Crypto mining with a difference: YouTuber uses Nintendo Game Boy as Bitcoin mining rig
It turns out that even a 30-year-old handheld game console can mine a Bitcoin block… though it’ll take it a quadrillion years to do so.
A pseudonymous YouTuber called „stacksmashing“ has managed to turn his Nintendo Game Boy, a handheld game console released over 30 years ago, into a Bitcoin (BTC) mining machine, as shown in a video released yesterday.
According to Stacksmashing, after Elon Musk announced that Tesla with Immediate Bitcoin had started accepting BTC payments, it became clear that it was time to „get into the bitcoin mining game.“ However, the YouTuber couldn’t find decent graphics cards in online shops, which prompted him to get creative.
„But then I realised: I have a lot of high-end gaming hardware lying around, why shouldn’t I use it for mining Bitcoin?“ he remarked.
And so a Game Boy became his hardware of choice
For reference, the original, unmodified console he used has a 4.19 megahertz CPU, accompanied by 8 kilobytes of video memory.
However, the console’s inability to connect to other devices – in this case, Bitcoin nodes – became the main obstacle standing in the way of Stacksmashing’s mining ambitions.
„We also need it to announce our block if we manage to mine one, but the Game Boy doesn’t have Wi-Fi or anything, so how can we get it to communicate with the Bitcoin node?“ he asked.
To get around this limitation, Stacksmashing used a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller chip to build an improvised USB adapter to connect the console to his computer.
„Luckily, the Game Boy has a link port that is normally used for Pokémon swapping and other very important things, but for mining we can use it to communicate with a computer,“ Stacksmashing said.
Eventually, he downloaded a full Bitcoin node to his PC, created custom mining firmware for his Game Boy, and modified a mining program called ntgbtminer to „outsource“ the calculations to the console instead of a computer. And the resulting machine actually started mining bitcoin (if you’d rather buy bitcoin – here’s how to buy bitcoin) – albeit „slightly“ slower than modern systems can.
„The hash rate is pretty impressive – roughly 0.8 hashes per second! If you compare that to a modern ASIC miner that can do about 100 terahashes per second, you can see that we’re almost as fast – only by a factor of about 125 trillion,“ the YouTuber boasted.
At that speed, it would only take „a few trillion years“ for his Game Boy to discover a new Bitcoin block. The advantage is that it runs on just four AAA batteries – unlike the power-hungry, specialised mining machines of today.