You have heard of Bitcoin mining.
You were told that it is expensive, complex, likely to kill you and best left to the experts. I assumed the same, that the process required hours of electrical analysis, complicated cash flow models with variable exchange rates and, of course, massive access to capital, space and technical prowess. Mining would never be feasible in a residential setting I thought, especially in an apartment complex, where I find myself living currently.
Fortunately for the network, you and I were absolutely incorrect, and I’ll detail to you below how anyone can acquire bitcoin miners and contribute to the Bitcoin network in a space as limited as 1,000 square feet, even in a multistory apartment building.
Step 1: Secure Miners
I secured miners through a trusted personal connection in the mining space. If you don’t have that luxury, Kaboomracks is a highly recommended domestic resource and an ideal place to begin your search.
Detailed below are various reasons why you should buy an S9 mining rig immediately:
- An S9 is relatively cheap ($350 to $650, depending on the source)
- An S9 is relatively lightweight and rugged
- An S9 is a tried and true platform (nothing fancy or new to break)
- An S9 can run Braiins OS (more on this later)
- While running Braiins OS, you can underclock your miner (important)
Do not get fancy, do not expect to reroute your electric and plumbing in a shared living space and do not underestimate how shockingly loud and powerful an S9 is in your tiny home environment.
Step 2: Ready Your Miner, Attach To A Pool
When you acquire your miner, you will want to plug everything together.
Before you do that, though, make yourself an account at mining pool Slush Pool.
Instead of you turning on a miner and trying along mine a block (read: there’s an extremely low chance of finding one), you instead point your hash power to Slush Pool. When anyone pointing their hash toward Slush Pool finds a block, everyone in the pool receives a payout of sats relative to their contribution to the pool.
Back to the miner.
Every miner that you own will need a source of power and ethernet connection. You can see above that the S9 consists of the main miner, shaped like a long shoe box with a blue ethernet cable poking out of the front, and a PSU (or power supply unit), which has the black cable that goes to the wall.
Important: For apartment mining, space is premium. Buy a powerline adapter, which allows you to run ethernet through the wiring in your house. You will need one ethernet plug per miner.
Your miner, like your phone or computer, has a unique IP address. You must know this address to access the graphical user interface (GUI) of your miner and make changes to the tuning (this is important to not burn your apartment down or blow fuses. Do not run any miner at full power on wiring that you are not 100% sure is built for that load.)
By downloading an app that can scan your local network (read: everything attached to your router physically or via Wi-Fi), you can find the IP of your miner. I used Fing and found it to work well on Android.
With my miner plugged into the wall and the ethernet cable attached, I navigate to the IP address of my miner in my browser and see the GUI for that specific miner.
Next, use the FAQ at Slush Pool to copy a link on their website to where you will point your hash power to mine with Slush Pool. I pasted this link into my Braiins OS “Pool Groups” and gave each miner a personal name:
Now, when I navigate to my Slush Pool dashboard, I see my hash power recorded by its system. At this point, relax and check the links you copy and pasted and confirm that nothing broke. It may take a moment for everything to register.
Step 3: Why Can’t I Hear Anything?
Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far, you are successfully contributing to securing the Bitcoin network and stacking sats via your energy bill.
You’ve also inevitably discovered why Michael Saylor calls bitcoin miners “cyber hornets.”
That sucker is loud.
As you shout to your spouse over the sound of the 75 decibel (db) miner with a fan running at 100%, you’ll also notice the beads of sweat forming across your brow. That’s because the exhaust venting from the backend of your miner is coming out at Russian banya temperatures and you are quickly turning your apartment into Aleksander’s favorite after-work hangout spot.
If your wife doesn’t immediately file for divorce, she’ll give you the side-eye until you figure out how to make this perpetually-running-space-heater of a device more sound and heat friendly.
Luckily, there is a way.
Step 4: Plan A Mining Box For Your Space
Note: It’s here where I would like to give a shou tout to @_joerodgers, @roninminer, @Arceris_btc and @SGBarbour for helping to secure and set up miners, use the powerline ethernet strategy, and house miners in a home mining box (in that order). It all started with a Twitter thread by Barbour (you can find it here). If you aren’t already, I also highly recommend following him for all things mining related. He is producing commercial-grade equipment and has gone out of his way to design, prototype and sell a version of what I am about to show you.
If you want to buy this box, which will be commercially available soon, buy it from him. (Note: I’m not paid to say this, I appreciate his work and what he has shared.)
Here is the most important image from his Twitter thread:
To make our version, we will need the following:
- One sheet of 4’ by 8’ plywood of your choice
- One sheet of 4’ by 8’ asphalt sheeting
- One large pack of carpet padding (like this)
- A staple gun and staples
- Four wheels for the base (your choice)
- A few pounds of 1” to 1.5” wood screws
- Gaffer tape
- Foam weatherstripping tape
- Two hinges
- One locking mechanism of your choice
- One or two handles (for easier rolling around and lid lifting)
- One medium-gauge extension cord (I’m using a 12-foot one)
- One one-to-three extension cord splitter (like this)
- Sound-dampening panels (I got these on Amazon, the quality is hit or miss)
- Two rolls of two-sided tape (to attach the sound panels)
- Extra cardboard or acrylic sheeting (for your hot/cold separation)
Note: When you buy the plywood and asphalt sheeting from your hardware store, see if they can cut the asphalt sheeting into six 16” by 4’ lengths for easier transportation. For the plywood sheet, have them cut it as close as you can get to the below image.
Step 5: Construction
With your items secured, you will be first cutting your plywood into the above-sized pieces. I had the hardware store make a few cuts for me, and I finished the final cuts with a circular saw on my balcony and numbered each with a pencil.
Note: It is at this point that I must apologize to my wife for closing the screen but not the sliding door on our balcony and causing a fine layer of sawdust to collect on 60% of our living room.
I can’t offer you a step by step on how to assemble the basic shape, and I’m sure my process was not optimal, but I can give you a sense of what I did and how it worked for me.
- Start with the floor of the hut (#2 on diagram), then add the t-post (#6 and #5)
- Attach these three pieces to one of your walls (#1)
- At this point, I used the staple gun to attach a layer of carpet padding to the internals of the plywood. Then I cut lengths of the asphalt board (can be done by hand) and lightly screwed them into the plywood, making a plywood/padding/asphalt sandwich.
- Making the wings on either side (#4, #4 and #3 pieces) were done separately, foam and asphalt were added, then they were slotted into an empty space left between the padding and asphalt on the back wall (#1) so the wood was in direct contact with the wood before screwing in
- Adding the second wall (#1) was difficult and required first stapling carpet padding to the entire face, then laying the face on top of the open end and tracing the internals with a sharpie. Then, cut out the traced portions and add asphalt sheeting over the top. I wish I had a photo here to show you, but the final product let me lay one wall (#1) on top of the above completed half, and the pattern inside slotted in perfectly so wood was contacting wood. At that point, I screwed everything in.
- Add your hinges to one end to secure your lid (#2) and don’t forget to add carpet padding and asphalt sheeting to the top so that it will slot between the walls and not rest on top of them. This gives a better seal.
- Then, add your wheels to the bottom, your lid handle and your lock to the face of the box (to hold the lid closed)
- You should see roughed edges as you look in the top and either end (inlet/outlet) of the box. I chose to buy some trim at a later date to finish the inlet and outlet, and used the gaffer tape on the top to clean up the top edge.
- You will then use your foam weatherstripping tape to seal the space around the lid for an air and sound-tight rig
Step 6: Final Assembly
Place your miners in the box and cut a piece of acrylic or cardboard for a hot/cold barrier (very important to ensure directional airflow in the box), then install sound-dampening foam with two-sided tape.
Plug each miner and your powerline adapter (ethernet cables go into this) into your one-to-three splitter, then your splitter to the extension cord. Then, run your extension cord to the wall.
If you’ve set up everything correctly, your miners should turn on, connect to the internet, and begin tuning via Braiins OS.
Final Step: Stack Sats, No Fires
The final step is to use your browser-based Braiins OS interface to set a lower wattage on your miners to not exceed the max wattage of the weakest part of your system. For me, it is my cabling, and I keep total electrical draw under 1 kilowatt hour, to not exceed the cable or wall fixture ratings.
From there, the rest of the fine tuning is up to you! Happy building and happy stacking.
This is a guest post by Robert Warren. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.