For those of you aware of my previous blog posts on hobby mining crypto (found here) will know that I'm interested learning about how to mine crypto, with the emphasis on on learn, as well as sharing my findings so that you can have a go as well. With that in mind I've been planing out a series of blog articles that focus on the use of everyone's favorite inexpensive DIY computer the Raspberry Pi. Over the coming months I'll go through step-by-step guides for mining and other crypto-space related projects that you will be able to follow at home. Ideally, the aim is to not get too technical, though these articles will be a little more involved than the previous hobby mining posts. What I will say is stick with it, have a go and just enjoy the process of learning along the way.
Before I begin there are a couple of things to remember; Firstly unless you have an extensive mining setup you're unlikely to get rich (or break even) and Secondly I take no responsibility for any issues you run into if you try this at home (be smart, download any software at your own risk).
1. The Shopping List
So of all days, it turns out to be fortuitous that on this day, 14-Mar-2020 (3-14, Pi day), that all of the bits arrived for my initial build. If anyone is interested in following along with similar projects I've listed the items I bought below. I've also indicated where items are optional differences.
- 1 - Raspberry Pi 4B, 4 GB RAM (1.2 rev): Optional, you can go with another model 2/3 but if you get a 4 make sure it is the 1.2 rev as the previous 4B have a minor issue that has been resolved
- 2- Micro SD Card (400 GB): Optional, a 16 GB card would work fine but you may want an external drive ~250+ GB for some of the projects, this is why I opted for a bigger SD
- 3 - A Case: Optional, as you can see I got one that comes with a fan (a) and heat-sinks (b) there are loads out there, this was a cheap bundle that came with the next items as well
- 4 - A mini-HDMI to HDMI cable: Optional, if you are happy to not plug it directly into a screen then you shouldn't need this as we'll connect remotly
- 5 - A dedicated power supply: For this model it is 5V 3A
As you can imagine some assembly is required so here are a couple of photos of the various stages (I'm not going to bore you with explaining this, just follow the guide with your case if you have one).
NB: The small bit in the red box is what was added to the board for the 1.2 rev, if you don't have this and you have a 4B it will be the older version
2. Digital shopping list
After building the Pi the next thing we're going to need to do is install an operating system (OS) on in as well as set it up so that we can remotely access it. Strictly speaking it isn't 100% necessary to set up the remote access, but I like to have it plugged in and then just connect to it through my normal desktop. I'll assume that you would also like to do the same as it cuts down on needing a separate mouse and keyboard or having a switch for your existing ones. As such there are a few software items on our digital shopping list that we'll need to get going I've listed them below, now will be a good time to go get them and follow the standard installation wizards from:
- Raspberry Pi Imager: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/ - We'll need this to write the OS to the SD card
- PuTTY: https://www.putty.org/ - This is the software we'll use to access the Pi remotely
- TightVNC: https://www.tightvnc.com/ - This software allows us to display the Pi as a remote desktop rather than just accessing through the terminal. Not essential but I like it.
The OS we're going to use later is Raspbian, but thanks to the Raspberry Pi Imager software we don't need to go find it beforehand as with older guides.
3. Preparing the OS and setting up the Pi
From here on out it is going to get a little bit more technical. If you are struggling with any steps then head on over to the Pi installation guides here. Also if you're doing this on a Mac they have the links you'll need for the equivalent software mention above.
Installing the OS:
- 1 - Insert your SD card (via an adapter is necessary) and load up Raspberry Pi Imager
- 2 - Select your SD card from the available (be careful not to overwrite the wrong one if you have multiple available)
- 3 - Select the version of the OS you need, for this guide we're using Raspbian with the desktop.
- 4 - Click on 'Write' back on the main screen. This will take some time so be patient as it involved a download of >1 GB for the OS, writing and then verifying the image.
- 5 - Success, we can move on to the next step
Setting up the remote connection:
- 1 - Before removing your SD card from the computer navigate to it and within the main folder drop a single file called "ssh" with no file extensions. Then eject the card and insert it into the raspberry pi micro SD slot (on the underside)
- 2 - Now we need to plug the pi into our router via the Ethernet port and start it up. You may also want to plug it into a screen so you can see that it is ready to go. Otherwise, just hang on a couple of mins for it load up
- 3 - Next we need to know to what address our Pi is currently assigned on the router. Best thing to do is connect to your router through your computer (usually, 192.168.0.1) and then look for a section with a list of connected devices. Look through the list to find the raspberry Pi and make a note of the IP address
- 4 - Open up PuTTY
- a) Enter the IP address
- b) Type a name for storing session (so you don't need the Pi next time) anything will do
- c) Click Save. Then to get started select your session from the list ("Pi", in this example) and click Load
- 5 - Once it loads the first time you will see is likely a security alert. This is expected just click on 'Yes'
- 6 - Next you will see a terminal. Since it is your first setup then you'll the login details will be "pi" followed by "raspberry"
- 7 - What we can, do because this password isn't secure, is to create a new one. To do this type the following and put in the existing password and replace with something more secure (don't forget it though)
- 8 - From here there are a few things to do to set up our Pi desktop
- a) Update: this terminal makes sure you've got the latest updates on you Pi (always a good idea)
- b) Install: this will get and install TightVNC so we can get our remote desktop (you'll be asked if you want to go ahead, type Y to continue)
- c) Tightvncserver: once installed this will start TightVNC on the Pi ready for our connection (there is a little extra setup, follow the steps on the terminal adding a password for read/write access). This time only an 8 character password is necessary.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install tightvncserver tightvncserver
- 9 - Before you close the PuTTY terminal open up TightVNC on the computer
- a) In the PuTTY window you'll see your Raspberry Pi address for TightVNC
- b) Add this to the remote host box on TightVNC and then click connect, you'll be promoted for your password
Once it loads you'll see a screen like this and you can close the PuTTY window. Congratulations! You set up the Raspberry Pi and everything is ready for the first of the Crypto projects.
4. Final Words
I realize this has been quite and in-depth article just to get set up and doesn't cover any crypto just yet. The reason for this is so that I can (in future) link directly to this article in order to avoid having to go through the set-up steps repeatedly. From here on out we'll look at crypto projects and the assumption will be that this set-up guide has been followed, or the reader know how to set up already.
Hope you enjoyed the guide, good luck y'all!
Additional (Unrelated) Pi Day Information
Since it is Pi Day I thought I'd throw in a quick Pi related bit of info. For those that are already aware Pi is a 'potential' new crypto currency under development which has been given very mixed reviews over the past year. Many people are staunch supporters, while as others are very much against the idea. As for myself I'm trying not to become too polarized and for academic reasons set up the app awhile ago and 'mine' regularly with it really just so I can see what happens as the project moves forward.
Today the Pi team release and updated video via the App with the following information that maybe of interest, I'm not giving opinions here, just laying out the information as provided:
- Phase 1 - Start with a goal of getting 1M pioneers (their users), by 2020 (in less than a year they get >3.5M)
- Phase 2 - Has the following aims:
- Release high-level roadmap for P2
- Launch the first version of the Pi's Node software by 31Mar2020 - this will be used for the next aim
- Decentralize the network (by use of Nodes)
- Build value via an applications platform - Allow developer to create application use transactions of Pi
- For users that mine today (both existing and new) there is a chance to win 3,141.59 Pi from the Core Team (at this time there is no value in these so it is hard to know if this is a lot)
If anyone is planning on getting the app and would like to use my invitation code (Mynima) please go ahead, you'll get 1 Pi for the signup and then a 25% mining boost for both of us.
If it isn't for you or you are concerned it a gimmick then by all means disregard this last section.