In days of yore, one could mine Bitcoin without much more than an AMD graphics card. Now, without specialized hardware it’s unlikely that you’ll make any appreciable headway in the bitcoin world. This latest project, however, goes completely in the other direction: [Ken] programmed a 55-year-old IBM mainframe to mine Bitcoin. Note that this is technically the most powerful rig ever made… if you consider the power usage per hash.
Engineering wordplay aside, the project is really quite fascinating. [Ken] goes into great detail about how Bitcoin mining actually works, how to program an assembly program for an IBM 1401 via punch cards, and even a section about networking a computer from this era. (Bonus points if he can get retro.hackaday.com to load!) The IBM boasts some impressive stats for the era as well: It can store up to 16,000 characters in memory and uses binary-coded decimal. All great things if you are running financial software in the early ’60s or demonstrating Bitcoin in the mid-2010s!
If it wasn’t immediately obvious, this rig will probably never mine a block. At 80 seconds per hash, it would take longer than the lifetime of the universe to do, but it is quite a feat of computer science to demonstrate that it is technically possible. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen one of [Ken]’s mainframe projects, and hopefully there are more gems to come!
The DEFCON badge this year was an impressive piece of hardware, complete with mind-bending puzzles, cap sense buttons, LEDs, and of course a Parallax Propeller. [mike] thought a chip as cool as the Propeller should be put to better use than just sitting around until next year so he turned it into a Bitcoin miner, netting him an astonishing 40 hashes per second.
Mining Bitcoins on hardware that doesn’t have much processing power to begin with (at least compared to the FPGAs and ASIC miners commonly used) meant [mike] would have to find some interesting ways to compute the SHA256 hashes that mining requires. He turned to RetroMiner, the Bitcoin miner made for an original Nintendo. Like the NES miner, [mike] is offloading the communication with the Bitcoin network to a host computer, but all of the actual math is handled by a single core on the Propeller.
Saving one core for communication with the host computer, a DEFCON badge could conceivably manage 280 hashes/second, meaning the processing power of all the badges made for DEFCON is about equal to a seven-year-old graphics card.
After hearing about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin, [Eric] decided he would have a go at designing his own mining rig. The goals of the project were to have a self-contained and stackable mining rig that had all the parts easily accessible. The result is this awesome computer enclosure, where GPU mining and traditional woodworking collide.
For mining all those coins, [Eric] is using five R9 280x GPUs. That’s an impressive amount of processing power that ended up being too much for the 1500W power supply he initially planned to use. With a few tweaks, though, he’s managing about 2.8 Mh/s out of his rig, earning him enough dogecoins to take him to the moon.
In the video below, you can see [Eric] building his rig out of 4×8 framing lumber. This isn’t a slipshod enclosure; [Eric] built this thing correctly by running the boards through a jointer, doing proper box joints with this screw and gear-based jig, and other proper woodworking techniques we don’t usually see.
Continue reading “Wow. Such Mining Rig. So Amaze.”
[Adrian] came across a treasure trove of 507 mechanical device designs. It didn’t seem quite right for a Retrotechtacular post, but we wanted to share it as it’s a great place to come up with ideas for your next Rube Goldberg machine.
Biking with headphones is dangerous. That’s why [J.R.] built a handlebar enclosure for his Jambox Bluetooth speaker.
While dumpster diving [Mike] found a Macbook pro. It was missing a few things, like a keyboard, touchpad, battery, ram, and storage. He borrowed a power supply to test it out but without the keyboard there’s no power button. He figured out the traces on the motherboard which turn it on when shorted.
[Mateusz] want to let us know about the Hercules LaunchPad. Like the other TI Launchpad offerings it’s an all-in-one dev board. The Hercules line features a couple of flavors of dual-core ARM chips. Can you believe the dev boards you can get for under $20 these days?
After seeing the ammo can sound system about a month ago [Ilpo] was inspired to share his ammo can PC case with us.
And finally, here’s a way to display your Bitcoin mining rig for all to see. This system was laid out in an antique frame and hung on the wall.
The name of the game in mining Bitcoins isn’t CPUs, GPUs, or even FPGAs. Now, hardcore miners are moving on to custom ASIC chips like the Block Erupter, For around $100 USD, you too can mine Bitcoins at 300 MH/s with 2.5 Watts of power and a single USB port. This speed isn’t enough for some people, like [Jeremy] who overclocked his Block Erupter to nearly twice the speed.
[Jeremy] begins his tutorial with a teardown of the Block Erupter hardware. Inside, he found a custom ASIC chip, an ATTIny2313, a USB UART converter, and a voltage regulator for the ASIC. By changing out the 12 MHz crystal connected to the ASIC and fiddling with the voltage with a trim pot, [Jeremy] was able to overclock the ASIC core from 336 MHz to 560 MHz. Effectively, he’s running two Block Eruptors for the price of one with the potential to actually make back the purchase price of his hardware.
It must be noted the 560 MHz figure comes from replacing the 12 MHz crystal with a 20 MHz one, and this mod only lasted about 20 minutes on [Jeremy]’s bench until the magic blue smoke was released. He recommends a 14 or 16 MHz crystal, netting a new speed of either 392 MHz or 448 MHz for a stable mod.
Mining bitcoins is becoming a fool’s errand, but there’s always some new piece of hardware coming out that allows those hard-core miners to keep ahead of the curve. One such piece of hardware are new custom ASIC devices that are just as fast as an FPGA while being much less expensive. A lot of these ASIC devices come in interesting packages that look just like a large USB thumb drive. Of course this is the perfect opportunity to show off what the Raspberry Pi can do by mining Bitcoins at rates comparable to the best graphics used in mining today.
The Raspberry Pi simply doesn’t have enough horsepower to mine bitcoins at any worthwhile rate. There are, however, USB ASIC devices that will mine for you at about the same speed as a high-end graphics card. Since multiple ASIC devices can be controlled through a USB hub, it’s simply a matter of plugging a USB hub into a Raspberry Pi, loading up CGminer, and letting your new PiMiner loose on a mining pool.
The Adafruit Pi Miner uses one of their really cool LCD character displays and keypad to display the current mining rate, accepted shares, and enough information for you to calculate how long it will take to break even with your Pi powered mining rig. How long that will be for this four device rig we’ll leave to the comments section.
His friends know [gbg] as an aficionado of just about anything with a 6502 processor in it. He’s also interested in bitcoins. A while back, a friend asked if it would be possible to mine bitcoins with an old Nintendo Entertainment System. While this suggestion was made in jest, it’s not one of those ideas anyone can let go of easily. Yes, it is possible to mine bitcoins with an NES, and [gbg] is here to show us how.
Mining bitcoins is simply just performing a SHA256 hash on a random value from the bitcoin network and relaying the result of that calculation back to the Internet. Of course this requires an Internet to NES bridge; [gbg] brought in a Raspberry Pi for this task. There’s the problem of actually getting data into an NES, though, and that’s something only a USB CopyNES can handle. After doing some 32-bit math, the NES sends this out to the Raspberry Pi and onto the bitcoin network.
When you consider that even a high-end gaming computer has little chance of mining a bitcoin in any reasonable amount of time, there’s little chance RetroMiner will ever be able to mine a bitcoin. It’s all random, though, so while it’s possible, we’ll just appreciate the awesome build for now.