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I tried to trigger a powered minecart with dispenser and hopper, but no luck.

How can I give coal to it with a push of a button?

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Minecarts with furnaces do not have an actual inventory, powering them is limited to "using" the cart while holding coal. It seems that the general rule is that anything that is operated like that (buttons, levers, picture frames, etc) is unaffected by redstone. Between this and the fact that neither the wiki nor any other source on minecarts with furnaces mentions powering them with redstone, it does not seem like there is currently a way to start them using redstone.

  • Instead you should use powered rails. – angussidney Dec 14 '15 at 10:03
  • Too bad, so they are really that useless – Laszlo Dec 14 '15 at 13:19
  • @TussLászló Based on their update history, they seem to be something that got made before redstone become popular and haven't gotten any love for awhile. – IllusiveBrian Dec 14 '15 at 16:02
  • ^ I actually remember the time where they were quite handy to get your stuff out of your mine, when your inventory was filled and you did not want to run twice or more. – Marv Dec 15 '15 at 13:41

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