If you were reading this post a month ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was an April Fools post. But we assure you, this is no joke. A company called HeatBit has recently opened preorders for their second generation of Bitcoin miner that doubles as a space heater.
The logic goes something like this: if you’re going to be using an electric space heater anyway, which essentially generates heat by wasting a bunch of energy with a resistive element, why not replace that element with a Bitcoin miner instead? Or at least, some of the element. The specs listed for the HeatBit Mini note that the miner itself only consumes 300 watts, which is only responsible for a fraction of the device’s total heat output. Most of the thermal work is actually done by a traditional 1000 watt heater built inside the 46 cm (18 inch) tall cylindrical device.
Continue reading “Home Heating With Bitcoin Miners Is Now A Real Thing”
Usually when we think of Bitcoin miners, we imagine huge facilities of server racks doing nothing but essentially wasting energy, all for the chance that one of those computers amongst the rows will stumble upon the correct set of numbers to get rewarded with imaginary money. The idea being that the more computers, the more chances to win. But just buying one lottery ticket is the only thing technically required to win, at least in theory. And [Data Slayer] is putting this theory to the test with this Bitcoin miner built around a single Raspberry Pi.
This tiny Raspberry Pi Zero does get a little bit of support from an Ant Miner, a USB peripheral which is optimized to run the SHA256 hashing algorithm and solve the complex mathematical operations needed to “win” the round of Bitcoin mining. Typically a large number of these would be arrayed together to provide more chances at winning (or “earning”, to use the term generously) Bitcoin but there’s no reason other than extreme statistical improbability that a single one can’t work on its own. The only other thing needed to get this setup working is to give the Pi all of the configuration information it needs such as wallet information and pool information.
This type of miner isn’t novel by any means, and in fact it’s a style of mining cryptocurrency called “lottery mining” where contributing to a pool is omitted in favor of attempting to solve the entire block by pure random chance alone in the hopes that if it’s solved, the entire reward will be claimed by that device alone. In the case of this device, the current hash rate calculated when it was contributing to a pool means that when lottery mining, it has about a one-in-two-billion chance of winning. That’s essentially zero, which is basically the same chance of winning a lottery that pays out actual usable currency.
Continue reading “Tiny Bitcoin Miner Plays The Lottery”
When it comes to cryptocurrency security, what’s the best way to secure the private key? Obviously, the correct answer is to write it on a sticky note and put it on the bezel of your monitor; nobody’ll ever think of looking there. But, if you’re slightly more paranoid, and you have access to a Falcon 9, you might just choose to send it to the Moon. That’s what is supposed to happen in a few months’ time, as private firm Lunar Outpost’s MAPP, or Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform, heads to the Moon. The goal is to etch the private key of a wallet, cheekily named “Nakamoto_1,” on the rover and fund it with 62 Bitcoins, worth about $1.5 million now. The wallet will be funded by an NFT sale of space-themed electronic art, because apparently the project didn’t have enough Web3.0 buzzwords yet. So whoever visits the lunar rover first gets to claim the contents of the wallet, whatever they happen to be worth at the time. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a human who visits.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: April 9, 2023”
Many of you will at some time have heard the unfortunate tale of [James Howells], a Welsh IT worker who threw away a hard drive containing 8,000 Bitcoin back in 2013. Over the years he’s hatched various schemes to persuade his local council to let him dig up the landfill where it’s reputed to be buried, and every time he’s been rebuffed. Despite the fall in the price of cryptocurrencies he’s back with another. With the added spice of AI and robot dogs alongside the cryptocurrency angle, it reads like a buzzword bingo card and adds a whole new meaning to “Bitcoin mining”. Seemingly despite generous offers the local council are still not keen on letting him dig for the drive.
We can’t help feeling sorry for the guy — after all, in the early days of cryptocurrency the coins were a worthless curiosity so it’s not impossible there are readers with similar stories. But we’re curious how well the drive will have survived its 9-year interment even if the AI robot arm and robot dog security would ensure its recovery. With that much cash at stake the best in the data recovery business will no doubt be unleashed on whatever remains they might recover, but in the unfriendly environment of a festering landfill we’d be curious as to whether chemical action might have corroded the platters to the point at which nothing might remain. Wales has a high rainfall unlike the American southwest, so we doubt it would survive as well as an Atari cartridge.
Meanwhile, tell us your cryptocurrency might-have-beens in the comments.
Landfill Site sign by Geographer, CC BY-SA 2.0.
They say time is money, but if that’s true, money must also be time. It’s all figurative, of course, but in the case of this NTP server heater powered by Bitcoin mining dongles, money actually does become time.
This is an example of the lengths to which Network Time Protocol aficionados will go in search of slightly better performance from their NTP servers. [Folkert van Heusden], having heard that thermal stability keeps NTP servers happy, used a picnic cooler as an environmental chamber for his Pi- and GPS-based NTP rig. Heat is added to the chamber thanks to seven Block Erupter ASIC miner dongles, which are turned on by a Python script when a microcontroller sends an MQTT message that the temperature has dropped below the setpoint.
Each dongle produces about 2.5 Watts of heat when it’s working, making them pretty effective heaters. Alas, heat is all they produce at the moment — [Folkert] just has them working on the same hash over and over. He does say that he has plans to let the miners do useful work at some point, not so much for profit but to at least help out the network a bit.
This seems like a bit of a long way around to solve this problem, but since the mining dongles are basically obsolete now — we talked about them way back in 2013 — it has a nice hacky feeling to it that we appreciate.
Bitcoin. The magical internet money is often derided as “worthless” and “made up” by those who forget that all currencies only have value because we believe in them. Perhaps the world’s strongest currency not backed up by guns and ammo, Bitcoin nonetheless remains a controversial invention, as do the many cryptocurrencies that followed in its wake.
Recently, the Chinese government has cracked down on operations within the country. With China hosting the world’s largest fraction of Bitcoin mining capability, it’s sent shockwaves through the network and had a huge effect in a multitude of ways. Here’s what’s going down.
Continue reading “Bitcoin In For Bumpy Ride As China Crackdown Shakes Things Up”
At this point the average Hackaday reader is likely familiar with so-called “Proof of Work” (PoW) cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin. In the most basic of terms, these cryptocurrencies allow users to earn money by devoting computational power to the network. Unfortunately, it’s well past the point where your standard desktop CPU is moving enough bits to earn anything worthwhile. Individuals looking to turn a profit have therefore resorted to constructing arrays of high-end graphics cards for the express purpose of “mining” their cryptocurrency of choice.
These miners, combined with ongoing chip shortages, have ravaged the GPU market. Anyone who’s looked at building or upgrading a computer recently will know that new video cards are in short supply, and even old models that would otherwise be considered budget options, are commanding outrageous prices. In an effort to appease their core customers, NVIDIA has even introduced cryptocurrency-specific cards that lack video output. The hope was that professional miners would buy these Cryptocurrency Mining Processors (CMPs) instead of the traditional video cards, freeing up the latter for purchase by gamers. But due to the limited availability and relatively high cost of CMPs, they’ve done little to improve the situation.
Now if you don’t use your computer for gaming, this probably seems like a distant problem. You could even be forgiven for thinking of this as little more than two largely frivolous pursuits at loggerheads with each other. After all, in a community that still holds decades-old Thinkpads as the high water mark in portable computing, a certain ambivalence about cutting edge video cards is perhaps to be expected.
But there’s a new form of cryptocurrency on the rise which threatens more than just the hardcore gamers. With “Proof of Space” (PoS) cryptocurrencies, it’s not about having the fastest CPU or the highest number of GPUs; the commodity being traded is storage space, and the player with the most hard drives wins.
Continue reading “What’s Chia, And Why Is It Eating All The Hard Drives?”