Tesla owner exploits Bitcoin and Ethereum with his car


Tesla owner Siraj Raval uses his Model 3 to mine cryptocurrencies.

Siraj Raval

Siraj Raval has tried just about every way to mine the cryptocurrencies in his 2018 Tesla Model 3.

He ran free bitcoin mining software on his Apple Mac mini M1 and powered the computer by plugging an inverter into the 12-volt cigarette lighter socket on his car’s dashboard.

He also connected graphics processing units or interconnected GPUs to the “frunk” of his Tesla, running these machines from the car’s internal battery.

But Raval’s preferred way to strike crypto coins like Ethereum is to use JavaScript to hack his Tesla’s native processor. The CPU is the car’s internal computer that aids in the navigation of the system and provides entertainment for the drivers.

While it might void his car’s warranty, Raval says it’s worth it.

“It’s a lot faster and a lot more energy efficient,” explained Raval, who says when the price of ether and polygon peaked in 2021, he was making up to $ 800 a month for mining. mining for both.

Bitcoin miner Alejandro de la Torre says that ultimately mining from a Tesla is like plugging into any other power source.

“The main thing is the price of electricity. If it’s cheaper to do it with an electric vehicle, so be it,” de la Torre said.

How to mine crypto with a Tesla

In 2018, Chris Alessi – who told CNBC he was Wisconsin’s very first electric car dealership – decided to tinker with his Tesla.

This is nothing new for Allessi, also known as K-Man on his YouTube channel, who builds custom electric cars in his spare time and poses as a modern-day Doc Brown, the character in the movie “Return. towards the future “which turns a car into a time machine.

“I like electricity. I like zapping stuff, building stuff. You give me an electric motor, I give you a finished product,” he said.

Similar to Raval, Allessi tried different ways to turn his Tesla Model S into a crypto mining platform.

In industrial terms, crypto mining is the energy-intensive process in which machines around the world contribute their computing power to the entire network, in order to create new coins and validate existing token transactions. They do this by running specialized software that analyzes complicated mathematical equations. To participate, you only need a computer and a power supply.

Alessi attempted to mine bitcoin by plugging a Bitmain Antminer S9 – a type of mining rig specifically used to strike the world’s most popular cryptocurrency – directly into his car battery, using a inverter. The inverter adjusts the voltage of Tesla’s electric battery to a level compatible with its Antminer.

Alessi has also successfully used the vehicle’s internal firmware to mine altcoins.

“It was okay,” he said of the process. He used the car’s built-in computer and screen to access a web page he created specifically to leverage the popular monero privacy token. “I could run the mining program in the browser,” Alessi explained.

Of all the techniques Raval has tried, the most profitable is to hack Tesla’s internal computer and plug GPUs directly into the car’s electric motor.

Raval uses JavaScript to create a web application that can retrieve data from his Tesla and, in some cases, modify it.

“It’s a computer with wheels … It’s so simple to hack this computer car,” said Raval, who describes the process as essentially hijacking the car’s internal firmware to allow additional power consumption. .

From there, he attaches five GPUs to his Tesla battery and alternates between running two different hash algorithms: one mints Ethereum and the other generates polygon tokens.

Professional-level miners tell CNBC that in theory the logistics are checked.

“The mechanics are all there,” said Whit Gibbs, CEO and founder of Compass, a bitcoin mining service provider.

“You have a power source, you have space, you have the option of adding cooling. There is certainly enough power supplied by the battery to turn on an ASIC and run it,” continued Gibbs.

Tesla owner Siraj Raval uses his Model 3 to mine cryptocurrencies.

Siraj Raval

Profitable but worth it?

Whether Tesla crypto mining turns out to be profitable has a lot to do with when the driver bought their vehicle.

Alessi, for example, bought his car before January 2017, which means he was vested in a free and unlimited boost scheme for the life of his vehicle.

In 2018, he estimated that over a 60-hour window, he would earn $ 10 in bitcoin, all at a profit since he didn’t have to pay for electricity.

But even if it was profitable, it was hardly worth it, he says.

“Why would you put that kind of wear and tear on a $ 40,000 to $ 100,000 car?” he said. “And right now, even though the price of bitcoin has increased dramatically, so has the level of difficulty … In the same amount of time with the exact same equipment, I’m probably looking at $ 1 or $ 2 worth of bitcoin.”

Mining for monero has proven to be equally unsuccessful.

“Did it work? Yes. Did he exploit something worthwhile to be able to be profitable in any way? No,” Alessi explained.

Raval is more optimistic about the earning potential of his Tesla.

Even though he has to pay to charge his vehicle, Raval says the battery itself is “no exception” so he can get his money’s worth.

Raval’s car travels 320 miles per charge, and it takes around $ 10 to $ 15 to charge it. If he drives it for a few hours a day, it needs to be recharged once every week and a half, so his monthly bill ranges from $ 30 to $ 60.

Raval estimates that he extracts around 20 hours a day from his Tesla battery. Although the price of altcoins like Ethereum and Polygon is subject to volatility, Raval has implemented other backstops to ensure profitability.

On the one hand, he puts his ethereum on “Midas.Investments,” a custodial crypto investment platform that offers him an annual percentage return of 23% on his investment. He also never cash out in US dollars, so his crypto nest egg continues to grow.

Raval also buys his used GPUs from eBay, which saves money.

Taking all of these steps into account, Raval says that during 2021, he made around $ 400 to $ 800 per month, making the business profitable, even during the crypto doldrums.

Siraj Raval gets root (administrator control) access to the Tesla operating system.

Siraj Raval

Alessi tells CNBC he doesn’t care about mining anymore.

“The difficulty is so high … I could make more money working at McDonald’s,” he said.

Allessi offered an alternative. “If you work for a company, you’d better hide a miner in the suspended ceiling than dig with a car,” he said of siphoning free electricity from an employer.

But for Raval, extracting cryptocurrencies from his Tesla is not just a gimmick. Instead, it’s a big part of his plan to make his Tesla a fully autonomous robotaxi that earns crypto whenever he’s not driving.

Although Tesla CEO Elon Musk has touted the potential of vehicles to become autonomous axis robots, Tesla today are still a long way from being able to drive themselves. Nevertheless, Raval believes in this future.

“It will use its income, from both transportation and cryptocurrency mining services, to pay for its own expenses, like repairs, electricity costs and upgrades, as well as for upgrades. invest in a diverse portfolio of emerging crypto-community networks, ”he said. noted.

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