How to Mine Scrypt-Based Altcoins
One of the biggest technology stories this year has been the rise in popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin has seen its value rise this year from very little to over $1200 a coin. Litecoin, the second most popular coin, rose to over $50 for a time. Other coins have popped up like weeds: some have gained in value, others are still worthless.
So how do you get these coins? You can buy these coins on web sites like BTC-e (which specializes in the main coins) or Cryptsy (which specializes in more obscure altcoins), or you can mine them yourself. For many, it might be easier just to buy coins, but if you would like to mine them, I hope to make it a little easier here. I had trouble figuring out how to do it myself, so hopefully this will make it easier for others.
These directions have been verified for mining scrypt-based coins. While mining other coins might use these or similar directions, I have only tested this out with scrypt coins. This instruction assumes that you know what a cryptocoin is, you know what a wallet is, and you know how to install software.
Step 1: Choose a coin to mine.
There are tons of coins to mine at the moment. Some are worth more, others are easier to mine but are worth less. You might have a favorite, or you might want to check out the profitability over at Coinwarz.com. After doing the math between Phoenixcoin and Feathercoin last week, I discovered that Phoenixcoin was more profitable. Right now, Coinwarz says that Globalcoins are the most profitable, so I'm trying that one out. If you get too many of one coin or decide that you're not interested in that coin any more, you can always send them over to Cryptsy or another exchange and trade it for the coin that you really want.
Once you figure out what coin you want to mine, you'll want to get a wallet for that coin. At the BitcoinTalk Alternate Cryptocurrencies Board, you can see topics on all sorts of Cryptocurrencies. The stickied "List of all Cryptocurrencies" thread has links to many different altcoins to choose from. Click on the link to the cryptocurrency of your choice. For the sake of this discussion, we're going to work on Globalcoin... only because it currently is the most profitable coin (that might not be the case as you read this). Follow the Globalcoin link to find a thread on Globalcoin. In that pool, click on the windows client and install it. After you install the client (wallet), then you'll need to download the blockchain. This is like a record of all the transactions that have been made with the coin in the past. It will take a while to download, but you can still get started.
Step 2: Figure out what kind of video card you have.
Before you can mine, you'll have to know what kind of video card you have. I currently have an NVIDIA card. They're great for gaming, but not so fast if you want to mine cryptocoins (I hope to get a more bitcoin friendly card for Christmas). If you don't know what kind of video card you have, go to your Control Panel and click on Device Manager. Under Display Adapters, you can see what kind of card you have. If you have an NVIDIA card, you will want to download and install the latest version of Cudaminer. If you have a Radeon card, then you'll want to use CGminer. Both are command-line programs, which can be a little intimidating.
Step 3: Find a pool.
I'm not talking about a pool in your backyard or a community pool, I'm talking about a mining pool. Nearly all cryptocurrencies have pools, especially if they're popular enough to be listed on an exchange like Cryptsy (even some that aren't that popular have pools). You can mine without a pool, but if you're still learning how to mine, then just go with a pool. With a pool, you and several other computers get together and combine your computer power to mine coins. You also share in the profits. While it may seem to take forever to find even the easiest coins yourself, with a pool, you're going to get coins fairly quickly (depending of the difficulty of the coin and the power of your video card, of course). Since we're doing a Globalcoin pool (GLC) for the purposes of this example, we're going to use the globalcoin pool over at Chriskoeber.com. You'll need to register (so they know where to send the coins when you mine them).
Step 4: Sign up a worker.
In your pool, you'll need to set up a worker. The worker will probably be your name with a . and another name of your choice (for example, Lorren.example). When you add a worker, all you have to type is the "example" part. To add a worker, click on the "My Workers" tab on the side of the page. If you're mining on a pool other than my example pool, it might be in a different location, but most mining pools are set up fairly similarly. If you are going to mine with more than one computer, then you'll want a worker for each computer. That way you know if one computer is having trouble or if one computer is doing a lot better than another one.
While you're doing this, you'll also want to set up your payment address so that when you mine those coins, that you can get the money. You'll be able to do this under "Edit Account". You can find your address for that particular currency under "Receive Coins" in your QT program (wallet). You can make different addresses for different purposes. I have an address devoted just to mining, that I give to the mining pools.
Step 5: Set up your Miner.
This was the part that I had the most trouble with. I tried using the GUIMiner without success. Cudaminer and CGminer are command line item programs. You have two choices. You can either run the command line program, or you can set up a .bat file with the commands. It's probably easier to set up a .bat file (I didn't know that when I was learning how to do this myself). To do that, open up a text file with a program like Notepad.
Most miners will offer help with setting up your command line file. The instructions will be located in a tab titled "Getting Started" or something like that. You will see a line that looks something like this:
If you use a command-line miner, type:
./cgminer --scrypt -o stratum+tcp://globalcoin.chriskoeber.com:3333 -u Weblogin.Worker -p Worker password
You'll want to adjust that line when you make your .bat file. Put your worker name in, and your password. If you are using cudaminer, then your verbiage will be a little different. You won't need to include "--scrypt" and you will enter your password a little differently. You don't really need to have a strong password. If someone else figures out your password, about all they can do is mine for you (this probably should not be the password that you use to register for the pool... you'll want that password to be difficult). The following is an example that you could use if you were using the cudaminer program:
cudaminer.exe -o stratum+tcp://globalcoin.chriskoeber.com:3333 -O lorren.example:x
Notice how the password is very simple. The "3333" at the end is the port, and you can see that the web site is listed after "stratum+tcp".
Save the file in the same folder as your miner (cudaminer or cgminer), with a .bat extension. If you have file extensions hidden, you might want to show them to make sure that the extension is .bat. It won't work if it doesn't say .bat at the end. I then made a shortcut and put it on my desktop so it's easier to get to (now that I have quite a few .bat files, I made a folder for my shortcuts). Double click on your .bat file or shortcut to see if it works. When it starts reporting a certain amount of hashes, then you know that it's working. It can take a few minutes to start working. If it's not working, then you'll want to figure out what is wrong.
If you get mining successfully on one pool, it's easy to change pools or even cryptocurrencies. If you want to mine for another cryptocurrency, then you'll want to register for another pool, download the wallet for the other currency, and edit the .bat file (saving it with another name, probably the name of the currency that you're mining) with the other pool's information.
If you have any questions, You can PM me (Lorren) at Bitcointalk.
If you find these directions helpful, I do take donations at these addresses: