Tech

How they participated in it, what their lives are like

Bitcoin miner Zack Pettit skating during a break at the SCATE Ventures mining facility in Dallesport, Washington.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Nick Sears was 17 when he helped build a Bitcoin mining farm in Dallesport, Washington. He was 18 when he was legally allowed to buy Bitcoin for the first time. And now, at the age of 19, Sears doubled his life as a Bitcoin miner, saying “no” to college and “yes” to living in a room in a data center that houses 4,500 swiveling ASICs. I did.

“My room is tightly locked,” Sears said of the acoustic remodeling of his living quarters. “I can’t hear the machine when I close the door, but it’s definitely noisy when I open the door.”

Each machine produces about 80 decibels of noise, but Sears says he likes to be as close to action as possible. It’s also better than commuting 30 minutes one way from his parents’ home in White Salmon.

This 19-year-old kid has taught himself almost every day for the past two years, the subtle differences in how mining machines work, and, decisively, how to fix them. He believes that soldering and electronics education is far more valuable than a college degree.

“I’m not thinking about going to college at all, I’m just pursuing more knowledge about repairing miners,” Sears continued.

CNBC has spoken to several miners about this story. Many have explained that the appeal of mining comes from being able to clearly grasp the power of Bitcoin.

“If you’ve been to any of these data centers, the first thing you’ll notice is how vast and impressive they are. They’re huge,” said Compass Mining CEO. Thomas Heller explained. With SCATE Ventures, the employer of Sears.

“There is so much noise and so much heat. So many actions are taking place. It’s the first time in a Bitcoin mining data center because you can actually connect the intangible sides of Bitcoin. It’s very cool to get in. The currency, the physical properties of these machines, consumes power and performs these calculations. ”

Bitcoin Miner Nick Sears lives on the grounds of the SCATE Ventures Mining Farm in Dallesport, Washington.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Miner’s day

Bitcoin mining is not a fascinating task.

“When we first got here, we were setting up the rack and creating the network infrastructure for the internet, and we had to wire essentially everything. “He said.

With the physical infrastructure up and running, Sears became more rhythmic. He is currently awake at 7am daily and works from 8am to 4am. He will continue to stay on-site in case of an emergency and have a technician who works night shifts to help Sears sleep.

But beyond time, there are no typical working days for Sears.

“That’s the great thing about this job. I don’t have a fixed routine to do every day,” he said. “Every morning I find something that needs to be fixed.”

One day, that means Sears will repair walls and other physical infrastructure. “If you need to repair the camera, you may be repairing the cable.”

But the biggest part of the job is to monitor and manage all of the 4,500 Bitmain and Whatsminer ASICs to make sure they run 24/7. The SCATE Ventures mine loses money if even one of those machines goes offline or runs only at partial capacity.

That’s because when someone is mining Bitcoin, what they are actually doing is lending computing power to the Bitcoin network. The more machines you have online, the more likely you are to win Bitcoin.

A rig under inspection at the SCATE Ventures mine farm in Dallesport, Washington.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

6.25 Bitcoins are created approximately every 10 minutes. To create these new tokens, all of the miner’s global pools provide computing power to execute hash algorithms. But these miners are not working in a vacuum. They are competing with each other to see who can first unlock each batch of new Bitcoin.

So it’s a big bet for Sears. Being diligent and knowing how to prioritize issues across the facility is critical to success.

Some mining sites use more advanced software to monitor their machines. This includes checking the temperature of each hashboard within each miner.

But the most important thing for Sears is to figure out which of his machines aren’t at full capacity.

“Every day, we find machines that have stopped hashing, remove them from the rack, and troubleshoot them,” he explained. “I need to find a problem with my machine. I need to know why I went offline.”

It could be a power outage that could affect all machines, or a network outage that could affect all or some machines.

“Sometimes they just need to power cycle or reboot,” he said.

However, fixing the hardware is not always that simple.

“The fans on the individual machines used for cooling may be broken, or it may be the power supply that needs repair or replacement,” Heller explains.

“It could be the hashboard itself,” Heller continued. “Each hashboard has a lot of individual chips, and they are the chips that do the calculations. On Bitmain machines, if four or more chips in one hashboard break, the entire hashboard will be turned off. . 100%, the hash is only two-thirds or one-third. ”

Seasonal changes in weather add layers of all other complexity.

Chief engineer Nick Sears is SCATE Ventures Inc in Dallesport, Washington. Repairing hardware at a mining farm in Japan.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Storms can lead to power outages and other disruptions. Machines can also overheat in the summer, especially on farms that have been upgraded to use more powerful units in the last two years, Heller said.

Instead of relying on fans, the SCATE mine in Washington has a way to avoid this problem by submerging Bitcoin miners in non-conductive fluids and using a unique immersion cooling technique to dissipate heat. I think I found it.

Get training and payment

Sears may not need a diploma to mine, but taking an online training course run by a Chinese engineer working at Bitmain will greatly help him repair special mining equipment. It was useful.

Last month, Sears and another employee completed a virtual class through Bitmain and are one of the most popular machines currently used for manipulating ASIC chips on hashboards and casting Bitcoin. I learned about the power supply of S17.

“I’m qualified for maintenance and repair, so I’ve been honing my skills in that category lately,” Sears explained. “It proves my knowledge and provides access to purchase consumables and materials directly from Bitmain.”

SCATE Ventures Inc in Dallesport, Washington. Nick Sears, Chief Engineer of the Mining Farm.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Next, he wants to attend a face-to-face class in Atlanta, Georgia to learn more about soldering. “The challenge is learning how to solder and disassemble the circuit board,” says Sears.

Sears’ boss Scott Bennett is committed to giving the team access to the resources they need to do their jobs better.

Bennett, CEO of SCATE Ventures, is a self-taught miner who started his business in his parents’ garage in 2017, just before the last crypto “winter” when the prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plummeted. Like Sears, Bennett once lived in one of his data centers. He was the only one who chose an on-site camper van over the on-site room.

It helped him live within minutes from some of the cheapest electricity in the world.

“All our facilities are 100% hydropower,” Bennett said.

The mining facility where Sears works is next to the Columbia River and directly adjacent to Dulles Dam. “We love that power supply. It’s cheap, renewable and very abundant,” he said.

As for employee salaries, Sears says it makes $ 54,000 a year plus full health insurance paid by the company.

Bennett also runs several mining machines exclusively for his employees. That’s about .02 BTC a quarter, and at today’s price, it’s a $ 788 bonus every three months for Sears.

“When all Chinese miners go offline, the rewards are higher because of the changing difficulty,” Sears said. “It’s cool for me to get a little more than last time.”

The SCATE Ventures mining farm is powered by hydropower generated by the Dalles Dam.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Remote mining

It is also possible to become a cryptominer without physically processing the mining equipment at all.

Adam Gitzes really wanted to mine Bitcoin in early 2021. After his wife rejected the idea of ​​installing equipment in their home, he began looking for alternatives.

Gitzes discovers compass mining, where customers can buy mining machines for $ 5,800 to $ 11,700 and deploys them in partner data centers to handle physical logistics.

“I bought the machine on the website. Compass managed the logistics and delivered the machine to three different data centers in North America,” Gitzes said, with 1.1 Bitcoin (about $ 60,000 at the time of purchase). I explained that I spent on them.

“The compass also constructed them the way I asked.”

Therefore, a typical day of life for a miner like Gitzes wakes up and checks online to see how much Bitcoin the machine has mined overnight and that the unit is not down. Is to confirm.

Inside the SCATE Ventures mining farm in Dallesport, Washington.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

Gitzes owns six machines that he says are “high-end.” When China expelled all miners, Gitzes says he doubled the amount of money his machine produces each day.

After paying a 1.25% mining pool fee, Gitzes miners generate about .0055 Bitcoin per day, or $ 216 at today’s price. He draws in a shy person of about $ 186 a day, or $ 5,700 a month, as his daily electricity bill is about $ 30. At that rate, he will recover his investment in about 11 months, assuming there are no major fluctuations in energy or Bitcoin prices.

Gitzes was so impressed with Compass’s business model that he quit his job at Amazon and joined the team in March. “The mission of decentralizing mining and making it open to everyone is something I think is really important,” says Gitzes.

SCATE Ventures Mining Farm is located in Dallesport, Washington.

SCATE Ventures Inc.

How they participated in it, what their lives are like

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