Hands On Review and Experience of the PinIdea ASIC X11 Miner DR-1

BolehVPN

Active Member
Nov 24, 2014
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So I thought I'll create a quick hands-on review of this after playing with it for a few days.



Photo album here

I'll update this as I go along but thought prospective buyers can evaluate it here and learn from my experience.

Placing the Order

Those who signed up for Pinidea's mailing list would have been contacted and when you e-mailed back your interest, they'll send you an invoice for 500 Dash processed via CoinPayments. This is still done manually. I paid on the 17 April and got confirmation of payment on the 18 April. soleo aka XinJiang is the main person I dealt with.

Shipping and Receiving the Item

On the 23 April, my miner was shipped via SF Express to Malaysia and I received it on the 27 April. There was no import duty imposed from the declaration that they made but I got a small Goods and Services Tax added on which was unavoidable.

The item itself was pretty well packed with two layers of boxes and lots and lots of foam. However despite their care, several screws from the underside of the miner had come out leaving one of the boards, floating while connected to the top board. Uh oh! However externally everything else was intact with no dents.



When I brought them home, I disassembled it and tried screwing the thing back before powering it on. I did not observe any visible damage but as later on you will see, you need to take off the top board to see the damage if you are having issues.

What is in the Package

The package only contains the miner. No cables and no cords at all. It doesn't come with any instructions either but is available on their Github site. The main gripe I have is that I wish they could have included a simple Raspberry Pi and at the very least a USB Type B cable which is required for this miner. I had to dig up my old cable stash to find one and for a miner this expensive, the Pi and the cables shouldn't hit into their margins a lot.

Build

The build is very simple. It is basically two calculation islands each with 5 hash boards for a total of 10 hashboards. The islands sit below a top board and connected through some pins. They're encased in a very simple metal frame and is powered by one fan.





This is the main cause of issues as those pins are connected to IC chips which are lightly soldered onto the hashboards and can come off during shipping.





Usage and Powering it Up

Currently the miners requires a PC loaded with Windows or a Raspberry Pi. For my purposes I used a Raspberry Pi 3 which I loaded up with Minera and also got their custom miner from Pinidea's GitHub page. I also gave it a go with Windows which worked as well.

After connecting the cables, I noticed that some PSU PCI-E connectors don't play very well with the miner (those white plastic PSU types often used in miner PSUs) and is a struggle to fit in. However standard PC PSUs works okay. The miner works with 6 pin or 8 pin.

Upon powering it up, the noise isn't too bad. Not something you would want to put in a living room or bedroom but if you put it behind a closed door, you won't hear the noise. There is no whine to the fan and just the sound of air rushing through.

TO BE CONTINUED...
 
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BolehVPN

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Nov 24, 2014
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Mining

The process to get mining isn't that hard but requires you to be familiar with command line and cgminer. It isn't too hard but if you were expecting a nice little UI to do stuff, then nope you're out of luck. Basically you fire up cgminer in command line and off you go!

When first plugging it in, cgminer displays that it is mining at 500Mh but on the pool it was only displaying 30-50MH. I tried a bunch of tweaks but could not figure out the issue! I left it for more than an hour and the dismal mining speeds were still there. The cgminer readings are not accurate. Replacing USB cables and changing PSUs did not seem to work and I was quickly getting frustrated.

Update 25 May 2016: Newer versions of their cgminer now report hashrate quite accurately. Latest release available here.

Support and Repair

I really appreciate the support from Pinidea: Stella and soleo has given on the Slack chat. They asked me to check the connection between the integrated circuit and the board but the thing is that as long as the top board is attached, all the pins look intact! With their advice, I disassembled the miner and the problem could be seen then as some of the integrated circuit connectors had lost contact and the solder removed. The bottom screws which had come out had resulted in the hashing boards moving WHILE CONNECTED to the top board.

They offered a few options for resolution:
  1. Return the miner for a full refund (but bear shipping)
  2. Return the miner and get a replacement and a few freebies thrown in. They gave an estimated date of 5th May but no guarantees. I like they are upfront.
  3. Try to solder it back and if it still doesn't work, return it for 1 or 2.
Stella also quickly came up with a modified cgminer that now showed the ASIC status which was great in identifying which boards needed soldering. I greatly appreciated this. They have worked tirelessly to resolve this and were truly apologetic in the shipping issues they faced and are now working to revise the design and shipping. As disappointed as I was with my damaged miner, I understood this was an honest mistake and they were trying to make things good.

I opted to try soldering it back first which consumed a good 2-3 days of my time as sometimes it is hard to see where the loss of contact is so we decided to resolder the whole damn thing. Being a lawyer I enlisted my engineer friends to help me :D



After soldering it back, I can get a consistent 400+ MH but still have some dead ASICs showing but a lot less zeroes. However this required constant restarts of the cgminer until the ASICS were marked as good. We are still working on a resolution as at 1 May 2016. Will update this as we go along.

Update 25 May 2016: Miner was sent back to China and actual repair time was only about a day! Total time for shipping and back and repair was about 10 days only (I am based in Malaysia). Their hardware engineer replaced all the screws as well so there are no more issues with the boards moving.



If you want additional ICs, I believe you can get them online if you can read Chinese.





They continue to refine the design and resolve the issues that they are experiencing and their team is working very hard.



Mining Pools that support the ASIC


Pools need to do a slight modification to enable these miners to work at their best efficiency.

P2Pool (I recommend this since it is truly decentralized and hashrates are good with a p2pool node close to you).
Suprnova (confirmed did the changes necessary after i dropped them an e-mail and currently at 0% fee.)
Suchpool (Either port 3335 or 13335) Talked to the admin as well who was very helpful. Changes done as necessary.
Coinmine (I do not recommend them not because of their pool but because they are controlling a huge amount of hash rate.
 
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BolehVPN

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Nov 24, 2014
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Wrap-up and Thoughts (will be updated as we go along)
Last Update:
1st May 2016

This miner is not for newbie miners and you will most likely have to work with it and its quirks. However, it is probably the best x11 miner you can get at the moment with amazing power efficiency.

PROS
  • The miner itself is a nice kit with very good specifications (beating the iBeLink hands down). Is the best X11 miner out there you can right now.
  • Responsive support through Slack and very open
  • So far an ethical company with genuine efforts to compensate.
  • Working hard to resolve issues
  • No evidence of a private mining farm and they're not taking in new orders until they fulfil existing customers. (Compare this to iBeLink who is launching their own massive private farm while delaying customer orders).
CONS
  • Currently still plagued by shipping issues and a design flaw in the connectors which means you probably need to solder stuff.
  • Not for newbies but it's the best x11 ASIC miner you can get out there at the moment if you're prepared to work on it.
  • Expensive at 500 Dash especially with the increasing difficulty. Does not include USB cable or Raspberry Pi
  • Software a bit buggy still.
DISCLOSURE

I am not sponsored or paid in anyway by Pinidea or the Dash Foundation. I bought this with my own money and sharing my experiences. This review was not paid for nor did I receive any compensation for it.
 
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ipoMiner

New Member
Apr 28, 2016
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BolehVPN has a great writeup, and my experiences with the PinIdea ASIC have been almost exactly the same so I won't go into the same level of detail.

The short summary so far is that the PinIdea team has been responsive throughout the ordering, shipping, and support process but I have also had difficulty with damaged hardware.

I finalized my order on April 18, received a tracking number on April 22, and received the miner on April 27. When I received it, like BolehVPN and others I also had four screws missing from the bottom of the miner's case. That left an entire heatsink and half (5) of the hash boards loose, and the connectors/solder joints are presumably damaged. I have attempted to solder the connectors back on, but with a soldering iron it has been difficult to solder the surface mount connectors properly.

I ordered a hot air soldering gun, but it seems like removing the connectors that way will end up with the connector "legs" becoming bent and hard to re-use. So, I'm waiting on new connectors, which PinIdea is shipping.

When I first setup the miner, I was seeing around 60MH on the pool, but after soldering the connectors have now reached 200Mh.

Besides the team's positive contact throughout the process and support, another good point to note is that I haven't seen any issues with multipool mining and coin switching using the miner on ipoMiner. Mining fast block time coins also works well, which is good to see. Many ASICs only work well on the "main" coin for an algorithm, so it's nice that the PinIdea unit works well on all X11 coins.

I do suggest using fixed (static) difficulty when mining with the unit, as it seems to drop in hashrate during the initial difficulty adjustment phase when connecting to pools using variable difficulty.
 

iBeLink

New Member
Feb 4, 2016
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Wrap-up and Thoughts (will be updated as we go along)
Last Update:
1st May 2016

  • No evidence of a private mining farm and they're not taking in new orders until they fulfil existing customers. (Compare this to iBeLink who is launching their own massive private farm while delaying customer orders).
BolehVPN, I just want to give you some quick responses to your speculations.
1) Many of our new customers have received tracking numbers for their orders since last Monday.
2) As you may know China is in its "May 1 Labor Day" holiday, Chinese custom does not accept international shipping package until May 3rd, while iBeLink DM384M assembly and testing is still on-going during the holiday weekend. We are targeting to deliver all the DM384M orders before Mid May, which is two weeks ahead of our promised End of May commitment.
3) I saw you have provided good effort in helping bring up and debugging Pinidea's DR-1 ASIC miner. These rigid testings we deployed to DM384M miner is to prevent our customers to go through the same "hands-on" experience DR-! customers are going through right now. I believe most of our customers simply want to buy the miner and quickly set it up and wait for ROI. So, we are trying every possible ways to make our DM384M robust and reliable product.
 

BITCOINDENMARK

New Member
May 23, 2014
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Denmark
dashpay.dk
Dash Address
Xn5mLjodJ2m2kfSNnqGZAeufQxbqfYLfbh
Thanks BolehVPN for your write-up, its been difficult to decide on x11 miners. I still dont understand how it can help DASH, when it's supposed to be asic resistent, but then again the miners are not used to mine DASH but other x11, or thats what I understand..
 

alexe56

New Member
Mar 31, 2016
15
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RUSSIA
www.ruralrc.ru
Why at a payment there is a RJ-45 socket? It is planned to be involved in the future?
What for the power supply unit what sockets are used? Relny consumption of 360 Watts (12 volts 30A)?
 

BolehVPN

Active Member
Nov 24, 2014
195
306
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Just a quick update, so I had two defective boards and I sent it back to China and it was all resolved in a day. Including shipping time both ways took less than 2 weeks.

Stella replaced all the screws with a new type as well so no more issues with that. The DR-1 is a little buggy but these guys are true to their word. If you're willing to put up with a bit of a quirky machine and be patient, you'll be pleased with this.

Getting about 510 MH on P2Pool. Will update in more detail later.
 
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aleix

Well-known Member
Foundation Member
Apr 4, 2014
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ok .however, my information is not spam
This is just a warning. I'm not judging your company.

Posting the same content (the website of your comany and some text) in +15 threads is SPAM. I see now you are editing some of the posts -> good work.

best,