Waiting on hashing power

Today I bought another Black Widow on eBay along with its required power supply unit. The estimated delivery date is a week from today. I had enough space on my shelf to accommodate one more Black Widow, so I figured I’d better fill it out. The recent discovery that I can pre-order a replacement chip which will bring the Black Widow’s hashing power up to 65 MH/s pushed me over the edge. The other motivating factor was the observation that while there is a regular trickle of these units on sale on eBay, mining rig retailers do not seem to be carrying them anymore. For that matter they don’t seem to be carrying the Zeus Lightnings either.

Zeus Miner is currently taking pre-orders for its Volcano Scrypt rig, which hashes at 300 MH/s. Smaller rigs simply are not available in the primary retail market. You have to buy them second hand on eBay. I imagine that will be my next mining rig purchase, but not until my smaller rigs are all upgraded. It may be that I will pick up a Volcano or two on eBay for half the current price once a bigger and better Scrypt rig comes out. That is one major challenge with mining hardware. It depreciates faster than a new car you just drove off the lot.

Although the trend is to go for hardware with higher and higher hash rates, on Mining Rig Rentals, there clearly is a demand for small  rigs. I have more than once had both my Black Widow and my Fury Fleet (three furies together for an advertised hash rate of 3.8 MH/s) at the same per MH/s price, and watched my Fury Fleet get rented quickly while my Black Widow kept mining in my pool for a few more hours before finally getting rented for just a few hours. I suspect that once I upgrade all my hardware I’m going to have a harder time keeping it rented.

Rigs with a low hash rate are also perfect for mining new coins or for mining good coins which have largely been bypassed. If a coin’s network hash rate is only 400 MH/s, and the pool hash rate is only 50 MH/s, there is no sense in adding your 250 MH/s rig to the network. By nearly doubling the hash rate you will simply raise the difficulty level and mine fewer coins. In a network that small, you’ll do better mining with a 20 or 30 MH/s rig. You’ll mine close to ten percent of the coins without increasing the difficulty too much.

Once I upgrade my Furies, they will each hash at 10 MH/s. At that point I want to split them up and treat them as three separate rigs. That way I’ll be able to rent them relatively easily or use them to play around in small networks. Before I realized I could upgrade them I was considering getting rid of the Furies. Now that I know I can get them upgraded to 10 MH/s each I am glad to hang onto them.

But none of the upgrades will be ready until the end of the year, and only after I can come up with the necessary funds to place a pre-order. That’s three long months away.

My two most recent rig purchases will bring my hash rate up from 16.8 MH/s to around 70 MH/s for the next three months until I upgrade. My Lightning should come online sometime tomorrow while my second Black Widow will be at least a week in transit.

This is where ordering physical hardware is a different experience than cloud mining. I haven’t actually seen or touched any of my hardware. When I order I have it shipped directly to the data center and they set it all up for me. Then they give me a url to the controlling Raspberry Pi with the Minera operating system installed and I take over from there. I mainly set the pools, occasionally reboot the miner or the entire operating system, and check out the raw log if I’m not liking what I see on the pool website. But I don’t get to play with the hardware itself. So in a way it doesn’t feel too much different than my experience with cloud mining, other than the fact that I choose the pools.

But where cloud mining share purchases are instantly activated, physical hardware takes days to deliver. Although I paid for my second Black Widow earlier today, and then endured the pain of selling Bitcoin for less than $400 to cover it, I still have to wait a week for my hardware to arrive. I have to wait before I can enjoy the benefits of the increased hash rate. And while I’m waiting for my hardware to reach the data center, and then for the data center people to set it up, there is no way that rig is even beginning to make ROI.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to pre-order my very first rig and then have to wait several months, no doubt while watching the difficulty increase on my favorite coin on a weekly or daily basis, knowing that each day the rig is not hashing is a day of lost earnings.

Right now LiteCoin Dark is still worth mining, although it’s going to be a mine and hold type of coin as I will need to wait for the price to recover now that the multipools have discovered it and are no doubt mining and dumping it, depressing its price. But in less than 5,000 blocks, or three or four days, the block reward will cut in half from 1,600 coins to 800. When that happens it may no longer make sense for me to mine it. For this reason I want to mine it with all I got now and over the next few days.

I eagerly followed the delivery of the Zeus Lightning all the way to the data center’s front door by regularly refreshing the tracking url. The estimated delivery date was this Saturday (tomorrow) so I figured I wouldn’t be able to hash with it until Monday. But it arrived mid-morning today, so I asked if there was a chance the rig could be up and running by the end of the day.

The reply was not today, but most likely tomorrow. Not as bad as having to wait out the entire weekend, but still difficult in light of the LiteCoin Dark status. Right now the multipool dumping is depressing the price just enough to keep the network hash rate relatively low. The block reward is still high. It sure would be wonderful to be able to throw another 40 MH/s of hashing power at it. But I have to wait another day and make do with the Black Widow’s 13 MH/s.

In a few days when the Lightning is hashing away I’m sure I will find a time where I just wish I only had that second Black Widow already working.

And if that weren’t enough, I managed to completely shut down my Fury Fleet for the night. A renter picked it up and could not get any hashing power out of it whatsoever. I wrote a note requesting he or she pick a different pool as for whatever reason the pool was not accepting the work. He asked if I could reset the rig, so I did. Then I rebooted the operating system, and restarted the miner again. Still nothing. It had been hashing just fine in the LiteCoin Dark pool right until the time it was rented.

So then I took the nuclear option. I shut down the operating system, even while wondering how I might turn it back on. The message I got at the end was “It is now safe to unplug me.” And that was the end of my connection to that computer. You can do a lot of things remotely, but there is no way to remotely physically push the on button after a hard shut down.

I contacted the data center via live chat, but the chat operator isn’t authorized to just walk into the server room and turn on someone’s computer. He has to put in a request to the administrator and they may or may not respond in the middle of the night. Fortunately it’s only 3.8 MH/s that will be taking an eight or nine hour break. Talk about down time! At least I did not make that mistake with my Black Widow’s Pi operating system!

There are many ways as a miner to find oneself waiting on hashing power. Completely remotely shutting down the rig’s operating system should not be attempted more than once and preferably never. Paying for purchases or pre-orders and then having to wait on delivery will probably be par for the course.

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