FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Ishaan Thakur, 14, and his sister Aanya, 9, make it sound easy. Eight months ago, the Texas siblings converted their gaming computer into a cryptocurrency mining machine.
"I went online, watched a couple YouTube tutorials, and I just learned it," Ishaan explained to KTVT-TV in Dallas. "It's possible for anyone to do it if they put their mind to it."
Ishaan Thakur (CBS 11)
On their first day of mining, the siblings made $3. Now they are making more than $35,000 a month mining mainly for the cryptocurrency, Ethereum.
"We didn't know much about it at first," said Aanya. "But our dad told us stories about how much the prices were going up so we wanted to find out about it. That's how we got started."
Aanya Thakur (CBS 11)
The way mining works is whenever someone buys or sells cryptocurrency a new unique digital coin needs to be made to ensure security. To do that, computers around the world race to solve a complex math problem. The computer that does it first wins and produces the new coin. That computer is then rewarded with cryptocurrency for themselves.
The odds of any one computer winning are slim, so the key is to have lots of computer servers. With the help of a loan from their father, the Thakur siblings have invested tens of thousands of dollars into their operation. This included buying 145 graphic cards - each costing more than $3000.
Most their operation is also no longer in their garage. Instead, the majority of their computer rigs are now located at a secure climate-controlled data center in Dallas.
Mining computers create heat and potential home hazard
To be successful mining for cryptocurrency, you need several high-powered computers running 24 hours a day. These computers get hot - sometimes too hot.
Last year, Fort Worth firefighters responded to a house fire on Bamberg Lane on the north side of the city. No one was home at the time as the fire gutted most of the two-story home. When searching through the charred debris in the garage, fire investigators noted finding boxes of graphic cards, the type often used to mine for cryptocurrency.
According to the investigation report, investigators concluded the electrical fire started from a computer server rack in the garage. The renter told firefighters the server rack "mined for cryptocurrency."
At-home Bitcoin miners struggle to compete with professional operations
When mining for cryptocurrency, at-home miners often must compete against large well-funded mining operations. This is why many at-home miners don't mine for Bitcoin and instead mine for less valuable cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum.
The Whinstone facility in Rockdale, Texas is the largest Bitcoin mining operation in North America. The 100-acre facility has more than 115,000 computer servers mining for Bitcoin. Whinstone goes to great lengths to keep their servers from over-heating.
The company built a high-tech cooling system in their buildings that sends cold water running through the outside walls, while heat generated from the computers is sucked out through ceiling vents. "I think that's what a lot of people don't realize is the amount of investment that goes into buildings like this," said Whinstone CEO Chard Harris.
Whinstone in Rockdale, Texas (CBS 11)
Without major equipment investment, most at-home miners usually make small profits
Because it is hard to compete against the large cryptocurrency miners without major investment, most at-home miners experience to similar to Noah Jost's.
When the 10-year-old Bedford student is not playing Fortnight on his computer, he switches his computer over to mine for Ethereum.
Noah Jost (CBS 11)
In the past year, Noah has learned a lot about the cryptocurrency market along with a lesson on striking it rich. "I've made about $230 total in eight months," he said.
Noah said he plans to save his earnings to buy a "better" computer so he can "earn more money mining."
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