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Building your own Bitcoin miner – Part 2

Sunday 21st, July 2013 / 13:41
Building your own Bitcoin miner – Part 2

Previously on BTC World News, we explored building your own Bitcoin miner – Part 1 which showed the beginning steps of our miner construction here behind the scenes at BTC World News. Next we’re ready to assemble and power up the Raspberry PI with the newly engineered LCD from Adafruit.

lcd mountedThe Adafruit LCD fits nicely on top of the Raspberry PI and comes complete with rubber cushions so that the two pieces don’t short out each other. With the LCD screen firmly attached, we’re ready to power up the Raspberry PI.

You’ll likely notice that the Raspberry Pi is sitting in a chassis we found on the Adafruit website also. Thinking slightly ahead of the game, we decided that once we got the miner to operate, it would probably be a good idea that it was in a container that would protect the unit for the long haul. You’ll find a variety of chassis or frames for the Raspberry PI out in the wild.

Before powering up the Raspberry PI, we had to choose and prepare an OS for the entire project. Adafruit provided a few recommendations and we ended up with Raspbian Wheezy, which is a version of Debian. At first we prepared a 2Gb SD card, though in our first few tests, we found that it was much better to use a 4Gb SD card as there are a number of support files required. As well, if you actually expand on the functionality, you’ll be happy that you have the space readily available. The original Raspbian Wheezy OS image was right at 1.8Gb unpacked, so our original SD card was about out of space just by loading the image.

raspbian wheezy

 

Now loaded, ready and able, we connected up the cables and powered on our Bitcoin miner to the Raspberry PI desktop. From this point, we found that we had to add a reasonable amount of support for the project including CGMiner, LCD support and a number of other files. Luckily the instructions from Adafruit were pretty simple to follow.

powering up lcd“It’s Alive!!!”

A few scripts later and the excitement building, we have our first glimpse of our LCD screen coming to life. Unfortunately our perceived triumph was shadowed by the agony of defeat as we watched the screen dim and then fade to black.

It took a little while to determine that something went wrong with the soldering and back to the drawing board we went. Keep in mind, we performed the soldering by eye, without a magnifying glass and as these pins are extremely small, it wasn’t difficult to cross solder or just miss a pin.

Clouted by our initial failure, we went pin by pin and cleaned up anything and everything on the circuit board to finally yield success.

We found a couple test scripts for the LCD and began tinkering with them to see what could be accomplished with this new screen and was delighted to see a full library of functions ready to go.

 

Right Button LCDup button lcdleft button lcd

 

fields of greenUpon running the LCD scripts, we tested the operation of the buttons that we attached to the circuit board. We had a number of options to control, including screen color, brightness and within the library, we were able to set the text on the screen. Considering this was a money making device, we thought this picture was perfectly appropriate for the moment.

There were a number of pre-formatted text strings which at this time, found no need to adjust as this was just a test library.

We carried on to complete the install of CGMiner and it’s supporting files. Being that we’re using Block Erupter USB ASIC chips, the instructions suggested CGMiner 3.1.1 for compatibility.

With success lurking on the horizon we hooked up the ASIC chips to our Raspberry PI, and found that that their wasn’t enough power to power the chips and had to go out and get a powered USB hub.

 

usb hub with ASIC chips

With the proper amount of power applied, we continued to setup our Mining pool account on Slushes Pool at bitcoin.cz which was probably the easiest step of this entire process. This required a username and password for the miner worker. We setup a few options including where we want our Bitcoin shares to go and we were ready to connect.

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.

At this point, we can not tell a lie, we encountered a number of issues connecting the Raspberry PI up to the mining pool using CGMiner 3.1.1. And in an effort to complete what we started, (mine Bitcoins), we wanted to verify that the chips were working correctly and were able to connect. To be perfectly honest, we were frothing again to make some Bitcoins and ultimately, lacking an understanding of the unknown.

Considering that the difficulty rate is rising as fast as the National Debt, we made the choice to bypass the Raspberry PI as the source for the mining rig until we could further research what the issue is.

cgminerThough, overcoming adversity was our goal in light of this epic failure. Our efforts lead us to search for a remedy and we found a number of “How-to” articles, as well found comments that CGMiner 3.1.1 was only compatible with Block Erupter. Further information suggested that the latest stable version of CGMiner, 3.3.1 didn’t support Block Erupter on Debian and on and on and on. We even went as far as performing multiple installs based on other instructions to no avail.

Taking a deep breath, we reconsidered our objective which was to successfully mine Bitcoin’s. Where granted, it was to be through a Raspberry PI, but due to the circumstances we decided to give our Windows laptop a shot. After a few hours, a few hick-ups and glitches later, we were able to accept our first block on Slushes pool.

SUCCESS was ours at BTC World News.

Currently today, at the time of writing this post, we’re mining right at 1.1 GH and have earned a whopping 0.2 BTC in about 4 days. This is equal to about $20.00 USD. It remains our goal to correct the Raspberry PI issues and will post a follow up of our success or failures. Overall, we believe it is important to share the whole truth of this adventure which shows our commitment to show both sides of the Bitcoin.

If we were to tag a difficulty level from 1-10 on this project, we would give it a 6 as moderately difficult based on the need to have decent knowledge of Linux, Hardware as well, command line scripting in order  to run your own Bitcoin miner operation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these articles on our trials and tribulations of building a Bitcoin miner and hope you would consider donating some BTC to us here at BTC World News. Simply click the link to donate, you can enter any amount of BTC and it is great appreciated. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @BTCWorldNews and like us on Facebook.com/BTCWorldNews for all the latest Bitcoin News, Information and Trends.

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