So the main thing that people remark when they see the miners I have in my basement is “you must have to be a computer guy to set all that up.” Although I’m sure it helps, I don’t think that it’s a requirement. There are many different kind of mining hardware that have been developed over the years so I can’t cover them all here but I’m going to go over a few options and break down how they work so that you can see that although not incredibly straight forward, all of these are pretty simple to get going with a little elbow grease. I would say that setting up any of the miners I’m about to go over would be a good Saturday project after gathering all the needed parts.
Lets start with the cheapest way to get involved: USB miners.
These little guys are cheap (Amazon$55), they don’t earn much but they will familiarize you with how this all works. You basically plug them in to any existing computer you’ve got and run some software and boom you’re mining. If you want to get fancy you can use a raspberry pi (Amazon $49) and load a mining OS onto it like Rokos or Minera then plug a bunch of these little USB guys to it and watch ’em go!
Next lets talk about the bigger boys. Now, no, all bitcoin miners are not the same, but most of the larger machines do share common characteristics in how they are set up and work. What I’m going to do here is build out 2 mining rigs, one with a lower end miner and one with the presently top end miner and show you the price and earnings difference. There are plenty of setups in between and I’ll go over how you can have multiple machines at the end but at first lets just compare 2 straight forward setups using 1 miner.
Lets start from the bottom up. First you will need to choose what type of Miner you want. There are many factors that go into your choice but lets look at from a budget point of view.
On the lower end lets start with an older Antminer S5:
This little guy pulls 590 watts (from now on referred to as just w) of power at the wall and mines at a rate of ~1000Gh/s (gigahash per second) also known as ~1Th/s (terahash per second) which when it was made was insane, but now is not that great. It’s important to note how much power the Miner needs vs how much hashing power you get out of it. I was able to find a few of these used on ebay for around $150. Like I said this is the budget rig we’re building out here so it will do much MUCH more than the usb miners but still won’t be efficient enough to earn any real money, we’re still in hobby range.
Next let’s look at the top of the line, the Antminer S9:
This monster pulls about ~1350w at the wall and Mines at a whopping 14Th/s! That means that it does 14 times the work of the s5 while only using 3 times the energy! The painful part is the price tag… The price tag of the Antminer S9 is a whopping $2,100 at the time of this writing. You will notice similarities in the look of these two machines and that’s because they are made by the same manufacturer and they’ve found a winning design, 3 hash boards side by side with a fan at the front and a fan at the back.
I will tell you from experience, these things are LOUD. Don’t expect to have them set up in your living room because they will take over the soundscape.
Next you will need a power supply you will need a power supply:
This is the part that you will plug into the wall for power and will then feed that power to the miner. They are available from electronics outlets as the stand alone power supply units for computers when people build their own. You will notice the two examples I show are 650w (suitable for the s5) and 1600w (suitable for the s9) respectively and depending on the miner you choose the amount of power necessary will be different, to give you and example of how different the price of the 650w PSU is $59.99 (Amazon) and the 1600w PSU is $388.95 (Amazon) so you can see where the amount of money you want to invest to get started makes a difference. It should be noted that these PSUs are for miners in the US running on 120w wall outlets, if you are lucky enough to live in an area that has 220w wall outlets or you have a way to tap into your washer/dryer lines, miners run more efficiently on 220w power.
Now that you’ve got power and the miner, all you need is a network connection. If you are setting up the miner close to your existing router, great! One less step for you, but if you’ve set up a miner or two in a remote location, the easiest thing is run a single ethernet cable from your router to the location then install a dumb switch like this one:
This little guy is just $24.99 on amazon and couldn’t be easier to use, just plug a cable from your router into any of it’s ports and plug your miner into any of the remaining ports and that’s it.
The great thing about these higher end Miners is that all the software needed to run them is built onto the machine so once you’ve got them powered on and connected to the network you just point your web browser at the IP address of the box and you can configure everything from the UI in the browser.
So, a quick recap. All you really need to mine is a PSU, a Miner and a network connection. Depending on the hardware you choose, the prices vary greatly. Our “budget” rig came out to roughly ~$209.99, where our top of the line rig came out to about ~$2,488.95.
Our budget rig Mines at ~1Th/s which at present market value, if your electricity cost is $0.04 Kw/h (nobody’s electricity is that cheap but this is just an example) earns you $10.24 a month. When you take into account the money spent on the rig, you will break even in 20 and a half months, everything beyond that is profit.
Our badass rig mines at 14Th/s which at present market value, if your electricity cost is $0.04 Kw/h earns you $321.61 a month. When you take into account the money spent on the rig, you will break even in 7.7 months, everything beyond that is profit.
So now that we know how a 1 rig system works, lets talk about the necessary eventuality, you want more! Limitations and considerations to expanding your farm.
You will notice that on both of the Miners pictured above there are really only 2 types of connection ports:
An ethernet port:
A PCIe power port:
The picture of the PCIe Power Ports shown above is for the Antminer S9, which requires 9 power cables feeding power plus 1 to feed the control board, so your power supply has to have 10 PCIe power cables to power this one machine. You can use multiple power supplies to power one machine but you must make sure that, at very least, each board is powered by the same PSU. So, although it is frowned upon by the manufacturer, in theory, if you didn’t have a ~$400 1600w power supply laying around, but you do have 3x 650w power supplies, you could power each of the hashing boards with a different PSU.
The same goes the other way, the Antminer S5 only requires 4 PCIe power inputs so if you had a 1600w power supply, you could run 2 S5s using only one PSU.