My buddy showed me how to turn electricity into money.
One of my friends, Michael, has been in on cryptocurrencies for years, well before the recent popularity (and value) explosion. I've followed his (successful) exploits for awhile, but have been too skeptical to try it out for myself.
Michael recently expressed interest in building another Litecoin (a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, very similar to Bitcoin) mining computer, and offered to let me in on the investment. A mining computer essentially finds solutions to one single math problem as fast as it can. When any of the solutions fit a particular pattern, you have "mined" a coin, which is worth money. The faster the computer can try different solutions, the better your chances of finding a coin. The details are quite complex, but if anyone is interested in hearing my best attempt at an explanation that most anyone could understand, let me know in the comments.
Mining computers tend to generate a large amount of heat, using nearly 1,000 Watts of power, so they are typically built in non-traditional cases. In fact, the most popular case is a modified milk crate zip-tied up to hold all the components (power supply, motherboard, graphics cards). I offered to design and build a simple aluminum frame to make our "rig" a little classier.
Our particular machine uses (4) AMD R9 270 graphics cards to mine at a rate of around 1.8Mh/S (mega-hashes per second), meaning it can find 1.8 million solutions per second.
At the current difficulty (which changes every 3 days) and price (which changes every second), this rig makes about $9 per day after electricity costs. The frame is 1/8" 6061 aluminum angle. This shot is preliminary testing; the motherboard mounting is still to be done here:
Everything in place and running nice and cool:
Here's a screenshot of the stable mining performance, running at 1.84MH/s. We'll probably tweak the settings some more to try extract more performance from the machine.
The real goal is to sell this machine as a turn-key solution, then build another if it's profitable. Rinse. Repeat.