Bitcoin Mining Accidents, 2017 updated version: NiceHash (with photos)

Back in 2012, you could still come out ahead mining Bitcoin at home on a computer graphics card — if you were super-careful with your budgeting on hardware and electricity, and knew when to upgrade and when to quit.

You’ll be completely unsurprised to hear that a lot of people weren’t and didn’t. In chapter 5 of the book, I featured a great shot from the long-defunct Bitcoin Mining Accidents blog, preserved by the Buttcoin Foundation, proudly posted to the Internet by someone clearly determined to burn their house down in the quest for crypto bits:

what is that heat tube even supposed to be doing

Graphics card mining for Bitcoin was wiped out by the advent of FPGA and then ASIC mining. But with the 2017 crypto bubble, for a while there in June you could actually come out ahead mining Ethereum, in a limited set of conditions:

  • if you already had a spare graphics card you didn’t mind burning out;
  • if your electricity was super-cheap;
  • and if the difficulty didn’t go through the roof at the next difficulty adjustment.

So of course, foolish persons went all-in and bought new hardware to burn out that they could never pay off before it was obsolete!

One month ago I partnered up with 2 of my buddies to start a huge Ethereum mining investment. We went to every Micro Center in New York and cleared all the AMD cards off the shelves. We also purchased cards on NewEgg, Amazon, BestBuy and etc. We had friends and relatives shipped cards to us from out of state. Two weeks ago we finally found a suitable space to run our rigs. It is a warehouse about a 1 hour drive away from where we live. We signed the lease and immediately hired an electrician to do some wiring work. It was not until a week ago that we realized we purchased way too many graphic cards. We simply do not have enough electrical power to support all our rigs. I mean we knew we wouldn’t have enough electrical power from the start but we thought we could just add more power to the place easily but apparently that’s not the case. We have to apply for it, wait for its’ approval and even after it’s approved it is going to be quite costly. So a cheaper and faster solution to our problem right now is to look for a second space which we are in the process of doing right now. But we still have too many cards right now. Currently we’re running around 85 – 95 graphic cards and some heavy duty fans from Home Depot at our current place. We still have about 150 graphic cards sitting around and another 17 coming from California. Assuming the second space we lease will most likely have the standard electrical power available, that will mean we will have to look for a third space …

Competence hasn’t improved any since 2012 — e.g., a forum thread in which a user asks why his mining rig won’t boot, eventually posting a photo of the CPU:

If you buy literally the wrong CPU for your motherboard … just push harder!

As the bubble continues, Ethereum’s no longer easy to profit from, but various altcoins can often be mined on a graphics card at a positive return. It’s difficult and fiddly to work out what the most profitable mining mix is for any given day — so NiceHash sprung up, a service that would pick what coin to mine and sell your mined altcoin for bitcoins, taking a commission. All you needed to do was install their client software, run it as administrator, disable your virus checker … what could possibly go wrong?

As it happened, NiceHash got hacked. $60 million in users’ bitcoins was stolen. It also came out that the company was set up by a convicted hacker, though he swears his innocence.

NiceHash swear they’re coming back. Most of their previous home miners have abandoned them, and other similar services are in such demand they’re running out of capacity.

But they have their loyal fans. So NiceHash asked them to publicly show off their well-thought-out and robustly constructed mining setups, on the Twitter tag #NiceHashMiner! Collecting your NiceHash Mining Accident Futures for your convenience.


Definitely nothing that could go wrong putting an electric heater in a wooden box:

Let’s just shove a fan loose on top, that should do the job:

These guys love their random fans:

Why are you paying NiceHash a commission when you’re running coin-specific ASIC miners:


String some parts together and keep the faith:


Just push a bit harder!

Just sorta put the exhaust pipe somewhere near a fan, that’ll do the job:


um OK:



In the meantime, don’t buy a graphics card second-hand for about the next year or two. Especially the listings with “TOTALLY NOT USED FOR MINING — ONLY SLIGHTLY CHARRED — IGNORE BURNING SMELL.”

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2 Comments on “Bitcoin Mining Accidents, 2017 updated version: NiceHash (with photos)”

  1. Free heat for the house? Seriously? I wonder if he’d consider a bunch of electric heaters “free”, or if they’d be considered an appallingly expensive way to heat the house despite costing *less* than one of those rigs (because an electric heater costs less to buy than a high-end computing rig being used entirely to waste power computing useless hashes).

    Aside: I actually used a pair of those exact white standing fans to keep one of my machines cool, twelve years ago now — but it was an emergency measure, repurposing my bedroom fans after a CPU fan failure, and I only kept them on for a couple of days until I bought a replacement. Doing it as a permanent state of affairs is crazy.

  2. Certain student apartments here in Finland include electricity as a part of the rent, i.e. at flat rate.

    You can probably guess what has happened. Though the problem is still so manageable that the housing associations haven’t quite bothered to curb it, and at least up here you can legitimately say you have an use for the heat for about six months every year.

    And I thought I was being clever when I sketched a small water turbine to be attached to the water faucet at my student pad, back when water was included in the rent and I had access to university machine shop.

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