This is a short update to my fumbling foray into the strange world of cryptomining. Not a technical post by any means, just a few thoughts and comments on the process so far from a newbie perspective, in case any of you are contemplating this sort of thing (or are just curious).
The process I am involved in is known as "pool mining", which is a little like using a computer for something like "folding@home" or "SETI@home". You are essentially offering your computer horsepower to participate in complex calculations to help with the creation of Bitcoin, or some other form of cryptocurrency.
Since actually mining Bitcoin itself is a particularly demanding process, I have settled for the meantime on mining an "alt coin" known as Monero. Or Etherium. I have not really completely decided yet - but most of these things can be converted to something else, or to good old greenbacks when needed (I hope - have not gotten that far).
One of the harder things about all this was selecting a suitable "wallet" to store any coin that I generate. The wallet creation itself is not really difficult, just sorting them out one from another and getting to grips with the concept of what they are for and how to use them was a little tiresome.
I also set up an account with a currency exchange, so I can buy/sell/convert any cryptocurrency I may generate, and I had to connect that to a bank account. I used an existing online banking account I have with Ally. I have not really used that account for anything much in the past, just to keep a small amount of "emergency money" - so it's kind of isolated from anything else.
As things look I should be making a small profit or perhaps a couple of dollars a day, which is about what expected based upon what I had been reading and seeing. It sounds paltry, but of course these things do add up over time.
Unfortunately I had to purchase most of the hardware to start off with (the only thing I actually had to hand was an old laptop hard drive), so that was an outlay of several hundred dollars.
The hardware is just a basic, unremarkable desktop computer - but with a decent-quality power supply and a fancy-schmancy video card (which actually does all the heavy lifting). The video card alone cost more than the rest of the computer. In days gone by I might have had 50% of the stuff just laying around, so kind of a bummer in that regard.
I should be able to recoup the initial hardware cost in around 6-8 months - longer than I would like, but anything mined after that would be considered "gravy" (and I will feel much more comfortable about the whole thing at that time).
The good news is that the hardware is performing well; no crashes, lockups or temperature issues after 72 hours or so of non-stop mining.
One of the pleasant side benefits of all this hardware and software fiddling is the realization that I have actually enjoyed the process - I always liked building computers, but had not really done it for a few years. The whole project has kept me (profitably?) occupied and out from under my wife's feet for the last week, so that sounds like a win-win.
If anyone is interested in this, there is a TON of information available online. Bear in mind, when a lot of these folks are describing the hundreds of dollars they make each month - they are likely running a "rig" with multiple (expensive) video cards, using a lot of electricity.
Only after figuring in the cost of the hardware and the increased electric bill do you get a more realistic figure. Some of the folks will make that clear, some don't - so just be aware.
Also, the whole cryptocurrency market is very volatile, so we can't really know what the future may bring - the bottom may fall out next week and everyone will be left hanging.
I am sure there is probably some kind of sweet spot of hardware cost/performance vs profit, but I am not experienced enough yet to comment upon that. I can tell you that IF I had access to some cheap hardware, I would not mind setting up another computer for mining - it is somewhat addictive.