How do I setup a computer to do solo bitcoin mining?

I tried to do some research on this a couple years ago and got absolutely nowhere with it. What’s worse, it turned out to be something of a security risk - something I understood and which made configuration that much more difficult.

Anyway, I think I vaguely understand the principle if not the mechanics. Also, I understand that most people seem to run as part of a pool. I don’t want to do that. I have about 10 pretty high end gpu’s I’d be using (almost all are 7950’s) so I’m happy to strike out on my own.

What I really need is a step by step guide for setting up the software on each of maybe a half dozen machines running various flavors of Win7 (Pro, Ult and Enterprise). Any help would be appreciated.

Can’t help you much, but it doesn’t look like anyone else at the SDMB is a regular miner…

It is totally insane to try to solo mine. With 10 7950’s you’ll get around 4.5 GH/s, which at the current difficulty means you’d find a block roughly every three months. Difficulty changes every two weeks and has been rising steeply for several months now, meaning it will take even longer. You really must mine at a pool if you want any sort of steady return. What exactly is your objection to using one?

Don’t forget you also need to factor in your electricity costs for running those PCs and GPUs. At least, I suppose, you don’t need to consider the costs of your hardware and GPUs since you apparently already have those and aren’t using them for anything else.

I don’t use Win7 myself, I use a customised Linux distro called BAMT, which runs on a USB stick and is really easy to set up. I could walk you through it easier if you used that. If you absolutely must have Win7 apparently GuiMiner is quite easy to set up.

Best of all would be, don’t rely on the incoherent burblings of ONE halfwit, when you can join the forums at and enjoy the incoherent burblings of HUNDREDS of halfwits! Just stay in the Mining section (well, after you’ve got out of ‘Newbie Jail’) and you’ll be fine. Spending any time in the Politics section is bad for the spleen.

So for every hundred halfwits, you get 50 wits of brainpower. You’d need 20 times that much just to have one kilowit of power. But as Nancarrow suggests, you need a whole lot of kilowit-hours of power just to find one new block. In fact, he thinks your power needs might even be better expressed as kilowit-MONTHS. If the entire SDMB membership pooled on this, we might get somewhere! Collectively, we have a lot of kilowit power here.

So what we need to do is simplify the question:
How many bits would half-wit get if a half-wit could get bits?

That doesn’t really make any sense to me, but then I don’t completely understand this, from the Bitcoin wiki either:

Just FYI, my total output is 6 teraflops. So you’re sure I couldn’t do this solo? Given my electricity bill, I’m way short of whatever it is I’m supposed to have. :smack:

My understanding is that mining is simply no longer profitable. You’ll spend more on electricity than you’ll make in bitcoins.

davidm: actually for me, and I dare say most other miners, it’s more profitable now than it’s ever been. My rigs are bringing in around £25 a day. As in, making £31 worth of bitcoins each day and costing £6 in electricity. No, I’m not about to retire on a tropical island any time soon, but I’m only small potatoes in the mining world. To be sure, this is a very surprising turn of events - when the block reward halved in December most of us thought we’d be making small losses on mining for a week, before deciding to turn em off and sell off the parts. Then the exchange rate started shooting up. Is it a bubble, is it economic growth? Time will tell, but that’s a different thread.

deltasigma: my understanding of flops, tera or otherwise, is that they are useless for calculating mining power because mining uses integer operations. The setup you have described will get 4.5 GH/s, +/- 10%. And you want to mine on a pool. In case you misunderstood that DOESN’T mean finding a local club or anything. It means setting up your rigs yourself, then typing in a couple of http: addresses in the relevant fields.

My understanding is that you already have all the required hardware, except for maybe a power meter and a few cables. If so you should DEFINITELY give this a go. Worst case scenario, you spend a few days setting it up, you leave it mining for a week, you find you lost, what 20 dollars, on extra electricity, you shut it down and forget about it. But at the moment you are much more likely to make a little out of it.

But yeah, setting it all up is not a trivial process. I’ll be happy to walk you through it wherever I can. First off, explain your hardware:

  1. How many PCs do you have?
  2. How many GPUs do you have and what models are they? As in 7950 or otherwise?
  3. How many PCI-e slots does each motherboard have? What physical size is each slot? What power supply does each PC have?

Power supplies and GPUs need to be the bomb. CPUs, mobos, ram, hard disk can all be shit, except the mobos should have as many pci-e slots as possible, but that’s really just for efficiency.

It’s sleepytime now in the land of fish and chips, but I’ll be back tomorrow morning.

So is it uneconomical for someone who would have to buy all the hardware from scratch?

That’s difficult for me to say. It kinda depends on the price/difficulty ratio which is unpredictable. I’d have said definitely don’t build a new rig, up until maybe six weeks ago. The other issue is Bitcoin mining ASICs, which are a gamechanger. Their hashrate/power ratio is maybe 50x that of GPU mining rigs, but development and uptake has been much slower than expected, which has kept GPU miners in the game.

Are they using custom silicon or something more programmable like an FPGA? (My knowledge of such things is out of date…)

I wasn’t aware that the economics had changed. Is there any rationale behind the value inflation other than speculation?

What’s the advantage of being in a pool? I understand that you’re sharing the work, but you’re also sharing the rewards. Does having 10 machines somehow give you more than 10 times the power?

I think he means that you should donate the rewards of your mining to a common cause, rather than hoping to earn anything yourself.

Also, you should move your mining operations to Iceland.
“For example, Iceland produces an excess of cheap electricity from renewable sources, but it has no way of exporting electricity because of its remote location. It is conceivable that at some point in future Bitcoin mining will only be profitable in places like Iceland, and unprofitable in places like central Europe, where electricity comes mostly from nuclear and fossil sources”

And then, when iceland suffers a huge volcanic erruption, earthquake or tsunami, the bitcoin thing will be deadk as it deserves to be, and everyone will have lost their bitcoins.

Here’s my question:

I have a PC. I don’t turn it off. It sits idle for something like 18 hours a day most days when I’m sleeping, at work, eating, etc…

Would there be any reason I wouldn’t want to set up some sort of idle-time bitcoin mining rig? I mean, even if I get one bitcoin every 6 months, it’s more cash in my pocket for electricity that I’d have already consumed, or for a relatively marginal increase in electricity.

(and yes, I know I can get a BOINC client and help with research in the same way)

It’s not electricity you’re already consuming.

There are rumours that the Bitcoinian central bank is going to cut interest rates. :wink:

In other words, it’s mostly speculation.

If you’re willing to bet on the things increasing in value, wouldn’t it be easier just to buy a bunch of bitcoins rather than invest in hardware and power? Do you have to mine to own the things?

ASIC is ‘custom silicon’ as far as I understand it (which isn’t very well). In terms of power efficiency you have ASIC > FPGA > GPU > CPU.

This is the $64000 (BTC 1.00? j/k) question. I think it’s a combination of speculation and a growing bitcoin economy. I’m in bitcoins for the long term though. Just now 1BTC=$189 on the major exchange. Even if that’s not a fair price now, I think it would easily be a fair price in a few months. IOW such bubbles as may occur, will be short and harmless to peeps like me. If BTC were to crash to $2 tomorrow, rather than jumping off a bridge, I’d look for any spare cash I had lying around and buy up whatever BTC I could as soon as possible. But perhaps I’m drinking the kool-aid.

Less variance in your daily or weekly return of Bitcoins. And I don’t just mean a little. I mean, instead of having, say a 20% chance of getting a 25BTC block over the next month (and a 90% chance of getting nothing, just wasting electricity), you get a steady 0.161BTC per day, +/- maybe 10%

No that’s not what I mean at all. In a pool you don’t donate your hashing power to any common cause (except in so far as the pool operator skims off, say, a 3% fee).

Well aren’t you just a little ray of sleet? :dubious:
And no, you can’t lose your bitcoins just by lots of miners suddenly being unable to mine. If EVERY single miner suddenly stopped mining, no bitcoin transactions could take place. But in such a bizarre scenario, some people would just start up mining again. And your bitcoins would not have gone anywhere.

The PC will consume more electricity when mining than when not mining, so you would have to calculate whether the mining return outweighs the electricity cost. If you have a laptop PC, or a desktop PC without a ‘good’ graphics card, forget it. You need a desktop PC with one or more PCIe slots, and a relatively recent ATI Radeon (NOT Nvidia) graphics card. Any of the models with a 4-digit number beginning with 5,6, or 7 will work. When I started mining, 5970s were the Rolls Royce’s of bitcoin mining. Dunno if they still are, but they’re GOOD.

Not sure what you’re trying to say here? Unless you’re being pedantic and want to chastise them for not saying ‘electrical energy’.

You somewhat obliquely addressed one of the key features of Bitcoin, there is no central bank. There’s no one to ‘cut interest rates’. Of course that doesn’t mean that the Bitcoin economy is ‘completely decentralised’, only a few aspects of it are. Much debate is currently going on in the BTC community about the other aspects, in which bitcoin IS still somewhat centralised (off the top of my head, one exchange handling 80% of currency conversions, one small core team of developers updating the ‘official’ client, around a dozen guys operating the major pools, and indeed ONE guy operating a pool that currently has nearly half the hashing power).

Yes, and no, respectively. But the more people that mine, the more ‘decentralised’ the system is (with the caveats I mentioned above).

So what happens when the day comes that the maximum number allowable have been mined? I realize that that’s quite a way off, but that day will come. They’ll be worthless if no transactions can take place.

Transaction fees. Sorry should have mentioned, that’s crucial to the long term survivability. The miner who discovers a block doesn’t just get the (currently) 25BTC ‘coinbase transaction’, they also get any transaction fees. Whenever someone wants to pay for something with bitcoins, they can opt to include a transaction fee, which can more or less be any amount at all (including zero). The higher the fee, the more likely it is that the mining network will include that transaction in the blockchain quickly.

At the moment, it’s still perfectly possible to include no transaction fees at all, if your transaction is for a reasonable amount of btc (can’t remember the cutoff). This will probably last most of the rest of this decade. But as time goes on peeps who want to transact in bitcoin will need to pay the miners for the priviledge of doing so. Which keeps the miners interested, which keeps the network alive.