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Author Topic: Advice on Raspberry pi hardware for running full BTC node  (Read 786 times)
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October 27, 2019, 05:55:23 AM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1)
 #1

I'm new to full nodes and Rasberry pi but fairly competent with hardware and setup in general.  I'd like to use the raspberry pi to run the node because it'll be easy to move and won't be a process running on my main computer.
I hear there's new units out now, version 4b? Is the latest and greatest hardware preferable?
What I'd like to know is what pieces of kit do I need specifically? 
1. RP version?
2. Heat sink, fan?
3. what case?
3. memory card 256gb I think. What brand/speed is best?
4. External Hard drive. (Is a hard drive necessary, can I use a thumb drive instead to boot and run from?)
5. An old computer screen I already have.

Anything else I'm missing?

It would be great to hear from folks with plenty of experience in running nodes on RP.




 
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October 27, 2019, 06:05:01 AM
Merited by OgNasty (2), Cyrus (1), ETFbitcoin (1)
 #2

I hear there's new units out now, version 4b? Is the latest and greatest hardware preferable?
Yes. Running Bitcoin Core would take a significant amount of ram, if you decide to have more peers.
What I'd like to know is what pieces of kit do I need specifically? 
1. RP version?
The newest RPi offers significant improvement over the previous versions in terms of ethernet speed, CPU and memory speed/space. The similar pricing would just make it a no-brainer to go for the newer version.
2. Heat sink, fan?
Passive cooling would be enough, if you choose to run it without much load. The heat sinks are relatively cheap and it wouldn't be a bad idea to get one if you plan to run it for long periods of time.
3. what case?
That's up to you. A plastic one would do, just make sure it is compatible with your heat sink.
3. memory card 256gb I think. What brand/speed is best?
256GB would be an overkill. I wouldn't recommend storing the blockchain on an SD card since the size would only increase from now unless you plan to prune it. Even if thats a non-factor, the heavy read/write cycles could potentially shorten the lifespan of your card.
4. External Hard drive. (Is a hard drive necessary, can I use a thumb drive instead to boot and run from?)
IIRC, it is possible to use a thumbdrive to boot but a simple 16GB sd card would be enough. I would recommend you to get an old HDD to store the data directory in. It would be much cheaper than a huge sd/thumbdrive and it would last a lot longer. You might need to get external power to it though.



You should pre-sync the blockchain on a desktop computer first. The synchronization time for an under-powered device like the raspberry pi would be insanely long. It would be better for you to just copy the data directory from an already synchronized full node to your raspberry pi storage.

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October 27, 2019, 03:15:16 PM
Merited by OgNasty (2)
 #3

Regarding the storage, SD Cards are very, very fragile and prone to failure. A slight overheating (consant R/W can cause this) may just brick the whole SD card forever. The blockchain is about 245 Gigabytes at the moment. If you want to host a proper full node, Raspberry Pi 4 2 GB version with a passive cooled heatsink with 8-16 GB SD Card with a 512GB SSD or 2.5" HDD connected to it via USB 3.0 should be enough.

Raspberry PI has 3 models for Model 4, 1 Gigabyte version which is 35 USD, 2 Gig 45 USD, 4 Gig 55 USD.

The best scenario for you would be:

Raspberry Pi 4 2 GB with Passive Heatsink - 8 GB of MicroSD - 512GB 2.5" SSD or HDD (you'll need a SATA > USB 3.0 adapter) - Case is not required doesn't really help with thermals unless it has a fan so it's completely up to you, it might be hard to manipulate to SSD/HDD connected so my real honest suggestion would be just tape or glue the Raspberry Pi to the storage device and throw it somewhere. No need to monitor if you know how to access through SSH.

Feel free to ask any questions you have.
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October 27, 2019, 04:14:11 PM
Merited by OgNasty (2)
 #4

Take a look here:
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=5162189.0

The RPi 4 gets HOT when thinking hard.
Most of the cases suck as they don't make contact with the CPU

More discussion in that thread.

-Dave

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October 27, 2019, 06:36:09 PM
 #5

2. Heat sink, fan?
3. what case?

Case with fans or without any.

4. External Hard drive. (Is a hard drive necessary, can I use a thumb drive instead to boot and run from?)

You can, but few devices such as RPi 4 technically can't boot from USB storage. microSD still needed to point RPi 4 to boot from USB storage.
See https://www.tomshardware.com/news/boot-raspberry-pi-from-usb,39782.html



I strongly recommend you to buy good power supply (buy official ones if you're not sure), especially because you most likely will run it 24/7 with few USB device attached.

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October 28, 2019, 01:54:07 PM
 #6

You can, but few devices such as RPi 4 technically can't boot from USB storage. microSD still needed to point RPi 4 to boot from USB storage.

no, newer RPi's (4 and 3B+) can be booted from USB based storage. If you want to update the Linux kernel (which will improve the stability of the microboard over time), USB booting is the best option long term. But getting up and running booting from SD is fine, just remember that those kernel updates will (very slowly) wear out the SD card too.


I strongly recommend you to buy good power supply (buy official ones if you're not sure), especially because you most likely will run it 24/7 with few USB device attached.

...and go for a high current power supply if it's available from the vendor. Some USB devices draw a fair amount of power, the CPU & RAM need power when working hard, so best to deliver as much as the RPi is rated for to keep it stable.

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October 28, 2019, 05:46:08 PM
 #7

Thanks, I appreciate your input.
So here's what I've put together.
*RPi 4 model b 4gb
*Smraza Case for Raspberry Pi 4 B, Case with Cooling Fan, 4PCS Heatsinks, 5V 3A USB-C Power Supply
*SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHS-I Card with Adapter - 98MB/s
*WD My Passport Ultra 2TB hard drive (I have this already)

Here's the actual components I'll run.
https://www.amazon.ca/hz/wishlist/ls/2AP9FHFTAAHX3?ref_=wl_share

I couldn't find a better power supply than the one included with the case. 5v 3A
Should I be looking for something better?

Is this HD going to be sufficient powered by USB? I intend to partition 500gb on this drive for this purpose.











 
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October 28, 2019, 06:18:02 PM
 #8

You can, but few devices such as RPi 4 technically can't boot from USB storage. microSD still needed to point RPi 4 to boot from USB storage.

no, newer RPi's (4 and 3B+) can be booted from USB based storage. If you want to update the Linux kernel (which will improve the stability of the microboard over time), USB booting is the best option long term. But getting up and running booting from SD is fine, just remember that those kernel updates will (very slowly) wear out the SD card too.

By any chance, do you need to update the firmware of the RPi? Discussion on other forum mention RPi 4 don't support USB booting.

Is this HD going to be sufficient powered by USB? I intend to partition 500gb on this drive for this purpose.

Yes. Based on my experience, there's no problem if there's only 1 or 2 external HDD.

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October 28, 2019, 09:02:55 PM
 #9

Does it have to be a RPi? How easy to move must it be?

I ask these questions because you can buy old server or workstation hardware that has double everything the Raspberry Pi has for about $150. Something like at least 8 GB RAM, sometimes more, dual or quad core xeon processors and of course you can stick in SSD or HDD; plus those things are designed to run 24/7.

Although the RPi can run 24/7, I don't think it was designed to do that.

Of course, rack servers, even 1U ones, are a lot bigger, maybe noisier (they can run quietly too) and consume more power (but not that much if idle.)

You can even run VMWare or Hyper-V on it and just make a virtual machine run the bitcoin core full node wallet.


But yeah, it's a choice between $35 and $150, a single board computer vs a real rack server, 1 GB to 4 GB RAM vs 4 GB or more (sometimes they sell with 32 GB to 64 GB of DDR3 ram too, depending on how old the server is.)

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October 28, 2019, 11:56:53 PM
 #10

Does it have to be a RPi? How easy to move must it be?


Well, it should fit in my laptop bag easily. It will need to travel once every few months and must be quiet.
Thanks for suggesting other hardware.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing at this stage and the hardware is as much a learning curve as the node.
I'm not sure how often I'll run it or for how long, mainly I want to learn about RPi and running a node and figured this would be the best entry.
By all means, please make specific suggestions.

 
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October 29, 2019, 12:37:20 AM
Merited by Icygreen (1)
 #11

Does it have to be a RPi? How easy to move must it be?


Well, it should fit in my laptop bag easily. It will need to travel once every few months and must be quiet.
Thanks for suggesting other hardware.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing at this stage and the hardware is as much a learning curve as the node.
I'm not sure how often I'll run it or for how long, mainly I want to learn about RPi and running a node and figured this would be the best entry.
By all means, please make specific suggestions.

If you are only going to use it for Bitcoin Full Node, what you listed is enough to handle it. The 4 GB version gives you plenty of leeway with your node and connection count. You should not have any problems running it 24/7 with a USB HDD attached and seeing that your case has a cooling fan. It should be near silent as the fan is probably very small. I mean I got a 120mm fan inside my server running 24/7 right beside my bed and it has never bothered me for several years. However, if you want to expand in the future and develop other projects and require 24/7 uptime on said projects OR if you want to do something that cannot utilise ARM platform. You may need something a lot beefier.

Considering you want to carry it in your laptop bag, you can check out Intel NUCs. They are expensive, however, is very worth the price in this case.

Long story short, if you just want to run a Bitcoin node. Your cart on Amazon should be all okay.
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October 29, 2019, 10:13:12 AM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1)
 #12

no, newer RPi's (4 and 3B+) can be booted from USB based storage. If you want to update the Linux kernel (which will improve the stability of the microboard over time), USB booting is the best option long term. But getting up and running booting from SD is fine, just remember that those kernel updates will (very slowly) wear out the SD card too.

By any chance, do you need to update the firmware of the RPi? Discussion on other forum mention RPi 4 don't support USB booting.

no, the newer RPi's boot direct from USB without firmware updates. The 3B (not 3B+) needed a change to the /boot/config.txt file to specify the UUID of the disk containing the alternative root partition, but 3B+ and the 4 can pick up the /boot folder and the root partition directly from a USB based SATA disk.

Maybe this won't work with USB flash drives? But with USB attached SATA yes, the RPi 4 even has a special new disk-over-USB protocol to make SATA work better than it did with the RPi3.


I couldn't find a better power supply than the one included with the case. 5v 3A

I'm pretty sure you should be able to get a 5A rated power supply, the RPi4 definitely will want plenty of power as it's processor is more capable than the RPi3, and all the extra RAM also wants more power too.

These microboard style computers often have people talking on forums about how having the higher rated power supply helps improve stability when you're maxing it out, e.g. using the processor alot, or using alot of USB connected devices simultaneously. The RPi4 in particular has had problems with it's power consumption (and overheating) that have been mitigated by updating it's firmware since release (RPi4 is pretty new in stores, and the engineers at the Raspberry Pi co. didn't get it working optimally before it was publicly released, it's still being tweaked)

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October 29, 2019, 12:16:27 PM
 #13

I posted this in another thread but you can get everything all ready to go in a box:
https://lightninginabox.co/product/raspiblitz-raspberry-pi-lightning-node/

It's more then putting it together yourself and you don't get to learn about the RPi, but depending on how what you want to do it is all put together with and ready to go.
You can then start to tinker with a known working product and go from there.

Just a thought.

-Dave

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October 29, 2019, 03:52:04 PM
Merited by Icygreen (1)
 #14

Use both a higher rated power supply, as that's always good for both the board and the power supply, AND use a powered USB hub if you are connecting lots of power hungry devices. With a powered USB hub, you can connect plenty of hard drives and it won't kill the RPi. (You can also use powered USB drives, so you can work with the larger form factor drives.)

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October 29, 2019, 05:45:27 PM
 #15

Well, it should fit in my laptop bag easily. It will need to travel once every few months and must be quiet.
Thanks for suggesting other hardware.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing at this stage and the hardware is as much a learning curve as the node.
I'm not sure how often I'll run it or for how long, mainly I want to learn about RPi and running a node and figured this would be the best entry.
By all means, please make specific suggestions.

Since you want to learn about RPi and full node in general, then you already made good choice. Older Raspberry Pi might be more stable, but it's slower and limiting what you could do.

But if you simply need portability then regular laptop, Intel NUC/compute stick or Nvidia Jetson Nano (if you're into computer graphic) will do.

no, the newer RPi's boot direct from USB without firmware updates. The 3B (not 3B+) needed a change to the /boot/config.txt file to specify the UUID of the disk containing the alternative root partition, but 3B+ and the 4 can pick up the /boot folder and the root partition directly from a USB based SATA disk.

Maybe this won't work with USB flash drives? But with USB attached SATA yes, the RPi 4 even has a special new disk-over-USB protocol to make SATA work better than it did with the RPi3.

I just checked my history and the discussed USB storage is USB flash drive. But from cost perspective, it doesn't make sense to use SSD as boot device on SBC computer.

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October 29, 2019, 06:57:32 PM
 #16

Well, it should fit in my laptop bag easily. It will need to travel once every few months and must be quiet.
Thanks for suggesting other hardware.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing at this stage and the hardware is as much a learning curve as the node.
I'm not sure how often I'll run it or for how long, mainly I want to learn about RPi and running a node and figured this would be the best entry.
By all means, please make specific suggestions.

Since you want to learn about RPi and full node in general, then you already made good choice. Older Raspberry Pi might be more stable, but it's slower and limiting what you could do.

But if you simply need portability then regular laptop, Intel NUC/compute stick or Nvidia Jetson Nano (if you're into computer graphic) will do.

no, the newer RPi's boot direct from USB without firmware updates. The 3B (not 3B+) needed a change to the /boot/config.txt file to specify the UUID of the disk containing the alternative root partition, but 3B+ and the 4 can pick up the /boot folder and the root partition directly from a USB based SATA disk.

Maybe this won't work with USB flash drives? But with USB attached SATA yes, the RPi 4 even has a special new disk-over-USB protocol to make SATA work better than it did with the RPi3.

I just checked my history and the discussed USB storage is USB flash drive. But from cost perspective, it doesn't make sense to use SSD as boot device on SBC computer.

SD cards a very prone to failure, if he wants to host a 24/7 running Bitcoin node for storage an SSD/HDD or USB is a must. SD Card suddenly burning etc. Will cause a lot of issues with the Raspbery Pi. Also Nvidia Jetson Nano is not suitable for this at all.

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October 30, 2019, 04:35:52 AM
Last edit: October 30, 2019, 05:10:55 AM by Icygreen
 #17

I posted this in another thread but you can get everything all ready to go in a box:
https://lightninginabox.co/product/raspiblitz-raspberry-pi-lightning-node/

It's more then putting it together yourself and you don't get to learn about the RPi, but depending on how what you want to do it is all put together with and ready to go.
You can then start to tinker with a known working product and go from there.

Just a thought.

-Dave

Thanks Dave, the build and sourcing is part of the fun.  I like that screen in your link. Wouldn't mind adding one just like it  Wink  

I don't understand the interface yet but I assume any wireless keyboard.  And mouse? or touchscreen?

 
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October 30, 2019, 05:04:24 AM
Merited by ETFbitcoin (1), Icygreen (1)
 #18

I posted this in another thread but you can get everything all ready to go in a box:
https://lightninginabox.co/product/raspiblitz-raspberry-pi-lightning-node/

It's more then putting it together yourself and you don't get to learn about the RPi, but depending on how what you want to do it is all put together with and ready to go.
You can then start to tinker with a known working product and go from there.

Just a thought.

-Dave

Thanks Dave, the build and sourcing is part of the fun.  I like that screen in your link. Wouldn't mind adding one just like it  Wink 

I don't understand the interface yet but I assume any wireless keyboard.  And mouse?

Replying as this thread was on my watchlist. Pi screens can be linked to SSH connection or just direct HID like Keyboard and Mouse. I checked the link Dave sent and it appears to be set up so that it displays one specific screen (think of it as virtual desktop) on the well... Physical screen. There are various tutorials on how to do this on the internet if you are interested in it. However, you should know that this is additional power hog to the power supply and the Pi.
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October 30, 2019, 09:09:22 AM
 #19

I don't understand the interface yet but I assume any wireless keyboard.  And mouse?

i would resist the urge to rely on a mouse.

you will end up learning to use the command line no matter what, once you're up to speed, the mouse will become a spare part. And if you stop using a desktop, your machine will have more RAM to use for Bitcoin and Lightning (RPis share RAM between the CPU and the GPU, you can change how much the GPU uses in the file /boot/config.txt)

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October 30, 2019, 05:23:54 PM
 #20

SD cards a very prone to failure, if he wants to host a 24/7 running Bitcoin node for storage an SSD/HDD or USB is a must. SD Card suddenly burning etc. Will cause a lot of issues with the Raspbery Pi.

I doubt microSD will suddenly burning, but as long as you use decent microSD and most read/write activity happen on USB storage, microSD won't be problem when using Rasberry Pi.

Also Nvidia Jetson Nano is not suitable for this at all.

And that's why i emphasize "(if you're into computer graphic)"

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