For most casual Bitcoin owners I would recommend the Electrum Wallet to hold their Bitcoin. However, many other wallets exist and here we’ll look at the Bitcoin Core one.
Bitcoin Core, as its name suggests, is maintained by the same team as the core Bitcoin software so you know it’s trustworthy. According to their website:
In addition to improving Bitcoin’s decentralization, Bitcoin Core users get better security for their bitcoins, privacy features not available in other wallets, a choice of user interfaces and several other powerful features.
For advanced users these additional features can be useful – for example I used Bitcoin Core to access the private keys for a Bitcoin address in Segwit format, something I couldn’t do with Electrum
There is a big obstacle to using the Bitcoin Core wallet, though, that one needs to be aware of: it requires downloading the entire Bitcoin blockchain to your computer. This can take a long time (for me, about 4 days) and use a lot of storage (a couple of hundred Gb).
First download the Bitcoin Core installer from the Bitcoin.org website, choosing the appopriate one for your system – Windows 64 bit for most people. Run the installer:
You will get the usual options for install folder, menu folder, etc. Once installed, run the Bitcoin Core program. It will start by saying it’s loading the block index:
Then it will begin verifying blocks. Each of these operations can take some minutes to complete. It will then begin the synching of blocks:
Very roughly you might find this takes about a day per year that you are behind since the creation of Bitcoin (so of course it’s a long time the first time, but much faster the next time you open it). If you need to you can close Bitcoin Core while it’s working and it will restart when you open it again – though of course that will extend the time it takes to synch.
Note that you can toggle the synch status display by pressing the right-most icon in the bottom status bar.
Eventually it will complete and you will be at the Overview screen, and the synch status button will be a tick:
The wallet is now up and running and you can send and receive Bitcoin through it in much the same way as with the Electrum wallet previously described. Additional features will be covered in later posts.
Having put your Bitcoin on a trading exchange like Bitfinex we can set it to lend out the Bitcoin for interest. Rates of interest vary widely between exchanges and coins, and over time. However, they can be surprisingly generous – for example you can currently lend Bitcoin on Bitfinex at an annual rate of up to 40%.
Cryptocurrency lending, however, is typically over short durations – for example a non-compound annual rate of 36.5% really means a rate of 0.1% per day for a certain number of days. In fact crypto loans are typically quoted as being for a minimum of 2 days and in my experience nearly always last exactly 2 days.
That could make things very inconvenient if every 2 days you had to start another loan manually. However, there are bots that you can do this for you – I always use CoinLend and I highly recommend it. Not only does it work really well – it’s an online bot with nothing to install – but it’s completely free!
Start by going to CoinLend.org and creating a new account by selecting Setup Bot. Enter your email address and a password and selecting Register. Then login.
You will be taken to the Bots screen where you can set up bots for three different exchanges: Poloniex, Bitfinex and Quoine. Bitfinex seems to consistently give the best interest rates so that’s the one we’ll use.
Go to your Bitfinex account and login. Then select the Manage Account (a head-and-shoulders icon) in the top right of the screen, then API. An Application Program Interface (API) is a software call that allows a third party program – our bot – to communicate with the Bitfinex exchange directly without us needing to be involved.
Click on Create New Key. Make sure the following permissions are ticked and no others:
Read: Account History, Margin Funding and Wallets.
Write: Margin Funding.
Make doubly sure that Write permission is off for Withdraw so that this API cannot be used (by Coinlend or some other party) to withdraw your funds. Enter a name at Label Your API Key such as Coinlend lending key. Select Generate API Key. Check your email and confirm creation of the new key.
Your new API Key, and a secret key to access it, will now be shown in Bitfinex – copy both of these somewhere safe to record them.
Copy both keys into the Bitfinex Bot section of the Coinlend Bots tab and click Save. If you’ve done this correctly you will get a confirmation message, it will display Bitfinex credentials valid, and the button will go green and say On.
Coinlend will generally start working very quickly, almost immediately. To see your loans underway just switch to the Loans tab and wait a minute or two – here it’s showing our first loan has gone out, and it’s at 16.62% (the display defaults to annual, compounded interest):
You can also confirm your loan status by going to Bitfinex and selecting Funding -> Bitcoin. Your active loans will be shown under the PROVIDED pane – click the drop-down icon to open. The interest rate shown in Bitfinex is the daily one – so here it’s 0.04214 per day.
If you want the interest rate shown in Coinlend to be the same then you can change this on the Settings tab – the options are Daily, Yearly, Compounded.
Tip: If you think you might want quick access to your Bitcoin then in Coinlend in the Bots/Bitfinex Bot tab under the On/Off button select Settings -> BTC – Extended and switch on the option for Always lend at the minimum duration of 2 days, and then Save Settings. This setting doesn’t always ‘stick’ so check it by going back into Settings and repeat if necessary – once it has set successfully the Extended button will show orange.
And that’s it done – the Coinlend bot will keep lending out your Bitcoin until you set the Bitfinex bot to Off on the Bots tab. Your Bitcoin stake will grow, and all for free.
Once you’ve got some Bitcoin what can you do to make it grow? The obvious answer is to put it on a Trading Exchange. Then you have the options of Trading, Margin Trading and Lending. These will be covered in more detail later; here we’ll look at the process of getting your Bitcoin onto an exchange.
The five biggest exchanges by trading volume are Bitfinex, Bithumb, Bittrex, GDAX and Poloniex, in that order. Here we’ll use Bitfinex.
Go to Bitfinex.com and click on Sign Up. Enter your chosen Username and Email address. Enter a strong password, e.g. from Passwords Generator. Set the Timezone (e.g. to (GMT+00:00) London). This will create you a new account.
Find the email you’ll be sent and verify your email address. Login at Bitfinex.com. You will start in the Tradingscreen, likely showing a Bitcoin – Dollar chart (‘BTC/USD’).
By default it will be dark. If you prefer a lighter colour scheme go to the top right user icon and select Interface, then Theme and choose Light.
To transfer some Bitcoin from your Electrum wallet into Bitfinex select Deposit -> Bitcoin. You may then get a warning about there being a fee on small deposits (less than $1000) that you need to acknowledge.
On the New Deposit screen select Bitcoin. You may then get advice to set up two-factor authentication (e.g. using your mobile phone to confirm withdrawals) – it’s a good idea but for simplicity we will ignore it at this point. You will see options for Exchange Wallet (for trading), Margin Wallet (for trading with leverage) and Funding Wallet (for lending). Under Funding Wallet select Click to generate address. This will create you a Bitcoin address where you can send funds; click on the Copy to Clipboard icon next to it.
Sending from an Electrum Wallet
Log into your Electrum Wallet and select the Send tab; paste in the Bitfinex address. Add an optional Description (e.g. Transfer to Bitfinex). Enter the amount of Bitcoin to transfer (or press Max if you intend all of it).
If you hover over the Fee slider you can see what the mining fee will be – moving the slider to the right will speed up the transaction and increase the fee – this can usually be left at the default. Press Send, re-enter your password to confirm. You will see a brief message about signing and then Payment Sent.
Select the History tab and you will see the transaction there. Once it has been confirmed (which may take from minutes to hours depending on how busy the network is) it will show here with a green tick.
In Bitfinex select Deposit and once confirmed the deposit transaction will also show here. Initially it will be marked Unconfirmed.
Once confirmed it will show as Completed, and the new balance will also show under Funding in the Balances area of the sidebar.
Your Bitcoin is now on the Bitfinex exchange ready for trading or lending.
Like everyone involved in cryptocurrency I know that Bitcoin and other coins are produced through mining:
Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the block chain, and also the means through which new bitcoin are released. Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining. The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards, which incentivize mining, are both the transaction fees associated with the transactions compiled in the block as well as newly released bitcoin.
I also know that in most cases Bitcoin mining is done by big organisations, mostly in China and Eastern Europe, running large farms of mining computers. It’s tough to compete against that.
However, in learning about my current ‘favourite’ coin, Bitcore (BTX), I found out that it can be mined on a home PC with a half-decent graphics card. I decided to give it a go.
The basic process is straightforward:
You run a dedicated mining app, typically CCMiner, which mines Bitcore by maxing out your graphics card.
You connect the app to an online mining pool server so your mining power contributes to a pool of other miners’ hardware and you share the coins created. I use Suprnova.cc.
You connect your mining pool account to your Bitcore wallet so that payouts come to you.
The details are covered well in a YouTube video by Mod Rage, ‘How to Mine Bitcore (BTX) for Beginners (From Scratch)‘, included below. There’s another one that gives some additional useful information by IMineBlocks.
When I initially tried running CCMiner I got the error “qubit_luffa512_cpu_init” each time. I worked out this indicated my graphics card was too old to run the latest version of CCMiner – no great surprise there – so I went back through older versions to find one that worked for me. That turned out to be the x64 version of build CCMiner v2.2.
When you start up the miner, initially not a lot happens – you just get a command window with a basic startup screen:
After a minute or two, however, you will likely become aware of a rising background noise as your graphics card starts to ‘take off’. You may also find your PC’s response becomes a bit ‘sluggish’. Here mine has started – the card temperature has increased from 68C to 88C, and the fan speed from 46% to 67%:
The key thing is the “yes!” message which tells us it has started to mine successfully (failure is indicated by “boo!”). Success seems to improve over time, so initially I only get occasional successes:
But half an hour or so after starting up each time I see screens like this – we’re up and running (the card settles at a temperature of about 95C and a fan speed of about 85%):
In parallel we can monitor the status on the Suprnova website – this shows us in approximate real-time how much solving power (‘hashrate’) we are contributing to the pool, for example:
To monitor the graphics card itself, which of course is now running hot, you can use various utilities. Probably the best known is MSI Afterburner – here it is (with its UI skin set to ‘Default MSI Afterburner v3 – big edition’) showing a real-time display of card temperature and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) usage:
The GPU usage varies over time, but if I stop using the PC for other things it starts to settle near 100% as you would expect.
So is Bitcore mining profitable with my setup? I decided to work it out over the course of an evening, specifically a 5 hour period.
First I used a watt meter to work out how much energy the PC consumed. This turned out to be about 240W when mining and about 180W when not mining, so about 25% of the electricity used in that period was used for mining.
The watt meter told me I had used 1.25kWh over the period so about 0.3kWh was used for mining. My evening electricity rate is about 14p/kWh so the mining cost me about 4p.
So how much did I earn? Suprnova tells me I mined about 0.0006 BTX, which is worth somewhere around 2p. So no, my setup isn’t profitable as I ran it.
Can Bitcore Mining Be Profitable?
The result is interesting to me because, actually, it’s not as bad as I feared. After all, I am running an old PC with a graphics card that is old enough it can’t run the latest – and presumably most efficient – mining software.
(Tip: you can look up the power, ‘Compute Capability’, of your Nvidia card here. A good value is 6+, mine – a 1Gb NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti – is 2.1).
With the current setup I could:
Run only at night, leaving the PC mining on Economy 7 electricity and unattended (which should get the efficiency up by 10%-15%). My overnight rate is about half the daytime rate so immediately I would be close to breaking even, and maybe even making a profit.
Run only during the middle part of the day, with the PC mining just on electricity from my solar panels. It would immediately become profitable, even if only at the rate of a few pence per day. And that’s without even trying overclocking on the card.
Of course, if I really want to mine seriously I would be looking at buying new hardware – specifically a powerful graphics card, as it’s not necessarily an issue if the PC isn’t particularly fast.
Initial research implies that a current top-end graphics card may have enough power (hashrate) to mine at perhaps 30 times the rate of my current card. Suddenly Bitcore mining starts to become a realistic proposition – a profit of £1-2 per day seems achievable – so I’m going to investigate further.
November has been a lively month in cryptocurrency, but particularly for the Bitcore coin (symbol BTX). I’ve written a number of blog posts about it, but I think a summary would be worthwhile:
1. One month ago, on 22 October, I had just 2.8 Bitcore, courtesy of a free airdrop from last April. Each Bitcore was worth about $6 so the total value was about £13.
2. To get the next big Airdrop I needed to own at least 10 Bitcore, so I decided to simply buy £100 worth on 25 October. That got me 19.77 BTX, for a total of 22.6 BTX. With Bitcore at about $7 that was worth about £120.
3. Having met the threshold I received a one-off airdrop of 25% on 30 October bringing the total to 28.2 BTX, at about $8 each, so a total of £170.
4. While the one-off airdrop was nice I was actually after the weekly 3% airdrops and the first one came in on 8 November. At this point I reached 29 BTX at about $10 each so worth £227.
5. The next weekly airdrop on 13 November took me to 30 BTX at $13, so £290. This was starting to look serious!
7. The next day I sold a small Ethereum Dark airdrop for 1.25 more BTX.
8. This Monday the next weekly airdrop came in giving me another 0.9 BT
The end result for the month – not counting at least another weekly airdrop to come in before the end of this month – is that I now have 53.3 BTX. Today their value has dropped back a little to $27 each, so their total value still hovers around £1100.
So, through a whole series of free airdrops, plus a big rise in the market, my outlay of £100 is now worth £1100. Just one reason why I love cryptocurrency!
To an extent it feels like I’ve earned the money, by ‘jumping through hoops’ to claim the free airdrops. Therefore the outcome is the most satisfying, despite the fact that over the same month, by doing nothing, each of my Bitcoins (BTC) has gone up in value from £4100 to £6200, so my 12.5 BTC have gone up by an astonishing £26,000 in a month. Somehow that seems less real than the BTX gains.
I’m a bit of a fan of Bitcore (BTX) as is clear from my BTX blogging history – largely, I confess, because it has so many airdrops! Who doesn’t like free coins?!
Less than a week after the last 25% airdrop on 30 October (based on how many BTX you own), there was another airdrop on 2 November (based on how many Bitcoin/BTC you own) – both taking place in parallel with the weekly 3% airdrops. It’s raining free Bitcore coins!
To be eligible you need to have held Bitcoin on 2nd November in a wallet you control, i.e. one to which you have the private keys, and you will get 1 BTX for each 2 BTC. Log into your Electrum Wallet go to Wallet -> Private Keys -> Export, then enter your password and wait a few moments. Look for the address containing your Bitcoin in the left column and copy the private key from that right column:
It’s this key that you paste into the Bitcore Wallet console as described in the Steemit description linked above. Note, as ever, as soon as you have exposed a private key you may have compromised your wallet security (you can see in the screenshot to be safe I had already moved out my Bitcoin from the wallet before making the claim). At this point, if you want to be completely safe, you should wipe the wallet before using it again.
Anyway, that’s it done – the new BTX should appear in your Bitcore Wallet straight away if it works, otherwise check that you used the correct location address for your BTC on 2nd November.
It worked for me – my 5.8 BTC gave me 2.7 more BTX, so in total currently worth about $50/£40 – not a bad freebie!
However, unlike previous forks such as Bitcoin Cash (which made me 0.8 BTC, currently worth about £4k), this one seems to have been very disorganised. It has been weeks since the official blockchain snapshot was taken and only now is there an official wallet available – and that’s painful and resource hogging to use.
The process to claim is a bit fiddly so you need to decide if it’s worth the effort of claiming – in fact, I would say that unless you own at least 0.1 BTC it’s barely worth it because you’ll lose too much in fees.
To begin, check to see if you’re eligible for the new BTG coins – essentially that means you held Bitcoin in a wallet you controlled (i.e. for which you have the private keys) on Monday 23 October 2017 (officially Block 491407).
(Just as a matter of interest note the value of that account showing there, 0.0227 BTC, has a value in the screenshot footer of £102.60. Now, less than a month later, it’s £134.37).
We go to the Addresses tab and look for the address that holds our BTC. If you have done many transactions it may be split across addresses – in this case you will have to make multiple claims. Right-click on the appropriate address and choose Copy Address to get it into the clipboard.
Go to the Bitcoin Gold Website and paste it into the claim box (‘Check Your Address Balance Before Block 491407’). With a bit of luck you’ll get a confirmation similar to this:
The BTC Balance column may be empty if you’ve moved out your BTC since, which is fine. In fact, this process of claiming BTG will expose the private keys of your Electrum Wallet so you are advised to move out your BTC to a new wallet anyway; this is just to avoid the small possibility of hacking.
(Note: We will be using a respectable intermediate wallet so the risk is fairly low – I won’t go through the process here for simplicity since the amount risked is also low. However for my personal BTC stash I won’t use the source Electrum Wallet again without wiping it first).
At this point you need to decide if you want to claim or not. In this case the claim is worth 0.0227 x $149 = £3.38 so it’s not really worth it (fees will be about £4), but I’ll go through it anyway to illustrate the method.
The process is relatively straightforward, if a bit fussy. You install the Coinomi app on an Android phone and give it your private keys so that it can access your new BTG. Coinomi is used as it’s one of the few respectable wallets that currently support BTG.
There is an infographic available that covers this part of the process quite well:
One thing that’s not made clear is how to get your Electrum private key in a form that Coinomi can recognise. To do that, in Electrum go to Wallet -> Private Keys -> Export, enter your password and wait a few seconds. Look for the line that matches the address of your BTC in the left column, and the key is in the right column – you need to type this into Coinomi as described in the infographic.
When it asks, hit Confirm and you should see your new Bitcoin Gold:
Open an account on the HitBTC exchange if you don’t already have one – again it’s one of the few exchanges that support BTG. It doesn’t have a great reputation so I wouldn’t recommend using it for large amounts of BTC.
Go to the Deposit page (via the menu in the top bar) and click Deposit in the BTG Bitcoin Gold row. In Coinomi select the Send tab and type in the Wallet address from HitBTC and press Use All Funds. If it asks you to confirm coin type select Bitcoin Gold, then Send, enter the password and Confirm.
You’ll see the amount leave your Coinomi Wallet. Soon after you should see a wait cursor (rotating yellow circle) appear on the BTG line in HitBTC next to Main Account. Once the BTG appears, click on the arrow next to it to move it into Trading Account so you can sell it.
Click on Exchange in the top menu bar. To sell BTG look under Instruments for the BTC tab – click on Name to get the altcoins into alphabetical order and select BTG. To sell at a good price is, of course, an art in itself – you can use the chart on the left to judge whether it’s a good time to buy or not (has it just gone down or up, for example, what is the trend, etc.). However since i think BTG is generally going to trend downwards, as more people work out how to sell their free coins, let’s just sell immediately.
In the Sell BTG box click on your Balance to select all your BTG. Review the current Price (in BTC) and the resulting Total (in BTC). If you’re happy, press Sell Limit. You should get an acknowledgement and the BTG should be sold within a minute or two – you can confirm this in the My Trades tab under the chart. Note a small amount of BTG may not get sold and just be left behind in your BTG account (so-called ‘dust’).
If the market is falling your BTG may not get bought, for obvious reasons. If so you can find your BTG trade in the Active Order tab, cancel it, and try again at a lower price.
Your new BTC will now show in the top menu bar, and its equivalent value in dollars (USDT). To withdraw it click on the Account tab and in the BTC line press the arrow next to the BTC Trading Account value to move it into your Main Account. Press Withdraw and enter the amount to transfer.
At this point you enter the address where you want the BTC to go – if it’s back to your Electrum Wallet then you would find the address there by selecting the Receive tab to display it – copy and paste the address into HitBTC and press the Withdraw button.
As ever there will then be a delay as the transfer takes place and the BTC appears in your Electrum Wallet. (In fact, in the example I’ve shown here the amount of BTC gained from the trade isn’t enough to pay the fairly high minimum fee – £2 – to move the BTC out of HitBTC so I’m leaving it there until I can add more to it with further forks or airdrops).
And there you have it – your original BTC coins have increased by an amount equal to the value in BTG of the same amount of BTG coins, less trading fees.
Although it’s not worth going through this process with a small amount of Bitcoin, as demonstrated, it can be quite lucrative with a larger amount of Bitcoin. My personal account gained about £400 and some people will have made much, much more (“to whoever has, to him more shall be given…”) and all effectively for free.
I have registered for loads of airdrops recently, so many that I have not done a very good job of keeping track of them. Often they are barely worth the trouble of claiming so last weekend I decided to take stock.
I knew I had received EtherDoge (eDoge) and iBTC coins so I decided just to dump them as I couldn’t see any long term value in either of them. They are both Ethereum based so I headed to EtherDelta.
First to go was iBTC. Here you can see I had received 3312 iBTC in my attached Ether wallet:
I deposited them into EtherDelta and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to sell them for 0.116 Ether:
That’s worth about £27 so not bad for a complete freebie.
Next I offloaded my eDOGE. My impressive 5 million eDOGE, however, turned out to be nothing like so valuable. They had almost no trading value and selling the lot only got me 0.005 ETH, or about £1!
In fact it was worth than that, as it looks like the transaction cost me 0.02 ETH (45p) so wasn’t really worth the doing.
Never mind, I’m very pleased with the iBTC outcome.
As I pointed out before, the Bitcore coin (BTX) has a great ‘unique selling point (USP)’ that if you hold it you get 3% extra – effectively ‘interest’ – added weekly.
This week is the first time I’ve held enough BTX in my wallet (10 is the minimum quantity) to qualify for the airdrop. However, just like last week’s 25% one-off airdrop, it arrived on time and with no fuss.
An added bonus is that in that week the value of Bitcore has gone up from $6 to $10 – so my £100 stake is now worth £227. Now maybe you can see why I’m a BTX fan!
If you have solar panels on your house you are eligible to receive free SolarCoins in proportion to how much energy you can generate (specifically each year you get your solar system’s capacity in kW multiplied by a fixed ratio of 1.314). I have previously described the process of installing a SolarCoin Wallet and shown how to register a claim for SolarCoins.
I went through these steps for the two solar arrays on my house (front and rear, installed at different times). Officially you should receive any coins you claim in the first week of the month following your claim.
I am pleased to confirm that my coins came through this week exactly on schedule. The amounts are almost exactly what I expected (the small discrepancies likely relate to whether you calculate the time the panels have been operating in years, months or weeks, for example).
The amounts I received were:
Rear roof: 33.9 coins (3.7kW x 7 years x 1.314)
Front roof: 18.6 coins (3.2kW x 4 years x 1.314)
The total came to 52.4775 SolarCoin which at their current value is worth about $18, so about £14.
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