So, what did I do?
I wrote some software
Hello ungovernable misfits. TensaiBankai here bringing you another Bitsized bitcoin. Today I am going to be talking a little about mining here in south africa with unreliable power.
South Africa has had a load shedding crisis for almost a decade now. A problem that has been getting worse over time as the state decays. This means that for multiple hours or time-slots during the day we have our power cut for up to 8 hours a day where our power cuts last between 2 to 4 hours at a time.
This has made things somewhat “complicated” when it comes to mining. When I have not been paying attention, the constant power interruptions have been somewhat destructive to my computing components. Losing multiple graphic, cards, motherboards and power supply units, a washing machine.
When I first got my miners I decided to become a little bit more cautious with what I was doing around the home. Not only are these machines quite expensive, our import duties are extremely high. Not to mention the difficulty of acquiring replacement parts locally. Specific attention needs to be put in place to ensure that you get the most out of your machines for as long as possible.
This means that the first thing that happens when a miner is connected here, is that all the plugs get replaced with surge protection plugs. I also ensure that none of the miners are sharing circuits with other electronics or appliances. I have had multiple issues in my office area, that when the power turns back on, circuits end up tripping because of the high current draw as certain things turn on.
Many people would look at this difficulty that I experience doing this, the high electricity costs and ask why would anyone want to mine in these conditions. I will say that I am a bit of a zealot when it comes to bitcoin. I like that I have some KYC Free sats that I earned by exchanging electricity for SATS. I also like that mining, even at a loss, can have certain… tax advantages. Not to mention, that this entire winter, bitcoin kept me warm.
There is also the issue that I see, with so many South Africans going off the grid, our only state owned power provider is really losing many of its highest power consuming customers. This means that they make less money, which in turn means that they either make up the shortfall by borrowing more, increasing electricity rates or failing in other areas.
Selfishly, I can see myself helping them to limp along as long as possible until it can no longer go on.
Fortunately, this has been going on for long enough that the power cuts adhere somewhat loosely to a schedule. The schedules are designed in a way that different suburb groups are targeted at different times every day ensuring that not the same group of suburbs have their power turned off when it’s time to make dinner. This is further complicated by the stage of load shedding which increases the amount of times you get loadshedded in a day.
So, I find myself spending a bit of time looking at schedules. Some Industrious South Africans have made an app called Eskom Se Push which alerts you when your suburb is going to be load shedded as well as letting you know any changes to the load shedding schedule.
Since I work from home this allows me to know when I should stop mining and turn off my asics. Stopping the ASIC allows the ASIC fans to cool the hashboards down instead of letting them get cooled by passive ambient radiation, which is the case when the power is suddenly turned off. It’s even worse when your miner is in an enclosed space.
Recently, however, I started leaving the home quite frequently for a few hours at a time and this means that if I am scheduled to go down, say in 6 hours from now, I would miss out on 6 hours possible luck if I were to preemptively power down before i leave. It’s not something that I enjoy doing.
So, what did I do? I wrote some software which allows me to use the whatsminer API to remotely connect to my whatsminer and turn off the mining remotely as I have VPN access to my home network. Hopefully, when I find some more time in the future, I will be able to connect this up to a telegram bot, which will allow me some finer control and not necessarily rely on using my VPN.
What would I do if I didn’t have a schedule? Well, I most probably wouldn’t be running any of the newer generation miners at all. Because even when throttled, they still use quite a bit of power and the boards heat up quite a bit. It’s an undesirable situation for me if they heat up quite a bit and get their power cut repeatedly. S9s are way more suited for this purpose. Not only are the machines robust as hell, when braiins (with two Is) firmware is loaded, you can throttle the machines down all the way to 100 watts. I would also probably be running multiple S9s to try and make up for the shortfall in overall hash.
This would allow me to set a temperature of the asic to a level that I would be happy with should an immediate disconnect of power occur.
Failing that, the other way one can mitigate a situation like that is to have a battery backup, that you link into that you can use to trigger shutdown conditions once the battery state gets reduced below a certain threshold.
Thats all all for now. If you need me, you can find me on twitter @tensaibankai and drop me a DM.