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Author Topic: iMiner -- the really smallest and coolest BTC miner in the world  (Read 10909 times)
mruiter
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February 17, 2014, 07:32:11 PM
 #41

Nice scam !!

I can also order them at any put youre logo on a usb stick website, same colors , same constant on colored light.
but they just cost 1 usd for 8gb 8P

Go scam youre grandmas, maybee they believe it

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iCoinTech
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February 21, 2014, 03:58:09 AM
 #42

Nice scam !!

I can also order them at any put youre logo on a usb stick website, same colors , same constant on colored light.
but they just cost 1 usd for 8gb 8P

Go scam youre grandmas, maybee they believe it

Be polite, gentlemen.

Many people don't think the BTC miner can be made so small. Haha, but we did it.

This is a evaluating report on CYBTC.COM, which is one of the most famous BTC website in China.
http://www.cybtc.com/article-594-1.html

Now, there are more and more people buying it and selling it on ebay and aliexpress.
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=iMiner&catId=&initiative_id=SB_20140220193257
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/BTC-miner-BTC-38Gh-s-miner-BTC-mining-machine-BTC-USB-bitcoin-miner/1277786413.html

We are a techinical team in China, and we like make electronic products nice and smart.
BTC is the most amazing invension in the world in this century. We think BTC miners should not be cumbersome and ugly.

This Apail, we will present our new miners with our second generation chips, which would be very nice and cute and with powerful hashrates.
iCoinTech
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February 21, 2014, 04:07:05 AM
 #43

Looks nice, what will be the price to buy one?

Now you can buy it for 27$ with free shipping on aliexpress or ebay.
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/BTC-miner-BTC-38Gh-s-miner-BTC-mining-machine-BTC-USB-bitcoin-miner/1277786413.html
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=iMiner&catId=&initiative_id=SB_20140220193257
[/b]
lajz99
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February 21, 2014, 05:00:44 AM
 #44

How is this thread still even open?   Huh

iCoinTech
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February 21, 2014, 03:09:12 PM
 #45

I think its cute Smiley


Now you can buy it on aliexpress or ebay, 27$ for one with free shipping.
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/BTC-miner-BTC-38Gh-s-miner-BTC-mining-machine-BTC-USB-bitcoin-miner/1277786413.html
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=iMiner&catId=&initiative_id=SB_20140221070613
lajz99
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February 21, 2014, 09:53:23 PM
 #46

You guys should update your name to "iConTech"

The Observer
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March 01, 2014, 05:38:37 PM
 #47

Hate to say i told you all so, but...................... I TOLD YOU SO. I tried to warn you it was a USB flash drive.
TheRealSteve
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March 01, 2014, 05:50:53 PM
 #48

Hate to say i told you all so, but...................... I TOLD YOU SO. I tried to warn you it was a USB flash drive.
Nope.  Details to follow - heading out at the moment.  Just thought I'd go ahead and say 'Nope' for now.

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March 01, 2014, 07:58:23 PM
 #49

Right, details then.

Quick teardown of the iCointech iMiner

Product link: http://www.icointech.com/product1_en.php

A friend of mine ordered some (one of those BTC 'rich kids' who mined way back when) and threw one my way to dissect before he was going to plug them in, himself.  I'm all set up for USB peripheral shenanigans, he is not.

I have to admit that I was skeptical as well well.  Who wouldn't be?  It's a super tiny miner, supposedly, in a package not unlike that of a USB stick.  Like these:
http://www.dhgate.com/store/product/flash-drive-10pcs-lot-usb-2-0-cap-u-disk/139494557.html
http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/923/ocz_diesel.jpg
http://www.usbbook.com/productinfo.asp?id=325

I did remark earlier in the thread that these are pretty standard husks that you could fill with whatever if you really wanted to:
http://www.wholesale-usb-flash-drive.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=133

Note that there are some slight variations, mostly in the cap and endcap, but also in whether there's any grooves and, if so, where (thin sides vs broad sides)  I believe this is closer to what the iMiner's husk actually is:
http://www.promo-wholesale.com/china/Hard-Drives/8/Sprite-1-Gb-USB-Flash-Drive-47848.htm


I actually have a USB stick quite like it, and I took a comparison picture.



Precautions
Machine completely disconnected from the internet, running a sandboxed VM, all ready to go with a USB sniffer, network sniffer and procmon in case it turned out to be a USB stick with some executable on it.

Turns out, all of that was unnecessary.  The cgminer version pointed to is stock version 3.1.1, the batch file simply adds the parameters:
--icarus-options 115200:1:1 --icarus-timing 3.3=120

So we can already tell a little bit about what we could expect to find later, that along with the CP2102 drivers (note: there's newer available that add a cert for Windows 8.1 - the version number has not been updated by SI, though) at the very least suggests something other than a regular USB stick, which tend to have a controller+usb interface chip fully integrated together.

Plugging it into the machine, nothing untoward appears to be happening.  The usual banter back and forth getting USB details.  It just registers as a virtual COM port - there's no custom Vendor ID or anything in here ( USB\VID_10C4&PID_EA60\0001 ).  No flash drive, no HID trying to quickly take over the machine through simulating keypresses - nothing.  All that happened externally was 4 blinks and then the LED remaining on.



Benign, let's give 'r
Considering the device itself appeared to be benign, and cgminer was benign, I figured what the heck and powered it up on an easy-going pool (50BTC - yeah, I read all the reports - I don't usually mine at all and they were less hassle than eligius, this is not an endorsement).

Lo and behold, the LED turned off, and shortly after, cgminer happily reported almost 300Mhash/s from the device.  Along with, eventually, shares (short blink of the LED) and hardware errors (longer blink of the LED).

Edit: After 10,000 Satoshi at 50BTC, stats:

 cgminer version 3.1.1 - Started: [2014-03-02 05:32:21]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 (5s):374.4M (avg):298.5Mh/s | A:6833  R:1  HW:147  U:2.0/m  WU:4.1/m
 ST: 2  SS: 0  NB: 331  LW: 26777  GF: 283  RF: 1

/Edit

So, it certainly appears to be legitimately a Bitcoin miner, albeit obviously one 'for fun' and not for ROI (like 95% of the devices available, right? right.)

But what is inside it?


What is inside?
There are two types of these husks.  One where a thin sheet metal is clamped around plastic, and one where the main body is a thick metal.  Unfortunately, the iMiner uses the latter.  I say unfortunately, but that's really a good thing as the metal acts as not just the main body, but also the heat sink.  Still, it meant that getting into it was a lot more difficult.  Removing the end cap just showed that the board was practically epoxied down with thermal goop (and possibly some thermal tape), so it certainly wasn't going to be sliding out the way it had slid in during assembly.


Thankfully, it's just aluminum or some other soft metal like it, and a small hacksaw made short work of not being able to get at the innards.



Once the innards were exposed, what became visible as the main components were:
Silicon Labs CP2102  USB-UART Bridge used for communication between the USB host and whatever is inside the stick.
A crystal at 8.380MHz.  Could be 8MHz round, but some goop that won't budge (didn't want to touch it with rubbing alcohol just yet) is covering up the last digits.
Alpha & Omega AO Z1038PI buck voltage regulator.  Probably because the other chips don't want none of that USB 5V goodness.
Silicon Labs C8051F330 microcontroller..  Probably to offload all the communication tasks.
A big fat chip that gets really hot with the markings: QT20 / CA3755.  That 'QT20' sounded familiar, but a friend of mine asked an FPGA guy and he wasn't sure (because it's probably an ASIC, duh).  The other code on there - X1349 - is just a batch and date code (49th week of 2013), similar codes are present on the SI components while the AOZ1038 may have been produced in 2014.  Nonetheless, given the parameters, this is probably an ASIC.  Somebody will probably pop up and remind me why the 'QT20' sounds familiar.



Mining away
After I took it apart, did it still work?  Absolutely.  With a little extra cooling from an otherwise completely useless 'laptop helper fan' (no, seriously, don't buy them for that - the physics say it doesn't work well, and reality agrees), it's mining away even as I write this.




Full images
Full images?  Of course, full images!  This post is long enough without a bunch of full size (even if proxied) inline images, so please enjoy them, along with descriptions, over at imgur:
http://imgur.com/a/5wmv2#0

Edit March 6th: And since I figured I'd better put it back together again, the tearup:

Album: http://imgur.com/a/9Jc0X


Scam or no scam?
So now the question.. is it a scam or is it not a scam?

If the definition of the scam were "it's just a USB flash drive", then no - it is not a scam.  It certainly behaves like a miner, and the pool is accepting shares so as far as I can tell, it's not faking it either.

If the definition of scam is "getting people to part with money they'll never see positive return on", then I'd say that's still a no.  Mining hasn't been particularly profitable for most devices, let alone low power ones like these.

While communication could be handled better (all these 'scam!' posts could have been prevented pretty easily by sending one to a trusted member, or at least posting more details), I think the 'scam!' battle cry should be reserved for those products/sales/companies that have been verified as scams, rather than just 'gut feeling'.

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March 02, 2014, 01:37:07 AM
 #50

^really nice review Smiley

personally i had expected a gen-1 avalon or asicminer chip. This seems like a custom design ASIC.

I say ASIC because an FPGA would not be capable of 300mhash <2.5w. (most FPGAs were 200-250mhash using 10-20W)

24" PCI-E cables with 16AWG wires and stripped ends - great for server PSU mods, best prices https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=563461 also selling 6" M-F-M PCIe splitters and PCIe-PCIe
No longer a wannabe - now an ASIC owner!
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March 02, 2014, 03:43:09 AM
 #51

hah, yeah I meant ASIC.. that's what I get for rushing.  Who knows, it could still be one of the older chips relabeled.. would have to check if the apparent pinout resembles any of those (edit: doesn't look like it does); though even then it could just be 'modeled after'.  It's definitely a tight little package though Smiley

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March 02, 2014, 06:51:03 AM
 #52

hah, yeah I meant ASIC.. that's what I get for rushing.  Who knows, it could still be one of the older chips relabeled.. would have to check if the apparent pinout resembles any of those (edit: doesn't look like it does); though even then it could just be 'modeled after'.  It's definitely a tight little package though Smiley

the chip looks larger than an avalon or asicminer chip

24" PCI-E cables with 16AWG wires and stripped ends - great for server PSU mods, best prices https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=563461 also selling 6" M-F-M PCIe splitters and PCIe-PCIe
No longer a wannabe - now an ASIC owner!
TheRealSteve
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March 02, 2014, 07:32:52 AM
 #53

hah, yeah I meant ASIC.. that's what I get for rushing.  Who knows, it could still be one of the older chips relabeled.. would have to check if the apparent pinout resembles any of those (edit: doesn't look like it does); though even then it could just be 'modeled after'.  It's definitely a tight little package though Smiley

the chip looks larger than an avalon or asicminer chip

Probably.  The physical package size is very slightly larger than 7.5mm on each side, and it's a 64-pin package.  BE100 is 40 pin, Avalon 3256 and BitFury's are 48.

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March 03, 2014, 06:29:26 AM
 #54

I got .000001 BTC that says this ends up being a shamble.
Out of sheer curiosity.. willing to make good on that?  1MnrCEe1cn6w6SY26iFnFiWWDFFzAyQFNB (50BTC didn't accept several 1iMiner addresses) - you can add it to the satoshis that some day in the far far future will be paid out to it from the iMiner's progress Wink

Selling flash drives as miners  Shocked It was only a matter of time i suppose.  Roll Eyes
Well, it's a miner being sold in a flash drive package - slight distinction Wink

Nice scam !!
Alas, it's not a scam. ( I have to admit that part of me was hoping that it was, just so I could chuckle at my friend. )

How is this thread still even open?   Huh
Why wouldn't it be?  Heck, I'm actually looking forward to their next generation chip, especially if they make another release in a 'cute' package like this.  Always nice to have additional players in the market Smiley  Would have to be a fair bit cheaper to become give-away little things, though.

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March 05, 2014, 02:00:16 PM
 #55

Interestingly enough, the price has come down.
About $11/unit (excludes shipping) direct, or $71.25 per 3 off of aliexpress (there's cheaper there, but I don't know if they're on the up-and-up).

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March 12, 2014, 02:45:00 PM
 #56

Right, details then.

Quick teardown of the iCointech iMiner
http://i.imgur.com/AESuNr2s.jpg
Product link: http://www.icointech.com/product1_en.php

A friend of mine ordered some (one of those BTC 'rich kids' who mined way back when) and threw one my way to dissect before he was going to plug them in, himself.  I'm all set up for USB peripheral shenanigans, he is not.

I have to admit that I was skeptical as well well.  Who wouldn't be?  It's a super tiny miner, supposedly, in a package not unlike that of a USB stick.  Like these:
http://www.dhgate.com/store/product/flash-drive-10pcs-lot-usb-2-0-cap-u-disk/139494557.html
http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/923/ocz_diesel.jpg
http://www.usbbook.com/productinfo.asp?id=325

I did remark earlier in the thread that these are pretty standard husks that you could fill with whatever if you really wanted to:
http://www.wholesale-usb-flash-drive.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=133

Note that there are some slight variations, mostly in the cap and endcap, but also in whether there's any grooves and, if so, where (thin sides vs broad sides)  I believe this is closer to what the iMiner's husk actually is:
http://www.promo-wholesale.com/china/Hard-Drives/8/Sprite-1-Gb-USB-Flash-Drive-47848.htm


I actually have a USB stick quite like it, and I took a comparison picture.
http://i.imgur.com/dnVxVjys.jpg


Precautions
Machine completely disconnected from the internet, running a sandboxed VM, all ready to go with a USB sniffer, network sniffer and procmon in case it turned out to be a USB stick with some executable on it.

Turns out, all of that was unnecessary.  The cgminer version pointed to is stock version 3.1.1, the batch file simply adds the parameters:
--icarus-options 115200:1:1 --icarus-timing 3.3=120

So we can already tell a little bit about what we could expect to find later, that along with the CP2102 drivers (note: there's newer available that add a cert for Windows 8.1 - the version number has not been updated by SI, though) at the very least suggests something other than a regular USB stick, which tend to have a controller+usb interface chip fully integrated together.

Plugging it into the machine, nothing untoward appears to be happening.  The usual banter back and forth getting USB details.  It just registers as a virtual COM port - there's no custom Vendor ID or anything in here ( USB\VID_10C4&PID_EA60\0001 ).  No flash drive, no HID trying to quickly take over the machine through simulating keypresses - nothing.  All that happened externally was 4 blinks and then the LED remaining on.
http://i.imgur.com/sJ78Ults.jpg


Benign, let's give 'r
Considering the device itself appeared to be benign, and cgminer was benign, I figured what the heck and powered it up on an easy-going pool (50BTC - yeah, I read all the reports - I don't usually mine at all and they were less hassle than eligius, this is not an endorsement).

Lo and behold, the LED turned off, and shortly after, cgminer happily reported almost 300Mhash/s from the device.  Along with, eventually, shares (short blink of the LED) and hardware errors (longer blink of the LED).

Edit: After 10,000 Satoshi at 50BTC, stats:

 cgminer version 3.1.1 - Started: [2014-03-02 05:32:21]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 (5s):374.4M (avg):298.5Mh/s | A:6833  R:1  HW:147  U:2.0/m  WU:4.1/m
 ST: 2  SS: 0  NB: 331  LW: 26777  GF: 283  RF: 1

/Edit

So, it certainly appears to be legitimately a Bitcoin miner, albeit obviously one 'for fun' and not for ROI (like 95% of the devices available, right? right.)

But what is inside it?


What is inside?
There are two types of these husks.  One where a thin sheet metal is clamped around plastic, and one where the main body is a thick metal.  Unfortunately, the iMiner uses the latter.  I say unfortunately, but that's really a good thing as the metal acts as not just the main body, but also the heat sink.  Still, it meant that getting into it was a lot more difficult.  Removing the end cap just showed that the board was practically epoxied down with thermal goop (and possibly some thermal tape), so it certainly wasn't going to be sliding out the way it had slid in during assembly.
http://i.imgur.com/9m4s8Qrs.jpg

Thankfully, it's just aluminum or some other soft metal like it, and a small hacksaw made short work of not being able to get at the innards.
http://i.imgur.com/x1rh2Rks.jpg


Once the innards were exposed, what became visible as the main components were:
Silicon Labs CP2102  USB-UART Bridge used for communication between the USB host and whatever is inside the stick.
A crystal at 8.380MHz.  Could be 8MHz round, but some goop that won't budge (didn't want to touch it with rubbing alcohol just yet) is covering up the last digits.
Alpha & Omega AO Z1038PI buck voltage regulator.  Probably because the other chips don't want none of that USB 5V goodness.
Silicon Labs C8051F330 microcontroller..  Probably to offload all the communication tasks.
A big fat chip that gets really hot with the markings: QT20 / CA3755.  That 'QT20' sounded familiar, but a friend of mine asked an FPGA guy and he wasn't sure (because it's probably an ASIC, duh).  The other code on there - X1349 - is just a batch and date code (49th week of 2013), similar codes are present on the SI components while the AOZ1038 may have been produced in 2014.  Nonetheless, given the parameters, this is probably an ASIC.  Somebody will probably pop up and remind me why the 'QT20' sounds familiar.
http://i.imgur.com/LRxDfkNs.jpg


Mining away
After I took it apart, did it still work?  Absolutely.  With a little extra cooling from an otherwise completely useless 'laptop helper fan' (no, seriously, don't buy them for that - the physics say it doesn't work well, and reality agrees), it's mining away even as I write this.
http://i.imgur.com/B0J18Mbs.jpg



Full images
Full images?  Of course, full images!  This post is long enough without a bunch of full size (even if proxied) inline images, so please enjoy them, along with descriptions, over at imgur:
http://imgur.com/a/5wmv2#0

Edit March 6th: And since I figured I'd better put it back together again, the tearup:
http://i.imgur.com/0hsTbsns.jpg http://i.imgur.com/6CevgoOs.jpg
Album: http://imgur.com/a/9Jc0X


Scam or no scam?
So now the question.. is it a scam or is it not a scam?

If the definition of the scam were "it's just a USB flash drive", then no - it is not a scam.  It certainly behaves like a miner, and the pool is accepting shares so as far as I can tell, it's not faking it either.

If the definition of scam is "getting people to part with money they'll never see positive return on", then I'd say that's still a no.  Mining hasn't been particularly profitable for most devices, let alone low power ones like these.

While communication could be handled better (all these 'scam!' posts could have been prevented pretty easily by sending one to a trusted member, or at least posting more details), I think the 'scam!' battle cry should be reserved for those products/sales/companies that have been verified as scams, rather than just 'gut feeling'.

Nice work. Thank you very much.
Now people know that the iMiner is really the smallest BTC miner in the world.
The QT20 is an ASIC chip designed by our company.
In the age of BTC 5th anniversary, we made these small and nice BTC miner, wishing BTCers like it.
Althrough there are more and more other coins nowadays, we believe BTC is the only worldwide accepted coin, and will be used as a currency by people just like USD some years later.
The iMiner is small, nice and quite chip, and really good for BTC new beginners. More and more people are joining the BTC world starting from using an iMiner.
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April 21, 2014, 04:43:50 PM
 #57


So we're 3 weeks into April - what's the news on the new chip (and potential new miners)?



For the curious, that iMiner's still busily hashing away:
Code:
cgminer version 3.1.1 - Started: [2014-03-13 21:58:41]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 (5s):110.1M (avg):298.3Mh/s | A:112812  R:172  HW:2453  U:2.0/m  WU:4.1/m
 ST: 2  SS: 1  NB: 6541  LW: 447426  GF: 4623  RF: 10
 Connected to pool.50btc.com diff 2 with stratum as user xxxxx@xxxxx.xxx
 Block: 000083bca2cfe921...  Diff:6.98G  Started: [18:36:53]  Best share: 5.58M
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 [P]ool management [S]ettings [D]isplay options [Q]uit
 ICA 0:                | 293.4M/298.3Mh/s | A:112812 R:172 HW:2453 U:2.02/m
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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July 03, 2014, 10:54:19 PM
 #58

Oops.. forgot to update this - new chip is supposedly still coming, but won't be in another iMiner type form-factor.

Came here to post that the machine the iMiner was plugged into spontaneously reboot, so after lord knows how long: a whopping BTC0.00236264 mined with it Wink
But at least it was still running.

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