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Author Topic: New to BTC Mining - Questions I haven't found answers to...  (Read 528 times)
HistoryBloke
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December 31, 2015, 03:36:18 AM
 #1

So I’m new to Bitcoin mining.  I’ve known what Bitcoin is for the past few years; however, I never decided to act on it mainly because I thought, like most things on the internet,  it was a fad and would soon be gone (boy, was I wrong!).  As a teacher, my students and I were talking about the history and evolution of money/currency.  In particular, we discussed being paid in seeds, salt, services, precious metals, and eventually fiat money.  I shook everything up when I mentioned Bitcoin and then the questions wouldn’t stop, which wasn’t part of the plan believe it or not.  I explained how mining worked and I told them I would put together a cheap little mining computer that I could keep in class. 

Two weeks ago I bought a Raspberry Pi, a USB hub/fan, and three Avalon Nano USB miners.  I had to dust off my Linux skills, but it came back quickly and I had a blast installing Raspbian and playing with various settings in both BFGMiner and CGMiner.  Once it was up and hashing at a whopping 12 Gh/s, I sat back and was proud of myself for creating my “desk piece” to show my students.  Problem though… now I’m addicted!  I have to admit that it feels great to officially be part of the Bitcoin network and I’m very proud to help keep it going while starting to make a little BTC for myself without having to convert other currencies.  Now I want to contribute more.   

After spending HOURS of my Christmas break reading the forums and watching every Youtube video possible, I’ve determined that two of the most talked about topics are profitability and electricity.  Really, they go hand in hand.  I’ve read a lot about people who have to quit mining because either a) their electric bill is more than the amount mined, or b) the heat it produces in their home is more than they can stand.  When anyone asks if they should start mining for Bitcoin, the responses are always, “no”.  Why?  Again, low ROI (return on investment) due to electricity cost/usage and difficulty of the network.  “You’re better off just buying the BTC and trading.”  That’s can’t be the only reason people mine… is it? 

I started thinking about it.  With a classroom available year round, I always have a source of free electricity, air conditioning, and internet.  I, unlike most people, am not concerned about electricity usage... saving a watt here or an amp there.  In actuality, my only real concern is noise and, to a lesser extent... heat.  If the miners are too loud and hot, it will be a distracting environment.  Granted, I could just turn them off during the day and switch them on the moment school is out.  Because I’m new and have no BTC yet (stupid limits, wait times, verifications, etc), I went to eBay.  I found an Antminer S1 in great condition for only $40 (including 2 day shipping for free).  This is a huge upgrade from my small USB miners.  And while my hardware is still generations behind, that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.

I grabbed an old PC from my closet and removed its Corsair TX 650W power supply (not modular, boo!) and started preparing for its arrival.  Having watched a million YouTube videos, it took me all of 10 minutes to get it hashing.  Holy cow, though!  This thing was LOUD and it warmed up my office fast!  It’s been in the 40s (F) here in Texas and my house is typically about 68-69 degrees F in the winter (we never turn on our heater since it doesn’t really get “cold” here).  But my office was 78.  This was terrible!  The 40s… that’s about as cold as it EVER gets here.  Starting in June, it’ll be 103-104 F during the day and lows will be in the mid-upper 80s.  Keeping it quiet (aka “cold”) is going to be tricky.  The Antminer’s temperature read 45 and the fan speed would fluctuate betwee 1980-2100 rpm.  My decibel meter app registered almost 57 decibels just from the Miner/PSU.  There’s no way I’ll be able to keep this thing in my classroom.  I imagined my students trying to work in a sauna that doubled as a jet engine test facility.  No way, this won’t work.  And no, I don’t want to do the undervolt/pencil thingy. 

I’ve read about adding an additional fan to the S1.  So, as a temporary solution, I bought a Cougar Vortex CF-V 12HP PWM fan ($8.99 at a locally owned computer store) and mounted it to the front while letting the power supply feed it, not the extra 4-pin fan connector on the S1.  I swapped to one of my other power supplies (needed modular!), a Corsair AX860i, which is silent and rated at 80 Plus Platinum (I plan to run two S3s on it eventually).  I also ordered the heat sink kit on EBay that comes with the thermal tape, but it hasn’t been delivered yet.  I went up to the school this morning with it and got it set up.  Wow!  What a difference!  It was almost silent!!  Since I changed so many variables, I’m not sure what did the trick, but I could barely hear it.  I’m not sure if it was the cold tile floor and cinderblock walls, the new power supply, or the new fan in the push/pull configuration (yes, I know it’s an underpowered fan).  Since it’s connected to the school’s network, I don’t know how to find its IP address to log in and look at the temp & fan speed (I had to buy an Ethernet switch just to be able to plug it in since I only have 1 Ethernet port in my room).  I found, again on EBay, two Antminer S3s (one is the S3 Plus) for about $255 (delivered).  They should arrive next week.  And no, I can’t get an S5 because I know it would make waaaay too much noise, no matter what I tried.  Anyway… I have several questions that I couldn’t find anywhere…

TL;DR – I get free year-round electricity, air conditioning, and internet in my classroom so I bought (very cheaply!) an Antminer S1, and have two Antminer S3s on the way, so I can begin mining.  The most important thing to me is that they’re quiet, or at least no louder than the hum of my projector and the a/c.  So I have some questions that I couldn’t find anywhere.

1.   Could switching to my Corsair AX860i power supply from my Corsair TX650 have caused my S1 to run cooler/more silent?
2.   If I ordered an additional stock fan to replace the “temporary” Cougar Vortex that I installed on the front of the S1, would it become even quieter than it already became? (Remember, I can’t have the power supply run that fan because the 4,000 RPM speed would be on all the time – way too loud).
3.   Is the Antminer S3 quieter than the S1?
4.   If I find the S3 is louder than the S1, would underclocking/undervolting the S3 significantly reduce the noise?  (I don’t want to underclock/undervolt the S1 – S3 allows it to be done in the software)
5.   Would I be able to replace the stock S3 fans with something as effective, but even more quiet?
6.   Will a Corsair AX860i successfully power two S3s?
7.   Is there a way to find an Antminer’s IP address on my school network and log in/monitor it remotely from home?
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December 31, 2015, 04:29:13 AM
 #2

1.   Could switching to my Corsair AX860i power supply from my Corsair TX650 have caused my S1 to run cooler/more silent?

In my opinion, no.  The fans of the miner are way more loud than the fans of the PSU, in my experience.

2.   If I ordered an additional stock fan to replace the “temporary” Cougar Vortex that I installed on the front of the S1, would it become even quieter than it already became? (Remember, I can’t have the power supply run that fan because the 4,000 RPM speed would be on all the time – way too loud).

No, not without adjusting the the speed of the current fan.  The likelihood of adding another fan dropping the temp of the miner enough to lower the temp so the fan speed lowers enough to not be annoying is pretty low.... in my opinion




4.   If I find the S3 is louder than the S1, would underclocking/undervolting the S3 significantly reduce the noise?  (I don’t want to underclock/undervolt the S1 – S3 allows it to be done in the software)

It may.  Some firmwares allow you to control the fan speed.  You can exchange lower fan speed/noise for higher temperatures and power usage.  I know the S5 and S7 firmware allows you to set a fan speed percentage.  Not sure if there is a custom firmware for the S3 that allow you to set a percentage.


5.   Would I be able to replace the stock S3 fans with something as effective, but even more quiet?

Possibly.  There are lots of threads out there where people swap fan and/or add spacers.  Not sure if you're going to get it *that* quiet.

6.   Will a Corsair AX860i successfully power two S3s?

My experience says yes.  I ran two S3s off of one 850w this summer for a little while.  


7.   Is there a way to find an Antminer’s IP address on my school network and log in/monitor it remotely from home?


Most pools allow you to log in and see your statistics.   I mine over at kano.is and I can see my (approximate) hash rate from any browser.  Albeit, you will not be able to monitor the temperature from such a site.  There are other ways to remotely monitor your rigs,  but you'll need to know even more network information than you already don't know!


I know your progression.  I went from a single U3 to an S7, S4, and an S5 in about 8 months.  Once you get the bug, it's over!

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December 31, 2015, 04:34:10 AM
 #3

If I remember the S1 was quieter than the S3 as long as the fan didn't rev up to it's high setting due to heat.  Will this be running just for hobby and a means to acquire small amounts of Btc.?
Your I.T. dept may block you from running it and especially from accessing from home.  More than one of either of those miners will heat that classroom.
Believe me I've scratched my head more than a few times thinking of ways to run mine at work but came to the conclusion that it's not worth getting fired for or bringing attention to yourself.
Good Luck!
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December 31, 2015, 04:43:23 AM
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If I remember the S1 was quieter than the S3 as long as the fan didn't rev up to it's high setting due to heat.  Will this be running just for hobby and a means to acquire small amounts of Btc.?
Your I.T. dept may block you from running it and especially from accessing from home.  More than one of either of those miners will heat that classroom.
Believe me I've scratched my head more than a few times thinking of ways to run mine at work but came to the conclusion that it's not worth getting fired for or bringing attention to yourself.
Good Luck!

Yes, this is a fun hobby to make a little BTC but also as a learning tool for my students.  This isn't something I'm trying to hide at all.  And yes, I expect the heat and noise to be a problem.  That's why I was hoping I could slightly under clock the S3s.  If worse comes to worse, I can run the miners in the Auto Shop or maybe the Band Hall (huge places) where nobody will even notice them.
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December 31, 2015, 05:33:25 AM
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I know your progression.  I went from a single U3 to an S7, S4, and an S5 in about 8 months.  Once you get the bug, it's over!

Yep!  But I think having 2x S3s and an S1 will be all I can really stand.  If Texas really had winters, I would just set them up in the garage; however, the weather is never dependable.  Even in the winter, it might be 40 degrees at night and upper 60s in the daytime.  I wish I had an S5.. but I know it would be way too loud and hot.
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December 31, 2015, 05:37:57 AM
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You could always invest a few dollars into some T.E.C.s and turn the heat that they are generating into some air conditioning. Just sayin'. If you're a teacher then you should be teaching how to overcome obstacles. No disrespect intended. T.E.C.s are a viable way to convert heat into something useful.
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December 31, 2015, 05:54:23 AM
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Yes, pool info is always available to check at home but miner control from home would be up to your I.T. dept to ask.  I try to reach my kids but alas it's just my hobby.  Its a great tool to learn some basic programming, electronics and how the blockchain can change currency exchange and ages old concepts.
Have fun with them... It's a very addictive hobby and very rewarding to see your first payments.
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December 31, 2015, 05:55:17 AM
 #8

It seems like most of your questions are being answered, but I feel like I should state my opinion here as I read your topic and became, maybe a little annoyed is the best way to describe it.

To start, you don't have free electricity, someone is paying for it, in this case, its the tax payers, and I don't necessarily think its a great idea to waste taxpayer money on electricity bills to make you money.  Now you may be thinking, this is a small operation, but with an S1 and 2 S3's your talking $60 to $70+ a month, depending on electricity prices.  Plus cooling costs on top of that, I would imagine over $100 a month is going into running these units, and that is something I would imagine most taxpayers are not OK with.

So please consider the fact that you are now using quite a bit of taxpayer money to gain bitcoin.  Its also important to note that a utility bill increasing like that all of a sudden would not go unnoticed, along with unusual traffic on your network.  There have been numerous reports about people getting fired for running miners at work, and it is my personal belief that it is not smart to mix mining and work, especially by not getting prior approval and explaining what your doing.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for teaching kids and really respect teachers, but I am not sure what running bitcoin miners in the classroom is teaching?  By the sounds of your post, you teach economics or some branch of that topic, so the idea of decentralized virtual currency is definitely important, but the actual mining is not.  You could teach the same lesson by buying a small amount of bitcoin and sending it to the kids on a wallet app on their cell phones.

Again, please just consider the above points.  Its not free electricity, someone is paying for it.  You can also get in a lot of trouble as I would assume the board or PTA type group looking into an increase in the electricity bill wouldn't view the running of bitcoin miners in the classroom as a good form of teaching when its making you money.


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QuintLeo
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December 31, 2015, 09:58:08 AM
 #9

Quote

1.   Could switching to my Corsair AX860i power supply from my Corsair TX650 have caused my S1 to run cooler/more silent?
2.   If I ordered an additional stock fan to replace the “temporary” Cougar Vortex that I installed on the front of the S1, would it become even quieter than it already became? (Remember, I can’t have the power supply run that fan because the 4,000 RPM speed would be on all the time – way too loud).
3.   Is the Antminer S3 quieter than the S1?
4.   If I find the S3 is louder than the S1, would underclocking/undervolting the S3 significantly reduce the noise?  (I don’t want to underclock/undervolt the S1 – S3 allows it to be done in the software)
5.   Would I be able to replace the stock S3 fans with something as effective, but even more quiet?
6.   Will a Corsair AX860i successfully power two S3s?
7.   Is there a way to find an Antminer’s IP address on my school network and log in/monitor it remotely from home?


1. No, but IIRC the AX860i itself is more efficient and will run cooler than the TX650 thus reducing overall heat generation a little.
2. No clue, I don't know offhand what fans the S1 used "stock".
3. No clue, never owned either.
4. Not directly, but undervolting and underclocking will allow you to reduce the fan speed to reduce the noise so YES indirectly.
5. Iffy, fan noise level is usually pretty closely tied to how much air it moves.
6. Not sure, does the S3 use less than 350 watts or so of +12VDC?
7. If your school does NOT use NAT for it's network, it should be possible. If it does, you're have to be able to log into the school's NAT firewall/gateway/router then SSH from that into the Antminer itself.
HistoryBloke
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December 31, 2015, 08:44:36 PM
 #10

It seems like most of your questions are being answered, but I feel like I should state my opinion here as I read your topic and became, maybe a little annoyed is the best way to describe it.

To start, you don't have free electricity, someone is paying for it, in this case, its the tax payers, and I don't necessarily think its a great idea to waste taxpayer money on electricity bills to make you money.  Now you may be thinking, this is a small operation, but with an S1 and 2 S3's your talking $60 to $70+ a month, depending on electricity prices.  Plus cooling costs on top of that, I would imagine over $100 a month is going into running these units, and that is something I would imagine most taxpayers are not OK with.

So please consider the fact that you are now using quite a bit of taxpayer money to gain bitcoin.  Its also important to note that a utility bill increasing like that all of a sudden would not go unnoticed, along with unusual traffic on your network.  There have been numerous reports about people getting fired for running miners at work, and it is my personal belief that it is not smart to mix mining and work, especially by not getting prior approval and explaining what your doing.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for teaching kids and really respect teachers, but I am not sure what running bitcoin miners in the classroom is teaching?  By the sounds of your post, you teach economics or some branch of that topic, so the idea of decentralized virtual currency is definitely important, but the actual mining is not.  You could teach the same lesson by buying a small amount of bitcoin and sending it to the kids on a wallet app on their cell phones.

Again, please just consider the above points.  Its not free electricity, someone is paying for it.  You can also get in a lot of trouble as I would assume the board or PTA type group looking into an increase in the electricity bill wouldn't view the running of bitcoin miners in the classroom as a good form of teaching when its making you money.

Sorry to have upset you, let me try to address a few of these issues.

We are a very technological school district.  Upon entering 6th grade, every student is issued an iPad (they keep it 24/7, it's not just a class set) and most (not all) work is done digitally.  My school alone has over 3 thousand students (graduating classes of over 750).  We have "charging stations" in every classroom as well as the library, cafeteria, and band hall.  There are teachers that leave their projectors on all day (crazy, I know!) just to have a pretty background on the wall.  Don’t forget about the electricity used to power the “Jumbo Tron” and Lights at our football stadium, or the electricity used to maintain the Natatorium (huge swimming pool) for the swim/dive team.  I, as a residential customer, only pay $0.0670 per kilowatt hour... now imagine how cheap the electricity is bought by the school district.  We have put in to place ZERO measures to save electricity.  Our Air Conditioning/Heating systems never turn off, not even on weekends or during holidays.  In fact, I've been working in my classroom during Christmas break only to find lights all around the school have been left on, the A/C is blowing (it didn't get cold until the beginning of this week and nobody has even adjusted it), and every single computer in the school is still running.  Plus the copy machine in the Work Room has been stuck on “Paper Jam” since December 18th (the last day of school this semester).

So in a school with over 230 teachers that have at least 2 computers in each room (I only have 2, our graphics design/photography/computer science teachers have about 30 in each of their rooms), ~3000 ipads being charged daily (they are charged more as they age), plus the electricity being used for the compressors, welders, and other heavy shop equipment, my ONE 350 watt Antminer S1 is a drop in the bucket for a school that obviously gives very little thought to its usage.  Nor would it be “detected” (laughable).  Do you think the school district’s accountant, in his office across town, is going to say, “ZOMG!  The High School’s electricity usage went up 0.00003%!  I’m not paying this bill until I find out what miniscule little thing added to the hundreds of Megawatts of electricity we already waste!”?  No, of course not.

Hell, the Computer Science Club *should* hold a fundraiser from parents/boosters to buy S5s and run them continuously at school to earn BTC for the club!

But yes, you are right… tax payers fund our school district’s electricity bill (and my salary) and your comment has given me a lot to think about.  They do not, however, pay for the hundreds of dollars I spend on supplies that are required for me to do my job.  Imagine being a computer programmer and having to buy your own computer, or a construction worker that has to pay for the building materials.  Dry erase markers (expensive!!), staplers and staples, flash/portable hard drives for my digital content (not allowed to store it on district drives/local hard drives – against policy), hole punches, construction paper, pens, pencils, markers, computer speakers (not provided by district), my mini-fridge/microwave (not provided in the teacher’s lounge – I guess I could do without if I didn’t want to eat lunch or enjoy cold water), and a bazillion other things that I’m probably forgetting.  Why not use the BTC that is made (after I use it to buy pizza for the kiddos, which I already promised) to buy supplies from Amazon.com (accepts Bitcoin, yay!) that *should* be in our non-existent office supply budget?  Sorry, I don’t feel bad for that. 

Please also understand, this isn’t something I am hiding.  I’ve finished lesson plans for all of January (whew!) and have written them in as my “materials.”  This will be approved (I mentioned it, in passing, to my AP and he thought it sounded cool) – it’s not something I’m hiding or “trying to get away with”, hence my statement about putting it in the Band Hall or Auto Shop if it’s too loud/hot.  The bandwidth required to mine is tiny.  Only megabytes a day, which is way less than when students stream Netflix on their iPads during lunch and before/after school, or teachers that stream Youtube videos.

Sorry my post bothered you, DebitMe… but there’s worse “wasteful spending” of tax dollars happening.  It could be worse, I suppose… I could be using tax dollars to earn BTC and losing it to online gambling sites (because that’s not worse) Wink
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