Manual Bitcoin Transactions

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For something that’s used for such banal transactions like buying drugs and sending the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are actually very impressive pieces of software. It’s a very ingenious solution to the Two Generals Problem, and the fact it made a few Bitcoin early adopters very, very rich doesn’t hurt either. [Ken Shirriff] decided to take a look at the Bitcoin protocol by creating a Bitcoin address and transferring a small amount of bitcoin to that address, manually. It’s a great look at how the Bitcoin protocol actually works, and how ingenious this protocol actually is.

[Ken]’s first task was to create a Bitcoin address. This is a 256-bit private key is the basis for the Bitcoin wallet private key (after being encoded as ASCII characters), and as the 512-bit public key (after being sent through an elliptic curve algorithm). The 512-bit public key is then hashed with SHA-256 and RIPEM 160 to generate the 160-bit public key hash and the Bitcoin address.

After creating a bitcoin address and wallet, [Ken] set out on manually creating a transaction. The idea was to buy a few cents (USD) from Coinbase and send them to his manually created address. This involved creating a transaction according to the Bitcoin spec and signing the transaction. Signing each Bitcoin transaction is the key to Bitcoin’s security, and is done with a small bit of code written in the Bitcoin scripting language.

With everything written in Python, [Ken] was ready to send his transaction off into the Bitcoin network. This was done by finding a few peers on the Bitcoin network and sending off a few packets. After a little bit of mining on the network, [Ken]’s transaction went through, confirmed by a deposit into his Bitcoin wallet.

It’s an awesome writeup and impressive achievement to manually send a few Bitcoins from one wallet to another. More impressively, [Ken] provided some amazing insight into how the Bitcoin protocol works, and how much work went into its creation.

Aluminum Bitcoin Keychain

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Here’s a cool way to bring a physical presence to your Bitcoins: a custom CNC milled QR code Bitcoin address!

[ch00f], one of our occasional writers here at Hack a Day, has just finished this slick aluminum Bitcoin QR code keychain. He started by creating a vanity Bitcoin address using a program called OCLVanitygen, consisting of his dad’s first initial and last name at the beginning, followed by a random string of numbers. It only took his Radeon HD6790 6 hours to solve, which amounted to approximately half a trillion guesses in order to find the address! 

He then took his shiny new Bitcoin address and created a QR code from it using an web-based generator. [ch00f] then increased the resolution of the image in Photoshop and imported it into a CNC program called CamBam. A converted CNC Taig mill got to work tracing out the code with a 0.049″ carbide end. The total milling time was just over 2 hours. A bit of black spray paint, some sanding, and a few layers of clear coat later and the keychain is done!

[via Reddit]

Will Dance For Bitcoin

It seems that Bitcoin is all over the news nowadays, but the Bitcoin Bot is probably the first robot that will dance for Bitcoins.

[Ryan] at HeatSync Labs in Mesa, AZ, is a fan of the cryptocurrency, and decided to build something to accept it. He discovered that Coinbase, a popular hosted Bitcoin wallet service, has a callback API. This causes Coinbase to fetch a specified URL any time a wallet receives a transaction, and provides information on the transaction in the request. A Python script handles these requests and updates a running count of the BTC balance sent to the robot’s wallet.

On the hardware side, an Arduino with an Ethernet Shield checks the balance. If it has changed, it calls the dance function and the luau girl dances.

The robot sits in the window of the hackerspace, so anyone passing by can read about Bitcoin and make a donation. The source code is on Github, and a video follows after the break.

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Stealing $100 Million in Bitcoins

In early October of this year, online Bitcoin marketplace and ‘the eBay of drugs’ The Silk Road was taken down by the FBI. Just after the black vans took Silk Road head honcho [Dread Pirate Robberts] away, a new Bitcoin marketplace came onto the scene called Sheep Marketplace. Sheep Marketplace closed after revealing that 5400 bitcoins – or $5.8 million USD were stolen by the user EBOOK101 by exploiting a bug in the Sheep site.

Over this last weekend, it was revealed this bug in the Sheep Marketplace site wasn’t responsible for the loss of 5,400 coins, but instead 96,000 BTC, or $100 million USD, making this one of the largest thefts of all time.

Whoever was responsible for this theft didn’t make a clean getaway. Because the Bitcoin block chain records the history of every transaction, laundering bitcoins is harder than it seems. The most common method is to ‘tumble’ the bitcoins – sending them through multiple wallets, combining and recombining them, until tracking groups of bitcoins just becomes too hard.

[sheeproadreloaded2] over on Reddit managed to track these bitcoins to this bitcoin address, an amazing feat that also means there are 96,000 coins in a wallet somewhere that can’t be spent or cashed out without the thief telling the world who he is.

As far as crimes of the century go, this one is at least in the top ten. Unless the thief behind this heist is extraordinarily smart, though, his identity will most likely be found out eventually.

A Bitcoin vending machine

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Accessibility is one of the biggest hurdles facing the Bitcoin revolution, so [Mathias] found a way to give BTCs some market penetration by converting an old condom vending machine. The machine was 30 years old and required some clean up. [Mathias] also worked in a plywood adapter that attaches to the mount on the back so it can install on a wider variety of surfaces. This is an electricity-free alternative to selling coins: the machine is purely mechanical and it vends custom-made vouchers rather than the coins themselves, which you then redeem on the Kondocoin website.

The transaction isn’t as instant or snazzy as the Bitcoin briefcase converter from Defcon this year, but it still provides the advantage of an up-to-date exchange rate, as the vouchers themselves are valued at amount of Euros spent rather than a set amount of coins. The exchange rate is consulted later, when you punch in your voucher key. [Mathias] wants to share the wealth, too, and offers up the server software on github along with a detailed explanation of the process.

Put in pocket change, get bitcoins

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[gbg] put together a neat little project to get people familiarized with Bitcoins. A lot of techies know what Bitcoins are, but the impetus to download the Bitcoin client and start mining is a bit too much for some. [gbg] has a solution for this – a Bitcoin vending machine. Just dump your pocket change in the coin slot, and out comes a QR code that allows you to add Bitcoins to your wallet.

Inside this Bitcoin briefcase is a Raspberry Pi that connects to a local WiFi connection. Every five seconds, the Raspi looks at the current conversion rate of USD to Bitcoins. Once coins are deposited into the briefcase, a receipt complete with a scannable QR code is printed on a small thermal printer.

When [gbg] took this to the latest DEFCON, a lot of people were interested in the project and started shoveling change into the machine. So many people were interested that [gbg] and his compatriots are planning on turning this into a proper open-source device, complete with a bill reader and possibly an ASIC miner so the Pi can sell the coins it produces.

Check out the video below for some more info.

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Raspi Bitcoin miner may just pay for itself eventually

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We’re sure a lot of people out there have a Raspberry Pi or two lying around waiting for a project to come to mind.  [Dave] has an interesting solution to this orphaned hardware – use it to mine Bitcoins and perhaps put a few extra bucks in your pocket at the end of the year.

[Dave] is using a Raspberry Pi, powered USB hub, and an ASICMiner Block Erupter to do Bitcoin mining at 330 Megahashes per second. There are a few ancillary items such as a case and USB fan, but if you already have a Raspberry Pi, you’re only looking at a $50 USD investment to have a dedicated Bitcoin miner.

According to this Bitcoin mining profitability calculator, with a $50 investment that can mine at 330 MH/s, you’re looking at a hardware break even point of about 120 days. You could cut that down to just a few months if you overclock your ASICMiner, but it’s still relatively late in the game for amateur Bitcoin miners to make a substantial amount of money. Think of Bitcoin mining as more of hobby, and you’ll hopefully be more realistic about your goals.