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Cardano Staking Pool Moving from AWS to Home setup

My staking pool has moved from AWS to Home setup, specifically after the update to Cardano Node release 1.29

What I had previously was a AWS setup with t3.large, which has 2 CPU and 8GB Ram. But since upgrade to 1.29, and now 1.30, it seems all the nodes are using more RAM than before, and often exceed the 8GB limit that I have. This lead to the cardano nodes not operating normally, or offline from time to time. I was able to fix it by simply increase the AWS machine from t3.large to t3.xlarge, which double the resourse to 4 CPU and 16 RAM.

The problem is, since I am just a small pool operator, and have very small number of ADA staking in the pool, I have zero blocks so far, and all expense is out of my pocket every month. This upgrade of AWS from t3.large to t3.xlarge will double my monthly expense from about $300 CAD to over $500 CAD a month. Previously I was doing it for the learning, contribution, and fun of being a Cardano pool operator, and I know I won’t have much delegator for a long while, but at $500 a month, I cannot afford it. So I made the decision of going from AWS to my home setup.

I bought 3 used Dell Optiplex Micro, put in 20GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD Drive, and setup my nodes very similar to how I did on AWS. Bought a new Firewall to protect my nodes, a Raspberry Pi as the Bastion host for single point of SSH access to the rest of the nodes, and now it’s running smoothly at home. I spent about $1300 CAD in all these hardware, and sometime to set it up.

Please check out my updated Architechture page for the setup details.

My advise for anyone trying to host your own staking pool but without much ADA to start with, hosting at Home is pretty much the only option. I didn’t expect the hardware resource requirement would went above 8GB this fast, or else I wouldn’t start on the AWS route previously, this is a lesson learned.

And for those that thinking about Raspberry Pi, the one with the most ram is only 8GB. You might be able to do some configuration changes, and optimize your node to run under 8GB RAM, but I would think future updates to Cardano will only increase resources it need. Since Raspberry Pi cannot increase the RAM, it will probably end up not feasible soon. I hope Raspberry Pi will release a 16GB version, but it’s probably not on their roadmap, as Raspberry Pi are designed for smaller task, not CPU or RAM intensive.

Categories
Staking Pool Operation

AWS vs Home Cardano Staking Pool

This post is about the reason behind why I picked AWS versus a home staking pool when I start to consider running a staking pool around March 2021.

Initially, I was planning to run a Cardano staking pool at home using Raspberry Pi. Here is a list of wish list for my home setup.

Home Setup Considerations :

  • 1GB Business Internet Plan to obtain static IP.
  • New firewall for home (Ubiquiti DreamMachine Pro)
  • 4 Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB Ram (Block, Relay x 2, AirGap machine)
  • 3 x 250GB SSD, with SSD adapter for Raspberry Pi

Without even consider any other accessories (cable, power, cases, etc), the hardware cost from my list would be in the $1200.

ItemUnit CostQtyTotal
Ubiquiti DreamMachine Pro$5101$510
Raspberry Pi 4B 8GB (4 nodes)$1284$512
250GB SSD (Block and Relay nodes)$503$150
Total$1172

Then I look into Amazon AWS hosting, I was using the requirement at the time (March 2021), 2 vcpu, 4GB ram, 30GB storage. It comes down to about $120 a month, using three t3.medium as nodes, and a t3.micro as a bastion host. So by comparing hosting at home and at AWS, for $1200, that equals to about 1 year of AWS hosting. Keep in mind that the $120 AWS is underestimated, and I will explain why later. The actual cost could be over $200 a month, depending on what you picked. I will write another article on the actual cost of running my Cardano staking pool on AWS.

So my consideration comes down to these Pros and Cons :

Home Staking Pool:

  • Pros : Fixed one time cost, the future running cost is just home Internet, which I have to pay anyway, just changed from home to business plan, the cost increase is minimal.
  • Pros : Home network security increased by using a better firewall
  • Cons : Initial investment is big.
  • Cons : Your pool’s availability is controlled by the ISP. If they have maintenance, or downtime, your pool will be offline during that time, and nothing you can do about it. Same goes for power outage, which isn’t a problem for AWS (99.9% of the time).
  • Cons : Home use firewall will not be as good as AWS’s security. You can go for more enterprise firewall (Cisco, Meraki), but the cost will be much higher, and the learning curve could be high.
  • Cons : Currently the latest Raspberry Pi has 8GB Ram. If the Cardano node system requirement changed to require more Ram, this whole setup will need to rebuilt, and purchase new equipment again.

AWS Staking Pool (or any other cloud hosting) :

  • Pros : Smaller initial investment, under $200 a month.
  • Pros : If you decide not want to run this anymore, you can shut it down anytime. Let say you shut it down in 3 months, you lose $600.
  • Pros : With AWS’s many ways of redundant setup, regions, availability zones, chances of downtime is minimal, expect your pool to run 24/7, infrastructure wise.
  • Pros : Faster implementation time, no hardware to maintain, lot of documentations and examples online you can learn about AWS.
  • Cons : The cost is ongoing subscription based, every year could be more than $2000. It is difficult for stake pool operator like me that don’t have a huge amount of pledge. It could be months or years before making any blocks.
  • Cons : Hidden cost. There are many other cost you won’t see until you start using AWS. There are also ways of cost saving too, I will have an article on that later
  • Cons : If you decided to quit, you will have nothing after. The home setup, at least you have your firewall and 4 Raspberry Pi.

So after weighting the Pros and Cons of each setup, I decided to go with AWS. I told myself I will give this a try for at least a year, and if it doesn’t workout, I lose out on $2000, I will treat that as a learning experience, both on Cardano and AWS infrastructure, which is not too bad. Think of any 5 days IT training course is way over $2000.

That being said, everyone’s situation is different. You might already have a bunch of Raspberry Pi hanging around. Your home firewall might be a really good one already. So this is just my decision base on what I have.

At the time of writing, I just start running my pool under a month. In a couple months, when my cost is settle, I will write another article about the true cost of my AWS setup.

I hope this will help you to decide how you will start your staking pool.

Good luck.

Categories
Staking Pool Operation

Cardano 1.27 is out

I notice Cardano node 1.27 is out, did some search and notice an article about the Cardano nodes crashing all the time after the upgrade. Their solution end up increase the amount of ram from 8GB to 16GB. It could be an issue unique to different environment, on that particular case it was on Azure. The discussion is here : https://forum.cardano.org/t/cnode-service-reboots-every-10-min-on-bp-after-1-27-0-upgrade/62611/36

For me, I am hosting on AWS. I waited a couple weeks to see if any other major issue comes out, and I upgraded today. I did create snapshot of each node’s EBS volumes before I proceed.

I first do an Ubuntu update, reboot. Then I proceed to upgrade the relay node first, and block producing node last. Here is an easy to follow instruction : https://www.coincashew.com/coins/overview-ada/guide-how-to-build-a-haskell-stakepool-node/how-to-update-a-stakepool

One thing to note is that, gLiveView will also require an update for it to works. Just like when I first start created a node, this time after the upgrade, give it a few minutes before you run gLiveView, or else it will keep giving you an db socket missing error.

I didn’t encounter any issue during and after the upgrade. And my system requirement didn’t need to be change. I am using 2 vCPU, 8GB Ram, 40GB Storage on t3a.large instance.

Here is the Cardano 1.27 release note :
https://github.com/input-output-hk/cardano-node/releases

Good luck SPOs.

Categories
How To

How to Buy ADA in Canada

This post is focus on buying Cardano coin ADA in Canada, using ShakePay and Binance.

Buying ADA is a 4 steps process.

  • eTransfer money from bank to ShakePay
  • Buy Bitcoin (BTC) on ShakePay
  • Send BTC from ShakePay to Binance
  • Trade ADA with BTC on Binance

The reason I use ShakePay because they are a Canadian company, and most company that let you transfer money from bank to BTC, will require you to submit your driver license or passport, photo, and sometime a video to prove your identity. If I had to submit those information, I would at least want the information stay in Canada.

I assume you already signup for ShakePay and Binance, and went thru account verification.

eTransfer money from bank to ShakePay

On ShakePay, click Add Funds, pick Interac e-Transfer. It will show you the information you need to start a eTransfer from your bank. Once you finish the eTransfer, the money will appear on ShakePay. Depends on different situations, sometime I got the money appear on ShakePay in just couple minutes, but also sometimes take almost an hour.

Buy Bitcoin (BTC) on ShakePay

On ShakePay website, click Buy & Sell. Here you can specify how much Canadian dollar you want to spent, how much Bitcoin you want to buy at the current price. You will notice the price is higher then the market price of Bitcoin from the main page, this is where ShakePay make their money. The markup is around 1.2% and this could change.

On ShakePay mobile app, it’s a little different. You can still do the Buy & Sell like on their website (Instant Buy). But you can also do a Limit Orders for either buy or sell. If you create a buy order, you can set a price at which Bitcoin will drop to, and specify how much of it you will buy. When the price of Bitcoin (plus ShakePay’s markup) drop to that level, it will automatically buy for you. Same goes for sell order, you can sell your Bitcoin back to Canadian Dollar at a higher than market price you wanted.

Send BTC from ShakePay to Binance

Open your Binance website or app, go to Wallet, Spot (or Fiat and Spot), click Deposit, click BTC. You will see both the wallet’s address as a long string, also the QR code of this address. This is the address if you want to receive Bitcoin BTC from anywhere, including from ShakePay.

Now to go ShakePay, click Send. In the Send to address, you can either copy and paste the Binance BTC wallet address string here, or click the QR Scan icon and scan the Binance BTC wallet QR Code. Now enter the amount of Bitcoin you want send to Binance, then just send it. It will take a bit of time, but shouldn’t be too long before you see it on your Binance account.

Trade ADA with BTC

Now you have BTC on Binance, you can start trading. You can trade ADA with BTC, ETH, USDT, etc. In this case, we will trade with BTC.

First go to the “Markets” tab, use the search bar to find ADA/BTC pair. Now you will see the price of ADA in terms of Bitcoin. For example, if you see ADA/BTC 0.00004000, that mean for each 1 ADA coin, you will need 0.00004000 Bitcoin to trade. You can also see the dollar values under that in the currency you want (USD, CAD, etc). If you feel this is a good price to buy ADA, just click the green BUY button. It shoud default to a “Limit” order, and I highly suggest always buy or sell with “Limit” order, The idea is the same as Limit Order on ShakePay, you set a price, and only execute the buy order when it reach the price.

Choose the BTC price you want for 1 ADA, enter the number of ADA coin you want to buy, and it will show you the total number of BTC is require to buy ADA at this price. Remember, Binance also collect 0.1% fee from each trade, it is either collected thru the new coin, or a previous setting you can specify on where this fee come out of. If you are satisfy with the Buy order, then just click “Buy ADA”. This open buy order will stay on the trade screen until the setting is meet, and you will be notified that you just bought ADA.

Conclusion

This might be a bit overwelming for first time crypto buyer, but once you done it, it’s pretty straight forward. The methods on this page also apply to buying any other Alt coins on Binance, as long as you can find the right trading pairs.

Invest in crypto is not for everyone, please do your own research and make sure you can handle the risk. My suggestion is, if you have money you are ok to completely lose, then you can give it a try. If you depend on the money for other need, and you just want to turn a quick profit, I would suggest you stay away from the crypto market, the risk for short term trading is just too high for some people.

Thanks for reading, please stake your ADA on my pool if you find this site is valuable.

Categories
Blog

Stakey Rice pool is running!

Welcome to my Stakey Rice pool.

Today is a big day, I finally get my pool setup and running, and start processing transactions. So proud of being a part of the Cardano networks.

I work in the IT industry as a day job, even with my knowledge in IT, it takes me quite some time to get to this point. With the help and knowledge sharing in the Cardano community, makes it much easier. That’s why one of my goals is to continue share my knowledge on creating pool.

There are still lot of works to be done, such as more details on this site, statistic page of the pool, charity plan, and continue monitor and secure my nodes.

I know it’s going to be a long road to get a pool with delegators to actually start making blocks, I appreciate it if you delegate your ADA in Stakey Rice, it would really help the pool to get started.

Thanks!

Here is link to my pool’s info Stakey Rice [RICE] :

https://adapools.org/pool/af45f11f3d01368445343a62055de8b51893239bc3eb496e3f2321ce

or

https://pooltool.io/pool/af45f11f3d01368445343a62055de8b51893239bc3eb496e3f2321ce