Cutter John wrote:
The nice thing about pistons and redstone is its reusable. I'm sure you'll come up with a more streamlined model with a little practice Ben.
Well, I had forgotten that you can power adjacent blocks by alternating repeaters and normal redstone wires in parallel, which greatly simplified how the pistons themselves were powered. I also figured out how I got the stair thing to work, which is interesting as it's like as if my unconscious mind knew it would work and told my conscious mind to do it without explaining how it works.
The thing that takes up the most room is a T flip-flop which allows a single button (technically two buttons on the same input line) to turn it on and off. I checked the Minecraft wiki and there are smaller T flip-flops, but they're based on precise timing using repeaters and they're more likely to break over time. I decided to build the big reliable one instead. So there's definitely room for further optimisation, but I'm happy enough with where it's at right now.