- Zachary Hartley assembled a GPU miner in his basement and an ASIC miner in his garage.
- Each type of miner required different parts, assembly processes, and maintenance.
- The ASIC miner uses more electricity but also earns more bitcoin than the GPU.
In 2013, Zachary Hartley needed to transfer money from Canada to the US.
He was a Canadian exchange student attending West Virginia University and needed his parents to wire him an allowance. However, he realized that between the transfer fee, which was about $ 40, and the currency conversion fee, an additional 3%, sending money across borders was pricey.
“When I started adding up all of those fees, it got to be fairly expensive, especially for a university student,” Hartley said. “And so when I found out about bitcoin and the ability to send it peer-to-peer without a third party and without any currency conversions, it seemed like an amazing opportunity and a great tool. ”
One hiccup was that downloading a bitcoin wallet and figuring out the nuances of using it wasn’t as easy in 2013. So after a few attempts at buying bitcoin, Hartley gave up. But he never forgot about the possibilities it could provide.
It wasn’t until 2016 that he tried again. By then, centralized and user-friendly exchanges like Coinbase existed and he was easily able to buy bitcoin and ethereum, except this time, he was buying them for investment purposes rather than for currency transfers ..
Hartley believes crypto will have a worldwide impact on money transfers across borders. His goal is to acquire as many of these digital assets as early as possible.
Today, at the age of 27, he’s an investor and a YouTube creator who’s focused on teaching others how to assume multiple streams of income by using his own life as an example. He talks about everything from stocks to crypto.
He had always been familiar with mining, the process through which computers verify new transactions in exchange for tokens. But he had believed that it was far too expensive to consider.
It wasn’t until June 2021 that he changed his mind after visiting an ASIC mining facility in southern Alberta to film a YouTube video. It was then that he realized he could probably create his own setup at home because although the facility was massive, the In the three months that followed, he began researching and sourcing equipment. By late October 2021, he had his first rig up and running.
While he was earning bitcoin, at first, he wasn’t mining it directly. Instead, he set up a gaming computer using GPU graphics cards that would mine the most profitable crypto at any given moment, including ether. It was a cheaper way of getting started. He then used a pool called NiceHash, which paid rewards out in bitcoin.
However, Hartley worried about the long-term stability of GPU mining. This was because Ethereum’s blockchain is slated to switch from
So he wanted to lock down an ASIC miner, which mines bitcoin directly.
After speaking to three wholesalers in North America, Hartley walked away understanding that to get the best bang for his buck, he needed to purchase the latest available model. When newer models are released, competition and difficulty levels increase. Over time, older models become less efficient and sometimes even obsolete.
At the time, the Bitmain Antminer S19J Pro (100Th) was one of the top models, and that was what he purchased.
Today, he runs both a GPU rig and an ASIC miner, the two main types for bitcoin mining. The former sits in his basement and the latter in his garage. This is because the ASIC miner creates a lot of heat and requires a cooled space .Since Hartley lives in Calgary, Alberta, the winter season makes a garage a decent environment for a hot miner.
Each miner also required a different setup process. The GPU needs multiple pieces strung together to create a computer. The main base is a motherboard which is the heart of the computer. This is where the RAM,
power supply, and GPU cards are plugged in.
A metal frame is then required to keep the rig together. Since the rig requires open airflow, it isn’t placed in an enclosed metal box like a traditional computer. Hartley elevated the graphics cards to keep them apart and allow for ventilation. He did This by hanging them using two cable extensions. Finally, he purchased three fans that keep the graphics cards cool.
The table below breaks down the cost of each part he said he paid for with revenue from his YouTube AdSense and Skillshare courses. Prices are converted from Canadian dollars to USD and based on receipts Insider viewed.
Setting up the ASIC miner was an entirely different process. First, it required a 240-volt outlet versus the North American standard of 120 bonds, so he needed to purchase a power distribution unit (PDU). He then purchased power cables to connect the ASIC to the PDU.
Since ASICs can get really hot, Hartley installed a temperature sensor in his garage to monitor both the temperature and humidity of the space. This process is important because if the miner overheats, it shuts down. According to the manufacturer’s website, the ASIC’s operating temperature is between -4 ° F to 104 ° F.
Hartley attempts to keep his garage as cold as possible. In the winter, it sits at about 32 ° F. In the summer, he runs fans to keep the temperature at about 59 ° F. He installed intake and outtake fans through the walls that bring in cold air and vent out hot air.
Since Calgary has a drier climate, he doesn’t have to worry about humidity causing rust or damage to the hardware.
Below is a table that breaks down the costs of each part at the time of purchase.
Energy usage and mining earnings
Since Hartley doesn’t have a separate electricity bill for each miner, he estimates usage based on his household’s consumption before the miners were turned on. For example, in the 23 months prior to turning on his miners, Hartley’s house consumed an average of 1,105 kWh per month between October 2019 to August 2021.
After both miners were turned on, his household consumed an average of 3,311 kWh per month. Therefore, he assumes the difference of 2,206 kWh per month is caused by the power consumed by his miners.
He also knows that his GPU miner consumes 518 kWh per month based on a meter he installed on the miner. Hartley’s per-kWh rate is C $ 0.14. His electricity bill averaged C $ 503 monthly between December 2021 to April 2022, and of that, he assumes 66.6%, or C $ 335 ($ 267) comes from mining.
Based on a download from his NiceHash account, year-to-date, he has earned 0.08581777 BTC or $ 3,558 from both miners. And based on a screenshot from his NiceHash of the last week’s earnings, which separates the earnings of each miner based on its algorithm, the ASIC earned an average of 0.00043722 BTC, while the GPU miner earned 0.0001284 BTC. This means 77% of earnings came from the ASIC while 76.5% of the electricity usage between the two miners also came from the ASIC.
New miners should be aware that these earnings fluctuate based on the number of miners online and the price of bitcoin. For example, his dollar earnings were almost double when bitcoin was trading at its peak at around $ 69,000 in November. The lower price of bitcoin — about 55% from its peak as of Wednesday — isn’t deterring Hartley, however: he says he isn’t selling his BTC. Instead, he’s planning on holding long-term.
In hindsight, Hartley said that setting up an ASIC miner in his garage was more work than anticipated, mainly because of the adjustments he had to make to keep temperatures within an appropriate range. He also didn’t factor in the additional delivery charges on his electricity bill, which is an add-on charge in the province of Alberta that increases with higher electricity usage. This is the main reason his per kWh rate is as high as C $ 0.15 ($ 0.12).
While he doesn’t regret taking on the challenge of hosting his own ASIC, in the future, if he wants to scale to more than four ASICs, he would consider having the additional miners hosted at a facility due to the amount of noise they’ d make.
Mining bitcoin using unclean energy sources has been a hot button because of how carbon-intensive the process can be. Last year, China banned bitcoin mining. In the State of New York, the legislature recently passed a bill banning new bitcoin mining permits for the next two years.
While Hartley believes it makes sense to place a ban in areas that are energy-scarce, his view is that Calgary’s abundant natural gas can be used to efficiently power and run mining operations.
Long term, Hartley’s plan is to run these miners for as long as possible until they are no longer profitable.