Computers and Cables: Getting Set for Mining Success

I now have a datacenter with brand new internet which has a properly configured home built professionally supported firewall. This setup has custom open source software installed which has been properly tested by a professional open-source management company.

The Bot Guy
The Bot Guy
August 29, 2021


Computers and Cables

I have to start with the end. A thing of beauty. Three perfectly tested, well running computers ready and awaiting their commands. It’s kind of a physical/digital representation of the ultimate employee. A thing that is fed electricity, taking on the needed computations to maintain the status quo so that everything inside the computer is fully functional at all times.

It’s kind of a miracle anything works amongst these seemingly random wires, circuits, and metal boxxy-looking things. It defies common sense to be so dependent on computers when far too few of us understand how they work at the core level. 0’s and 1’s, literally. This is all a computer understands at its core. “On” and “Off” – really bizarre to think how hundreds of layers built on top of 0’s and 1’s give birth to specialized machines like ATMs, calculators, MRI machines, computers, servers, and miners!

I was a little shocked at what has happened today, which warrants a blog post of its own; a glimpse into these past hours as I believe them to be of value to my journey.

I had a rare moment in the day when the house was empty. This is a prime time to make a network change. I needed to disconnect the internet and run tests before I can upgrade it to the new circuit.

As I went downstairs to observe the situation, I sat staring at a set of cable runs which span the length of my basement ceiling like spaghetti. I never even noticed that there were only two cables. Actually, they were neatly tucked in and in the precise location that would make sense to redo my network. I located a blue and a white cable coming from my living room.

I now have a datacenter with brand new internet which has a properly configured home built professionally supported firewall. This setup has custom open source software installed which has been properly tested by a professional open-source management company. I realize that too is a HUGE success!

A white cable leads to the internet firewall for our home “residential” internet service, circa 2003. And the blue wire leads to nowhere and a crap ton of extra cable coiled up and hung nicely… with a frayed end… It only then dawned on me that this project has been going on far longer than I ever realized. I have apparently had this network changeover in my mind before as the cable layout is precisely what it needs to be. The last time I can think of making network changes was several months ago. How could I have known what I wanted to do today?

I don’t have to run any new cables–YAY! I only need to put a cap on the end of an ethernet cable, give the random wires a plug so I can connect the cable and use it to pass information. How hard can that be? Now where is that tool? I think it’s called a crimper… I remember buying one or two of those.

You see, I’m always getting tools because I believe using the correct tool for the correct purpose delivers the best results. Seems commonsense-ish, but when you have gotten up and down 5 times from a project, each for a single tool, it becomes easy to see using a screwdriver as a chisel or a vice grip as a hammer… So I have ended up with many tools and they used to be all over the place.

Recently I consolidated everything that was a tool in the garage – so it makes sense that the crazy tool I needed to cap the end of the cat5 cable was in the garage. However, it’s about 95 degrees in my garage today, figures… As I sort through old things I can’t find it and I’m dripping in sweat. I figure I need to cool off and perhaps if I blog I’ll remember where the tool is. I sigh as I sit in front of the AC and hammer through the first page or so of this post.

It wasn’t so much an “aha moment” but once I was cool I realized I didn’t actually lift anything up to look under the first layer of the garage stuff… Duh… So I went back and within a few minutes I crouched to sit and I saw it. The clear plastic bin I had placed the Crimpers in. I pulled out three of these…


Ugly and man, why do I have 3? I’ll barely need one…

OK, so I have the tool, the cable, and the head – here’s what I did.

I grabbed myself a cable wiring diagram, cleaned up the end of the cable and gave myself some room for mistakes.

Each wire inside the cable is color coded. Some have broken color and others have solid color. I then have to line up the wires in the proper order according to the wiring guide.

There, that looks good enough.

Now try and shove that into the head… Or sorry.. RJ45 connector…

The wires need to be neatly slid into the connector to make the ethernet plug we all know. This is called capping the cable and I haven’t done this in nearly 6 years, I hope it doesn’t take forever… LOL

Here’s my attempt.

All mini cables are tucked in and I think in the right order, I just have to crimp the head closed and bam…

Damn thing fell out…

Tried again and I got it right this time. I can hear that the family has come home, which means I have a very short window to test things without messing with the internet too much.

Long story short, no workie today. But I suspect it’s my rush cabling job and I’m not worried. I’ll try again over the weekend.

Fast forward to Sunday night and I try it again without success but I could browse the network and that means that the new cable is passing traffic! This is a cable I bought in a box many moons ago and ran it between my office and the living room. I have now re-used it to run from my living room to the new datacenter! I figured some rerouting of the firewall was needed because it was setting up a network but not allowing the internet. So I plugged the residential internet back in and updated my tech team. Sure enough, there was a missing set of rules and once those were added in on Monday I made the switch – yay, no more old internet lol.

Anyhow, back to today.

I didn’t tell you the best part of today though. As I searched today for that weird tool, you guessed it, another GPU… though this one is really old and it’s an nVidia one, eeeewww…

Quick GPU Backstory…

Only two companies exist that make the computer chips used in graphical processing units (GPUs): AMD and nVidia. They make these chips and sell them to proper manufacturers like Gigaware, MSI, ASUS who put them on motherboards along with other components and sell the actual GPU to the public.

For me, as a miner, I see only 2 names. It doesn’t matter much to me who made the card, I only care what chip is on the card. You see, GPUs from each of these companies don’t get along; you can’t mine with AMD AND nVidia on the same rig.

Additionally, nVidia has come out against mining in a massive way. nVidia even went so far as to release graphics cards whose BIOS (the GPU OS) were pre-programmed not to hash crypto. Interestingly, a month after they released the GPUs (that were purposely altered to prevent miners from using them) nVidia leaked the patch. This means that the miners of the world can patch the BIOS and run the nVidia card for hashing like normal.

To me, it’s far too much work to keep up with these politics and nVidia cards are far more expensive and trickier to program. AMD cards have always been super easy to use. They are like a mac, they just work.

I do happen to have 4 nVidia GPUs and I wonder if I can set up another miner with them. One of those GPUs has NEVER EVER mined a single hash. Side story: It didn’t work out of the box, so I flashed a new rom on it many years back and it hasn’t been recognized by any miner since. I gave up because the nVidia GPUs I had been working on were so slow… Perhaps if I do up another wall hanging gpu miner this too can be improved, but that’s a project for the distant future.

Mining Update

I have another update also – we passed through a heat wave over these past few days and as I tried to quickly make an ethernet cable, I came to realize it was rather hot in my new datacenter. So I checked on my miner and wouldn’t you know…

Only 10 of the 12 GPUs are running. ugh…

This explains why I only got .17 ETC yesterday. I thought it was because more miners started mining ETC and my percentage of the total hash was lower. Thankfully that’s not the case; it’s just that my poor miner needs a bit of a break as it’s been over taxed these past few days.

So off MEGA goes – down for some sleep – throughout the semi-cool night to take a breath and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to figure out which cards died and get MEGA back up and running. I’ve now added a task to look into getting the second nVidia GPU miner up and running – though I think the motherboard I have for that miner has died a horrible death since it doesn’t seem to want to boot. But if my memory serves me right, there are a bunch of old logic board testers I purchased and only used once (proper tools for the job at hand.) That’s my next mining initiative after I get MEGA back up and running and install the NUC os.

NUCs and a VM Cluster

It’s VERY important to my long term strategy that I have a working highly available cluster of servers that will hold my nodes. A Node is a virtual machine that participates in blockchain work in a different way than miners and uses far less electricity. I believe having several dozen of these running will supply me with the same amount of crypto that just one BTC miner might, but it will do it without me needing to spend as much on the electricity.

Just to note that some people only do nodes and some nodes don’t actually pay anything. Some large companies like Intel, Microsoft, and Google run nodes as well. Believe it or not, most technology companies have a crypto plan, just as most banks and investment firms have a crypto plan too.

Anyhow, I turned most of my focus to setting up the 3 “servers” and here is a walk through setting up one of the 3 NUCs.

Just for context – above you see one full NUC worth of hardware. The actual NUC is packaged in the large box; 2 x 32 GB RAM chips are in the clamboxes with the amazon “a” on them; the three hard drives from Western Digital are in the smaller black boxes; and the one heat sync is the copper thing in the middle.

Here you see the NUC box opened with the three hard drives, 2 ram chips and heat sync. Cool looking alien. This NUC was pitched as a “gaming computer” – perhaps the alien is a way to pay homage to Alienware whom I believe to be the inventor of consumer-purchased pre-setup gaming computers.

Here is the NUC which turned out to be a HUGE machine and the 5 pieces of electronics that need to go in. The Heat Sync is to wick away heat from the RAM chips and only one would fit, but all other components actually have built in heatsinks in the NUC chassis – kind of amazing actually. Let me show you what I mean.

First I removed the case.

Then it seems that the NUC’s motherboard, cpu, ram, and hard drives are on a removable card – I took that out and you can see it on the left.

I removed the fan from the top and I’m left with 4 empty sockets… on the left there is room for 2 m.2 solid state drives (SSDs) and on the right there is room for 2 ram chips. Below shows you the components installed.

Usually there would be a heatsync on both ram chips, but there wasn’t enough room on the bottom one. Though if you look back to the fan above you’ll see that there is a heatsync built into the fan unit for the hard drives. That is some smart engineering.

Here is a closeup of the SSDs and their connection to the computer. Cool huh? LOL.

The final hard drive is below this heatsync – I unscrewed it and installed the last SSD.

I screwed back in the heatsync and put it all back together. I connected my mobile monitor and keyboard and started it up.

My goal was to set up each NUC, verify it sees the hardware, install the OS, and turn over the keys to my tech team. So I boot into BIOS… What the heck is that? LOL. It’s not super important you understand, but just think of it as a translation layer of code between the OS you use and the underlying hardware. BIOS is what allows a miner to use a GPU card to mine and it allows a mouse to move a cursor on a screen – another form of BIOS is Firmware and that even allows a phone to receive a phone call. BIOS is super important but never really used. I need to use it now to make sure the computer sees all the hardware I just installed.

As you see here, the total memory of 64GBs is seen so too is the processor.

And lastly, here are the three SSDs – step one complete!

3 working NUCS ready for their OS.

To install the OS, I need to download an ISO from the developer’s website. I then write this ISO to a usb flash drive and boot up the computer using that flash drive to run it. There’s a really easy wizard to walk through to set it up and it restarts into the new OS. I give it ip addresses, set some basic settings and move onto the next.

Once all 3 NUCs were done I had spent about 6 hours on this which may seem like a lot of time, but you have to realize that it saved me about $1,000 in pre-assembly cost. I could have purchased these all ready to go, but what’s the fun in that? And now I have an extra $1k for my BOTs lol!

Onward and upwards as I handed off the NUCS and a day or so later they were setup into the proper cluster with the previously agreed upon setup.

Another task bites the dust!

Share this article: