About three weeks ago I finally told myself “Ugh, what the heck, let’s buy a bitcoin! I want one just to have one.”. I had looking into buying many times before, even before the rush to $1000, then in the subsequent drop and finally bought after the “crash” resulting in Ghash.io having over 50% of the hashrate. The main reason I hadn’t bought any before is that it’s a hassle for a non-american to set up accounts with Exchanges to buy into it, you need all sorts of address and identity verification which is a bit of a turn-off. However, kraken.com allows you to transfer a modest amount of money without sending in copies of bank-statements and passwords so I transferred the money for 1 bitcoin to them. By the time the money was there the price had dropped by about 10% so I bought slighly over 1.1 bitcoin. Now, having 1.1 bitcoin is obviously annoying, so what should I use the 0.1 bitcoin on to satisfy my OCD? Spending it on other coins seemed like a good idea! I bought ~2 Litecoin and ~ 100k dogecoin. Dogecoin is the most fun cryptocurrency and, I later found out, one of the easiest to mine! Mining bitcoin and even the second-largest cryptocurrency Litecoin hasn’t really been that profitable for anyone who don’t have the money to turn it really big-scale. Without going into too much explanation of the whole thing, mining requires a lot of computational power, and the difficulty constantly increases. Buying a piece of hardware that might profitably mine today, could be unprofitable in just a month because the cost of power might be higher than you can actually mine with that piece of hardware when the difficulty has increased. So in order to make a profit you need to make sure you have a return on investment (ROI) within that month of profitability, so you need to be able to mine very quickly during that time. Dogecoin has the benefit of being very small and obscure and so not a lot of people are mining it. It also has the benefit of being worth very little per coin, making it more fun to mine! It’s more fun to mine and get 5000 coins per day than to mine and get 0.000001 coins per day, even if the value is the same. So I mined Dogecoin on my computer for a day or so to get a bit deeper knowledge on the subject and then found a guy who had built a rig out of 3 of these GAW Fury ASIC miners. I promply looked into that whole thing and it turns out ASICs are the way to go. ASIC is Application Specific Integrated Circuit. Think of it as a computer that is purpose-built for the task of mining scrypt-based coins (the underlying cryptographic algorithm for coins such as Dogecoin and Litecoin, Bitcoin is SHA-based, which is a completely different thing). This little computer can mine coins like no regular computer can, but that’s the only thing it can do, ask it to add 2 + 2 and it won’t be able to give you an answer. This piece of hardware has a USB cable that you can plug in to any computer to control it. It’s like a printer, for cryptocurrencies. You can’t print something if the printer isn’t connected to a computer. So to make use of an ASIC you need to plug it in to something. My personal computer is a laptop, and I switch it around a lot, I’m not always by my desk. So here enters the fun! What do I connect it to if I don’t want it always connected to my laptop? A Raspberry Pi of course!
This is a tiny little computer that has 2 USB ports, an HDMI port, network port, uses an SD memory card as hard drive and is powered by a USB cable. It basically runs a full linux distribution like any other computer and is the perfect candidate for controlling the Fury. I love electronics and I had almost forgotten how much I love doodling with this stuff. It was a really long time ago I had this kind of “low-level” project, and it’s fantastically fun. Today I received my own GAW Fury miner and I promptly hooked it up and started mining for some Dogecoin!
As the picture above shows, I’m getting 1.3MH/s with the Fury. That means 1.3 million hashes (calculations) per second. The CPU of my laptop for comparison created 10,000 hashes per second. So about 130 times more powerful that my laptop. (You wouldn’t really mine on a PC with a CPU though, it is much more efficient to use a GPU.) With this little setup I am making about 5000 dogecoin per day, which is about 2 bucks a day. Just paying back the investment cost will take me something like 3 months, and taking difficulty increase into account, it is unlikely that I will ever make my money back, but it’s so fun to learn about all of this stuff and digging into the whole sphere that I would be willing to pay double the price and still not expect a return!