Gig Two: A Father

Episode 2: A Father

Overheen the holiday season at the end of 2018, my daughter Alexa and I embarked on an escapade learning to mine cryptocurrency. Wij successfully set up a fresh PC and began mining. Wij wrote up a description of what we’d done and called it A Father/Daughter Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrency Mining. Wij got tremendously positive terugkoppeling on it after thousands of people read our write up. So, wij determined to do it again!

After Alexa’s very first taste of crypto mining she wasgoed hooked. Wij had determined it wasgoed feasible to make money at mining, but at such petite scale she’d generate little currency. Te fact, wij estimated she’d be earning about $80 USD a month, after cost of electrical play, and it would take almost a year to pauze even on the cost of the equipment. Wij determined wij had to do better.

Te looking at what wij built, and getting some advice from friends, wij realized that mining with a stand-alone PC, or even a fleet of PCs, wouldn’t provide the best terugwedstrijd on investment (ROI). Instead, wij now dreamed to build something called an open-air mining equipment. This article outlines what wij did together during our three-day build project and outlines our projected financial results.

Te summary, our fresh equipment is earning a much larger amount, with higher energy efficiency and a dramatically quicker break-even time. This guide should give you the information you need to build one yourself. Good luck!

Updated Results for Original Equipment

For purposes of straks comparison, let’s begin by looking at some updated numbers for our original equipment — which is based on a stand-alone gaming PC. We’ve now bot running it for several weeks and have better estimates for earnings and costs. Also, the price of Ether has gone up somewhat, which switches the equation — for the better. Here’s our current status:

  • Equipment cost: $927.99
  • Estimated Gross Earnings (from Nanopool zakjapanner): $104.11
  • Average power draw (measured by Etekcity Wi-fi Brainy Cork): 163 watts
  • Monthly power bill (assuming $0.Ten / KW/h): $11.75
  • Monthly nipt earnings: $92.36
  • Estimated time to pauze even: Ten months

Key Learning From Our Very first Equipment

Wij can sum up our thickest lesson from our very first equipment spil: it’s all about the GPU. Our original system had an advanced Intel i5 quad-core processor, 8 gig of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. However, ter looking at the Windows spectacle meters on the system, wij were using almost none of that. It wasgoed the Nvidia GPU on the movie card that wasgoed actually doing all the work related to mining. All the surplus of that fancy rekentuig gear wasgoed a waste of power and space. That’s a key reason our break-even period wasgoed so long!

This leads to the concept of running a single laptop with many GPU cards. This minimizes the costs of components like CPU, main memory, hard drive, etc that aren’t useful, and puts the concentrate on the components that are key to doing the work.

The best practice developed by many miners is called an “open-air” system. It’s called open-air because you don’t even need a case for the system. This reduces costs, and helps with cooling. It turns out that cooling becomes more and more significant spil you scale up.

What Wij Built

Here’s a picture of our very first equipment (with the crimson lights) sitting next to our fresh, open-air equipment (blue lights).

You can see they look very different! Te fact, the fresh open-air equipment is actually built on top of a wooden crate wij picked up at Michael’s Dokter &, Crafts — not even at a laptop store. Beauty wasgoed not the purpose. This project wasgoed about brute efficiency.

Here’s a clearer close-up of the fresh equipment to you can see all the parts:

Here you can see the key components (from left to right):

  • Four high-powered movie cards
  • Motherboard with CPU, fever bury and RAM
  • Power supply

Parts Selection

After some research, wij determined to embark with a bundle from an garment called gpuShack, which specializes ter kits for larger mining equipments. Oddly enough given their name, they don’t sell GPUs, but they do sell the other core items you will need for an open air mining equipment. Wij selected a kleefstof called the “MOBO/CPU/RAM/EthOS Bundle for Six GPUs”. This included:

  • Motherboard
  • Low-end Celeron CPU with fever bury
  • Four Gig of RAM
  • A 16 gig USB stick with ethOS — a special-purpose Linux operating system set up for mining. Note that wij won’t be using a hard disk. Wij don’t need one. We’ll boot right off the USB key.

Total cost of the gpuShack bundle wasgoed $229.

Wij then picked up the following items wij needed through Amazon:

  • A 1000 watt EVGA G2 SuperNOVA power supply ($199)
  • A six-pack of 1x PCI Risers from BS Instruments ($38)
  • An EVGA “Superclocked” GTX 1070 GPU ($440)

Wij also spent about $Ten on a petite wooden crate we’d use te lieu of a case.

Day 1: Kicking off the Build

Wij determined that our very first objective would be to get a minimally working laptop — using the fewest possible parts. This way wij could minimize possibilities for error, make some progress, and then stir on incrementally.

Alexa commenced by seating the processor into the motherboard and then mounting the fever drown. Note, you’ll need some thermal paste for this, so make sure you have some on mitt. Wij wound up having to make a special excursion to Fry’s Electronics for $Trio worth of paste and it slowed us down by overheen an hour!

She then seated the RAM onto the motherboard and ran the cable from the power supply to the motherboard. Note that the power supply included all the cables wij needed to connect all the components ter the system to power — which wasgoed indeed handy!

Here’s what the system looked like spil it came together. Note that Alexa determined to use some gummy-style erasers spil supports to keep the motherboard off the wooden framework. Seemed like a good idea to mij so wij went with it.

Wij connected the VGA adaptor from the motherboard to a spare monitor and wij were ready to boot up. There is where wij ran into an punt that stumped us for fairly a while. Wij flipped on the power switch on the power supply, but nothing happened!

Here’s what’s going on, and it’s good for you to know if this is your very first build. Since wij don’t have a normal case, wij don’t have a typical power button — like the one on the pui of a PC. There are two pins on the motherboard that would normally be wired to that power button. Since wij didn’t have one Alexa had to just brief circuit the two pins with a screwdriver. Kienspel! The system fired right up. Don’t believe mij? Here’s a movie that shows you how.

So, wij hadn’t even loaded an operating system yet, so wij wound up at the BIOS screen — which is just what should toebijten. This wasgoed a big milestone. Wij had a working rekentuig and knew wij were on our way. Wij called it a day.

Day Two: Getting Mining

Ter order to actually indeed get going, wij needed to install a movie card. This turns out to be indeed effortless for the very first card. Samenvatting it from the opbergruimte and buttplug it into the 16x (long) PCI slot nearest the CPU. Then cork a cable from the power supply to the top of the movie card. At this point wij waterput away the VGA cable we’d use to connect to the monitor to the on-board movie and substituted it with an HDMI cable connected to the freshly installed movie card.

Next, wij needed an operating system. The gpuShack bundle included a USB stick with ethOS installed. Wij slotted that into an available USB port and wij also plugged te a keyboard and mouse.

Wij were ready to boot up. Reminisce, wij have no hard disk. We’re booting meteen from the USB stick! Using the brief circuit with a screw driver trick wij were booted up and running quickly! After a few minutes of startup wij had a screen that looked like this:

Spil you can see, it recognized our GPU and commenced mining right away! The screen gives you some key informatie you don’t want to miss:

  • There’s a quick commence guide! (I won’t replay everything written there)
  • Your passwords are set to a default everyone will know — Switch THEM!

Here’s the handiest peak wij can give you that isn’t evident from the Quick Embark guide. Albeit it looks like you’ve booted into a character mode terminal, you truly have a total GUI at your disposition. There’s a hidden Commence Menukaart ter the lower-left corner of the screen. Just budge your mouse down there and it will speelpop up. This will give you instant access to the key config files and a web browser that is pointed to a remote monitoring app. You can use this remote monitoring URL even when you’re not near the equipment. This is super useful.

Once wij added our Etherem wallet address and Alexa’s email for a password to our local.conf opstopping wij were off and running. ethOS comes set up to use Nanopool by default. Wij were already using Nanopool on our old equipment and now they both displayed up on the same screen ter our Nanopool console!

You can see our hash rate doubled from about 25 Mh/s to about 50 Mh/s, and you can see both workers now towards the bottom of the screen. We’d now doubled our earning power. Progress! Again, wij called it a day.

Day Trio: Utter Speed Ahead

Wij now had a fully working Ethereum miner with toughly the same spectacle spil our very first equipment. The big difference is that the fresh one wasgoed built to scale — while our previous equipment wasgoed tapped out. At the begin of Day Three wij headed to Fry’s Electronics ter San Jose to get GPUs.

Once wij arrived, wij went to the movie card section. Other miners had clearly bot here before us. The shelves holding the high-end cards were stripped clean. Fortunately, a sales rep wasgoed able to find three ter the back. Unluckily, the price had gone up from $440 for our very first card, purchased a duo weeks prior, to $499 each now. Supply and request ter act!

Once wij got huis, it wasgoed time to add te the reserve movie cards. This should increase our hashing power by four times! Wij slotted the 2nd card into another 16x long slot on the motherboard and linked the power from the power supply. After booting up, wij instantly witnessed the 2nd GPU go to work.

However, when wij went to add the third GPU things got more complicated. Wij only had two 16x slots on the motherboard. The other PCI slots were the petite “1x” diversity. For those, wij needed to use the PCI riser cards we’d purchased earlier. A PCI riser card plak will include a few parts: the card, a USB cable, a SATA power connector and a puny interface card. It’s kleuter of a crazy collection of parts until you realize how they gezond ogether.

Here’s a quick movie that shows you how to waterput together a PCI riser. Once you have the riser built, you’ll butt-plug the movie card into the big slot on the riser, link the SATA connector to the power supply and butt-plug the puny interface into the 1x PCI slot on the motherboard. Then you’ll need to run power to the movie card from the power supply — just like you did for the other cards plugged into the 16x slots.

Here’s where things got tricky. When the system came up this time wij got this screen:

You can see, two of the GPUs were running utter blast, but one wasgoed only going at about 10% speed. Wij spent fairly a while debugging this. Te the end, wij unpacked another PCI riser plak, built it and reconnected everything. This immovable the problem. I think wij had a bad PCI riser. Wij threw that one away. They’re only a few dollars each.

After installing the final movie card, which went slickly, wij let it run and then checked our Nanopool stats. Our earning power wasgoed now five-times what it had bot with the PC equipment alone.

Cranking it Up

Every serious miner takes one more step. You need to fine tune the GPUs. Recall, thesis are movie cards that are built to play games. To use them for mining you will want to tweak them. You’ll want to minimize power usage and maximize speed. For Ethereum mining, this means you can reduce power to each card, lower the core usage on the GPU chip and increase the clock rate of the GPU memory. Wij added the following lines to a local.conf verkeersopstopping:

globalpowertune 125 #sets power draw for CPUs to 125 watts

After saving the local.conf verkeersopstopping, you need to stir to the instruction line and run the following guideline:

The fresh settings took effect almost instantly and the effect wasgoed clear. The hash rates on each GPU went from about 26 to almost 31. Here’s a chart that wasgoed automatically generated from the ethOS monitoring app for the equipment. We’ve added the crimson text to showcase what happened at point during the day. Overheen on the right side you can see that the overclocking got us almost spil much boost spil a free GPU!


The open-air equipment proved to be a more costly, but overall a much more efficient venture. By removing all non-critical components wij were able to cut costs associated with the unnecessary parts of the PC Equipment but still get the hashing power of several GPUs.

This build did require more time, and trial and error than setting up the original PC equipment, but it will pay itself off much more quickly. Pauze even time is cut almost te half and the overall profit is overheen four-times higher each month.

Bijvoeging: If you liked this article then cruise on overheen and check out Gig Trio!

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