Beginners Guide To Turn Your Raspberry Pi into an Affordable Bitcoin Mining Rig

raspberry pi bitcoin rig
First off, I know this post is a little late in the game as it is becoming less profitable for amateurs to mine Bitcoins, and that there are more efficient ways to go about this. But I am writing this anyways for posterity’s sake as I know for a fact there are people out there who have idle Raspberry Pis and are looking for a project. I’m sure there are also others like myself who are just looking to learn more about cryptocurrencies. To get started, here is our shopping list (if you are reading this, you probably already own some of these items):

Shopping List

QTY Required Items Price(USD)*
1 Raspberry PI $35.00
1 Micro USB cable $5.49
1 ASICMiner Erupter USB 336MH/s Sapphire Bitcoin Miner $10.99
1 Powered USB Hub** $25.00
1 SD Card (class 4 and 2gb minimum) $7.49
Total: $83.97
Optional Items
1 Power Supply $9.95
1 HDMI Cable $2.28
1 Case $12.75
1 USB Fan (The mining devices run hot) $8.43

*Prices are subject to change
**The Pi alone can not power one of these miners, a Powered USB HUB is mandatory to mine bitcoin.

Bitcoin Wallets

Before we setup the Mining software on the Pi we need to setup a bitcoin wallet where we will store the credit from the mining. There are countless options(Software, Web, Mobile) when it comes to setting up a bitcoin wallet. I’ve listed a few below but there are many more and each method has its own risks, luckily bitcoin.org has a great writeup on how to choose a wallet.

Windows/MAC/Linux
Multi-Bit – Quick and Lightweight Bitcoin Wallet
Bitcoin-QT – Takes a day or two to download ~6gigs of Bitcoin Transactional Data
Armory – Desktop Add-on Application

Web/Hosted
Coinbase
Blockchain.info

Android
Bitcoin Wallet

iOS
Currently the app store does not allow any bitcoin wallet applications.

Mining Pools

Bitcoin Pooled Mining is the best way to get started mining. Pooled Mining allows multiple users to work together to “crack” a single bitcoin and then share the benefits fairly. Due to the competitive nature of mining, if you tried to mine on your own it could be a long time before you successfully mined anything. Pooled Mining is a nice way to receive smaller and more regular payouts instead. For people with slower rigs, pooled mining might be the only way you ever earn bitcoins.

Two Mining pools I recommend and have verified are:
Slush’s Pool
BTC Guild

The setup for both pools is straight forward. You create a username, password, and then worker credentials(for each mining device). You also add the bitcoin wallet address you created above to your pool so you receive bitcoin payments when you hit the pool’s payout thresholds (usually around .01 BTC). It’s also recommended you sign up for multiple pools in case one experiences technical difficulties, the software we are about to install will switch if one goes down.

Installing Mine Peon the rPi

Now that we have a bitcoin wallet and have joined a mining pool, Neil Fincham and his project Mine Peon makes getting the software running on the rPi quite easy. Mine Peon is an ARM Mining Platform that is built specifically for Raspberry Pi. It is built on Arch Linux and uses the popular cgminer and bfgminer for the heavy lifting. To get started, you simply download the latest image here and burn it to your SD card.
If you are using Windows to flash your SD Card, I recommend using Win32DiskImager. This tool can also be used after our initial setup to create an image of our finalized implementation(very useful as a backup).

mine-peon

For other operating systems, you can find a handy guide on flashing SD cards from eLinux.org here.

After the image is flashed, you can boot your device. The first boot takes about a minute as it needs to generate the SSH keys, but future boots take only about 10 seconds. Use your router or keyboard/video/mouse to find out the IP address of the rPi. The default username and password for SSH and for the WebUI are:

Username: minepeon
Password: peon

After the rPi has booted, you can navigate to Mine Peon’s handy WebUI by opening your browser and entering the Raspberry Pi’s IP address. There you can insert the mining pool and worker information.
mine peon pools

The best part about Mine Peon is that it automatically supports the USB mining devices, so you can be up and running in a few minutes without having to worry about drivers/compatability issues. There are even handy graphs to check your stats!
mine peon stats

For Further information on Mine Peon check out their installation guide here.

Closing Remarks

Are you going to get rich quick using the Raspberry Pi for bitcoin mining? Of course not. This tutorial was never meant to give that impression. But, could you potential recoup your investment costs and perhaps end up a couple bucks ahead after 6-12 months? Definitely possible!

PS – If you have any questions about earning potential, profitability, or just basic setup, just add a comment below and I’d be happy to help! And if you get your rPi working and mining Bitcoin – Feel free to send a tip to my blog’s BTC address:

1Q9ASkZFAHXLvpPAzAVipcKUH5Vy2xmsA6

Donate Bitcoins

Thanks for reading!

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Google Chromecast: Unboxing and Review (Pictures and Video)

My Google Chromecast arrived last night, so I decided to write a quick post showing the unboxing, setup, and some of the features.

Chromecast Unboxing

First, the packaging:

Chrome Cast Unboxing Packaging

Chrome Cast Unboxing Packaging

Its not exactly the same experience you get from opening up an Apple product, but it does feel similar in the minimalistic style. As I expected from the photos online, the Chromecast is like a large thumbdrive that plugs into an HDMI port instead of USB. For reference:

Chrome Cast Unboxing Packaging

Chromecast Setup

After you plug the powered Chromecast into your TV, you are greeted with the following screen that invites you to set up the Chromecast on your phone or laptop. The experience was equally simple on my laptop, phone, and tablet. I factory reset the device after completion to try all three.

chromecast setup screen hdtv

 

The setup process takes about 5 minutes. To get started, you navigate to the setup URL as prompted above.

setup website google chrome

 

After you download the App, it will inform you that your network connections will go down for a moment as it connects to the WiFi network provided by the Chromecast. On my iPhone, I had to do this manually. After the setup connects to that network, it allows you to enter your home WiFi information so the Chromecast can join your wireless network.

google chromecast enter wifi info

That’s it, the Chromecast is now setup.

chromecast setup complete

 

Now all that is left is for you to do is install the Google Cast extension into your Chrome Browser. After that installation is complete you will have a ‘Cast’ Button in your Chrome navigation menu.

chrome cast extension

Now You can click this on any web page and it will be broadcasted to your TV.

 

daveconroy.com up on screen

Videos of Chromecast

My favorite feature of Chromecast so far is that browser tab you select to share stays broadcasted on your TV even if you switch tabs. Here is an example:

Netflix and Chromecast works the same way:

 

I updated my Netflix app on iOS and the Chrome Cast doesnt seem to be supported just yet (7/31/13), but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.

Take aways

Is the Chromecast a mind blowing piece of technology that no one has ever seen? Not exactly. I’ve been doing something similar with my Apple TV for a few years now. However, at 35$ it is an incredible deal even if you do already have an Apple TV.

And with regards to their tagline “The easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV.….”

I’d have to agree.

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Using your Raspberry Pi as a Wireless Router and Web Server

I got an email earlier in the week from some students at SoonChunHyang University, about 100km from Seoul, Korea. They are working on a project where they are using Raspberry Pi’s as a web server, but also wanted to be able to control the Pi’s via their smart phones and desktops. They ran into issues because they were using the (previously) unsupported WiFi Adapter (RTL8188CUS chipset) that I wrote about in this Raspberry Pi WiFi Hotspot post.

A computer science graduate myself, I offered to write a tutorial for them to help them out. This entire tutorial might not be relevant for everyone, but I cover a lot of issues that people struggle with.

  • -Setting up a DHCP Server
  • -Setting up a Wireless Access Point
  • -Setting up an rPi as a Router
  • -Enabling IP Forwarding

I’ll begin with a fresh image of the Raspbian and just a regular ethernet cable to configure it. I’ve always recommended Raspbian because it is an optimized version of Debian built specifically for Raspberry Pi’s. The last stable downloads can be found here.

To flash your SD Card, you will need to unzip the image and write it your SD card using Win32DiskImager. This tool can also be used to after our initial setup to create an image of our finalized implementation(very useful as a backup).

windiskimager

After the image is flashed, you can boot your device. At this point you can use your HDMI Cable/Mouse/Keyboard for your initial configuration, or you can use an SSH Client like Putty to connect. The default hostname, login, and password are as follows:

host:raspberrypi
Username: pi
Password: raspberry

raspberry pi putty

For this tutorial, I will be using putty. On first boot, you will be prompted with a configuration tool called Raspi-Config. If the raspi-config doesnt load automatically, just enter the following command from the shell to get started.

sudo raspi-config

raspi-config-screenshot

The settings I recommend you update are

update
expand_rootfs
change_pass
change_timezone
memory_split

The usual distribution images are 2 GB. When you copy the image to a larger SD card you have a portion of that card unused. expand_rootfs expands the initial image to expand to fill the rest of the SD card, giving you more space. By default, 64mb is reserved for the Graphical UI. Since we plan on using this as a web server, I reduce this to 32mb with the memory_split command.

After you finish your changes to the raspi-config, you should reboot your pi using the following command:

sudo shutdown -r now

At this point we have a fully functional linux server, but we still need to install apache and get the hotspot/routing functions working. The first part is pretty easy. Run the following commands from the shell to install Apache.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apache2

The location of the Apache configuration file is

/etc/apache2/apache2.conf

After this is completed, give it a try! Navigate to the IP or Hostname of your Rasberry Pi in your browser, and you should see the Apache Splash “It works!” Screen.

it works apache

I believe this is what the students at SoonChunHyang already have working. But, they want to be able to access this web server over a WiFi Hotspot running on the same Raspberry Pi. In order to do this, we need to install hostapd.

sudo apt-get install hostapd

The following steps are only for people who have WiFi adapters with the RTL8188CUS Chipset, if you don’t, please skip ahead to the section titled configuring Hostapd.
I believe the whole crux of their problem so far is that it is the apt hosted copy of hostapd is not compatible with the RTL8188CUS chipset they are using. But, thanks to the Edimax team, I’ve got a replacement hostapd binary to resolve this issue. I don’t think they will be able to get this working without it.

To download and replace the installed binary version of hostapd we just installed, they need to issue the following commands:

wget http://www.daveconroy.com/wp3/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/hostapd.zip
unzip hostapd.zip 
sudo mv /usr/sbin/hostapd /usr/sbin/hostapd.bak
sudo mv hostapd /usr/sbin/hostapd.edimax 
sudo ln -sf /usr/sbin/hostapd.edimax /usr/sbin/hostapd 
sudo chown root.root /usr/sbin/hostapd 
sudo chmod 755 /usr/sbin/hostapd

Configuring Hostapd

Now that we’ve updated the binary copy of hostapd, we need to configure it. To do so, create the following file

sudo nano /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

with the following contents:

interface=wlan0
driver=rtl871xdrv
ssid=DaveConroyPi
channel=6
wmm_enabled=1
wpa=1
wpa_passphrase=0000000000
wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
wpa_pairwise=TKIP
rsn_pairwise=CCMP
auth_algs=1
macaddr_acl=0

 

In previous tutorials, I have used bridge-utils here to help bridge the connection between the interfaces wlan0 and eth0, but in this case we want the wireless card and rPi to handle the routing and dhcp. So , we may be able to connect to the access point, but we won’t get an IP just yet. To do that, we need to define a subnet for our wireless card.

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

and add the following 3 lines

iface wlan0 inet static
address 10.10.0.1
netmask 255.255.255.0

 

Then we have to enable dhcp on the pi for this network so that any devices that connect can get an IP addresss

sudo apt-get install isc-dhcp-server
sudo nano /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf

and make sure you have the following contents:


authoritative; #be careful with this setting
ddns-update-style none;
default-lease-time 600;
max-lease-time 7200;
log-facility local7;


#for the wireless network on wlan0
subnet 10.10.0.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {
range 10.10.0.25 10.10.0.50;
option domain-name-servers 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4;
option routers 10.10.0.1;
interface wlan0;
}

 

At this point we should reboot to test HostAPD and DHCP.

sudo reboot

After the rPi comes back up, start hostapd in the background, then reboot the dhcp server

sudo hostapd -B /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf
sudo /etc/init.d/isc-dhcp-server restart

At this point you should be able to join the wireless network, get an IP, and also hit the local apache web server. If it connects, we will want to start this wireless access point on boot with the following commands

sudo nano /etc/default/hostapd

and uncommenting and updating the following line

DAEMON_CONF="/etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf"

So, if you have followed these steps correctly, you can now provide DHCP servers to any clients, and also allow serve those clients your Apache web pages.

it works apache raspberry pi

There is only one problem remaining. The clients who have connected to your access point can not get further than your Raspberry Pi, therefore have no internet access.

To solve this, we need to enable IP forwarding on the rPi. You can not reboot at this point forward or all future changes will be lost. To save time, we are going to run the final commands as root.

sudo su
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

Then, update /etc/sysctl.conf and uncomment this line

nano /etc/sysctl.conf

net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Save the file.

The final step is to insert an iptables rule to allow NAT. (eth0 being the interface which is connected to the internet)

iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

We also need to save these IP Table settings so they are enabled every time you boot the rPi. To save these settings to a file, use the following command.

iptables-save > /etc/iptables.up.rules

To load them at boot, we need to create a script in /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/

nano /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables

with the following contents:

#!/bin/sh
#This script restores iptables upon reboot

iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules exit 0

Then, verify the permissions so that it will start on boot.

chown root:root /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables 
chmod +x /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables
chmod 755 /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables

And we are done! When you reboot your Raspberry Pi should be working as an Access Point, a Web Server, a DHCP Server, and an Internet Ready Router!

internet working raspberry pi

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Ditch Your Cable Modem/ISP With a Tethered iPhone and Raspberry Pi

Last month, I wrote a blog post about tethering your iPhone to your Raspberry Pi. I got a lot of emails regarding this post, and one in particular caught my eye. It was from a fellow tech-enthusiast/cord cutter who wanted to save the ~60$ a month that he was paying for his cable modem, and instead tether his iPhone which already has a data plan.

Before getting started I realize this setup is not for power users, but instead for people who may

  • -travel often for work
  • -own a second residence and don’t want to pay two internet bills
  • -have tethering paid for by their employer
  • -have light internet usage or unlimited data plans
  • -cord cutters on a budget

 

Intrigued by this idea, I started testing it myself and got it working fairly easily. I already covered the full operating system setup in the Raspberry Pi/iPhone Tethering post, so I will just start with the tethering portion for this tutorial.

Prerequisites

Make sure your iPhone is disconnected and proceed to install the following iPhone and file system utilities on the Pi. Open up a terminal or SSH into your Pi and run the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gvfs ipheth-utils
sudo apt-get install libimobiledevice-utils ifuse 
sudo apt-get install gvfs-backends gvfs-bin gvfs-fuse

After these are installed, and with your iPhone still not plugged in, lets take a look at our available interfaces. Run the following commands:

ifconfig -s

If you have a standard installation, you should see two interfaces, eth0 and lo.

tether iphone 5 raspberry pi

The reason we did this step was to make sure we correctly identified the name of the iPhone’s network interface. Now that you have this list you can turn on your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot and then plug it into your Raspberry Pi’s USB port, and issue the same command.

ifconfig -s

iphone raspberry pi

Your Pi should now recognize your iPhone is plugged in and assign its network interface a name, usually eth1.

Hot Swapping

So now we have our Raspberry Pi Recognizing our iPhone, but in the scenario we are trying to account for – we need to be able to hotswap our phone on and off our networks for it to be truly useful. To do so, unplug your iPhone and then open up your network interfaces file.

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

and add the following lines, where eth1 is the name identified above.

allow-hotplug eth1
iface eth1 inet dhcp

Save and close the interfaces file.

In my testing, tethering with only worked when the iPhone is mounted. To do this, we need to implement the ifuse package we downloaded earlier. First, create a mount directory for the iPhone

sudo mkdir /media/iPhone

Now we can disconnect the ethernet of the Pi, turn on the iPhone’s Hotspot , and plug in then mount the iPhone.

sudo ifuse /media/iPhone

The Internet should now be tethered from your iPhone. Remember, at this point the iPhone must manually be mounted each time it is plugged using the ifuse command.

Finishing the iPhone Portion

Having the Raspberry Pi connected to the internet via the iPhone is an important step, but it is a hassle to have to mount the iPhone everytime.

To automate the process, we need to create the following script named iphoneconnect in /lib/udev/:

sudo nano /lib/udev/iphoneconnect

#!/bin/bash
umount /media/iPhone #when the iPhone is unplugged, it is not automatically unmounted.
ifuse /media/iPhone
/etc/init.d/networking restart #this may not be necessary, but just a safe guard to rebridge the connection
ipheth_pair

Remember to make the script executable

sudo chmod 755 /lib/udev/iphoneconnect

The final step is to edit the file ’90-iphone-tether.rules’ in the ‘/lib/udev/rules.d’ directory.

sudo nano /lib/udev/rules.d/90-iphone-tether.rules

This is the script that runs automatically when ever we plug in the iPhone, and we want to edit it to call the script we created (/lib/udev/iphoneconnect) instead of what it currently calls (/lib/udev/ipheth_pair). To do this, we just edit the 5th line of the file replacing ipheth_pair with iphoneconnect.

The file should look like this


# udev rules for setting correct configuration and pairing on tethered iPhones
ATTR{idVendor}!="05ac", GOTO="ipheth_rules_end"

# Execute pairing program when appropriate
ACTION==”add”, SUBSYSTEM==”net”, ENV{ID_USB_DRIVER}==”ipheth”, SYMLINK+=”iphone”, RUN+=”iphoneconnect”

LABEL=”ipheth_rules_end”

 

Success!

iPhone Tethered Raspberry Pi

Replacing your Cable Modem with the Raspberry Pi

This is the part of this tutorial I found the most fascinating. I’m sure most of my readers already have their Wireless Router and Firewall configured exactly how they want, and don’t want to have to change any of those settings. The goal here is to just take the uplink ethernet cable from the router out of the cable modem and into the Raspberry Pi and then practice business as usual.

Bridging the Gap

In order to do this, we just need to bridge the connection from the iPhone interface (eth1) with the built in ethernet interface (eth0). To do so, we first need to install the bridge utilities,

sudo apt-get install bridge-utils

and then edit our network interfaces file again

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

and add the following lines

auto br0
iface br0 inet dhcp
bridge_ports eth1 eth0

Save and close the interfaces file, and reboot the rPi

sudo reboot

At this point, I logged into my Wireless Router and gave it a static IP, and used google’s public DNS. I am sure this step could be skipped if we setup a simple dhcp server on the rPi. When I have that working I will update this post with the optional step.

router ss

Results

Here is just a quick picture of my demo environment.
iphone-router-setup
I also did some speed tests and got some remarkable results. 10mb/s over Verizon’s 4G LTE. I am willing to bet that is faster than many home WiFi networks. Upload speeds were a less impressive, but still useful .25 mb/s.

downloadspeed

Troubleshooting

I noticed that because of the boot order of the network interfaces, and mounting of the iPhone, it worked best if I did a quick network reset after the device had fully booted. To do so, edit the rc.local file

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

and add the following line before the exit 0

/etc/init.d/networking restart

This will reestablish the bridge if the iPhone wasn’t tethered in time on boot.

If you have any other questions, just comment on this post.

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Verified: Raspberry Pi and 3G Sierra Wireless 250u Aircard from Sprint

I am writing this quick post as I recently had a very difficult time getting the Sierra Wireless 250u 3G USB modem from Sprint working on my Raspberry Pi. I also had seen anyone else on the web or forums having success with this combination. It turns out my main issue was that I was not using a powered USB hub. The Raspberry Pi’s only output about 100mA out of their USB ports and the 3G modem requires much more than that.

sierra wireless 250u and raspberry pi

After I started using a powered USB hub, the configuration was straight forward. I am using the Wheezy version of Raspbian as my OS. This Belkin 7 Port Hub works out of the box.

The first thing I needed to do was check to make sure my device was recognized.

lsusb

You should get a print out similar to this,

lsusb-sierra

The important line we are looking for is:

Bus 001 Device 010: ID 1199:0301 Sierra Wireless, Inc.

Now that we have verified that the device is being recognized by the rPi, we need to install our dialer, WvDial. WvDial is a Point-to-Point Protocol dialer, it will enable a modem and start pppd in order to connect to the Internet.

sudo apt-get install wvdial

Then, edit the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/wvdial.conf

I replace the entire contents of my file with the following:

[Dialer Defaults]
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 460800
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
ISDN = 0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Phone = #777
Username = ''
Password = ''
Carrier Check = no
Stupid Mode = 1

Now, test the connection:

sudo wvdial

A succesful connection looks like this:

--> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.61
--> Cannot get information for serial port.
--> Initializing modem.
--> Sending: ATZ
OK
--> Sending: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
OK
--> Modem initialized.
--> Sending: ATDT#777
--> Waiting for carrier.
ATDT#777
CONNECT
--> Carrier detected. Starting PPP immediately.
--> Starting pppd at Thu Jul 11 18:46:50 2013
--> Pid of pppd: 3395
--> Using interface ppp0
--> local IP address xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
--> remote IP address xx.x.xx.xxx
--> primary DNS address xx.x.xxx.x
--> secondary DNS address xx.xx.33.x

There is a manual from Sprint located here if you have any troubles connecting, or just comment on the blog and I’d be happy to help debug with you. Thanks for reading.

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