To reproduce this problem make layout like this and then power the piston. Once the piston is extended, removing the power source will not retract it:

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Since piston head block is transparent, I see no explanation for this. Also, even if it wasn't transparent, it still wouldn't power a piston. For example this doesn't power the piston:

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But if I place redstone and THEN place the piston, it's powered:

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It also remains powered no matter what, as long as there isn't a block update event:

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I suppose this behavior can be used to make a block update detector, but in my case this sucks. I wanted such setup for automatic smooth stone generator (without any clocks):

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But due to this bug, it won't work - the piston will be always extended.

  • You are not powering the air block, you are powering the granite block below your redstone dust.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 8:25
  • But that block isn't directly adjacent to the piston. Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 15:22
  • But at that point, @ModDL's answer becomes valid. The block is diagonally powering the piston, creating a BUD.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


While @ModDL gave a brief answer, I'd like to give an extended explanation of what exactly the issue is.

Normally, to power a redstone active block, such as a dispenser or a piston, you need to either power it directly, or power one of the 6 adjacent blocks.

Piston Quasi-connectivity

For pistons, there is another rule: They also activate if the block directly above them (whether there is anything there or not) would get activated. This is called "Quasi-connectivity" (QC). While it most likely started out as a bug, it officially "works as intended" according to the bugtracker. This is because it is useful in building complex redstone machinery as a block update detector (BUD)1).

While this rule itself is fairly straightforward, and can be worked around if needed, it actually gets very strange when you look at powered blocks2).

QC and block update detectors

Most redstone components update every block two blocks away. Button-like components update 1 block from the block they are in, and from the block they are on. This means that, normally, QC is just another activation rule to consider, since there is no way to place these components such that they do not update pistons they are quasi-connected to.

Now, powered blocks only update adjacent blocks, which leads directly to your problem. The pistons still follow QC activation rules, i.e. if the powered block powers the block above the piston, the piston is powered. However, since the powered block only updates adjacent blocks, the piston does not know it's being powered, because nothing told it to check if that is the case.

This makes QC pistons ideal for use in BUD switches.

QC in your example

In your examples, the redstone wire powers the granite block below it, which powers the air block above the piston, causing it to extend. Placing the piston causes it to check for power, which is why it extends in the first place. However, removing that power does not update the piston.

In the final setup, if there is a block on the sticky piston, the repeater powers it, making it power the block below it, which activates the piston.

1) There are other methods of creating BUDs, but afaik, piston QC was used in the early days of BUD systems, and is presumably kept for legacy reasons/diversity.

2) A powered block is a solid block that receives redstone power from somewhere, such as active redstone wire pointing into it (or on top of it), levers or buttons on the block, comparators or repeaters pointing into it, a torch below it, etc. Basically, if you place a repeater pointing out of the block an it lights up, that block is powered.

  • Is there actually any fix for my design? The only thing I could think of was using daylight sensor (which works). Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 20:11
  • @TomášZato you could move the piston upwards by one block and extract towards the top. Not sure where you'd put the lava in this case.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 9:13

The piston act this way due to a minecraft feature called the BUD, or block update detector. When some blocks have a powered block diagonal or above it Figure 1, they will become powered when its updated and will stay powered even if the power on these blocks are removed and will only unpower if the positions are unpowered and the powered block is updated.

Figure 1

_ Air
M Machine
P Powered Block


If any of the Powered block is powered, the machine will be a bud. This is rotatable along the y axis.

  • Can you provide any sources indicating that it's really an intentional feature? Also are there any workarounds for my specific mechanism? Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 15:23
  • @TomášZato I believe it was a bug at first, but it "works as intended" because it is useful.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 15:27
  • I don't think a bugs should become features in a way that's confusing. And block update event is effectively invading game mechanics although it shouldn't. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 20:04

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