Imagine that Pi is running a SaaS product that generates revenue and pays for its own 5G subscription.
Now imagine that Pi is earning Bitcoin, pays for its 5G in Bitcoin, and puts up job postings online to get people (paid in Bitcoin) to provision and set up more replica Pis on other random trees in town.
I just hope people will may be incentivised to build fun projects like these, copy my example and improve on it or create a variant.
Stats for mobile users: https://louwrentius.com/solar/index.html
Regarding the crypto stuff, please read this:
Loved the solar powered blog though ! Im looking at setting up my own now, thanks to your post.
1. Energy waste: solved by staking instead of mining. See proof of stake .
2. Centralized mining: staking in Ethereum 2.0 should be possible with a Raspberry Pi 4, therefore the viability of joining the network isn't closely tied to your geographic location as it is with mining (mining is only profitable with cheap electricity & hardware, which is why China is dominating Bitcoin mining right now).
3. Facilitates crime: well, that's still a problem, but it's also a problem with other things that give anonymity. Is Tor detrimental to society? Is cash detrimental to society? Should we force everyone to stop transacting with cash since most crimes are done with it, and like China to force them to transact digitally where it can all be tracked by the government, banks and corporations?
4. No intrinsic value: you should check out what's going on with DeFi (decentralized finance) right now in the Ethereum world. Over $2B is locked into smart contracts, people aren't just HODLing anymore, they're playing. Sure, it's not used to save the planet just yet, but I definitely believe it will develop to be enormously beneficial to society. Would love to elaborate if you want.
5. Stability: solved with stablecoins. Basically, you transact with a token that keeps it's value stable against a real world currency. DAI is a good example of a USD stablecoin. This defeats the "ponzi scheme" argument as well, since you can interact with many smart contracts with a stablecoin instead of a cryptocurrency. Your choice. If you acquired a cryptocurrency (which is somewhat like a stock) instead of a stablecoin and lost money, it's your fault.
I really like your article, well said. The issues you've raised are still real and need to be discussed. Nevertheless, I argue that those issues can, and are, being solved...
At least 4 of these issues had no solution 10 years ago, but just like innovations (proof of stake, stablecoins) fix them, further innovations will slowly fix other unsolved issues as well.
- Raspberry Pi is way underpowered to run any SaaS on.
- There are no 5g providers that would accept bitcoin as payment. Highly unlikely there ever will be any.
- Bitcoin's network is too congested for it to be used for trivial payments such as subscriptions for SaaS.
- A bitcoin node takes hundreds of GB of storage itself. Bandwidth costs will probably be significant too. This means the SaaS would probably have a hard time getting to break-even.
- It may be more profitable to climb up the tree and steal the pi and then take its bitcoin private key (assuming there is a hot wallet). Competing SaaS may also look for rivals and take them down.
Probably sufficient if it's written in Go or another compiled language. Obviously depends on how much revenue you're making per hit, but certainly within the realm of possibility.
> - Bitcoin's network is too congested for it to be used for trivial payments such as subscriptions for SaaS.
There are alternative coins that would work quite well, if fees/txn is the concern. Current fees seem to be about $1.15/txn, which is quite high if you're only charging $5-10.
> - A bitcoin node takes hundreds of GB of storage itself. Bandwidth costs will probably be significant too. This means the SaaS would probably have a hard time getting to break-even.
Few people run a full bitcoin node, so I think it would be sufficient for this use-case to send txns to the network via a third-party service.
> - It may be more profitable to climb up the tree and steal the pi and then take its bitcoin private key
Honestly the human factor involved in the whole scheme is probably the hardest thing to make happen. There's maintenance, h/w failure, the difficulty of finding trustworthy contractors who don't need human guidance, etc.
Our MVP SaaS product was done on a Pi (Node.js backend), and several of our launch customers were using it before we deployed them to production. Helped us simulate micro instances and write more efficient code as we started to scale.
Definitely doable, but not for something as crazy as running Asana or Zendesk over.
Depends. Here's a random SaaS which I assume is making money:
A URL shortening service. Yeah, I'm thinking this could fit on a Pi. Database and everything on the SD card. Latency won't be great, but it should be possible, especially if you rewrote it in Rust.
It doesn't have to run a Bitcoin fullnode. It can run a SPV wallet which would take a few megabytes if that.
> take its bitcoin private key
Generate and store the key in a Hardware Security Module
The biggest killers are related to BTC. It would be difficult to pay for 5G with BTC (although there probably could be workarounds like how Purse.io has humans with credit cards buy your Amazon shopping carts in exchange for your BTC) and also difficult to get subscription revenue in BTC. Something like Libra could solve all these problems.
Now there's a sentence that triggered a lot of anecdotes to prove the contrary lol!
I gather that while it is indeed possible, I have my doubts as to how practical or economic it might be. Anyone willing to accept the challenge? ;)
Google 'cryptocurrencies louwrentius' to understand my position.
> Cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value. They are only worth what people are willing to pay for them.
How is this any different from US dollars, gold, or anything besides food, medicine, and shelter?
> Cryptocurrencies facilitate crime
Once again, the same argument could be applied to US dollars
At the moment, I do not think major cryptocurrencies have any of those qualities. Though it could change if all major governments have a favorable view towards it.
For bitcoin at least, it's an intrinsically deflationary currency. There's no incentive to spend a bitcoin today if it will be worth more tomorrow, so it ends up being primarily a currency of choice for transactions which are unfeasible in any other way, which ends up being primarily illegal transactions.
I agree with this, of course. But there is also a method that allows me to convert my AUS dollar in to US dollar. I just paid my taxes with $AUS?
Does the logic follow: $BTC->$USD->USTAXES ?
As long as there is a means of conversion you can start with anything and end up being able to pay your taxes. You can’t directly pay taxes with your time and skills, but you can trade your time and skills for USD, and then pay your taxes. You can’t directly pay your US taxes with the AUS dollar, but there is a market where you can exchange that for USD, then pay your taxes. The logic is inclusive of BTC, which makes the ideology that BTC is bad because you can’t pay your taxes with it, at very least, murky.
Taxes provide [part of] the reason to believe a market to exchange Aussie dollars will exist in two years time: tax and Aussie-dollar denominated debt mean a lot of people need Aussie dollars. That's the only reason the Aussie dollar is worth more than the plastic its printed on. BTC doesn't have that reason [to any meaningful extent; credit is a tiny part of the economy and nobody needs BTC to pay taxes] and unlike the fruits of your labour [which I'd hope are more useful or entertaining than an alphanumeric string even if they can't be exchanged in future], it doesn't have any non-exchange-related reason to be worth anything either. The some-people-need-it-to-pay taxes argument is why Aussie or US dollars aren't bad despite being as intrinsically useless as BTC.
So the argument is that BTC is bad because both intrinsically useless and almost entirely lacking a mechanism [similar to taxes] to create a stable flow of future demand to acquire it
You can pay taxes with dollars and buy oil anywhere in the world. And the US government will send the strongest army in history against anyone who will try to decline US dollars for their oil.
Gold is naturally rare and has a much wider network of places that will accept it as payment.
>food, medicine, and shelter
Because you can use those for actual real-world things? How is that even comparable?
would be a cool little project, and it falls to you to decide which side of the ethics of it you subscribe to.
I would love to have a little cryptocurrency miner, completely self sufficient, just doing its own thing until it dies. but I would also love a cryptocurrency that didn't have the same kind of environmental impact that bitcoin has. maybe another application? selling computing power?
They destroy the planet. And on a personal scale, over-reliance upon them encourages lack of exercise and a needlessly stressful life spent in traffic.
I reckon we could make a big dent in pollution and obesity rates by having most people reduce their car usage.
'Cryptocurrencies' would have been a better mention that I would agree with rather than just only to use Bitcoin.
In this day and age, It's a good time to be in the business of building and selling these shovels i.e Solar Panels to people who aren't able to do this themselves.
Anyway, i am just fighting the Pi-obsession, there are much more capable devices out there.
I'm absolutely sure the author means well and it sure is an interesting exercise, but this is not what transitioning towards green IT looks like. Sorry if this disappoints people's expectations, but these issues are more and more overlooked.
(Can't give you numbers rn as I'm on my phone, but you can work them out from e.g solar electricity emission factors)
If this means recyclable, that's slowly changing.
So not quite as green but during the months from April to September, the solar panels are enough to charge the batteries every day.
My modem/router uses 4g, it's a Teltonika rut950 that is using OpenWRT and has GPS built in which I've been keen to make use of.
I'm definitely inspired to do something like you've built!
A floating solar-powered server, should be nice!
I wonder if there's any gain using a UBEC or something vs. the car cigarette lighter usb thing you're using to jump from 12V to 5V.
Edit: yeah I was going to say, I think I saw someone do a toolbox build before where it was solar powered/had a GSM module in it for communication... but I don't think it was a website, still neat.
I already have replaced the car cigarette lighter usb thing with a proper buck converter but it reduced power usage with maybe 5% or less.
I need to update my article on that.
Some of us old-timers where pretty grumpy when bicycles switched to sealed bearings. They aren't perfect (more rolling resistance), they don't last forever, but they do last (stay greased and unfouled) a hell of a long time and require less skill to replace.
I have fantasies about building small drone submarines and releasing them in the ocean. Those I don't know how they'd sustain themselves. A little ground rover that has panels on it sounds more realistic. And yeah the life span I don't know how long they would last for.
But on a farm or homestead I would like to have little solar-powered wheel-driven drones pretty much that run around and do their own thing.
It would be neat though, have a sat module on the drone submarine, and then the sub surfaces at night. I think at my local lake is more realistic. Of course in reality these things would operate in supervision/not break laws. But I saw an intriguing video  before and I don't know... it's personification I guess.
You may be interested to learn that a company is already doing this, with the "Tertill", a small solar powered random-walk weed eater.
edit: I follow this one guy on YouTube he built this thing , that's the basic idea. It doesn't really have a purpose, but it's cool.
In the long run though, imagine you're gone(passed on) and you built some robot that's out there still doing its thing. Probably talking RTG/space more like, than something on Earth that erodes.
So I'm trying to keep my iPad charged up with this setup too (kind of a hobby). So you may notice during the day that the solar production is 60+ watt and the load could be similar.
I was also planning on doing something similar to your setup which is why I had the panels in the first place. I have a backyard with decent sun exposure, so compared to your setup, it would almost be cheating.
Maybe a blogroll of solar powered blogs is in order!
Just reuse an old car battery from craigslist or something to power the setup during the night.
I must say that the load on the battery is not equal exactly to the actual load because the solar charge controller doesn't seem as precise in its measurements unfortunately.
I do notice a small increase in power usage. I wish I had implemented a mechanism to share my Grafana dashboard tracking my solar metrics. (sorry)
Renogy's Rover MMPT chargers speak modbus over rs232 so you can interface it directly with a PLC or other industrial automation tools. The whole thing is self sufficient and was a real blast to put together.
There's a lot of things that are really handy but not easily searchable(like din rails, they're the lego blocks of industrial automation) which I think would be neat to aggregate in one space.
I am serious.
cant wait to get the time/excuse to do this for my own personal website which doesn't exist yet lol
Don't let the sun, go down on me...
BUT: This is clearly missing a power saving mode which displays a placeholder page with a cache expiration time set based on weather forecasts. And an 8bit song "Ain't no content when it rains" to the melody of "Ain't No Sunshine" ;)
Once starlink is live , perhaps requests between two phased array clients can make networks truly solar .
I'm in an apartment and my solar is in a terrible spot. The solar array is crazy over-sized to provide enough power to sustain the Pi and charge the battery.
I think it's easily doable for a person with good solar to put the entire chain Pi-switch-modem on solar.
While undersea cables and ISP network switches etc perhaps are efficient on a per packet level, they consume substantial power I would imagine .
The first is theoretically possible, the second is not true.
I had mentioned elsewhere I am sidestepping the carbon footprint of undersea cable laying to building and launching satellites as they are fixed upfront and not per packet sent.
However I am pretty confident laying cables and digging all the other infra to your home and all the ISPs connects is definitely more carbon intensive than building and sending satellites on reusable rockets.
I am side stepping the entire argument on cable laying v sat launch for setting up the infra . Likely satellites are have lesser carbon footprint than cable laying, but there are lot of variables .
Then consider that a single cable lasts much longer than sattelites do in orbit and carries more data.
Then conder the fact that radio transmission across almost a thousand kiloneters is a lot more power intensive than optical transmission.
Satellite internet is cool, but energy efficiency is not one of it's features.
On the downside The life of a cable is 20 years or more , as compared to only 5 years of a starlink sat . Definitely lot more data can go through a cable , it is not apples to apples comparison .
Here's the Python version: https://cuneyt.aliustaoglu.biz/en/installing-micropython-for...
Frankly, I'm not sure how economical it is, but it is fun to me.
This is mostly because my solar panel is in a terrible spot and I had to over-size it just to get enough power.
I wouldn't be surprised if that "documentary" was also paid for.
The money invested / and the solar cells could have been used to mitigate the carbon footprint for other power uses, but instead it's being used here for the blog. Shutting down the blog is how to get back ahead, if your goal is to reduce carbon footprint.
just pointing out that the carbon footprint of the blog and the carbon mitigation of the investment are independent events, they don't need to be tied together.
In my day job I'm a .net and react guy and I made a proof of concept for a next version of a possible product (tech preview, to show the people that their estimates were just insane - on the high side) on a pi 4, running in .net core on manjaro on my pi4.. this is a fairly intensive thing, using signalR with lots of messaging going on and cpu usage is ~10% at peak...
So.. my next task will be to run that on solar too :D
We ran the web on pentiums, a Pi - especially the 4 - should be able to do this without problems.
My home connection has a static IP. But I'm using my old VPS with HAproxy (see my article) to either direct traffic to my solarPi or to my VPS if the Pi is down.
So in some way you could see that as 'cheating' but I discuss that in the blog.
It will route to your solar setup while it's responding to it's healthchecks, otherwise to the failover.
Also, depending on how much traffic your blog gets, you might be able to do away with the failover and front it with a CDN. Cloudflare's free tier will probably be enough. If you get too little traffic, you wont maintain a hot cache and it just won't work.
Originally, I was planning on doing so! I have all the ingredients (relais and charger) to do so.
Maybe I will implement it at some point.