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The Copper Bulb Controversy

Posted: Jan 16, 2024 in Minecraft

mc head By Nathan Young

It seems there is no end to the controversy surrounding Minecraft updates. With almost every new update comes heated discussion over all the details. Which mob will win the mob vote? What’s the theme of the update? Will they finally add another boss battle? When will they rework the End? This and so much more. But never did I think we would be arguing over a single block. Recently, some changes were made to the Copper Bulb, and the Redstone community is perplexed by the changes. Let’s see why…

The Copper Bulb

First, it would probably be best to understand what the Copper Bulb even is. The Copper Bulb is a new block that is slated to release in Minecraft’s update 1.21. It is a light-emitting block, and it can toggle on or off when it receives a redstone pulse. It does not need continuous power to emit light, and it has an interesting mechanic where the light level depends on its state of oxidation. Anyway, the really interesting stuff is the Redstone compatibility with the Copper Bulb. A comparator can read the state of the bulb and emits a signal strength of 15 if the bulb is lit, regardless of oxidation. If the bulb is unlit, the comparator does not emit any power. This allows the comparator and the bulb combination to act as a compact T flip-flop. So, what’s the problem?

Copper Bulb Minecraft

Snapshot 23w46a

Minecraft Snapshot 23w46a

The latest snapshot for 1.21, 23w46a, brought about a change to redstone behavior surrounding the Copper Bulb. They tweaked the tick delay behavior of the crafter and copper bulb in a way that negatively impacted their utility in Redstone. Basically, before this snapshot, (in 23w45a) crafters and bulbs could be used 20 times a second. This is because Mojang had implemented them in a way that had them updating once per tick.

Most Redstone contraptions update once every two or three ticks, so having a block that can update more often, down to the individual tick no less, was incredibly helpful. Unfortunately, Mojang felt the need to remove this functionality to make the crafter and copper bulb more in line with other Redstone contraptions. So, how did this happen? Well, this all stems from a false bug report that was made on the Mojang bug tracker. It said that crafters shouldn’t be able to craft every game tick because it isn’t consistent with dispensers and droppers. But this doesn’t make any sense, as crafters/bulbs never had any consistency with droppers and dispensers. There was never any status quo that was deviated from, they simply started out as they were, updating once per tick. Furthermore, they interact with redstone circuitry differently than dispensers and droppers.

Minecraft One Game Tick Cooldown Bug

All around, this bug report is not based on anything, and there was no need for consistency. Now, although I believe that Mojang shouldn’t have accepted this false bug report, I can understand the mistake. Unfortunately, this means no more game tick accurate machines, no super fast machinery, and no more interesting uses for the bulb or crafters beyond their basic functionality. The hard truth is that people liked these new blocks because they were inconsistent with the typical redstone blocks, and so their defining characteristics were removed.


We can only hope that Mojang will change the Copper Bulb (and the Crafter) back to how they were before snapshot 23w46a. It may be difficult to understand all of the specifics as to why the most recent changes are bad, but I hope I’ve given you enough insight into the discussion, and why the Redstone community is disappointed. All in all, this situation teaches a lesson: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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