We should at this point have a working computer, with a reasonable expectation of it’s potential hashrate. If you’re a newbie reading this, you’re probably a Windows user (I am), but if you’re a MacOS or Linux user that’s fine too. The best guide I have found is this one, by Cryptobadger:
You’re going to want either section 2 or section 3 depending on your OS of choice, and most of the details under the Windows setup can be reasonably applied to a Mac as well – most coin releases offer Mac and Windows software.
A few things that I found it hard to wrap my head around at the start:
Wallets and miners – hang on a sec, I thought….
Yeah, me too. OK, so basics – hopefully soon, you’re going to be up to your mammaries in virtual coins, all of which you use to pave a shiny road to drive your Ferrari on. But you need something to hold them. This something is called a wallet, and there are loads of different types, generally one for each type of coin you want to mine. A wallet will give you an address, which holds your coins, and allows you to spend them and receive them. The best guide I’ve found on this is here:
As I ultimately intend to convert pretty much everything to Bitcoin, I need a Bitcoin address. For this particular currency, I’m not downloading a wallet yet. I’ll instead make an address without needing to do that at the address above.
The wallet you’ll usually be advised to download is a piece of software called QT. It does a fair bit for you – it’ll sync you up to date with the network, make a new receive address for you to get your coins into, and gives you a nice view of your outgoings and incomings. It also mines….kinda.
You CAN mine in QT, but it’s not great, and I’m not too sure about its reported hashrates. Most people will recommend that you grab a standalone miner, which QT won’t care about. The miner does the work, QT shows you the results – simples.
The miner you want depends on your GPUs. If you have an nVidia system, like I do, then you’ll want a piece of software called Cudaminer. You can download it here:
If you have a Radeon graphics card, you’ll want CGMiner, which you can get here:
Don’t worry too much about how complicated all the directories and stuff look. You want the latest stable version (so a Beta might not be a great idea unless you know what you’re at) and you want the binary (i.e. install file) for your operating system. Download and install your miner.
There are two approaches to mining – all on your own, or as part of a collective effort, a pool. Think of it like this:
You’re standing in a football field. You know that somewhere in the field, a box of golden coins is buried. You have a shovel – a bigger hashrate is a bigger shovel. Now, you can go around by yourself digging holes trying to find the box, but it’s probably going to take a while, unless you get lucky. When you find the box, it’s all yours, and you can fill your pockets with those shiny coins. Or you can join a whole gang of people, all with their own shovels, and join in the group effort. When the box is found, the coins are distributed amongst everyone, with the guys who have the biggest shovels getting the most. But as soon as the box in that field is found, the whole gang moves to the next field and starts looking for a box there too.
It’s a judgement call, but I decided to pool mine. With my tiny Khash I could be digging forever without finding one box of coins (called a “block”). So a steady, albeit tiny, trickle of coins suits me fine. And it’s nice to look at a balance which was zero this morning become a number you can gloat over tomorrow.
The pool I use is called a switching pool. It follows the currency trends and attempts always to mine the most profitable. There are several of these, but the one I joined has an auto-trade and auto-payout feature, which means I don’t have to piss around on exchanges trading off everything into Bitcoin. I also don’t have to have loads of wallets, which is a major blessing. Here’s a link:
It’s run by a VERY clever individual called Terk. So far it’s looking GREAT. If you do decide to pool mine, you’ll need to set up your miner to connect to the pool, so they know to pay you. This is done by making a starter file for your miner, which contains all the settings you want to run with today. It’s called a batch file, and once you get over the initially format of it, it’s pretty easy to set up. My batch file for Terk’s pool is one line long:
cudaminer.exe -i 0 -l auto -C 1 -o stratum+tcp://us.clevermining.com:3333 -O 1LaWk8EYHXXHHbuMywbmfcutMFT25apisG:pass
To break that down:
- cudaminer.exe – the miner, the piece of software we want to start up
- -o stratum+…. – this is the internet address of Terk’s pool
- -O 1LaWk…. – this is the username and password for the pool. In this case my username is my Bitcoin address, 1LaWk8EYHXXHHbuMywbmfcutMFT25apisG
- Other settings – things to make your card mine faster or more efficiently. There are a number of guides online for this, but my favourite is:
It’s using settings for a Dogecoin pool, but you can just change the address, username and password to what your own chosen pool requires.
So far you should have:
- Appraised your machine for it’s mining power
- Determined the software you need and downloaded it
- Made a decision on whether or not to solo mine or pool mine
- Set up your miner for your situation
Now you double click your batch file (mine is called startminer.bat, very imaginatively) and let it run! You’re mining!