Monday, June 20, 2016

On Bitcoin Mining 2

My first Bitcoin mining computer when I heard about Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining in 2014 was my PC and that is probably the case for many people when they hear about Bitcoin mining. But even in 2014 a personal computer was woefully inadequate as a Bitcoin miner and even expensive and powerful PC graphics cards were on the way out due to the rise of specialized Bitcoin mining computers known as ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits). These special mining computers could do so much more work and much faster than graphics cards or CPUs. But using my PC was just a way to see how the process worked. So I got an account at a mining pool called Bitminter and tried out their Bitcoin mining software and saw how hashing for Bitcoins worked, even at the very slow rate my computer graphics card offered. I was hooked.

Butterfly Labs Jalapeno My first credible Bitcoin miner was the Butterfly Labs BFL 10 GH/s ASIC miner. (GH/s is Giga hash per second or billions of hashes per second. Hashes are calculations.) It actually averaged about 11 GH/s. At the time it was $350. This was a very good entry-level USB miner and worked well with Bitminter's mining App. It does get a bit hot for its size and it is a little bit loud too but not too bad. Butterfly Labs is still selling these apparently and they can also be found on eBay for very little money. These are very good miners for hobbyists who want to see how Bitcoin mining works but there isn't much chance of making any profit. It's still a fun, low impact way to get into mining (meaning low impact on your electricity bill and not technically challenging). I actually wish I still had that first Bitcoin miner rather than selling it to reinvest in other equipment.

After using this for a couple weeks by itself, I decided I wanted to increase my hashing power. Because I was happy with the USB connectivity and the compatibility with Bitminter's App, I decided on getting a couple slightly used Butterfly Labs BFL Single SC 60 GH/s ASIC miners off of eBay. This increased my hashing power to about 120 GH/s. This increased hashing power increased the amount of Bitcoin I received. The only problem was that these miners were as loud as jet engines when they arrived. Loud and hot! There was not much chance my wife would put up with their noise in our condo for very long. I read some posts on forums online about how to deal with the noise and the heat that they produce and it was suggested to take the casing off the miners and let them work "naked". They were a little less loud like this because the inlet and outlet grills created much of the noise, but the cheap fans were also equally responsible for extra decibels. So I searched for quieter fans and found some. I swapped out the old fans with the new quieter ones and though the units ran a little hotter because the fans were slower, they were still within the safe operating temperature range of the miners. 

Summer was coming and the miners which added warmth to the house in the cool spring were adding a lot of unwanted heat as the hot days multiplied. I needed a way to get rid of the heat. What I did was to make a contraption using heating and cooling hose and other ducting accessories from Home Depot to vent the heat from the miners directly out a nearby window. Problem solved. I wish I had a picture of the setup for you but I didn't think I'd be posting about the subject in the future and didn't take any pictures of it.

Of course, I wasn't happy to stay static in terms of hashing power or equipment. I talk about my next miners in the next installment of On Bitcoin Mining.

(Some Black Arrow Prospero Bitcoin miners for sale here)

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