Getting into Nyancoin

While following the ups and downs of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies I stumbled upon xPool.net which is a p2pool node with 0% fees. Looking through the various coins I saw nyancoin which I recognised as being one of those altcoins that starts with a big hype and then completely collapses (with the early adopter probably walking away with profit). Google lead me to the official r/nyancoin subreddit and nyan-coin website – it turns out that a few people led by coinaday have attempted to revive a completely dead altcoin by stabilising the blockchain, stabilising the markets and rebuilding the community. Reading through the posts it seemed that they really wanted it to work and so i thought it might be a experiment for me to get involved in.

Getting Involved

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Image from http://www.freenyancoins.uk/

The first step is to download the nyancoin wallet from the nyan-coin website, the code is quite old but appears to be very stable (certainly on OS X). It’ll download the whole blockchain and then you are then ready to send and receive nyancoin. Even if you don’t have coins if you leave the wallet open it’ll act as a node on the network – the more nodes there are the more stable the network is. You can also get involved with the small but loyal community on reddit at r/nyancoin.

Getting some coins

Mining with a GPU

I initially tried to mine some coins using the gpu on my mac book air (this is a bad idea due to the design of the macbook air – the gpu gets very hot) but was only managing to generate 12kHs and felt that it wasn’t worth the risk of loosing my laptop! If you happen to have a computer or laptop with a good quality GPU then it might be worth a go, you need to use cgminer 3.7.2 as this is the last version to have the algorithms for scrypt mining. I used the pre-compiled binary from here and then used these settings to mine in the xPool.net nyancoin mining pool.

–scrypt -o stratum+tcp://xpool.net:8870 -u insert_your_wallet_address_here/0 -p x -I 9

The -I option control the intensity of the mining which will give you more hashing power but will cause your system to be more unresponsive.  As mentioned before you need to be careful with this form of mining especially if you have a laptop as you don’t want your hardware to overheat and die. To ensure that I didn’t I used Macs Fan Control software to manage my fan by monitoring the GPU temperature.

In total i managed to mine 1.08 nyan coins in a about 24hours which at the current exchange rate just isn’t worth it.

Trading nyancoins

I then went on to use exchanges to invest in some nyancoins, nyancoins are listed on cryptsy and cryptopia.nz. Cryptsy as an online exchange is not doing well and the current advice is to avoid it so I signed up to cryptopia.nz. This an altcoin exchange with additional features such as running mining pools, a marketplace and other useful functions. Here I was able to exchange some dogecoin and bitcoin for nyancoin to build up a small stake in nyancoin. It was easy to deposit and then withdraw the coins to your main wallet (ideally you shouldn’t leave large volumes on the exchange due to possible but unlikely security issues). The price of nyancoin is still find its feet, back in its darkest days it was only 1 satoshi but currently its in the midteens – it appears that there are still lots of people who hold large quantities of nyancoins which they just want to get rid of in big dumps which cause the market to crash – this is one of the things that loyal nyancoin supporters are trying to buffer against.

Mining with a Scrypt ASIC Miner

To continue the experiment I thought it would be interesting to try out setting up a proper mining system, miners are key to the development of an altcoin, as the generation of new blocks also provides the system to allow for transactions to occur on the blockchain. The algorithm that nyancoin uses is scrypt which is originally from litecoin and was purposely designed to be mainly mined on GPUs and CPUs rather than specialist hardware (this is unlike bitcoin where the algorithm is easily shifted to specialised chips often referred to as ASIC miners). There are however a few scrypt asic miners that exist and I thought it would be interesting to try this out.

Searching on ebay I found a reasonable Zeusminer Blizzard miner which contained 6 specialist chipZeusminer Blizzards and should mine at 1.3mH/s which is far better then the 12kH/s from my GPU. I ordered it and it arrived a few days, its nice an self contained, with a large heatsink and single fan on the top. It didn’t come with a power supply, searching the website I found reference to requiring 12V at 2A and managed to find an adapter that fitted, the other connection was a usb cable which was included. Following this guide and ensuring that I reinstalled the usb-serial drivers I was then able to power up the miner and start mining using my macbook air. The software that is suggested in the guide is bfgminer (rather than cgminer) and I found this easy to use, i ended up using this command:

bfgminer -S noauto -S zus:all –scrypt -o stratum+tcp://xpool.net:8870 -u KNbJngVn1NkDodBVY5i9uXRxz1qM5Lybbi/0 -p x

As I use my macbook air around the house and didn’t want to carry the miner with me I then switched to using my old macbook that only runs OS X 10.5.8. Getting the drivers to work took a while (had to find an old version) and then compile bfgminer was quite a challenge – I had to edit the source code in a number of places to get it to work – my suggestion is not to try on an old mac.

The adapter I had found then gave up, it appeared to overheat – I suspect that the zeusminer was drawing more current then it could supply. I had an old Apple Mac G5 case which I had previously installed a ATX power supply in the hopes of building a PC and so I use the 12V line to supply the Zeusminer. Also the large metal case of the G5 helped to keep the miner cool and slightly dampen the sound of the fan.G5 Case This has now been running for the last 48 hours without any problems, it has managed to mine a total of 729 nyancoins since I started it on the evening of 8/1/16

The future

My plan is to continue to support nyancoin, its been a fun experiement learning about how to revive a dead altcoin and also learning about how mining coins actually work. I intend to continue to mine with my mining setup though I won’t always have it on, have to be sensible with electricity costs but will continue to use wallet regularly so as to support the network.