by Dave Carlson
Updated Aug 4
Bitcoin mining is still very cutting edge – you will face some technical challenges! Don’t be daunted, and try to be patient. Unless you are conservative from the start, you will probably find that your equipment needs fine tuning to run at its highest productivity. There are some common scenarios to watch out for:
My mining rig sucks. It keeps crashing! It can be hard to put together a stable rig, especially if you bought used equipment – remember there are a lot of GPU miners dumping their gear and preparing to mine with FPGA or ASIC technology! Emerging FPGA boards are exciting to try, but have encountered issues with compatibility, software and assembly quality. There are numerous other potential pitfalls with your rig – you may have issues with your motherboard or power supply; even bad RAM can cause your system to crash. If you are attempting to maximize your rig by running custom drivers or especially if you are overclocking you should spend some time absorbing information from the Bitcoin forum. There is a wealth of knowledge about Bitcoin mining that will help you set up your cards correctly and troubleshoot problems. The members on the forum are also very helpful, provided you have done your homework already, searching the forums for yourself first. You’ll find a great list of resources at the end of this eBook, including links to the Bitcoin forum on certain key topics.
I’m not getting the hashing output that I should! Theoretical hashing output versus the numbers you see at your pool will vary – sometimes drastically. A number of factors will contribute to this. First, the hashing software you use will likely be estimating the hashrate based on the number of hashes computed over the last few minutes. It may include stale shares or other rejected share types. Another common issue is that hashrate may be reported as simply the sum of clock rate on your processor (GPU, FPGA). For example, if you have 3 FPGA cards clocked at 210 MH/s, your mining software may report to you that you are hashing at 630 MH/s, while the rate actually seen at the pool is considerably less! There’s not much you can do about this – just pay attention to the actual hashrate over time as measured by the pool, especially if you are experimenting with settings.
I fried a card and wasted a bunch of money! Well, if this has happened, you have my condolences. Experimenting with electronics in configurations they were not originally intended for is risky business. Hopefully you have a warranty you can rely on. This is a great reminder to go read everything you can on the forums about your particular application, and be conservative to begin with – you can max out your hashrate later, once you’ve become a pro Bitcoin miner.
I got ripped off! Sadly this has been posted way too many times on the Bitcoin forum. I can only assume there’s a large number of people who haven’t bothered to share it. There are some common ways to get ripped off in Bitcoin, here are some basics:
Encrypt your wallet – your electronic “wallet” stores your Bitcoin. If you don’t secure your wallet, anybody gaining access to your computer can open your wallet and transfer your coins to any address. Once its done, its done. There are numerous horror stories describing how a victim watched while multiple transactions took place against their wallet without their consent! The Bitcoin wiki has a page dedicated to securing your wallet.
Another option to avoid getting your BTC taken from you is to use a 3rd party to store your coin. For example, open an account with MtGox. Whether you trade or not, you can send coins to your MtGox account. This approach goes on the assumption that since MtGox has made storing and trading Bitcoin their business, they surely will have implemented more security measures than you or I have. On the other hand, they are a big target for hackers, and they’ve been hacked before!
Scams and fraud are another common problem in Bitcoin. Use the forums and try asking others before you respond to an offer. Use a reputable website to get your BTC safely. Use common sense and the old rule of thumb – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”.
I ordered fancy mining hardware, and now I’ve been waiting for months! This problem is all too common in the mining industry. There is so much interest in new faster hardware, companies can make broad claims, show some prototype pictures and lock up a serious amount of presale cash. Do your own due diligence before ordering. Try to split your orders between multiple vendors – you don’t want all your eggs in one basket! Even if you do get your hardware quickly, what if it has problems? Your money is tied up the moment you make that order – the industry has already seen production delays and sales promises stretch into the months while the manufacturer sorts out problems.
The value of Bitcoin took a dive! If you are just getting into mining, then you are one of the lucky ones. BTC has already seen an accelerated rise to over 30BTC/USD, but has fallen back to around $6.75/BTC. Its anyone’s guess as to where BTC is headed now, but in general if the value goes down, just keep right on mining – those BTC could be worth a ton as BTC rises.
I can’t stress enough that Bitcoin mining is not for the faint of heart, and you will encounter pitfalls. We’ve discussed some overall themes on how to overcome them.
Next Section: The Glorious Wonder!