Sunday, December 26, 2021

Former CTO Of Blockstream Shows The Public How To Run Bitcoin Without Internet Connection

One of the downsides of Bitcoin is that most of the technology requires an internet connection. At the end of the day, Bitcoin is still considered an asset we own, and the last thing we want is to lose access to these assets. Even though internet shutdown is rare nowadays, problems can still arise, and we should be prepared.

Gregory Maxwell, former CTO at Blockstream and a long-time bitcoin protocol dev, showed the public a way to run Bitcoin without needing an internet connection.

“I’ve had a couple of internet outages where the sat signals have successfully kept my Bitcoins receiving blocks.”

You don’t need too much to get your own space connection to keep at least one node running within your country, even if the internet goes down. Maxwell says:

“For each of my two dishes:

76cm dish $45
MK1 PLL LNB $8 (note! EU and Asia need different LNBs!)
Coax from dish to inside– depends on length; mine was free because I scavenged it– you can get 50ft of RG6 for $15.
SWIM power injector $7
F to SMA connector $2
TCXO R820T2 SDR $24
USB extender cable $4
Figure a couple of dollars in misc hardware, bolts, etc.”

It all costs about $200, with the greater difficulty being the finding of all these parts and then the construction of the connection, which Maxwell describes in quite some depth, concluding:

how to run Bitcoin without internet connection

“Beyond my issue with the slow computers making me falsely believe my timing was wrong, the setup was really easy. (Though, I do have a non-trivial amount of experience with radio, SDRs, and Bitcoin.)”

Thankfully nowadays, you can get an internet connection almost everywhere. Still, if you happen to be in a floating ship in the middle of the ocean testing out Marco-capitalist seasteading societies, then you might be limited to a satellite connection for bitcoin payments.

More importantly, if the internet connection is cut off in a country, then nodes in that country might partition and might split off from the real bitcoin network.

Similar Bitcoin project dating back to 2012

how to run Bitcoin without internet connection

A similar situation back in 2012 when China didn’t quite know of bitcoin yet. Plus, an hour (six bitcoin blocks) may cause some problems, but not huge problems.

However, suppose there’s a successful coup or some sort of revolution or perhaps just an earthquake and the internet connection goes down for a day or more. In that case, it could cause significant problems as it would effectively break bitcoin into a China network and a global network.

To avoid that, just one node connection would be needed to keep the two parts together as one. Hence the satellite, which can keep updating one Chinese node, with that node then updating all others within China and the outside world.

This means that now it would be difficult for the bitcoin network to go down or break down, at least between the big regions of China, Europe, and America, as at least one node probably has those satellite dishes (featured image) outside of their home.

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