Monday, June 27, 2016

On Bitcoin Mining 3

Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Level Rising
Bitcoin mining is a nasty game. It involves heat. It involves dust. It involves sometimes VERY-difficult-to-figure-out mining software. It's a game that continuously gets harder to play for increasingly less reward. Every few weeks, the difficulty for solving a block changes - usually it gets harder, sometimes it gets easier before making an even bigger jump in difficulty. This increase in the difficulty of solving a block has the effect of pushing the little guys of the Bitcoin mining game out. It also has the effect of making little guys into big guys as they (stubbornly?) commit more resources to the project. 

So, in general, it constantly gets more difficult to solve a block (solving a block is what generates Bitcoins). This means that if you keep the same equipment that operates at the same electrical efficiency that it will take you 3 weeks to earn the same BTC that previously took you say 2 weeks before. So if Bitcoin mining is more than just a hobby, you need to upgrade your equipment every now and then. If you want to keep earning Bitcoin you must increase your hash rate. Now, because I live in a townhouse/condo, noise is an issue for me. I don't have too many empty unused areas where I can put a Bitcoin miner and not have to hear its constant droning. As such, I can't go "all in" getting the best Bitcoin miners out there because those top of the line ASICs are noisy and heat producing and not at all "home friendly". 

Rockminer R-Box 32-37 GH ASIC miner
With noise in mind, my next miner, while still having the 2 BFL 60's was to get the Rockminer R-Box 32-37 GH ASIC miner. I loved this miner! Two or three houseflies would be louder than this miner. It was (and is) quiet and small and put out a tiny amount of heat compared to the BFL 60's. The wattage was also fairly low being between 40 and 50 watts, I think. I soon sold both of the Butterfly Labs 60's (at a loss) and bought another Rockminer. This is a great entry-level miner and at the moment they are dirt cheap on e-Bay.

Unfortunately, with these two Rockminers my total Giga hashes were now lower than before and my rate of earning Bitcoin pretty much halved - that and the difficulty is always increasing. Having these two quiet miners was Heaven compared to those loud and hot BFLs so you would think I would have doubled down on just these great little miners. Maybe I should have, but that isn't what happened. 

In my dealing with the Rockminer company I became aware that they had another miner that produced 110 GH/s at better efficiency. The New R-Box 2.0 miner is 3 times faster than the "old" R-Box, at a more cost-effective price (ie., the watts used per GH is better). More GH and more Bitcoin with less heat and less electric use per work done made buying these units a done deal for me. Add to that a few people online said they were quiet too. I ordered one to try it out.

It was not very quiet. Quieter than a lot of miners, yes, but noisy enough for a condo. Following my earlier experience with the two BFL Singles, I decided to swap out the two original internal cooling fans for two quieter fans. The fans were indeed quieter but also a little slower which meant that the unit ran a little hotter than when I got it but well within the safe operating temperature range (maybe 10 degrees C warmer). Now I had a 110 GH miner which ran pretty quietly and with just moderate heat output into the room. That heat output was appreciated anyway since it was winter and the heat added to the warmth of the house. Win-win.

So with my new favorite miner installed I moved to sell (reluctantly, but I had to get the funds for the new miners) my first BFL 10 GH miner and the two slower Rockminer 32 GH miners and replace them with however many of these Rockminer R-Box 2's as I could afford. Over the next couple of months I built up to six of them.

I set up two stacks of three each on top of our unused gas fireplace in the living room and they warmed up the place for the rest of the winter as well as providing about 650 GH/s. The electrical usage of this setup, including power supply and a small laptop running 24/7 computer was probably 800 watts or so. 

All was well until spring and the warmer temperatures outside became more frequent. Find out what happened then in the next installment of On Bitcoin Mining...

(Some Black Arrow Prospero Bitcoin miners for sale here)

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