Bitcoin Mining, the beginner’s guide 1


Beginners guide to Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin Mining, what’s it all about? How do I get started? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting started and setup for some Bitcoin Mining. Now it’s time to get your rig setup and hashing to earn some extra Bitcoin and help secure the network.

Here you’ll learn which GPU to buy, what the hype about ASIC Miners is, getting your rig up and running and making a decision on a mining pool – all explained of course 🙂 Let’s get cracking, first off:

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a crypto-currency which is completely de-centralised from any government or single owning party. We’ll get you setup with the basics on this guide, but I suggest you take a read on Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining in general though.

What do I need to start Bitcoin Mining?

  1. A Bitcoin wallet
  2. CGMiner
  3. A GPU or ASIC Mining device

How has Bitcoin Mining evolved?

When the currency initially started, miners were able to mine using their CPU’s. As the network grew and the difficulty become too hard to CPU’s to solve the algorithms miners moved over to GPU’s. GPU’s however are also going the way the CPU’s went, the difficulty is becoming harder and harder every month and so the move over to ASIC (an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) based solutions.

Right, now that the very basics have been covered, let’s get you up and running. Remember, this is a beginner’s guide to Bitcoin Mining so further reading is suggested. Watch this video too, it’ll explain nicely how and what Bitcoin mining is.

Setup your wallet.

There are two options here, you can install the official Bitcoin QT client which runs on your PC or you can simply setup a wallet in the cloud. I prefer the latter and have a wallet setup at BlockChain.info. You can setup a wallet quickly and easily here.

Download a Bitcoin Mining tool.

I prefer CGMiner, a command line tool which allows for a number of parameters to be setup. We’ll be using this as I’m familiar with it.

You can download it here

Copy the content to your C drive or somewhere easy to access/ remember.

What hardware do I need?

A good graphics card. Please stay away from the nVidia range all together. They are a little better than a CPU, but your return and mining time will take thousands of years. Stick to AMD/ ATi. Here’s a list of the most commonly used graphics cards used by miners. It’ll be a good idea to start out smaller (unless you want a beast of a machine and a big electricity bill).

Setup a mining pool.

As you would have seen in the video, solo mining is pretty tough with a GPU or even some low-end ASIC based miners. After looking at a few, I use Slush’s Mining Pool and BTCGuild as a backup. Let’s use Slush’s for now, you can always change at a later stage or use your own.

Sign up and follow the on-screen instructions. Once you’re all setup and you’ve confirmed your account it’s time to setup a worker. It’s all fairly simply 🙂 Now, you need to remember or copy and paste these settings to setup a batch (.bat file) to get running with CGMiner.

You can do this by:

  • Create a text file
  • Save it as a .bat extension so it’s an executable command

In your text file, paste the following filling in your worker details of course. Noted that this setup is for GPU’s only and won’t work with ASIC based miners.

start /D “C:\cgminer” cgminer.exe -o stratum.bitcoin.cz:3333 -u your_miner_name -p your_mining_password –temp-target 70 –auto-fan -I 5

You can of course set your GPU’s temperature to anything you like. I prefer keeping it under 70 degrees (Celsius) to prolong the life of my GPU. You can paste a range of parameters to CGMiner from a full list here.

Now that you’re done you should be able to double-click on the .bat file and see a Command window open and you’re mining!

How quickly can I mine 1BTC?

The question I get asked most often. It entirely depends on your setup and how much you’re willing to spend on GPU’s.

Find your GPU on this list and plug-in the data to a Mining Calculator and you’ll get some results. It could take years, decades or a few weeks.

Bitcoin Mining with a GPU isn’t working for me, what else can I use?

ASIC seems like it’s the way to go. There are a few options on the market with probably the most popular being BFL Labs.

Butterfly Labs offer some really great hardware with awesome power, but good luck getting your order – give them a Google, they’ve got a massive back order to run through.

There’s also ASICMiner, who are creating USB miners but are a little pricey at the moment.

Keep checking back to TechSocial for more guides, Bitcoin stories and general tech awesomeness!

Any questions? Got stuck somewhere? Shout in the comments box 🙂

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About Jeff

Social Media Addict | Cape Town Boy | Trying to own the interwebz | Motorsport fanatic | Gadget Freak

  • Nice info, not that many home miners left these days though.