I am all the time searching for methods to map scorching applied sciences to enjoyable, academic classroom use. One of probably the most attention-grabbing, and doubtlessly disruptive, applied sciences over the previous few years is cryptocurrencies. In the early days, one may profitably mine among the hottest cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, utilizing a house PC. But as cryptocurrency mining has change into extra well-liked, thanks partly to devoted mining hardware, the algorithms governing it have boosted computational complexity, making dwelling PC mining usually impractical, unprofitable, and environmentally unwise.
For academic functions, college students may nonetheless learn to mine cryptocurrencies, however the motivational thrill of doubtless making “big money” is diminished. Plus, the minuscule earnings is probably not sufficient to cowl transaction charges, which minimizes the post-mining academic features of shopping for, promoting, and holding cryptocurrencies.
Further, a PC is required to do that mining. At many faculties, college students do not have entry to their very own PCs, and the electrical energy prices, both at dwelling or in a funding-strapped faculty, may make mining prohibitive.
Mining on a Raspberry Pi
Alternatively, what if mining could possibly be performed (maybe even profitably) on a Raspberry Pi? Raspberry Pis are nice for academic use as a result of each scholar can have their very own laptop for $35. Further, the Raspberry Pi sips electricity, making it an energy-efficient alternative for always-on use. That’s the excellent news. The unhealthy information is that the computational energy of a Raspberry Pi is way lower than that of a standard PC.
Hope will not be misplaced, nonetheless. While lots of the hottest cryptocurrencies use computationally intensive proof-of-work systems that allow them to mine sooner and earn greater than their rivals, there are different cryptocurrencies primarily based on different proofs.
One instance is Storj, which makes use of a proof-of-retrievability system. With Storj, customers “rent out” spare disk house and receives a commission month-to-month in Storj coin. Think of Storj as an open supply and decentralized Amazon S3: Instead of paying a cloud supplier to retailer recordsdata, Storj customers pay to retailer recordsdata on the decentralized Storj community, which is run by everybody mining Storj (Storj calls this mining exercise “farming”). The extra a Storj farmer shares and the extra obtainable the storage is (e.g., is not powered off at night time), the extra the farmer will get paid. Since this proof is coupled to storage capability and availability reasonably than CPU energy, a Raspberry Pi could possibly be well-suited for farming Storj, particularly contemplating its low energy consumption.
Getting began with Storj
To begin farming Storj, you run a client on your traditional PC and share out your spare disk house. Setup on a Raspberry Pi is a bit more concerned, however it’s well-documented. The trickiest half is getting the networking configured correctly. Storj additionally provides an interactive chat system staffed by group volunteers who’re keen to assist.
How do you receives a commission? Every month, a formulaic payout is made to the Storj public handle supplied when working the farming shopper. In my case, I farmed 50 GB of my Raspberry Pi’s 64 GB MicroSD card for a month and a half and earned about 20 Storj cash, value about $16 on the time of this writing. One means to have a look at it’s that my experiment paid for the MicroSD card, or for about half of the Raspberry Pi.
Even although I did not get wealthy over this experiment, I discovered it intellectually enriching. It confirmed that “real money” might be made, which may get the eye of scholars, and probably fund their laptop science labs for extra Raspberry Pis.
When I used to be a scholar, I loved studying about computer systems and investing utilizing applications like Lemonade Stand on an Apple II. To assist fund faculty applications, I offered pizzas, subs, sweet, and magazines to household and neighbors. Today, college students can study computer systems and investing and fund their faculty laptop science labs by farming Storj on Raspberry Pis. What thrilling instances we reside in!