Bitcoin mining with the Antminer U2

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Bitcoin mining with the Antminer U2

Bitcoin mining with an Antminer

So after my last project which involved mining a Bitcoin part time on a PC that I use for my virtual world stuff, I decided to have a go at another one. Bitcoin mining is not really something you do as a hobby to make a profit but is a great way of supporting the crypto currency movement.  My last project ended in the purchase of a fridge freezer from the proceeds, but the complexity was a lot lower a couple of years ago, so I’m expecting something much more modest this time around!

I used the following equipment:

Bitmain AntMiner U2+ - 2Gh/s - USB Bitcoin Asic miner

Apple 13-inch MacBook Air

I also have an external flat screen that I have plugged into the mac that I will use as a USB hub for the Antminer.

Bitcoin Wallet

A Bitcoin wallet allows you to transact with others and it is where your Bitcoins will be held, they act like a universal ledger of transactions and it is where you will transfer to and from.  You can also use multiple addresses for different reasons, for example my wallet address for random donations is:

1EFuiwEuvky99tUTFSCLQ28c3pBh1HXjPy

Mining Pools

It gets increasingly complex mining Bitcoins and most miners use a mining pool, where groups of miners pool their processing power and share the Bitcoins mined (based on the contribution of each worker).  A mining pool is a must for mining with an Antminer, because the hash rate is so low that there is not enough computational power to successfully mine a block in any reasonable amount of time.

Installation steps

with a bit of help from google I managed to set the Antminer up and it worked straight out of the box.  I read some people experienced some issues but so far, touch wood, it is working fine.  The default hash rate is 2.0 GH/s but you can overclock from the command line but I’ve decided to run it at the default hash rate.

Mac Install

Install Homebrew

  1. Launch Terminal (Click finder and type terminal)
  2. At the command prompt, type: “ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/mxcl/homebrew/go/install)”
  3. Install bfgmine by typing “brew install bfgminer”

The above worked for me but if you have any issues with Homebrew the type “brew doctor” at the command prompt and google any issues it reports!

Installing the driver

You will need to install some drivers to get the Antminer working with OSX

  1. Download the CP210x USB to UART Bridge VCP Drivers for OSX from here
  2. Install the drivers, you may have problems with permissions so hold the control key and select open on the installer

Plug the Antminer into an available USB port

You can use an external USB hub if it is more convenient.  The Antminer can get quite hot, especially if you decide to overclock them so a USB fan can be used to help lower the temperature.

ARCTIC Breeze Mobile - 92 mm USB Fan

Detecting the Antminer

With the driver installed correctly you should be able to detect the Antminer by typing the following command in terminal mode:

“bfgminer -d? -S antminer:all”

You should see a response such as the following:

 [2014-07-04 11:37:36] Started bfgminer 4.3.0

 [2014-07-04 11:37:36] Devices detected:

 [2014-07-04 11:37:36]  Device (driver=antminer; procs=1; path=/dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART) 

Now to start mining!

You will have installed a Bitcoin wallet and have created a wallet address which will look similar to: 1EFuiwEuvky99tUTFSCLQ28c3pBh1HXjPy - my donation wallet

Once you have registered with a mining pool you will need you mining pool URL and a username and password for your worker.  Don’t forget to set the payouts in the mining pool admin to you wallet address so your Bitcoins can be transferred.  You can run bfgminer from a command line.

bfgminer -S antminer:all -o hostname -u username -p password

  • hostname is the host name for the mining pool which you should be able to find on the information page for the mining pool, e.g. ttp://api.bitcoin.cz:8332 for slush’s pool
  • username is the username of the worker set up in the mining pool admin area
  • password is the password for the worker

It is also possible to set the clock speed of the Antminer to determine the hash rate and thereby overclock or even underclock the miner.  This is done by using the—set-device argument, for example:

bfgminer -S antminer:all—set-device antminer:clock=x0981 -o hostname -u username -p password

would set the clock speed to 2GH/s which is what I’m currently using and consistently getting an average of just under 2GH/s.  The following clock speeds can be set with the corresponding hex value:

  • 1.6GH/s 0781 
  • 1.8GH/s 0881
  • 2.0GH/s 0981
  • 2.2GH/s 0A81
  • 2.3GH/s 0B01
  • 2.4GH/s 0B81

Conclusion

Mining Bitcoins this way won’t make you rich but it is a cheap introduction to Bitcoin mining. In the time it took the write this article I have amassed approximately 0.000025 BTC, or €0.01162 at current exchange rates.  So it looks like I won’t be getting a second freezer but a few ice cubes might be a more realistic target!

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