weighted pressure plates, daylight sensors, beacons, jukeboxes, and the similarly-named hoppers.

The dropper only does one thing, but it does it exceptionally well. It drops whatever’s inside when you give it a redstone signal. Given that you can point it in any direction, though, you might be wondering what makes it different from a dispenser.

The answer is that dispensers shoot some items (fireworks, arrows, fire charges), place others (water source blocks, boats) and use yet others (TNT, bonemeal, armour). Droppers? They just drop them. Put bonemeal in a dropper and it won’t be applied to a nearby plant, it’ll just fall onto the ground.

When might that be useful? Well, let’s say you want to make a redstone system that automatically refills your stash of arrows when heading out on an exploration trip. If you hooked up a dispenser to a pressure plate, that dispenser would shoot the arrows at you. With a dropper, the arrows would just land gently in your inventory.

There are a few subtleties around droppers that are useful to know. First, it has nine slots of inventory space – right-click one to open it and fill it to your heart’s content. Second, a dropper will only drop one item when activated – if you want it to drop multiple items, you’ll need to hook up some sort of pulsing circuit.

Finally, and possibly most usefully, a dropper pointed at an object with an inventory will put the item in that inventory when activated. That means you can chain them into a pipe that will even flow upward. Very useful for moving things around multifloored bases.

What’s the best dropper-related build you’ve made? Send us your stories at @minecraft on Twitter!

Written By
Duncan Geere