The BitCoin Experiment

Bitcoin has been around for a long time. Since 2009, in fact. I had hear about
it when I was in college and I had friends that bought and mined some, but I
never got involved with it because I saw it as too risky. I didn't have much
money in college, so why would I use some of it on getting bitcoins (which had
very few real applications at the time)? Anyway, fast-forward a couple years to
when I have a bit more disposable income and a Raspberry Pi for which I am
looking for a project.

I came across this post about a person setting up a RPi with some
USB ASIC Bitcoin miners. I was kind of surprised reading this. I thought that
coins were mined with graphics cards and specialized hardware. This is true, but
not quite the whole story. There are more expensive bitcoin miners out there and
they do probably the majority of the mining for bitcoin. GPUs are basically not
used anymore because it is more expensive to use them than the revenue generated
from their mining. These small USB ASICs use almost no power and at the time
mined an acceptable amount of Bitcoin. I figured it would be a cool experiment.
I knew that I would not be making much money mining with such cheap equipment--
after all, if I could, someone who was willing to spend more money would have
bought them all and done it before me.

I initially bought two miners and ended up buying two more once they dropped in
price a little. I also needed to buy a decent powered USB hub, since the RPi
would not provide nearly enough power to get these running. Pretty much everyone
recommended buying a fan for the miners as well since they tended to run a bit


  • 1x D-Link Hi-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Powered Hub @ $26
  • 2x ASICMiner Block Erupter USB 330MH/s @ $17.50ea + $10 s/h
  • 2x ASICMiner Block Erupter USB 330MH/s @ .15BTC ($17)
  • 1x USB Fan @ $8
  • Total Spent: $113

I purchased all of this at he end of September and the begining of October 2013.
Since then, Bitcoin has risen meteroically and crashed. The price when I bought
this equipment was around $100/BTC. It peaked at over $1000/BTC and currently
sits at $475/BTC. The price of miners also mimicked the price of Bitcoin. When
the price of Bitcoin was very high, I could have sold each of my miners for more
than double what I paid for it. If I had been doing this soley for money, that
would have been the thing to do, but I was doing this out of curiosity. I wanted
to learn about this thing that was just coming into the the public eye.

I followed the price closely for months. I read forums and reddit posts. I
learned more about cryptography. I learned about some of the perceived
shortcomings of bitcoin. I learned about a lot of misconceptions that people
had about it.

Monetarily it went pretty poorly for me though. At the start, I was earning
about $.50 per day from mining. When the price spiked, I was earning around $1
per day. At the moment, I am earning around $.05 per day. The total amount of
BTC I have mined so far totals up to 0.11090709BTC, which is about $53 at the
current exchange rate. I sold some part of the way through for $45 (BTC was $800
then) and I still have about $20 worth in my wallet. At the current rate, my
miners will never pay themselves off. Mining Bitcoins is just not for hobbyists

  • Bitcoin Sold: $45
  • Bitcoin Held: $20
  • Total Earned: $65
  • Total Profit: $-48

If I could find someone to buy the miners, I could recoup pretty much all of my
costs (They seem to be selling for $15 on ebay), but I would feel bad about it,
since they are very close to running at a loss. I will continue using them since
they take up almost no space. I probably will continue to hold the amount of
bitcoin that I have. I don't have any particular use for it at the moment, but
maybe I will. I am generally going to use a wait and see approach to bitcoin,
though. If I were a merchant, I would probably be accepting it, but I would be
using a service like Coinbase to convert it back to USD automatically.

On the other hand, though, I can rest easy knowing that I am contributing to
verifying the financial transactions of the bitcoin network.