RPi Minecraft Cannon


Using Minecraft’s API and the Python programming language, spawn a cannon that’s orientation and launch trajectory can be adjusted in real time.

What You Will Learn:

  • Introduction to Github

What is GitHub?

GitHub is an online repository that offers version control.  It is most often used for computer code and interacted with using a command line tool called git.

Getting Started:

Open a terminal either using the icon or the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+t.

When opening the terminal like this we are placed in the home directory.  In RPi: Minecraft + Python Introduction we created a directory named code in the home directory.  We will now navigate into that directory using cd (change directory). Enter the following into the terminal.

cd code

You may have noticed that the prompt that was previously

pi@raspberrypi:~ $

Has now become

pi@raspberrypi:~/code $

It is informing you of the directory you are currently in, also known as the current working directory.  Remember that ~ (tilde) refers to the home directory.


Now that we are in our code directory, lets use git to download the cannon code from this GitHub repository

git clone https://github.com/martinohanlon/minecraft-cannon.git

Now the code has been cloned from the specified github repository into the current working directory.  Lets inspect ours with the ls (lists all files and directories)


You should notice that a new directory “minecraft-cannon” has been created.  Lets navigate into the directory using cd and then inspect the contents using ls

cd minecraft-code


There are several files and directories here, feel free to explore them using cd.  

Note that,

cd ..

will move your current working directory “up” one or backwards into the directory containing the current directory.

At this point we need to launch Minecraft and get into a game.

Once Minecraft is open, click Start Game then join a preexisting world or Create New.  

Back in the terminal we want Python to execute the “minecraft-cannon.py”.  If you left the directory we downloaded with git you can get back there with the following

cd ~/code/minecraft-cannon


python minecraft-cannon.py

this instructs the Raspberry Pi to use Python to run the “minecraft-cannon.py” file.

Your prompt in the terminal should have changed to

Stuffaboutcode.com Cannon >>

You can now use the following list of special commands to create, aim and fire a cannon in the running Minecraft game.

  • start
  • rotate [0-360]
  • tilt [0-90]
  • fire
  • exit

Start  spawns a cannon, exit an active cannon.  Using start multiple times in a row will construct multiple cannons however only the most recently made cannon can be controlled with the other commands.  You do not need to include the square brackets when typing the commands. 

Whats Next?

  • RPi: Minecraft Clock
  • RPi: Minecraft Snake

Article adapted from source

RPi Minecraft + Python Introduction


Interact with Minecraft using the Python programming language and Minecraft’s application programming interface(API).

What You Will Learn:

  • Basic Python Programming
  • Use of the Minecraft API

What is an API?

To put it simply an API is a well defined method of interacting with some kind of software.  Think of it like the rules to a game, the rules dictate how the game is played and how you are able to interact with the game state.

What is Python?

Python is an interpreted programming language that is designed to be easy to learn and easy to use.  Python has many available libraries for the Raspberry Pi and is a very useful tool on the platform. Keep in mind that python uses white space (spaces, tabs, etc) to format and organize it’s instructions, take close care when typing to avoid these sometimes unobvious mistakes.

Getting Started:

Open a terminal either clicking the icon on the top bar or using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+ALT+t.

We are going to make a folder to store help organize the code we will be writing.  Enter the following into a terminal

mkdir ~/code

The mkdir command creates a new directory at the specified location, in this case “~/code”.

The “code” directory is created at the “~/” location ~ or tilde is a shortcut for the home directory.  We can verify the success of the command by entering


In the terminal (this command lists all files and directories), or using a file explorer.

Next, open Thonny Python IDE by navigating to the Raspberry Pi icon in the upper left side of the desktop, click on Programming  and look at the bottom of the list for Thonny Python IDE.

Click on File and select New.

Click on File and Save As “minecraft_python.py” in the code folder we created earlier(/home/pi/code).

Now we are ready to start programming in Python.

Into your empty Python file type

import mcpi.minecraft as minecraft
import mcpi.block as block
from time import sleep

The “import” keyword load a specific code module.  The “as” keyword allows you to rename a code module to something else.  The “from” keyword allows you to load a submodule as it’s own module.

Currently this python program does nothing exciting however lets learn how to execute the program. You can either use they keyboard shortcut F5 or click on the green play icon.

After program execution the shell at the bottom of the window should have some lines of text appear, however nothing should else should happen.

Now type the following into your program

mc = minecraft.Minecraft.create()

mc.postToChat("Hello, world!")

The first line creates an object that is connected to running an instance of Minecraft.  Setting it equal to mc lets us access the Minecraft game using mc within the code. The second line uses the mc object and a method “postToChat” to send text to the games chat.  The third line delays the program for the specified number of seconds, in this case 5 seconds.

Before running the code this time, we need to open Minecraft and enter a new world.  Click on the Raspberry Pi icon in the upper left, click on Games and then Minecraft Pi.

Once Minecraft is open, click Start Game then join a preexisting world or Create New.  

Using the tab key to free your mouse from the Minecraft window, run the code and switch back to the Minecraft window.  “Hello, world!” should appear in the chat.

Going back to the code, type in the following

playerPos = mc.player.getPos()
mc.player.setPos(playerPos.x, playerPos.y + 50, playerPos.z)
mc.postToChat("Don’t look down!")

The position of the players head is stored in the playerPos object.  The players new position is then set relative to the previous position (In Minecraft you stand on the XZ plane with the Y axis being vertical).


Running this code will in addition to the previous action of sending text to the chat but then teleport the player 50 blocks vertically of their current position.


It is ideal to type in code whenever possible as it helps with learning however this next section is rather large and copy-paste will make quick work.

playerTilePos = mc.player.getTilePos()
blockBelowPlayerType = mc.getBlock(playerTilePos.x, playerTilePos.y - 1, playerTilePos.z)
mc.setBlock(playerTilePos.x + 1, playerTilePos.y + 1, playerTilePos.z, blockBelowPlayerType)
mc.setBlock(playerTilePos.x, playerTilePos.y + 1, playerTilePos.z + 1, blockBelowPlayerType)
mc.setBlock(playerTilePos.x - 1, playerTilePos.y + 1, playerTilePos.z, blockBelowPlayerType)
mc.setBlock(playerTilePos.x, playerTilePos.y + 1, playerTilePos.z - 1, blockBelowPlayerType)
mc.postToChat("Trapped you")

mc.setBlock(playerTilePos.x + 1, playerTilePos.y + 1, playerTilePos.z, block.AIR)
mc.postToChat("Be free!")

Notice that a different method is called to identify the position of the tile the player is standing in.  The setBlock method allows a single block specified with an (X,Y,Z) coordinate and a block

After running the code try to look back and see if you can identify what each line is doing.

Now add the following to your code.

mc.setBlocks(playerTilePos.x - 25, playerTilePos.y - 1, playerTilePos.z - 25, playerTilePos.x + 25, playerTilePos.y - 1, playerTilePos.z + 25, block.DIAMOND_BLOCK)
mc.postToChat("Now that's a big diamond floor!")

Notice that the setBlocks method unlike the setBlock method can take a range of X, Y, and Z coordinates.

Running the code this time in addition to the previous actions will change the blocks in a 50 x 50 x 1 shape 1 block beneath the players feet.

Whats Next?

  • Modify the code, move the player in different directions.  
  • Add additional blocks to the trap.
  • Try changing DIAMOND_BLOCK to another block type, a list of the block types can be found in the API documentation, about halfway down the page
  • Inspect the API documentation to see how else you can interact with Minecraft using Python

Article and code adapted from source

RPi Minecraft + Networking

In this activity students will learn about networking on the Raspberry Pi using a popular pre installed game called Minecraft.

I use this opportunity to speak about the human networking that happens when a team of individuals work together. Minecraft is known as a sandbox game where blocks can be created or destroyed.   Many students have played Minecraft in a way that players attack each other known as player vs player, or PVP. Establish that this is not the kind of environment that is being created.  Students will work together to build something cool.

Establishing a level of experience with Minecraft is a good way to start.  I like to group advanced users with each other and beginning users together.  Each group needs to brainstorm, plan and build something in a specified amount of time.  I usually give students between 15 and 30 minutes and encourage them to stretch to collaborate.   Groups can range in size from 2 – 5 players.  One student will “host” the world on their device and will need to identify their I.P address to share with partner players.

Immediately upon opening up Minecraft students given an option to join game or create a new world.  If they create a world, it exists on their pi, if they join a world they need to know who’s world they are joining.  This becomes a process of students calling out and identifying who’s pi is at which IP address.  The IP address can be found by hovering over the Wifi signal in the upper right corner of the screen.

Students who have never used Minecraft will need assistance learning to move within the world, to place a block and to change their inventory.  These students should focus on building something very simple.  Advanced students might build a castle or a huge underground maze.  At the end of the build time, join into the world on your Pi and let one of the students from each group share what they created.

If students wish to save the world they are working on, they will need to navigate to the .minecraft folder from and drill down to the folder of the world they were playing in.  The following video goes over how to do this.

RPi Sense HAT+Minecraft

The Sense HAT was developed by the folks at Raspberry Pi as an add on board that contains a number of sensors and a LED display. In this lesson we can demonstrate how to use the Sense HAT in conjunction with Minecraft to visualize real world data and control the LED Screen.

I use this lesson primarily to get students excited about the connection between a sensor and the way that we can visualize data through Minecraft.  This worksheet from the folks at the Raspberry Pi foundation is an excellent resource. In the latter portions of the lesson it goes into methods of collecting data from the Sense HAT and displaying it within the Minecraft world.


Follow along with the Sense HAT installation and the first several worksheets of this project.

4. Github Intro

Github is known as a repository for cool programs that can be used in all sorts of ways on your Pi. In this lesson we will learn how to install programs from Github using the terminal.

First lets install a program that can do screen captures. Something that is handy when students have created something amazing in their Minecraft world.

Lets follow the instructions for taking screenshots provided by Martin O’Hanlon.


Here is a video going through the process.

Students will be really excited when they learn to download programs that can run within their Minecraft world. Lets go back to Martin’s API tutorial and have students select one of the first three items, clock, cannon, or snake video game.


In each of these examples, there is a section of code that should be copied into the terminal. When enter is pressed on the keyboard, a bunch of code will appear and a new program file will be placed in the home directory on the Pi

Have students navigate to the file folder and open the file with the .py extension by right clicking on the file and selecting open with python 2 from the drop down menu.  If the program is run while Minecraft is open it will place an exciting new feature in the Minecraft world. This will hopefully trigger a desire to try downloading other python programs to modify their Minecraft worlds.