Compiling the config file…

With the OS installed on the Raspberry Pi, next I needed to configure the mining software. This is fairly easy to do, and there are plenty of options out there for software to use. As the SBCs are pretty much CPU only, I had to choose a coin that could be mined with CPU only. Most coins are optimised for expensive GPUs or ASICs which mine a lot faster, but the point of what I was doing was to see if I could make it work, not necessarily make a load of profit doing it.

I had a good read and stumbled across a blog from someone doing something similar to me (blog now sadly withdrawn, it was extremely informative) they suggested I use mining software XMRig. After some reading, it seemed that I needed a CPU mining algorithm, and settled on ‘Cryptonight’ mining for Monero, a widely-known altcoin.

At this point I had already familarised myself with a mining pool called ‘MinerGate’ which has a really nice graphical interface on Windows, but as i was using command line linux I had to set up the config manually.

Next up I had to compile the config.json file which tells the mining pool who you are, what coin you want to be rewarded  for your effort in, the destination for the payout and various other pieces of important information. The easiest way to do this is to look up the pool-specific config options (some pools have a section where you can put in this info and select the mining software you use and they auto-generate it for you) then use a template config like the one available at https://github.com/xmrig/xmrig/blob/master/src/config.json.

With this configured, all you have to do is run ./xmrig at the command line and away it goes!

 

 

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Why SBCs

Mostly, cheapness. Its probably the easiest way into mining, my total outgoings for the board, power supply and SD card was under £40. It also gave me an opportunity to improve my linux knowledge, as I wanted to install minimal (command line only) Debian on the SBC and see if I could get it set up and working. Worst case, it didn’t work and I had lost £40, or more likely repurpose it for something else, something its probably better suited to. I had ‘skin in the game’.

When the Raspberry Pi arrived I unboxed it and got it set up. As I’d not done this before I decided I’d set the SD card up with Noobs, a simple point and click setup to install an OS on the SD card to get going with. I decided on Raspbian as it had a GUI, and was supposed to be a good place to start for, ummm, noobs to learn from.

I ran the installer, which took about 10 minutes, then fitted the SD card to the RPi, hooked it up with the power supply, an ethernet cable and plugged in a monitor connected via HDMI.

It starts by netbooting the OS and installing all the software to run. It took about 40 minutes to run through the process and I was presented with the desktop. Next up was to go to the command line and start installing some extra software packages.

I began by following this guide:

https://www.thepolyglotdeveloper.com/2018/01/use-raspberry-pi-cpu-miner-mine-altcoins/

which covers everything I needed to get going. I had signed up with a mining pool called MinerGate, which has mixed reviews but is super easy for total novices to get going with, regardless of  platform. I had already got it going on a mobile phone by this point, and was seeing numbers going up (slowly) – this is positive because a lot of the internal hardware in Andriod phones is very similar to whats used on SBCs, so I knew I was on the right sort of track.

By this point, I had decided that the goal of this project was not to mine LOTS, it was to mine efficiently. This is the major forte of SBCs generally, they have incredibly low power draw. An RPi idling will use approximately 3w, or put into hard cash – about a penny per day at average UK power costs.

I plan to work my RPi a bit harder, but would be surprised if the entire enterprise exceeds 5w sustained, or about 1.5p per day. Lets see what happens?

Whats the story, bro?

I’ve been a fan of SBCs for a long while, but never had something that I really wanted to do with them. There are loads of projects out there to make use of them but life had passed me by and I’d not really got into them for anything.

A while back I caught the crypto mining bug and started scratching around for a suitable machine to mine with. The internet is full of shopping lists for mega mining rigs, spending thousands to get a setup that should enable you to see a return on the investment in 18-24 months time. This isn’t my idea of fun.

Why not try turning something utterly unsuitable to the task and see what happens?

SBC, meet crypto mining.

I ordered myself a Raspberry Pi, the most popular SBC, an 8GB Micro SD card and a 5v 3a PSU and started reading up on how to compile mining software.

Here’s where the journey begins.