Archive for the ‘Tests and Reviews’ Category

futurebit-moonlander-usb-scrypt-asic

We have been playing around with a FutureBit MoonLander USB Scrypt ASIC Miner for a few days already and it is time to share our experience with the device. We should start by stating that the FutureBit MoonLander is a small and not very powerful in terms of performance USB miner that is more for fun than for profit. The device is intended for people that just want to play around and experiment with a small and not very powerful Scrypt ASIC that is available at a low price. The miner uses a special version of bfgminer 5.4 (source).

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The MoonLander can run on a very wide range of speed and efficiency, allowing the user large headroom for tweaking and playing around. The device comes with a variable resistor on the PCB that allow the user to adjust the core voltage (0.7-1.1V) and a wide range of operating frequencies that can be set via the software (104 MHz to 400 MHz). Of course you need to be careful playing with these as increasing the operating voltage past the default level of about 0.75V and going past 264 MHz would require the usage of powered hub and active cooling for the miner based on our experience. The official information about the miner performance cites a value of 2.77 KHS per 1 MHz, so the lowest frequency should be able to provide about 288 KHS hashrate for mining Scrypt crypto currencies and the maximum of 400 MHz should result in around 1.1 MHs.

futurebit-moonlander-bfgminer

With a hashrate in the range 0.288-1.1 MHS for mining Scrypt-basec crypto currencies you will not be able to mine much and you will also have to look for mining pools that offer user adjustable difficulty level or support low fixed difficulty. If we get back a few years to the times of Litecoin mining with GPUs we can say that this miner gets you in between half to almost two high-end GPUs worth of Scrypt hashrate. Of course the power usage of this USB Scrypt ASIC is much lower than what a high-end video card consumes, but then again at these low hashrates you will need many months to even earn enough to cover the cost of the miner. Anyway, our goal was to see what you can get in terms of performance with the FutureBit MoonLander miner by powering the device with a regular USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports with their power limits that do not allow the miner to reach its maximum performance. You will need to use a powered USB hub in order to be able to overclock to the maximum the miner, a 2A powered hub should allow you to reach the 10W maximum power and you will also need to provide a serious active cooling to the device if you want to push for higher core voltage and the maximum supported frequency.

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Out tests have shown that the default operating frequency of the device set at 144 MHz is what is possible with a USB 2.0 port capable of providing 0.5A at 5V or about 2.5W. With this operating frequency and using the stock core voltage of about 0.75V you can expect to get around 400 KHS worth of Scrypt mining power. On the thermal images above you can see the operating temperatures at these settings, the AlcheMiner ASIC chip does get hot with temperatures of around 55-56 degrees Celsius and the heatsink on the back is at about 44 degrees Celsius. These temperatures should not be a problem for operating the miner without any additional cooling on the long run, unless of course the ambient temperature is not very high.

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Going for the higher power limit of USB 3.0 ports that are capable of 0.9A at 5V or about 4.5 Watts of power you can push the device to an operating frequency of 264 MHz. Any higher and the power provided by the USB 3.0 port will not be sufficient enough to keep the miner operating properly. The expected hashrate at these settings should be around 730 KHS, a result that is not bad but we were hoping for a bit more. Apparently achieving 1 MHS or more will be possible only with the use of a powered USB hub that can provide more power to the USB miner and 2A is needed for pushing things to the maximum along with cooling fans as already mentioned. It is important to note that the thermal camera photos show an increase of about 15 degrees for the ASIC chip and about 10 degrees for the cooling radiator when using USB 3.0 as compared to USB 2.0. Note that at this level adding some airflow around the miner is a good idea in order to keep it cooler as otherwise it may overheat after a while, so it will be a wise idea to monitor the operating temperatures.

All in all the FutureBit MoonLander USB Scrypt ASIC miner is a fun little gadget to play around with and that is what it is for – playing around with an affordable ASIC miner. It is not intended to be profitable or to make you a lot of money, it is for people that are curious like us and love to play around with tech. The next thing we are probably going to do with the device is to improve on cooling and try with powered USB hub and some overvolting and more serious overclocking of the device. Do note that increasing the operating voltage and trying to max out the operating frequency can decrease the live of the mining hardware and even damage it permanently if you are not careful what you are doing!

For more information about the FutureBit MoonLander USB Scrypt ASIC miner…

e-coin-e-card

The service E-Coin that is offering users a Bitcoin-powered Debit Card and an online Multi-Sig wallet is apparently going to be rebranding to Wirex. So in the future instead of E-Coin debit cards you will be getting a Wirex Bitcoin-powered debit card, but with the rebranding we are also supposed to get new extras including a dedicated mobile applications for Android and iOS. Meanwhile the old E-Coin website is still fully functional and is still the way to use your Bitcoin online wallet and to control and manage any virtual or physical Bitcoin-powered debit card if you have already have one.

e-coin-bitcoin-visa-debit-card

Last year we have reviewed the service and even got our own physical E-Coin Bitcoin debit card issued to try it out, you can find our first impressions using the card here. We should note that we got an unbranded Visa card issued from My Choice Corporate and apparently the new cards should be Master Cards branded as Wirex Card and be issued from by Wave Crest Holdings. We will have to wait a bit and see that when the rebranding is finished and E-Coin fully transforms as Wirex, something that is currently going at the moment.

e-coin-buy-bitcoin

As we have already mentioned E-Coin is an online multi-sig wallet for securely storing Bitcoins as well as a service that allows you to get a Bitcoin powered debit card. The Bitcoins you have in your balance however are not directly available for use through your Bitcoin debit card, you need to first load your card by essentially exchanging Bitcoins for the fiat currency of the card. It is also possible to to load money directly in the Bitcoin debit card with a bank transfer, but up until recently you had no option to “unload” money from the card back into your Bitcoin wallet from within the service. Now you finally have to option to Buy Bitcoin with the balance in your card, so you can move BTC to fiat and vice versa any moment you like, so you can even profit “trading” when the exchange rate changes. Of course for trading you would prefer to go for an exchange, but it is convenient to be able to get any unspent EUR from your Bitcon debit card back to Bitcoin if you are not going to be needing them for the moment.

For more information about the virtual and physical E-Coin Bitcoin-powered Debit Cards…

ibelink-dm384m-2

ibelink-dm384m-thermal-1

Time for a bit more in-depth look at the operating temperatures of the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC with the help of a thermal imaging camera. We are starting with the front and rear of the case that the mining ASIC uses, the front has four powerful Delta Electronics server fans that such cold air through the whole case where the mining blades are and the hot air exits directly through the back of the case. There are no other fans at the back, just open space for the hot air to exit the case of the device effectively cooling. The only other fan is the one of the server grade power supply that is mounted inside the case, another server grade Delta Electronics fan that is also powerful and noisy when in operation. The fans do not have power control, so they operate at maximum RPM all of the time making the device quite noisy, but also effectively cooled even in no so cool environment.

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ibelink-dm384m-thermal-2

The four blades with ASIC chips are located on the side of the cooling fans and on the other side of the case is the power supply with the Raspberry Pi controller mounted over it. The side with the RPi and the power supply is pretty cold compared to the side where the four blade with 48 chips each are located. As one might expect the hottest part inside the miner are the ASIC chips, the rest remains pretty cold thanks to the high airflow provided by the cooling fans. Even the heatsink that are on the back of the PCB with the chips remain pretty cool thanks to the high airflow passing through them.

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ibelink-dm384m-thermal-3

And now let us take a look at the chips themselves as the hottest element of the iBeLink DM384M X11 ASIC miners. Under the stock operating conditions they do remain with a surface temperature range of about 60-68 degrees Celsius as the temperature varies slightly depending on their position on the blade. As we’ve said already the cooling heatsink is not placed on top of the chips themselves, but instead is on the back of the PCB. This is the easier way to make things work, but not the most efficient for cooling as the chips use the PCB as a large heatspreader that then passes the heat to the large heatsink. This results in higher operating temperatures of the ASIC chips as there is no direct contact, but the temperatures are still Ok for normal operation. You should however be careful should you decide to overclock in order to get some extra hashrate as this will increase the operating temperatures of the chips. It seems that iBeLink has already chosen the optimal operating frequency for the device that results in very little HW errors while providing optimum performance. Further increasing the PLL frequency over the stock 110 MHz even with just a few Megahertz may result in increased percentage of HW errors.


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