Why Bitcoin Miners Should also Mine Dash, Litecoin, and Zcash

There are hundreds of Bitcoin alternatives out there. One term for these is Altcoins, another generic term is cryptocurrency. It’s only worth investing money and time into ones that will stay in existence and grow. Just like with any investment, it’s best to buy at a low price. In some cases that means buying them at a low price on an exchange, and for others it’s mining them with specially designed computing machines.

Running a Bitcoin and Altcoin mining operation, I like to look for Altcoins to mine that are going to go up in value. If I can mine many of them while they are inexpensive and easier to mine, and I keep as many as possible after paying my bills, I’ll end up being very profitable.

Before delving in Altcoins, it’s worth looking at Bitcoin. It has a huge installed base. It will be around for a long time. It is the standard and has so far proven to be solid. It does have a few issues that could lead to problems, but these will get worked out. No one wants to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, and no one that is invested in the Bitcoin ecosystem will actually go so far as to destroy it.

Let’s discuss that ecosystem, and use that as one of the measures of Bitcoin or an Altcoin’s viability. There are many people involved in making Bitcoin or an Altcoin (let’s just say Coin) work. These include:

  • Creators — the ones who come up with the idea and mathematics for how the Coin works.
  • Programmers — the people who generate, maintain, and improve the Coin software.
  • Miners — the people who operate the machinery that tracks the transactions and maintain the integrity of the blockchain.
  • Mining pool operators — They run the mining pools that miners join to get consistent block rewards. Pools decide what software version to adopt.
  • Node Operators — people who operate the servers that broadcast transactions and maintain a copy of the Coin blockchain.
  • Exchange operators — manage the transfer of funds between fiar currency and Coins.
  • Ecosystem partners — people who make products and services that make the coins more useful.
  • Coin owners — people who own the Coin. Or more precisely, control the private keys that allow specific Coin inputs to be sent to another key owner.
  • Coin speculators — people who buy and sell between the different Coins, providing liquidity.
  • Intended and Actual Users — people and organizations that have a use for the Coin.
  • Regulators — Government authorities and industry organizations.

The cryptocurrency space is just in its infancy. There is going to be a lot of growth in this space in the coming years, and the rising tide will lift many boats. For a Coin to survive long term, it has to have at least the following:

  1. Reason to exist. Bitcoin is the first, and other Coins need to carve out their own niches.
  2. Code that works. Processes transactions quickly and reliably, is secure, and has many useful applications. This includes software for nodes, miners, pool operators, wallets, and API’s (Application Programming Interface) to connect into other applications.
  3. Active community that works well together, providing leadership, direction, marketing, and product management.
  4. Programmers who are incentivized to update, maintain, add new features, and integrate the cryptocurrency with application providers.
  5. Miners who can make money processing the transactions.
  6. Node operators who can make money running nodes or run a node as part of another business function.
  7. Customers — business and users that have a use for the Coin.
  8. Ecosystem partners that can make money.

So where does Bitcoin stand in this measure?

The Bitcoin codebase works well. It has some issues in that it currently can’t process many transactions at a time. But it is well understood, works, and has scaled so far. It need some improvements, and the different stakeholders have different political agendas.

The miners are the big deciders in Bitcoin. They make most of the money, and the ones who ultimately make the decision on what new code gets accepted. They join their miners to the mining pools who support the policy they want. The miners want to make money forever. They want their coinbase block reward, as well as transaction payments. When the coinbase block reward goes to zero, transaction payments are going to be the only way for them to make the money they need to keep running their operation.

Miners probably operate nodes and pools as well, and I would expect they provide funding to developers. They have the datacenters, tech support, and the incentive to make the entire transaction infrastructure work. They could also employ programmers that can add to and update the codebase. Bigger miners are Bitmain, BitFury, Genesis Mining.

Because it’s the first and biggest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has many ecosystem partners like Coinbase, Kraken, Electrum, Blockchain.info, and BitPay.

There’s a lot to like about Bitcoin. It’s proven, and people understand it. The feature implementation is slow, some people say too slow. The people that are pushing for more general and broader usage are hampered by the slow changes in the main Bitcoin code. And not all features should be put into the main Bitcoin codebase.

Because people want more features, that leads to the creation of Altcoins, and also projects that build on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. These Bitcoin extension projects are usually called sidechains.

Bitcoin serves a few different purposes for people:

  1. Store of value
  2. Investment — with assumption that it’s value will go up in future.
  3. Token for purchasing products in the Bitcoin industry.
  4. A way to purchase products internationally easily and quickly.

Bitcoin

You don’t need my opinion on Bitcoin. It just is. Take look at Bitcoin on Github for reference. I mine for Bitcoins using the latest and best SHA-256 ASIC mining technology. Right now that’s Bitmain Antminer S9’s.

Bitcoin mining calculations with Bitmain Antminer S9

  • SHA-256 Hash Rate — 13 TH/s
  • Power — 1400 Watts
  • Miner Price — $1600
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Bitcoin Mining Profitability from Coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 334
  • Annual Bitcoin earnings — 2.826 BTC
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,952
  • Annual electricity cost — $1,226
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,725
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,232

Let’s take a look at some of the Altcoins out there using a template.

Evaluation template:

  1. Reason — why does the Coin exist?
  2. Code — is the code improvement active, is it unique and different? Is there wallet support on different platforms?
  3. Community — What is the community like? Are they active?
  4. Programmers — Are there programmers contributing to the code improvement and integration?
  5. Miners — Are there many active miners?
  6. Node Operators — Is there a large quantity of nodes?
  7. Customers — Are there people using this yet?
  8. Ecosystem partners — Exchanges, hardware wallets, partner.

Ethereum

Ethereum is designed to be more flexible and useful than Bitcoin. The code is written for smart contracts and automated action. The Internet of Things will be able to have devices talk to each other and pay each other small amounts of Ethereum to make things happen automatically.

  1. Reason — Unique and different from Bitcoin. Used to build flexible and automated systems.
  2. Code — Unique, new, different. Has had some issues, still under development.
  3. Community — Technology companies are working with it.
  4. Programmers — Active development on Ethereum at Github. Tens of thousands of commits and hundreds of contributors.
  5. Miners — Some miners using GPU cards. Supposed to transition away from mining at some point.
  6. Node Operators — In the future, node operators with Ethereum will replace miners and will be paid.
  7. Customers — Businesses are building applications with Ethereum.
  8. Ecosystem partners — Traded on exchanges, has other business partners. Hardware wallet support.

Ethereum is going to be around for a while. There was a code base split, leading to Ethereum Classic. These two systems have the ability to go in different development directions. They will both be around for a while.

Ethereum mining calculations with 6 rig GPU miner using AMD RX480

  • Eth Hash Rate — 160 MH/s
  • Power — 1000 Watts
  • Miner Price — $2200
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Ethereum Results with coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 510
  • Annual Ethereum earnings — 189 ETH
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,450
  • Annual electricity cost — $876
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,574
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,574

Ethereum Classic is also available for mining. It’s a fork of Ethereum, and has it’s own community developing in a different direction than Ethereum.

Ethereum Classic Results with coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 520
  • Annual Ethereum Classic earnings — 1,958 ETC
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,412
  • Annual electricity cost — $1,226
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,565
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,565

I used to mine Ethereum on my GPU miners, and I might again. I may also mine for Ethereum Classic. There are other coins that are more profitable to mine with my GPU miners right now, though.

Ripple

Ripple is a creation of banks. I included it in here because it is high up on the list of Coinmarketcap. I don’t like it. But let’s look at it anyway.

  1. Reason — Interbank transfers
  2. Code — Written by contractors for the banks. It seems like it makes sense and is good code.
  3. Community — People who work for banks?
  4. Programmers — whoever the banks hired to program it. I’m sure they’re good. It’s not on Github.
  5. Miners — It’s not possible to mine Ripple.
  6. Node Operators — The banks or the Ripple company run the node servers.
  7. Customers — The banks are the customers. They have money, so that’s good.
  8. Ecosystem partners — The banks and their suppliers.

I have no use for Ripple. I can’t participate in it, haven’t bothered to understand it, and don’t care about it.

Litecoin

Litecoin has been around a long time. It is almost, but not quite like Bitcoin. It’s value compared to Bitcoin has languished. It has a large community of miners and ecosystem supporters. So does Dogecoin. Maybe Litecoin is making a comeback?

  1. Reason — Copy of Bitcoin, with faster block times and more coins issued.
  2. Code — Active development, wallets for all computers and mobile devices, API’s available.
  3. Community — Not a strong community as far as I can tell, but there is one.
  4. Programmers — There is active contribution to Litecoin on Github. Over 10,000 commits and 400 contributors.
  5. Miners — Large installed base of ASIC based Litecoin miners.
  6. Node Operators — Not as many nodes as Bitcoin, but about 1000
  7. Customers — Litecoin is accepted in many places that Bitcoin is.
  8. Ecosystem partners — Coinbase, other exchanges, hardware wallet support.

Litecoin mining calculations with Antminer L3:

  • Scrypt Hash Rate — 250 MH/s
  • Power — 400 Watts
  • Miner Price — $1900
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Results for Litcoin from Coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 452
  • Annual Litecoin earnings — 482 LTC
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $1,882
  • Annual electricity cost — $350
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,531
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $3,827

Unfortunately the Bitmain Antminer L3 is only available in China right now, and I am guessing at the price for when it is for sale outside of China. I expect it to be available to the rest of the world soon. There are other coins that are popular that use Scrypt as well, so Litecoin miners can be used to mine those if they are more profitable.

Dash

Dash has code that is similar to Bitcoin. It splits the mining profits between miners (45%), node operators (45%), and infrastructure team (10%). Payouts to the infrastructure team are determined by projects and put to the vote of the node operators. Dash is actually one of the Altcoins I like the most. It extends Bitcoin with rapid transactions and privacy through coin mixing using Masternodes. To be a masternode operator, you need to own 1000 Dash. Right now there are about 4000 masternodes.

The Dash infrastructure team is working on PR and creating payment tools. I think they have the potential to be the digital cash replacement. As an example, watch this video created by the Dash team:

Dash evaluation template:

  1. Reason — Be used as digital cash. Ease of use, fast transactions, privacy option
  2. Code — Continual improvement, wallets for all platforms, funding for more.
  3. Community — Big community that works well together.
  4. Programmers — Strong core team, good volunteers and developers.
  5. Miners — ASIC miners available
  6. Node Operators — Many node operators
  7. Customers — Still not accepted online in many places.
  8. Ecosystem partners — On exchanges, has hardware wallet support.

Dash mining calculations with Baikal Giant A900:

  • X11 Hash Rate — 900 MH/s
  • Power — 250 Watts
  • Miner Price — $2200
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Results for Dash from Coinwarz

  • Days to break even: 192
  • Annual Dash earnings — 207 DASH
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $4,402
  • Annual electricity cost — $219
  • Annual profitability per miner — $4,182
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $16,728

Dash is definitely on the upswing. The interesting thing about the X11 miner from Baikal is its low poer usage. The amount of profits per amount of electricity used is much higher than any other Coin out there.

Zcash

Zcash is similar to Bitcoin, but using different crypto. It is very new, and it has extended Bitcoin with advanced crypto for complete anonymity. I think it is still overvalued, but it might grow into its value. Developers are rewarded by 20% of mined coins for first 4 years. There is a good list of answers to o Zcash FAQ’s.

There are two main types of transactions, T stands for transparents, and are just like Bitcoin transactions. Z stands for shielded transactions, and are anonymous. Z transactions are much more computationally intensive, and are only supported in the wallets on PC’s with powerful CPU’s for now. It’s possible to receive Zcash or Zclassic on a PC wallet with a T or Z transaction, and send it out using either type of transaction.

Zcash evaluation template:

  1. Reason — Privacy support built into codebase
  2. Code — actively working on improvements, windows wallet available
  3. Community — good community
  4. Programmers — Core development team, paid by the protocol for first 4 years
  5. Miners — Lots of GPU miners
  6. Node Operators — miners and wallets are nodes right now
  7. Customers — very few yet.
  8. Ecosystem partners — on exchanges, hardware wallet support

Calculations with 6-rig GPU Miner with RX480–8G:

  • Equihash Hash Rate — 1800 H/s
  • Power — 1000 Watts
  • Miner Price — $2200
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Zcash mining results on Coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 525
  • Annual Zcash earnings — 73 ZEC
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,404
  • Annual electricity cost — $876
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,528
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,528

I think Zcash is going to be around for a while. It fills a need for private transactions, is supported by a strong team, and has good community and ecosystem support.

Zclassic

Zclassic is a fork of Zcash with two changes. There is no slow start on mining rewards, and there is no developer reward. It’s community has developed rapidly, and it looks like there is cross-contribution of code between Zcash and Zclassic developers. It looks like a Coin that is going to be around for a while.

Zclassic evaluation template:

  1. Reason — Privacy support built into codebase
  2. Code — actively working on improvements, windows wallet available
  3. Community — good community, very active
  4. Programmers — Contributors and bounty rewards
  5. Miners — Some GPU miners
  6. Node Operators — miners and wallets are nodes right now
  7. Customers — very few yet.
  8. Ecosystem partners — on exchanges, no hardware wallet support

Zclassic mining results on Coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 421
  • Annual Zclassic earnings — 4295 ZCL
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,782
  • Annual electricity cost — $876
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,906
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,906

I think Zclassic is going to do well. I think people like the technology, and some were a little put off by the inability to participate as part of the Zcash team. Just like with Zcash, there is a need for private transactions, it’s supported by a strong team, and has good community support. If there is more support from exchanges and hardware wallet manufacturers, it will do well.

Monero

Monero is based on Cryptonote, an algorithm designed for only private transactions. It appears to be doing well, and there are many supporters of the Coin. It appears to have the ability to be successful, but I don’t like it. Whenever I try to dig into the specifics of using it, it’s security, and the ecosystem, I find I don’t want to be part of that. I’m wrong a lot, though, and may be wrong in this case. Here’s some info on Monero.

Evaluation template:

  1. Reason — private and untraceable transactions
  2. Code — improvement is active. But wallet support is very basic on PC’s and nonexistent on mobile devices.
  3. Community — Very pro-Monero, and actively bash other Altcoins very publicly
  4. Programmers — Active programmers
  5. Miners — There are GPU miners for Monero active
  6. Node Operators — About 700 nodes — https://monerohash.com/nodes-distribution.html
  7. Customers — Not many websites use Monero
  8. Ecosystem partners — Some exchange support, no hardware wallet support

Calculations with 6-rig GPU Miner with RX480–8G:

  • XMR Hash Rate — 4200 H/s
  • Power — 1000 Watts
  • Miner Price — $2200
  • Electricity — $0.10 per kwhr

Monero mining results on Coinwarz.com

  • Days to break even: 556
  • Annual Monero earnings — 175 XMR
  • Annual Dollars earnings — $2,318
  • Annual electricity cost — $876
  • Annual profitability per miner — $1,442
  • Annual Profits per 1000 Watts — $1,442

Monero is profitable to mine, but Zcash, Zclassic, and Ethereum are more profitable to mine right now than Monero. If Monero gets good wallet support on Windows, gets a mobile wallet, and gets hardware wallet support, it will definitely help it to grow and prosper.

Summary and Recommendations

Bitcoin is definitely worth investing time and money into. So are the Altcoins that have a purpose, have a way of compensating the different members of the community, and continue to develop and add new features. The others will fall by the wayside.

If you are looking to purchase Altcoins for investment, you have to look at the fundamentals, and at the price. If you are going to mine them and keep a portion of them for a long time, you need to look at the fundamentals and current mining profitability.

But if you are going to mine them and immediately exchange them for Bitcoin, then you don’t need to care about the fundamentals, just the current mining profitability. The links above to Coinwarz will take you to a calculation screen based on the current price compared to Bitcoin, which changes all the time. So it’s worth checking back periodically.

What am I doing for mining? Right now (Feb 2017) I am:

  • Mining Bitcoin with Antminer S9’s
  • Mining Zclassic with 6-rig GPU miners
  • Mining Dash with Baikal ASIC X11 miners
  • Mining Gulden with Innosilicon ASIC srypt miners

ASIC miners are a big investment. Fortunately they are not limited to one Altcoin. GPU miners are more flexible, and as long as there is an Altcoin that is profitable to mine, GPU miners will be worth the money and time to run them.

I also think some of the cryptocurrencies are going to be increasing in value faster than Bitcoin. For example, Dash has gone from 9 per dollar to 20 in just a few months.

What am I invested in?

  • Bitcoin — it is the leader
  • Litecoin — it is an alternative to Bitcoin with a lot of depth
  • Dash — doing the right things to be the point of sale currency
  • Zcash — innovative privacy enabled doing things the right way
  • Ethereum — completely unique and different, not even really a currency
  • Zclassic — privacy enabled currency with good community

There are definitely some people who publicly proclaim that Bitcoin is going to be big cryptocurrency, and all the others are going to fade away. That is a simple and uninformed analysis, and easy to make if one does not bother to do any research and testing. Similarly, there are many commentators and naysayers who like to burnish their own reputation by being negative about everything having to do with Altcoins. There’s also those who make sky-high projections. A lot of this is based on hearsay and opinion.

It’s people who have skin in the game, like developers, miners, investors, and people in the cryptocurrency partner ecosystem who really know what’s going on. These are the people who have their money, time, and mental power invested in the growth of these cryptocurrencies. There are definitely risks, and the possibility that different events can affect the growth, adoption, and even legality of both Bitcoin and Altcoins. 
 Most people have never even heard of Bitcoin.

When I have conversations about how it is an alternative to the dollar, and is like digital gold, the most common response I hear is that the dollar is backed by gold! I don’t even bother talking about Zcash or Dash to them. As the usability and availability of Bitcoin becomes mainstream, and people start looking for the features they expect in digital money, they will come to embrace the alternative coins.


Originally published at Block Operations.

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