The aftermarket firmware we distribute allows you to gain more control over your S19 by being able to change the voltage of the chips, which allows for overlocking, underclocking, and overall increased performance.
Other benefits include compatibility with modified power supplies, and immersion settings, so that you can remove the fans.
What models are supported?
Right now, all variations of the T19/S19 are supported, except if they have AM logic control boards (A Mirco USB port, instead of Micro SD), and S19a models.
Does it have autotune?
Autotune is in the development pipeline. There are overclocking presets, as well as the ability to manually tune your machine.
Check out our video on how to manually tune:
What Size Micro SD card do I need to run it?
You will need a Micro SD card that is 16gb or smaller. The preferred size is 8gb.
What increase in hashrate can I expect from the firmware?
It really varies based on model. We have found that S19j Pros are the best for overclocking. One of the biggest determiners for overclocking capabilities is the power that you can run through the power supply. On the APW12, you shouldn’t exceed much more than 3800w. We have been able to achieve up to 140TH on air, and up to 180TH in immersion with a 104TH S19J Pro. Those numbers are definitely pushing the machine quite a bit and were using a modified power supply, so we tend to suggest running them at 3600-3800w with the stock power supply depending on what you want.
What efficiency gains do you get from Underclocking the machines?
We haven’t explored this much as we are in a bull market and are chasing hashrate but the firmware gives you a ton of room to experiment with tuning individual chips through lowering voltage.
Why I might want to Overclock my Machine?
Overclocking your machine means that you get more hashrate, which also means you will have to deploy less equipment to reach your power consumption/hashrate goals. With newer equipment coming out, it allows you to acquire equipment at a lower cost and get a higher hashrate. Firmware for the newer machines being released will most likely take a while to develop.
Does Aftermarket Firmware Void my Warranty?
Is there any trace of the firmware if I remove the SD Card?
No. When you remove the SD Card, it reverts back to stock firmware. This is super convenient if you want to revert back to the base firmware.
Things to consider before overclocking:
When overclocking, you will be drawing a lot more power, so you will need to make sure that your infrastructure can handle it. People have blown up transformers and melted power cords.
Overclocking has the ability to damage your machine, so it’s important you understand the limits of what your power supply can safely handle. The firmware we distribute has been thoroughly tested, but is important that you understand what you are doing as you begin to deploy it.
What is the Password?
The firmware password is “admin”, if “root” doesn’t work.
Supported models include T19, S19, S19 Pro, S19J, and S19J Pro. Firmware is not yet supported for the S19 and S19a models with Micro USB.
You can both read this article and check out the YouTube video that goes along with it.
Buy an 8GB Micro SD card. If the Micro SD card is larger than 8GB, it may not work.
Or receive a free Micro SD card from us with the firmware already installed by filling out this form:
If you receive the SD card from us, skip steps 1-4.
Format Micro SD card to Fat 32.
Download specific miner firmware.
Make sure that the firmware you download is consistent with the model of S19 you have, as well as the type of control board your miner has. For example, if you have an S19 J Pro, make sure you download the S19 J Pro firmware. The two types are Beagle Boards and Xilinx boards. The firmware link to download will specify whether it is a Beagle Board by have “bb” in the link title.
An S19 with a Beagle Bone Board will require you to take off the top cover. Make sure to wait for at least 5 minutes before touching the bus bars. You will not have to remove them for any reason in this process, but they can be mistakenly touched which could give you a pretty serious shock.
The Xilinx board on the other hand does not require you to remove the top as it does have a Micro SD card slot on the front.
Use an application such as Balena Etcher to flash the firmware onto the Micro SD card.
Plug the Micro SD card into the Micro SD Slot and turn it on.
For this article, I will be using Slushpool and Blockstream’s Green Wallet as examples of how to do this process. Green Wallet is a mobile phone app compatible on both Android and iPhone. Phone wallets are not the most secure, so if you are dealing with a large amount of Bitcoin, it would be beneficial to invest in and research more secure storage.
Step 1: Download Green Wallet or another Bitcoin wallet
Green wallet is located in both the Android and Apple app store.
Step 2: Sign up for Slushpool or another mining pool
All that is required to sign up for Slushpool is an email account.Slushpool
Step 3: Create a Wallet in the Green Wallet app
It is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO SAVE YOUR RECOVERY PHRASE!!!! Make sure to write them down on a piece of paper and save them somewhere that YOU WILL NOT LOSE THEM. If you misplace them and your phone has issues, or you get locked out of your account, you will lose access to the funds on your wallet. Having this recovery phrase allows you to recover your Bitcoin in any wallet and is not specific to Green Wallet. This means that even if your phone breaks, and/or you lose access to the wallet, you still have the ability to have access to your funds. Most wallets such as Green Wallet will not let you create a wallet without first confirming that you have saved your backup phrase.
Step 4: Connect Wallet to Slush Pool
First, log into Slushpool and click on the rewards tab on the lefthand side.
Then click on your Bitcoin balance next to “Available Balance.”
Now, click up “Set Up”.
Now you can give your wallet a name, and choose whether the pool pays you out when your mining rewards reach a certain threshold or based on a time interval. Slushpool charges a fee of 10,000 sats (0.0001 BTC) if you withdraw before it hits the threshold of 1 million sats (0.01 BTC).
Green Wallet will give an option to use either “Segwit” or “Legacy” accounts, which is just the type of address generated by your wallet. Segwit has cheaper transaction fees. Generate a wallet address in Green Wallet by clicking ‘Receive’. Then put it in the wallet address box on Slushpool.
Now take that wallet address and put it into your Slushpool account and click confirm changes. Slushpool will send you an email for you to confirm that you have added your wallet to the account.
There you have it! You now have your wallet connected to Slushpool and will begin to take custody of your earnings.
Check out our video on how to manually tune your S19 with our Firmware:
The aftermarket firmware we are distributing for the S19 allows for manual chip tuning, which can both help to boost hash rate, but also may increase efficiency. The firmware comes with a series of presets which work well, but it also allows you to tweak each individual chip on each hash board by adjusting the voltage, as well as the MHz. Manually tuning is beneficial because each machine is different, and auto tuning function is still being fine-tuned by the development team.
Each chip takes a certain voltage and turning up the voltage (overclocking) will increase the hash rate. Likewise, if you decrease the voltage (underclocking) you may be able to attain higher levels of efficiency, though it will decease hash rate. The trick is finding the sweet spot where the chips are not receiving too much voltage, or too little voltage. You also have to keep in mind the limits of your power supply. If your power supply is modded, you will be able to increase power and reach substantially higher hash rates. A stock APW12 is rated for 3.6kW and we have seen them handle just under 4kW stably. Increasing chip voltage, will also increase power consumption, so it is important for you to monitor increases in power consumption as you increase the voltage.
The other variable you can adjust is level of MHz, which is the size of the electrical wave passing through the chips. Adjusting the MHz up or down will impact how your chips perform. If you bump up the voltage, and the chips are underperforming, you should initially bump up the MHz to see if you can them performing optimally. MHz will not increase power consumption but is another way to try and optimize the way your chips interact with the voltage that you set it to.
The firmware for the S19 gives you a visualization of how each chip is performing. The interface shows each chips hash rate in GH/s, as well as temperature, and frequency.
The chips will be colored black if performing optimally, yellow is suboptimal, and red if substantially underperforming. The goal of manually tuning is to get all of your chips performing optimally at your desired power consumption. If you bump the voltage up too high, the chips will turn red, and the board will shut off. This will not damage your board as long as you adjust the settings to bring down the voltage.
As you begin tuning, you will notice that the higher you push the voltage, the less efficient the miner becomes from a power consumption standpoint. There is the potential as well that if your chips do not have enough voltage or balance of mHz, then the board will underperform or not hash. With experimentation, you will be able to find the proper balance.
Autotune will hopefully be a feature soon, but until then, have fun experimenting.
The S9 is the AK47 of Bitcoin Miners. It is easily the best miner for beginners to get started with home mining. There are three perks of the S9 that make it incredibly advantageous for the beginner.
It can run on a 110v outlet
The noise and heat are manageable
They are super affordable compared to newer generation miners
How to Set it Up
Here is a list of parts you need to get started. Typically, we do not supply the ethernet cord, but make sure you specify which power cable you need. The one in the picture is Nema 5-15, which is compatible with your typical household outlet.
The Antminer S9 is a machine that was released by Bitmain in 2016. At 13.5 TH/s, it was the dominant machine at that time. Even today, they are highly sought after due to their durability and versatility. Depending on the price of Bitcoin, they break even at around $0.09-0.10 a kWh. This means that they are a great option for many people living in residential settings.
There are four different types of power supplies that are compatible with the S9. We ship our units with the APW3++ because of its ability to run on either 120v or 240v. Your typical household outlets run on 120v and will support a S9, as long as it is not overloaded with other devices.
All of the S9s we sell are preloaded with Braiins, which is an aftermarket firmware that allows for more control over your machine. Braiins has a feature called Autotune, which helps your machine to run as efficiently as possible by routing the appropriate amount of electricity to each chip.
Check out our YouTube video on how to set up your S9.
It is incredibly important that you make sure to first plug in one the PCE connectors (The plastic plugs on the cords coming from the Power Supply) to the control board, which sits on the top of the machine. If you do not connect to the control board, and go straight to the hashboards, the fans will not turn on to cool your machine and it may catch on fire. Also, before actually plugging your PSU into the wall, makes sure to plug in your ethernet cable.
Finding your IP Address:
The easiest way to find your machine is to download the BTC Tool. This tool will allow you to plug in your IP range and it will automatically detect the miners on your network. This tool is only supported for Windows and Linux, so for Mac users, you will have to use a traditional IP Scanner. Unfortunately, it most likely will not distinguish the difference between all the devices on your network. You will have to take the IP addresses it pulls up and plug them in till you find the correct one. The scanner I suggest using is called Lan Scan.BTC Tool
Once you have identified your IP address and plugged it into your browser, login with:
If for some reason this does not work, try admin/admin
Signing up for a pool:
Because we preload Braiins OS+ on all of the S9’s we sell, I would suggest using Slushpool, because they waive the pool fees when you use Braiins. There is a contentious argument over which pool to sign up for, so I’d also suggest that you do your own research here. The sign-up process is fairly simple, and most pools only require that you give them an email address to sign up.
Whichever pool you choose should have a similar process to connect your machine. All you need to do is copy the info your pool provides you, over to your S9. Once you have your pool info in Braiins, make sure to save and apply. After around 3-5 minutes, you will see the pool begin to recognize that your miner is hashing.
Configuring Settings in Braiins:
Check out our video on how to configure settings.
One of the reasons that we preload the S9’s we sell with Braiins is because it unlocks a magical world of settings for you to be able to configure your miner. Let’s define and explain some of the settings you can mess around with.
Overclocking: Increasing the machines power consumption to achieve a higher hash rate. When doing this, there tends to be a loss in efficiency, but Bitcoin is always in a bull market so yolo. When running on 120v, do not exceed 1300w.
Underclocking: Some individuals aren’t bullish enough on Bitcoin so they will choose to underclock their machine to gain efficiency. In reality, often times this makes sense because underclocking can help you gain efficiency and run more profitably compared to your power consumption.
Immersion Settings: Bitmains base firmware has a safety feature that will not allow the miner to run, unless it is connected to the fans. Aftermarket firmware allows you to bypass this feature to be able to dunk your machine.
Auto Tuning: You will see a sizable increase in efficiency from running a firmware with auto tuning, because it analyzes each chip to direct the most effective amount of voltage, and frequency to it.
You can change your power consumption, which is measured in Watts. Make sure not to overload your circuit when overlocking.
Failures and What to Do:
S9’s are old machines that may have been operated in suboptimal conditions. When you buy from Kaboomracks, they are thoroughly tested and cleaned before we sell them. Even still, there could be failures, and that is why we offer a 14-day warranty period from when you receive it. When you receive the machine, make sure to test it.
Some common failures include, bad temperature sensors, bad Asic chips, broken fans, inability to connect to pool, etc. If you sense something is off with your machine, immediately contact Kaboomracks to get help with support, so that we can get you up and hashing as quickly as possible. Often times it is an easy fix, but sometimes we will have to replace a part, or the unit.
If you are reading this article, you are probably a dummy but so was everyone else until they took the time to learn about this topic. There is an incredibly steep learning curve, but it gets exponentially easier when you get exposure to the space. In this article, I will discuss proof of work, electricity, and mining hardware, to give you some exposure to the basics of what Bitcoin mining is.
What is Mining
Bitcoin Mining solves the problem of securing a distributed network that does not rely on a central authority to function. Bitcoin Mining is the process of individuals competing with each other, trying to solve a cryptographic problem, that’s generated by the Bitcoin protocol. This process is used to help secure and ensure the function of a distributed monetary network, which is Bitcoin. The more people and resources dedicated towards mining, the more difficult the protocol makes it solve the problem. Miners are incentivized to dedicate resources towards trying to solve a block with what’s called a block reward. When miners mint a new block, they also bring new Bitcoin into circulation.
Why is it called Mining?
Obviously, no one is going into the ground to dig up Bitcoin, but the term mining is used because there must be energy expended to extract value, similar to mining metals. For there to be new gold mined and brought into circulation, there needs to be a massive amount of energy dedicated to going and digging up the gold. The cost to do this limits the amount of new gold coming into circulation. In Bitcoin, there needs to be a massive amount of energy dedicated towards bringing new Bitcoin online.
Block Rewards and the Halving:
When Bitcoin launched, there were no coins in circulation and coins were brought into circulation by individuals mining them. Mining is process of creating new “blocks” which is the process of processing transactions. When someone sends a transaction, they pay a fee which then enters into a marketplace for miners to process. The higher the fee, the quicker the transaction will be processed as the miners are incentivized to prioritize the higher fee. The market price of transactions is determined by supply and demand. When a lot of people are trying to broadcast transactions at the same time, it will raise the fee market. The simple way to think about a block is all the transactions that happen within a ten minute period. When a miner mines a block, they receive what is called a block reward consisting of new coins coming into circulation as well as the transactions fees. Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, determined that this was the most effective to distribute coins.
“This adds an incentive for nodes to support the network and provides a way to initially distribute coins into circulation, since there is no central authority to issue them. The steady addition of a constant amount of new coins is analogous to gold miners expending resources to add gold to circulation. In our case, it is CPU time and electricity that is expended.”
-Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin White Paper
When Bitcoin first launched, the block reward was 50 Bitcoin per block. At the time, Bitcoin had no monetary value, but today, that would be valued at $2 Million (calculated at $40,000 a block). This block reward is set to cut in half, every four years. This is why the event is called the halving. Today the block reward is 6.25 Bitcoin (2022).
Bitcoin’s price has increased dramatically after every single halving. It has been speculated that this is a result of the new supply coming online each day getting cut in half, meaning that the overall inflation rate is dramatically reduced.
Bitcoin has a difficulty adjustment in order to keep each block as close to 10 minutes apart. If a bunch of new machines were turned on, it would increase hashrate and blocks would get minted at a quicker rate. If there was never a difficulty adjustment implemented, all the Bitcoin would have already been mined almost immediately, and there would be little to no incentive to continue mining. Bitcoin’s difficulty adjustment is far more than a technical implementation, but also a very important economic mechanism, which works to protect the network. Block times vary depending on chance, as well as network hashrate. If 25% of the network went offline overnight, blocks would be solved a lot slower. This would mean that it would be more difficult to send a transaction. The same thing goes in the inverse. If there was an increase in overall network hashrate of 25%, this would mean that blocks would be getting solved a lot quicker. The difficulty adjustment means consistency and stability of the economic incentives that encourage miners to participate in competition.
History of Mining Hardware:
Bitcoin mining started on laptops, desktops and traditional servers. Today it is done on industrial computers called ASICs or Application Specific Integrated Circuit. ASICs are designed specifically for one use, and Bitcoin Mining ASICs are designed specifically for Bitcoin Mining. To put into perspective how impressive these machines are, it could take an individual about 15-20 minutes to generate one SHA-256 hash by hand. One TeraHash (TH) is 1,000,000,000,000 hashes. That means that a 100 TH/s S19 is generating 100 trillion hashes per second. Machines are constantly progressing not only in total hashrate, but also in efficiency of watts per TH (W/TH). Many people are predicting that we are reaching the peak of chip development, in regard to overall hashrate increases. However, this does not mean that the overall efficiency increases are not going to be seen going forward. Electricity is the biggest cost for miners, and if a machine will be able to produce the same or more hashrate, for less electricity, there will be a massive demand for that machine.
ASIC manufacturers, just like many industry participants, have been plagued with controversy. Many ASIC suppliers have come and gone through the years, for a variety of reasons. The biggest of which is that manufacturing ASICs is tremendously difficult. Today the market is at a crux, as a few notable hardware manufacturers such as Intel and AMD are looking at entering the ASIC market. This is a massive shift from the wild west that the ASIC marketplace has been in the past. Established players have the ability to really disrupt the industry by creating a tremendous amount of competition for companies such as, Bitmain and Micro BT, who are currently the industry leaders.
Profitability of Mining:
A typical question someone new to mining has is, “How profitable is this machine.” Profitability depends on electricity cost and the network difficulty. Any machine capable of generating SHA-256 hashes will be profitable if there is free electricity. The higher the electricity costs get, the more difficult it is to make a profit. That is why one of the biggest competitive edges you can have in the mining space is not necessarily the newest hardware, but cheap and reliable electricity. The price of electricity is determined by supply/demand but also proximity to the production of electricity. Bitcoin miners are incredibly creative at finding inexpensive electricity even it means generating electricity themselves by running generators on oil and gas fields.
A miner’s profitability is also highly dependent on the price of Bitcoin, as well as the network hashrate. The higher the hashrate, the more difficult it is to mine as the protocol will raise the difficulty. Also, if the Bitcoin price plummets, and hashrate stays constant, that means that the price of electricity grows more expensive, compared to the rewards you are earning. Overtime, the network hashrate grows as more participants join the market, so that means that the amount of Bitcoin earned grows smaller. Miners stay profitable as the price of Bitcoin goes up. The economics of mining are incredibly difficult and is why this industry is incredibly difficult to compete in.
Mining Hardware Prices:
It is incredibly difficult to predict the future price of Bitcoin mining rigs, just as it is incredibly difficult to predict the price of Bitcoin. Supply and demand are major factors in influencing the price of hardware, but so is shipping costs, Bitcoin price, network hashrate, etc. The current profitability of miners has a massive influence over the price of equipment as well. If a S19 was making $80 a day, the price would shoot up well into the five figures. On the inverse, if a S19 was making $5-10 a day, it would shoot back down into the lower four digits. Attempting to predict when a good time to buy equipment is incredibly difficult because there are so many variables that can’t be predicted confidently.
Some things that are constant is the assumption that network hashrate will continue to go up, and the price of Bitcoin will continue to go up over time. This means that your revenue in amount of Bitcoin will most likely go down per machine, but the value in dollars of that Bitcoin may go up. Another constant that is fairly safe to assume is that every two years, a new generation of machines will be released by the major suppliers. This correlates with increased network hashrate and a decrease in dollar value of older machines.
A whole other monster is dealing with other equipment you need. Lead times on transformers, PDUs, cables, immersion equipment, and electricians to install these things can be terrible. The ASIC itself will always be the biggest upfront cost, but all the auxiliary equipment needed to power the machine is a cost too.
Solo Mining and Mining Pools:
Competition in the mining space has grown to be incredibly difficult with so many network participants. Mining pools have organically formed to help individuals navigate this. A mining pool is a business that allows individuals to join their resources together to improve their odds of winning a block. A mining pool allows payouts to be more consistent and predictable, which is incredibly important because costs are constant. Without mining pools, the barrier to entry for individuals to mine, would be incredibly high. For example, if you were mining at home with a S19, your chances of hitting a block would be about 1 in a million per day. Despite dedicating a lot of electricity towards mining, the payout may not happen. If a payout did happen, you would receive the full block reward, which is a tremendous amount of money. In comparison, when you mine with a mining pool, you will have an estimated daily reward that will allow you to expect a regular amount of income.
Solo mining is generally done today by using a pool’s infrastructure, rather than setting up the infrastructure yourself. You will point your hashrate towards a pool that allows you to “solo mine”, where if your particular miner hits a block, you get the full payout minus the pool fees. Most people do not do this because their likelihood of getting a reward is similar to playing the lottery.
History of Network Hashrate:
Hashrate is constantly increasing as a result of more participants in the market, as well as increase of efficiency of machines. This is a trend that we will see going forward in the future. When a new generation machine comes out and begins to get deployed, older machines start to get obsoleted. The S9 for example has been an incredibly popular machine since its release in 2016, but is now getting phased out as their profitability is dropping.
What Happens When all the Bitcoin is Mined?
The entire Bitcoin supply will be in circulation sometime around 2130. That means effectively that the Bitcoin block subsidy will go to zero and miners will be rewarded only by transaction fees. As long as people use Bitcoin, there will be a use case for mining. Bitcoin has changed tremendously in the past 13 years of its existence, and will continue to change over the next 100 years. It is not too hard to believe that . It is hard to imagine what the price of Bitcoin will look like over a hundred years from now. Also it is difficult to imagine what energy prices will look like.
Is mining bad for the environment?
Everything has tradeoffs, but when this question is posed, it’s important to also compare Bitcoin to other financial systems such as fiat money. Centralized systems will always be far more efficient, but centralized systems also allow for a small number of individuals to control them, most likely at the detriment of others. Bitcoin is unique in the fact that it is not centrally controlled, does not require permission to participate, and has set rules that users can know will not arbitrarily change. Fiat means “by government decree.” A country’s currency is a country’s currency not because it has been adopted through market conditions but instead it was decreed upon the citizens. Bitcoin for the most part is an entirely voluntary system of money that people can participate in or leave at will. Inflation is an incredibly destructive force that has caused immense devastation and will continue to cause immense devastation.
Ultimately it is up to you to determine whether or not Bitcoin has utility, and whether you deem its energy usage worthwhile. On the other hand, it is not up to you whether or not Bitcoin continues to exist and whether or not it continues to use energy. The cost to kill Bitcoin is so immensely high due to its distributed nature, as well as its proliferation, that it is incredibly unlikely that a government or set of governments would have the willpower to attempt to eliminate its use or users. Even if they tried, it is highly questionable whether they could be successful.
The Fiat apparatus is massive when you think of all the ATM’s, bank branches, and negative externalities. There are massive institutions that exist to prop up and perpetuate this system that many Bitcoin users argue are a waste and market inefficiency. What makes this question difficult to engage in is that this question is not being argued in good faith or accurately represented by many in the political sphere. Most people reading this will have already made up their minds and may struggle to take a nuanced approach to begin to discuss this.
The inspiration of this article comes from spending a weekend with Nick Foster.
Over the past few years, there has been an incredible amount of interest dedicated towards the mining space. It is apparent that many interested parties lack the understanding of how difficult it is to be a participant in this industry, and the amount of work that goes into plugging in a machine, so that it begins hashing. This lack of understanding can be attributed to a general disconnect from the complexities of the entire process, because you cannot truly understand it, until you try it. What I would like to convey in this article is how much work is necessary in order to build the infrastructure needed to process a Bitcoin transaction.
To be successful in this industry, you need to have some sort of edge over the competition. One such edge is being a maniac. Just passively strolling onto the scene with a “How hard can plugging in computers be” attitude will not cut it. Having access to capital is not a guarantee that you will make it.
This market is incredibly difficult not only from a Bitcoin economic standpoint, but also a manpower, hardware, regulatory, and logistical standpoint. Difficulties have been massively exasperated with current supply chain and manufacturing complexities. Mining is not for the faint of heart, and to be successful in the business, you have to be relentless.
Proof of Work
Bitcoin wants the highest amount of effort expended as possible to create the most security for the network. The network needs this to counter bad actors. That being said, increasing network hashrate is a tremendous amount of work just in itself.
A Petahash consists of about 10 S19’s and an Exahash is about 10,000 S19’s. So, looking at a network hashrate of 200EH, that means (translated in S19’s as a measurement) that there is an equivalent of 2 million S19’s currently plugged in. 312 S19’s comes out to a megawatt, so that means that the entire network consumes roughly, 6.4 Terawatts of power. In reality, a large portion of ASICs in circulation currently are not nearly as efficient as the S19. That means my estimates on power consumption are extremely low.
The math done here is a massive oversimplification. An S19 has a power consumption of around 3.2Kw and has an efficiency of around 29.5 Watts a Terahash (W/TH). S9’s in comparison are around 85W/TH. Cambridge did a much more in-depth attempt to measure Bitcoin’s energy usage which you can check out here: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) In comparison to global energy usage, Bitcoin mining is a rounding error, but even still it is quite impressive.
The top ten mining pools have roughly 191 EH directed between them. They mine the majority of blocks. That means for Slushpool (9 EH) it takes the work of almost 100,000 S19’s. The amount of work that goes behind a user being able to send a Bitcoin transaction, is absolutely astronomical. In the rest of this article, I want to talk about what the proof of work a miner has do in setting up their machines in order to make this possible.
There are no Experts
The mining industry is constantly changing. When an ASIC manufacture releases a new machine, everything changes. Even as they continue to produce the machine, things are constantly changing as they tweak it. Manufactures are often not forthcoming with changes they make, so users have to work with trying to piece together information from equipment they have.
Once you get a grasp on a certain topic, everything will have changed. To be successful, individuals need to constantly be on their toes, willing to experiment through trial and error. Individuals also need to have connections throughout the industry to source accurate information in order to be successful. Bitcoin mining may be the most competitive industry on Earth right now, so individuals often are not too transparent with the data they are sharing. This creates an incredibly confusing landscape to wade through.
ASIC trends seem to be moving towards increasing density of hashrate and power consumption. For example, the Antminer S9 has a power consumption of 1400w. The Antminer S19 has a power consumption of 3250w. The Whatsminer M53 has a power consumption of 6554w. The massive increase in power consumption means that typical electrical infrastructure changes from generation to generation of ASIC. Infrastructure and methods that worked in the past will most likely not work in the future. It takes constant diligence and work to stay updated on trends.
There is a big reason why Kaboomracks is not only in business but is thriving. Logistics are incredibly difficult and are only getting more difficult. Our employees for some reason really enjoy pain and are willing to run headlong into the mess which is international logistics. Even if you have been in the space for a while, the amount of effort needed to get things from point A to point B is astronomical. First you have to find what you need. Then you have to verify that the vendor you are working with is legitimate and is not going to scam you. Next, you have to determine how you are going to get it where you need to. All of that is a tremendous amount of work. Knowing when and why you may want to send something by air versus boat, is a big decision that needs to be calculated and takes time to determine. What do you do if you do everything right, but the guy with the shipping company is having a bad day and decided to run a forklift through your pallet? These are things that can only be solved through experience, and an immense amount of time, research, yelling, and pulling your hair out.
The hardware market is incredibly difficult for a variety of reasons. There is a ton of calculations you have to make in the process to ensure you are successful. There are a variety of ASIC suppliers, but which ones will actually deliver you a unit that will get you where you need to go? How many power supplies and control boards should you have on hand for inevitable failures? What amount of downtime is tolerable for you to be willing to send your machine for warranty repair? These are not simple questions to answer and are variable depending on the machine and which production run they were manufactured in. These decisions also depend on where you live and what the manufacturer warranty process looks like.
For example, many people got completely turned upside down by Bitmain’s S17 and its incredibly high failure rate as a result of heat sink issues. That was something that was impossible to know for individuals that preordered it. Knowing when and how to enter into buying ASICs is also incredibly difficult because you are having to time the Bitcoin price. ASIC prices act like a lever and the Bitcoin price is a fulcrum. If the Bitcoin price shoots up, ASIC prices will shoot up even more. Knowing the warranty game is a challenge because things are constantly changing.
If you live in Canada, you cannot send units for warranty repair in the US. This is because there are tariffs preventing it from being cost effective and there are no certified Bitmain warranty centers in Canada. They expect you to send your unit all the way to Hong Kong, which is absurdly expensive from a shipping standpoint, but also a time standpoint. In the same category, if you have a PSU go bad and you live anywhere in the world, the only certified Bitmain warranty center that will accept it is located in Hong Kong as well.
This means that you as an operator have to make a decision on the front end, on what equipment you will buy depending on expected failure rate, with almost no information. You have to have a plan on what you will do when the units do fail. This being said, this is hard work and will not be solved in a day. It will be informed by data, that you collect from your own experience, but also anecdotes from other individuals in the industry.
McDonalds, Target, and other major businesses are having an incredibly difficult time finding people to work for them. The mining industry is not an industry you can just throw bodies at. You need to find the right people, which is almost practically impossible. You may find some solid individuals with almost no experience in the field, but then you have to train them which takes time, and energy that you may not have available. It’s difficult to know if in 3 months, an individual will be able to effectively trouble shoot a machine, deploy miner management software, tune aftermarket firmware, or understand the intricacies of power consumption.
There are many disciplines an individual has to understand, which is made incredibly difficult by the fact that there is almost no documentation on these topics for you to pull from. As an operator, you have to be an expert by having gotten experience to be able to answer this. It is possible to manage with little experience if you have to have connections with individuals in the field you have to pull from. Moral of the story here is that this is work and you cannot just throw a random person into the fray and expect it to work out immediately.
Finding the right individual is made more difficult by the fact that mining is highly dependent on location. You cannot find cheap power everywhere. Often times you have to pull from individuals in your general area which really limits those available with the skillset to accomplish what you need them to.
Having a background in Bitcoin does not guarantee that the individual is a good fit for mining. Likewise, having a background in electrical engineering or hardware, also is not a guarantee that an individual will be a good fit. Individuals coming into the space must have the capacity to be constantly learning and dealing with painful headaches. That being said, all of this is a tremendous amount of work, to find an individual like this. It is also a tremendous amount of time and work to develop them right, in order for them to be successful.
Retail hosting and large-scale hosting are two entirely different things. Most large-scale hosts deal in megawatts and a larger number of units. That means that even to be considered as a potential client, you need a minimum of 300 new generation miners. Finding the right host, with the right power rates that will be responsive to your needs, is difficult and takes knowledge of the space. Energy markets are in turmoil, which can make things incredibly challenging to work with a host right now. In the same way you may build up a ton of infrastructure, only to get the rug pulled by regulations, or your electric companies; hosts face the same risks.
Hosting is definitely advantageous for the new operator, as they do not have to wade through as much unknown, as was described above. Hosting gives you the ability to outsource a lot of the headaches of actually deploying and maintaining equipment, but it also gives you less control over your mine. Typically, the host will include a hosting fee in the electric rate, and you will have to determine if this makes sense for you as an operator, versus deploying your own infrastructure and hiring individuals to maintain it.
Doing the correct due diligence on the host is a tremendous amount of work. You cannot be too thorough and should not trust them just because someone said good things about them, or they had good marketing. You need to be confident that your host will not get rug pulled by their power company or will be unable to service your machines and keep them online.
If you go and plug your miner information into a mining calculator, odds are that profitability will look incredibly different a month later. This makes it difficult to determine the profitability of your machines in the future. When you are pricing things out, there are two factors which can turn your upside down really fast.
The first one is the Bitcoin price. If it plummets, you will still be mining the same amount of Bitcoin, but essentially your electric rates, compared to your income, increased dramatically. If it becomes unprofitable for a lot of miners, they will have to unplug and there will be a difficulty adjustment. As difficulty drops, as a result of less participants, your mining rewards will increase in Bitcoin terms. You have to be prepared to watch your profits shrink incredibly quickly.
The second factor that can impact your profitability is difficulty increasing. On average, hashrate has doubled every year. As hashrate increases, the amount of Bitcoin you mine will go down. This typically is okay because the dollar price goes up over time, but in times where price is down and hashrate is climbing, it can become incredibly painful for you. One circumstance that leads to this happening is the release of new generation hardware.
Keeping these things in mind, it is important to really weigh the upfront costs you are willing to pay, as it will add to your ROI time. Most people get into mining when times are good and are unaware of how ugly things can get when times are rough. Doing research and talking with people who have been in the space can definitely save you from heartache.
Power Generation and Procurement
There are multiple ways for an operator to acquire their power. By far, most individuals acquire it by buying it from the grid. A smaller, hardcore group of masochists, choose to generate their own power by setting up generators on oil and natural gas wells. Either way, there is a tremendous amount of energy that needs to be expended to be able to find inexpensive energy.
A lot of people are concerned with renewables. As a miner, you have to decide what energy sources are reliable and consistent, rather than what is the fad. This takes real hard math to determine. There are definitely different models, in regard to types of power. Some people find it attractive to control their power production, and others prefer to just buy it from a producer.
Energy markets are tough, and it is not easy to just go to your local power company and negotiate favorable prices. Often times, you have to do some digging to find a location next to a substation and try to determine how much excess power there is. There are firms that you can hire to find power for you. Another option is to hang around substations and pass out $100 bills and beer, over to the workers servicing it to try and get some inside information.
One of the best ways to find excess electrical capacity is to look for industrial places where a lot of large power consumption businesses have moved from or shut down. Whichever direction you go, it will take time and effort to figure this out before you break ground on your site.
Lead times on transformers are absurd right now. The lead times on just about anything is horrible right now. First you have to get the equipment you need, then you need to find an electrician to install it. Finding an electrician is not just as simple as calling one up. You need to find someone who is competent enough to do the job correctly, but also is available to do it in a timely manner. In a time when everyone is understaffed, and booked up, this can be quite the task.
When you take shortcuts, you will most likely run into issues. Timelines are incredibly difficult to stick to or formulate because there are so many moving pieces that can disrupt your goals. All this being said, this is more work.
Plugging in ASICs and installing infrastructure is dangerous. It is a completely different business than traditional server hosting or what you would do in a data center. Often times, operators have to improvise and develop the products they need for themselves with the manufacturer. Having a smart PDU that collects power consumption is incredibly useful, but having it made for the type of power consumption that ASICs need is a whole different story. Learning that this process is constantly evolving is a lot of work.
Aftermarket firmware is another discussion to have as it can increase your hashrate/power consumption, without upfront equipment costs. If you are doing immersion, it is almost a must to run firmware for overclocking. Firmware adds a whole new world of possibilities but also headaches.
There are some challenges that aftermarket firmware creates. It adds complexity to your operation and can increase machine downtime as a result. Also, if you are not aware of the specs on your equipment, you may damage your electrical infrastructure from increasing the power consumption, or even damage the ASICs themselves. Some firmware is not compatible on all control boards. If you do decide to implement it, it may mean swapping a bunch of control boards. To get the most out of overclocking, it will mean potentially swapping all the PSU’s on the machines.
Another challenge is learning how to properly use the firmware. Tuning specifications will be different from machine model to machine model. Some models are better for overclocking than others. You can outsource this or take the time and energy to have someone trained in house.
All in all, some find pursuing aftermarket firmware incredibly fruitful, but there are still a lot of scenarios you have to consider before using it. Again, something as simple as installing a program to run on your machines, is a ton of work to implement and can have a bunch of consequences.
Immersion opens up the door to a lot of possibilities. It is advantageous, especially in hotter climates, and will extend the lifecycle of your machines. You can dramatically increase the overclock using firmware. Immersion adds a massive increase to your upfront cost, but you may find it worth pursuing. There are many advantages to using it, but once again, it adds a lot of complexity to your operation.
Machines will run substantially more efficiently in immersion, which makes a massive difference at scale. Sourcing the proper equipment for immersion adds to the cluster, which is dealing with long lead times and logistics. There are a lot of people making tanks out there, which makes it difficult to determine what is good quality.
Another difficulty that immersion creates is making servicing machines more challenging. If a PSU or a control board goes bad, there is a lot more work needed to pull the machine out of the oil and replace the part. Even prepping machines for immersion in the first place can be a lot of work.
Payout structures are different from pool to pool. Also, your potential income will be different from pool to pool, depending on how many blocks that pool mines. Sometimes, mining pools have bugs and make mistakes, so it is a good practice to closely monitor your payouts. Monitoring software like Foreman, offer the ability to do this, but cost money.
It is difficult to gather data on this topic because things are constantly changing in regard to pool hashrate, and pool infrastructure. What many miners do is they will set a portion of their hashrate to different pools and gather data. It is a good practice to be prepared to switch pools if they have any downtime.
Miner costs are consistent, so miners benefit from having their rewards be consistent. Luck-based rewards systems make much more sense for small miners that want to roll the dice, than they do for operations with six figure electric bills. Understanding payout structures, pool performance, and monitoring if your payouts are correct, is work.
Networking in and of itself is a tremendous task to take on. Having multiple options of ISP’s is important to minimize downtime. It is not usually as simple as setting up with multiple internet providers, as often times they will piggyback off each other and will not be transparent with you about this. This means that if one goes down, multiples might at the same time.
The physical topology of networking is an in-depth conversation in and of itself. If you yourself are not knowledgeable, it is another thing that can be contracted out. Having control over and being knowledgeable over your network, versus being reliant on outside contractors, is definitely a major advantage. Networking has a tremendously steep learning curve and either way is a tremendous amount of work. Networking for a Bitcoin mine is a lot different than setting up a home router.
Though ASICs do not take up a tremendous amount of bandwidth, they need a good connection with the pool 24/7. Proper networking can help an operator minimize their downtime and improper networking will create a mess. Nothing is simple about this process.
Thanks to Matt Odell’s podcast, Citadel Dispatch, there has been a tremendous amount of interest in mining at home. I shouldn’t give Matt all the credit, as other Twitter personalities such as Diverter_NoKYC, Econoalchemist, and Roninminer, have been influential as well. That being said, people have proven that you can mine at home and it can make sense.
Once again, the process of setting up ASICs in your home is quite the process. These machines are industrial grade and not made for your home. This is not a flaw in their design, but just how it is. The ASIC market compared to general electronics is tiny, and the home mining market is even smaller. The infrastructure to run multiple machines, generally is not there before modifications. For most people, there are only two outlets that can deliver enough power for a S19 or M30s to run, which is the dryer and oven outlets.
An individual will have to figure out how much power is expendable to them, the rates at which they are charged, and how to mitigate the temperature and noise. Doing this properly is important because most individuals do not want to burn their houses down. The biggest challenge for an individual is figuring out how to accomplish this, with limited documentation. All in all, the process of mining at home takes work.
As seen by the most recent China ban, regulatory risk is real. A local or national government often times has no issue with rug pulling an operation. There have been many examples of this and there will be many more going forward in the future. This is a really difficult thing to build a threat model for, in our politically volatile environment.
Something to consider on this topic is building out in multiple jurisdictions, versus just one. Having multiple locations allows you to potentially move and build out more if needed, but also means that you need more manpower to manage your sites. It is not easy to just pick up and move, as it is almost starting over from scratch.
Another approach is lobbying local politicians and working really hard to get the buy in from the local community. Riot has been very effective at this with their Whinstone site. They are consistently engaging with Bitcoin conferences, media, and their local community to get their buy in. You can often times get away with flying under the radar if you are small. When you get bigger, there will be a lot more scrutiny on you. One approach that has been taken is actually setting up local governments with the ability to mine themselves.
Bitcoin mining is ultimately a net benefit to any community, and it is advantageous to teach people about this. Staying in the good graces of the community is probably worth pursuing because it is a shield to protect you but is also worthwhile because it aligns with Bitcoin’s mission of empowering the individual. It is a major opportunity to help strengthen and give back to the community you are operating in. Giving back to the local community is always a good business practice. That being said, all of this is more work added to your plate.
Cheap power does not always mean a safe environment to run a stable mining operation, as seen by Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. When you are choosing the location of your operation, potential geopolitical risks have to be weighed seriously. If a government has shown to be hostile towards mining in the past, they should be taken seriously.
Cross border sanctions can play a major role. If you are setting up an operation outside of the US, something to consider is having your business located outside of the US, as well to potentially limit the impact of sanctions. There has been a tremendous amount of growth in US based mining, but it remains to be seen if the US is truly a safe spot to have a long-term operation.
All ASICs are produced in China, and the companies producing them are based in China. They have been working around sanctions against China by shipping and moving parts of production out of China. Geopolitical tensions between the US and China may make it far more difficult to source equipment in the future despite this, which may or may not make it advantageous to be outside the US. That being said, there is a lot of work needed in order to think through and prepare for a lot of potential scenarios that could have major impacts on your operation.
Are you Built for This?
The oil and gas world are a perfect fit for the mining space, because they are already exposed to and fully understand the pain, that is involved with an industry like this. They also are predisposed to understanding energy markets like no one else is. If you are an individual who likes to sit in a nice, air-conditioned office, but does not like to get your hands dirty, mining is not for you.
For some individuals, the industry is too difficult, and they will quickly give up when it does not work. For others, mining is an addiction that you can’t let go of. It consumes your life until all your fingers are bleeding from being cut on fans or pulling out ribbon wires. It is an industry like no other, but it sure as hell is a fun industry to be a part of.
Security for Users
All the effort that goes into proof of work makes the network extremely secure. Say for instance a government or large powerful entity wants to take control of the network. They would have to deploy a monumental amount of equipment. The equipment needed to take over the network just isn’t there and neither are the incentives. The Bitcoin network is backed by thousands of insane masochists chasing a profit to the ends of the Earth.
The media, which represents the incumbent system that Bitcoin is displacing, decries Bitcoin’s energy use. If anything, the complexity and industriousness of this industry should be celebrated. We are building the most secure and best monetary network ever created which is moving humanity forwards in so many ways. Crazy masochists allow Bitcoin users to move large amounts of money, inexpensively anywhere in the world, without reliance on third parties.
The amount of effort that goes into mining Bitcoin takes an astounding amount of emotional energy. This emotional energy is just as powerful, if not more so, as the financial capital put into setting up an operation. Miners literally bleed going through the process of setting up their mines. Miners will continue to mine, innovate, and put pressure on forces trying to attack the network.
There is nothing simple about Bitcoin, and there is absolutely nothing simple about mining Bitcoin. The complexity of sourcing and setting up infrastructure is a force that inevitably distributes network hashrate. The average Bitcoin user will never understand the heartache that goes into mining Bitcoin but will still experience the benefits from it.
The competitive and constantly changing nature of the market means that there will be a constant flow of participants entering and exiting. The name of the game is survival. Operators have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have to be willing to adjust in accordance with it. There is not an easy path to take in this industry.
To survive, you have to work countless hours, in order to make sure that things work. You will hit roadblocks, get massive headaches, and wake up in the morning feeling hungover without taking a single drink. For some strange reason, thousands of us find this kind of work incredibly fulfilling. All of this effort is what it takes to mine Bitcoin and is the Proof of Work behind Proof of Work.
Swapping control boards is a fairly easy process on the S19. Once you get the hang of it and learn how to factory reflash and update firmware, it becomes a breeze. You will want to swap your control board if the control board goes bad or you have received an AM Logic control board and want to run Vnish firmware. When you are buying a new machine, there is no way to tell what type of control board you will be receiving.
What type of control board should I get?
Beagle Bone control boards are compatible with S19j and S19j Pro models. Xilinx are compatible with all models. AM logic Boards (I don’t recommend as a replacement) should only be replaced if the model came with it. We sell control boards on our website at Buy mining parts here – Kaboomracks.
Things you will need:
Philips Head Screwdriver
New Control Board
8gb Micro SD Card
Before you Start:
ASICS are industrial grade machines and should be treated as such. Power down the machine by either switching of PDU or unplugging cables before attempting to try and remove the old control board. Also wait for a minute or two for the Power Supply to fully power down after unplugging before attempted to touch anywhere near the bus bars.
Removing Old Control Board:
The first step is to take off the top cover on your miner so that the control board is exposed.
Next, unplug the fans, the ribbon wires to the hashboards, and the power supply cables from the control board.
Then unscrew the front plate holding in the control board, and slide it out.
Replacing with New Control Board:
Slide new control board into place
Plug in fans, ribbon wires, and power supply cords.
Wait to put top back on if you are installing a Beagle Bone Controller
Powering Up and Flashing Firmware:
When you power up the machine, you may have to factory reflash firmware onto your unit, or at least update through the “Firmware Update” function in the machine’s dashboard. Firmware can be found at BITMAIN Shop.
The reflash firmware is hidden a bit and can be downloaded if you choose “Others” in the left drop down, and “Flashing SD Card with Image” in the right drop down.
There will be a bunch of options of firmware, not ordered in any sort of particular order. It is important that you use the correct firmware, or you will be unhappy and spending a lot of time trying to figure out what went wrong.
Match up your model with the control board which will specified in the firmware title. When you have it downloaded, unzip the file and drag the files over onto a Micro SD card. The Micro SD card must be 8gb-16gb. We sell them on our store if you need some Kaboomracks Sd Card (8GB). Once your firmware is flashed, all you should have to do is enter your pool information and you will be good to go!
Many operators underestimate the likelihood of machine failures. Understanding failure rates on machines is almost impossible because there is such a wide variance of conditions they are ran in, but also variance in quality and components in the machines between production runs. Even though the rate of failure may be unknown, it is clear that it a certainty that must be faced. There are some good rules of thumb to go off of to try and minimize failure rates.
Rules of thumb to try and minimize machine failure
Run the machines in ideal operating conditions
Do not buy the first production run of a new model
Stick with manufacturers that have a proven track record
There are a lot of miners that mine in extreme conditions which is fine. If this is the case, you will most likely experience higher failure rates and may even void your manufacturer warranty. It is important to understand the manufacturer warranty terms before deploying machines. A lot of people choose to void their warranties by putting their machines in immersion, or some other reason, which is an economic calculation that needs to be considered carefully.
Often times, early on in a production run, machines will have more issues that theoretically get ironed out later on. It is a very similar idea as buying a new car the first time a model is released. It is a good idea to wait and collect anecdotal data from other people first before purchasing the miner.
There are always new ASIC manufacturers popping up on the market. Sometimes these producers make a really good product that should be considered. They will offer unbelievable deals to try and get you to buy them. Sweet deals will not do you any good if the machines have a lot of issues and do not hash for you. Buying hardware is definitely a major gamble and risk should be mitigated.
Generally the turnaround for a machine going to a certified warranty center is about a month. Sometimes it is significantly faster, and other times it can take longer. The warranty center will often times swap the bad unit you send in with a good one they have already repaired to try and minimize the turnaround time.
Manufactures will cover machines for x amount of time. That time begins when it leaves their facility. This is why it’s good to check the serial numbers on the machines before you buy them. Just because you buy the machine brand new does not mean that the machine will have the same amount of time on it as if you just received it from the factory. If the machine sits in a warehouse for a year, you may get a brand new machine not covered under warranty.
Out of luck and not covered by warranty
It is important to understand that sometimes things go wrong and are not covered by warranty, especially for small time home miners. The hashboard pictured above was in a S19 that was being run in perfect conditions inside of a data center. Bitmain does not cover burned or exploded boards, even if the fault was caused by a defect. There is always the risk of something like this happening, and the board being unrepairable. It does not happen often, but it is a possibility and is a massive nightmare to deal with especially if you are buying a small amount of machines.
The aftermarket for hashboards on new generation machines is almost non existent. On other parts such as control boards and power supplies, there is a very liquid market for replacement parts. These are costs that need to be considered as sometimes it makes sense to have replacement parts on hand to quickly get your machine up and hashing versus paying for shipping and waiting a month for the machine to come back hopefully functional.
There are two warranty centers I would highly recommend in the US. For Bitmain repairs, Kaboomracks uses Great Voyage in New Hampshire. For Whatsminer we use HM Tech in North Carolina. We have used both of these facilities for years and have built relationships with the owners. They are both incredibly reputable and have good track records. There are other good warranty centers around the world, but it is important to choose a center based on reputation and track record versus connivance. Sometimes the manufacturer will ask you to send the machine to a different warranty center which okay too.
If you are outside of the US, warranty centers may not be in your country and it may be difficult to get warranty repairs in an economic and timely manner. This is something that is good to research and may influence which manufacturer you end up choosing.
The warranty process is not fun. Machines that are not turned on are depreciating and not earning you income. It is an incredibly important process to understand and discuss before purchasing mining equipment. Having a basic grasp of this process will help ensure you are successful.
A lot of miners are looking to aftermarket firmware right now in order to try and gain efficiency as their margins are getting squeezed. One of the challenges facing customers when buying a S19 is that they will not know what type of control board they are receiving when ordering their machine. There are three different control boards that that come on S19 and 1 of those three control boards is not supported by aftermarket firmware.
For individuals buying a S19, this creates a problem. Individuals who want to mine in immersion need to be able to disable the fans, and often times want to overclock (which base firmware does not allow). Until Vnish and Braiins release support for the AM Logic board, miners are in a bind.
Kaboomracks has two solutions to this. When you buy machines from us, we offer a service to replace the AM Logic control boards with a control board of your choice. We also sell control boards on our parts store.
The S19 has been a popular choice due to having superior efficiency than the M30S and aftermarket firmware support.