August 10, 2022

Bitcoin on the go mobile

This is an opinion editorial by Anthony Feliciano, a Bitcoin event organizer and Bitcoin Magazine donor.

A few years ago, I had a problem during a power outage in my apartment, and my RaspiBlitz went offline. It was the start of a new project, i.e. “how can I prevent this from happening again?” I won’t go into the technical setup in this article, as I wrote an article with detailed instructions on how you can try it out for yourself.

It’s more fun, let’s go carefree with an article on Lightning Node. I mean, if we’re going to call ourselves Bitcoiners and not get #reckless with tools, apps and hardware, then what do we do? The premise here, I was sent to California for work. Now, if you’re running an LN node at home, you’ll run into power outages, internet outages, hardware hangs, and whatever else you might encounter while maintaining a node – but you’re at home, so you know how to fix everything and get back to normal with minimal downtime. What if you are on the road for a long time and this happens? Hope you have someone at home who can fix it for you or at least guide it. If you don’t, will you leave your node offline for “x” days? I mean, I guess that’s being #reckless in a way. What did I do, you ask? Why, I took it on the road with me of course. The term mobile banking has been in use for a few decades due to the development of protocols, infrastructure, and hardware that makes it all possible. So I thought, what if I could show off my Raspiblitz node as mobile banking 2.0?

Now let’s be #reckless

I drove over 1,000 miles from Denver, Colorado to El Segundo, CA.

I packed up the family, grabbed my LN knot and we hit the road. Here’s a photo from the start. My car was loaded with family, kids, dogs and my knot. I needed to find a place that was good enough, where he wouldn’t be roughed up too much. I pretty much kept it under the seat the whole time – a good test to see how long the battery will last on this device. I had never fully tested the battery life before.

This next photo is somewhere in Utah. I don’t remember where, but it was noon and it was lunch time. My battery was still active and the node was synced. I know I lost connection in parts of the Rocky Mountains, but the node synced once the cellular connection was restored.

Lightning Node on the go
Lightning Node on the go

The other photo I show is the RaspiBlitz menu screen, showing that my node is connected and in sync. **Note** I only took one photo of the menu, because it didn’t need to be shown multiple times.

Our next stop would be Las Vegas for the night. Sometime after we left Utah and arrived in Las Vegas, the battery finally died and my node disconnected. I got a little reckless because I was driving and forgot to check the battery, and let it die. I estimate battery life at around eight hours. I didn’t keep a full time check on it, but it served a good part of the first leg of the journey. Once we got to Las Vegas, I charged the backup battery and re-synced. Once I had enough charge, I took it out for another shot.

Lightning Node on the go

It happened to be the night of the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

“With the first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select, RaspiBlitz!” *Crowd goes wild!*

The next day we leave for California. The battery kept the node powered up for the entire trip to the hotel, about five hours for us. While California was our home for a week, I didn’t take the knot with me on the road. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I left it at the hotel. As you might guess, the node will only sync when it receives the connection to my cell phone’s hotspot. So on the days I didn’t take it with me, I turned it off at the hotel and when I got back, I turned it back on and resynced.

Could I have tried to configure the node to connect to the hotel WiFi? Maybe, if I edited the WiFi. I would have needed a screen to see the IP address assigned to connect. It’s a downside to going headless (screenless) without connecting to your own devices.

The next step was a photoshoot at Surfside Brewery. As you can see I have it on the bar with me. Yes totally #reckless. I understand. It would be at the same location a few days later where I hosted one of my Cryptobeerkings events that I normally do in Denver – but why not take it all to mobile and spread the bitcoin word through events like these- here, in a totally different state and with a bunch of new Bitcoiners I’ve met?

Lightning Node on the go

The week ended and we had to make the return trip, which was a pretty similar two day trip. This was the last photo I took of the hotel in St. George, Utah.

Lightning Node on the go

To conclude, it was a successful #reckless road trip. We’ve done over 2200 miles with two kids, two Siberian Huskies and my LN node. Through it all, my knot survived the out-and-back adventure. I bet a lot of people seeing the photos and reading the stories went into cringe mode. I understand. That was the purpose of this trip and this article. I wanted to document the journey of being #reckless while showing Bitcoin’s capabilities, so others don’t have to. I wanted to show all the tools that great Bitcoin developers have spent years working on, applied in real use cases. As a community, we’ve gone from Bitcoin Twitter users who can’t code or develop, to being able to apply these tools in real-life situations and invent excuses to get #reckless and succeed! It is a testimony of this community.

That being said, my setup wasn’t perfect. I’m sure there are better boxes or products that would have improved the whole setup. Yes, but that’s what I had at my disposal at the time. Maybe some hardware and/or devs will read this and come up with a better solution, which I really hope someone does as it only benefits us as a community. If you were wondering, I used the Zeus app like my mobile phone app. I was able to connect to my node via a Tor address. I even tested the payouts for this one in the days leading up to the Cryptobeerkings event at Surfside Brewery.

I hope you are “blown away” and/or inspired to find fun ways to get #reckless. So, is this mobile banking 2.0? Bitcoin mobile banking? Hey, we’ll work on the terminology later. Enjoy friends. #Reckless.

This is a guest post by Anthony Feliciano. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.