In four days since starting this experiment, I’m up over $550 USD, with the current value of the five coins sitting at $1607.19. I am strongly considering buying into several more alts in a similar fashion.
I took 2 ZEC at Polonix (worth roughly $1050 in USD) and traded it for BTC. Then divided the BTC five ways, and bought five (almost) random low-cost altcoins. I did a little bit of research on each of them, but none of them are extremely popular and have a ton of information. That’s part of the game here.
- 22689 DOGE
- 3962 BURST
- 549 POT
- 263 SYS
- 6591 SC
Altcoin trading is interesting because it’s the ultimate high risk, high reward trading in CryptoCurrency. These are low volume, low cost coins, that are fairly new to the market or (in the case of DOGE, at least) old but not well embraced. They may dwindle down to nothing or you may see five, ten, or even thousand fold increases in incredibly short spans of time. I’ve avoided investing in them so far, instead holding more mainstream currencies like ETH, ZEC, XMR, LTC, and BTC, but decided to take the plunge and invested roughly $210USD into each of these. I plan to make these a long term investment, and will post how they’re doing at least monthly here.
I wrote custom Nagios NRPE checks that output perfdata, which I then graph with PNP4Nagios. These allowed me to track changes over time and see what actually worked and what did not.
After all of the testing, I found that Delta AFC1212DE case fans over the 1070 cards, and Delta TFC1212DE case fans over the 1080TI cards, give the above results. You can see when I finalized the changes in the graphs – the temps went down and power draw (performance) went up. I am not running any AC or swamp cooler in the garage (returning both), and using only four each of the two aforementioned fans is keeping things well under dangerous temperatures. It’s loud, but out in the garage, that isn’t an issue.
I also added this fan and door vents that seem to do far more than either the AC or swamp cooler, and make the garage considerably more comfortable. They’re sending insulation to put on the inside of the door that should arrive this week, as well.
This is another graph I made to show the trends:
And after some more time for things to stabilize:
We’ve been struggling with cooling issues for the last week. The two rigs with the GTX 1070 cards are running warm, close to their thermal caps, but are stable and happy working that way. The GTX 1080TI cards, however, were throttling themselves and even turning themselves off because they were simply running too hot out there. I tried adding case fans in all the locations allowed by the case, as well as using the Tripplite SRCOOL7KRM air conditioner, a swamp cooler to cool the room, running without lids, and various other things. Now I am going to return the $750 air conditioner and $600 swamp cooler, since neither made any difference.
I was having so much trouble getting temperatures under control, I stood up a Nagios instance on my VMware Environment and made custom NRPE checks with PNP4Nagios graphs to visualize temperatures as I made changes. Eventually, I found that sitting Delta 120MM 200CFM case fans directly on top of the cards, blowing air down between them, seems to work effectively, for a total of $20 per fan and two fans per machine:
The fans won’t fit inside the case, and there was no good way to mount them, so I took out a section of each case lid with an angle grinder and a cutting disc.
The rest of the rack has now found its place on the back wall of the garage, near the entrance door to our house.
Anyway, now that the machines are running cool, they’ve been put to work mining and we’re receiving ETH, ZEC, and LBRY deposits daily.
Edit – ReRacked
I reracked everything with 4U of spacing between nodes, and the switch on the back of the rack. That provides space for one more miner, which is probably about the safe limit with cooling and electricity here, assuming I upgrade to all 1080TIs (which I’ll do before I add a fifth node).
In the interest of a quiet and cool environment inside the house, I ended up ditching the open frame chassis and moving to rackmount servers in the garage. The progress on those has been slow, because of parts issues and dealing with the heat in there.
I ordered a low end Tripp-Lite SR2000 rack off Ebay, it was “open box, but in perfect condition”, but arrived missing a side panel. I saved about $400 on it, so for now I’m living with out. I threw a large piece of wood over the side that faces the wall, leaving the side with the panel exposed. I also ordered a rackmount AC unit by TrippLite, but it was damaged during shipping (arrived with a loose faceplate) and isn’t cooling well (possibly my fault, as I didn’t wait long enough for the coolant to settle after it being shipped on its side, despite plenty of “This Side Up!” labels plastered on the box). It does blow cold air, but even just the back pressure of the optional exhaust vent is enough to cause it to overheat and shut the compressor off. TrippLite service is awesome, though, as they’re sending a new one immediately and it will be here next week. I found a old monitored TrippLite vertical 208/240v 30A PDU on Ebay and that completes the rack.
As for the machines, I’ve opted to do four machines, two with 4x GTX 1070 cards and two with 4x GTX 1080TI cards. The systems with the 1070s have been going strong for a few days, making about $30 a day between the two of them. The 1080TI machines should make a good bit more, and hopefully the market will improve to get the numbers where I really want them. Still, I’m looking at $60-$80 day, depending on the market, at this point with all these systems in place, and that makes for a ROI in five months or so (not including the rack), which is considerably shorter than most investments.
I’ve bought and returned several components over the past few weeks, and have finally come to a conclusion as to which parts are best for one of these rigs. If I were to do it all over again, I’d standardize on:
- Chenbro RM41300-FS81 chassis
- Corsair HX1200 power supply
- MSI Z170A XPOWER Titanium motherboard
- Celeron G3930 processor
- 2x 4GB Crucial DDR4-2133 ram
- Samsung 32GB M.2 SATA ssd
- 4x EVGA GeForce GTX 1080TI SC2 video cards
- Lots of velcro straps to keep cables out of the way
We’re still waiting on parts to come in, and disappointingly, twelve of the cards we ordered (six for Larkin, six for me) from Dell are backordered until August. We’re currently trying to decide whether to cancel the orders or hold out, since we can’t seem to find any alternatives.
I was able to put a small rig together with three GPUs to perform testing on, and have created a github repo to manage the configuration scripts I’m using.
We’re seeing 30MH/s from each card with ETH and 400 Sol/s with ZEC, while drawing around 348 from the wall, and squeeze out another 25 Sol/s from each card for ZEC if we let the system pull 435w.
The machine itself is just put together on a test bench, but seems to be stable and has facilitated all the software tested necessary to streamline the operation.
I found a good deal on some more cards, and moving to 20 cards in the current market breaks into the $3k/mo category. I amended my setup to have a second rackmount chassis, and found two MSI Z170A XPower Titanium boards at reasonable prices (both open box) to replace the ECS Z170-Claymore I ordered (I couldn’t find another ECS, and wanted them to be as consistent as possible).
I’m selling the ECS Z170-Claymore to Larkin, who is now adding a four card rig. I’ve updated the spreadsheet that tracks all of the parts and costs.
I wanted add some clarification on some things I mentioned in the last couple posts (parts 1 and 2 of this series).
First of all, 240V is more efficient than 120V power, as I had always heard & figured. I was looking for hard data on this, and found this in a APC datasheet today:
Second, I wanted to explain a little more about how the CryptoCurrency markets work. They are very similar to stock markets, where you can buy and sell currency in real time.
You can watch the trends, much like you would a stock, to make your decision whether to buy, hold, or sell. As you can see, the markets for ETH and ZEC rise and fall, but overall, are very positive. You can place buy and sell orders exactly as you would with stock.
Third, when you mine, you are populating a virtual wallet with the currency you are mining. If you have a rig mining ZEC, the ZEC you gain will be added to your ZEC wallet. You then can go to the market (depicted above) and choose whether to trade the ZEC for another currency (BTC, ETH, USD, etc) or keep it.
I detailed yesterday that I’m investing in two 6-GPU rigs for cryptocurrency mining, that will be located at my house. Two rigs are the practical limit here due to space and noise concerns. I had about $10K saved up to put into a boat, and am instead directing the money into this. The boat is on indefinite hold, and that leaves me with a little money left to invest. I decided to spend that on a third solution that will be racked at one of my colo facilities in Dallas. Everything there needs to be rackmount, so the chassis design for my home servers will not work. I have two racks in Dallas, but only have photos of the first one.
I looked around for pre-built rackmount solutions, but all I could find is a company named GreyMatter that makes some really nice looking server cases and can’t keep them in stock long enough to sell one. That left me with either fabricating something with equipment I don’t have (waterjet, plasma or CNC; press brake) or retrofitting some other solution with fewer cards. I found a 4u chassis called the Chenbro RM41300-FS81 that is designed to hold four Tesla cards, and decided to build around that.
The chassis doesn’t use risers, so it requires a motherboard with four properly spaced PCIe 16x slots to work. I found a handful of older, high end X99 boards that meet those requirements, but the CPUs offset the cost savings. Recent boards don’t really have the slots because 4-way SLI has been deprecated with the GTX 10 series. After a bit of searching and closely inspecting pictures, though, I found a recent Z170 board with the appropriate layout. It’s the ECS Z170-Claymore board. I’ve never used ECS and don’t like veering from a few trusted brands, but it’s by far the least expensive one that meets my requirements, at $159.99. Amazon had only one left in stock and nobody else seemed to have it.
One of the nice things about this being another Z170 board is that I can use the same CPU, RAM, and M.2 SSD as I’m using in builds #1 and #2. That saves costs, and I like to keep things as consistent as possible. I ordered the 860W version of the 660W Platinum PSUs I chose for my open frame builds.
For the cards, I had to search high and low to find what turned out to be a mismatched set of cards. I was able to obtain two EVGA GTX 1070 SC cards at $429.99/ea, and two MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X cards at $406.62/ea (all plus tax). Those prices are unheard of right now. Amazon’s current asking price for the EVGA cards is $799.99/ea, and the MSI cards for $540/ea. MSRP for those cards should be between $400 and $450/ea.
I found the MSIs via PrimeNow, and just happened to find a reseller on Amazon who had a decent price on the EVGA. I bought the last two of each. Using mismatched cards shouldn’t be an issue, since they are all NVIDIA Pascal architecture cards.
That brought the total to $2,398.21, or the total cost of the project to $9,440.35, which breaks down to $590.02 per card. According to WhatToMine, if today’s rates remain static, that configuration will bring in $2,697 per (30 day) month. That provides a break even point of 3.5 months. As far as ROI goes, that’s really impressive. And if they continue to bring in $2,500 or more a month after the ROI has been met, that will be terrific.