The story of a Lightning Node and a road trip, showing just how mobile your Bitcoin experience can be.
This is an opinion editorial by Anthony Feliciano, a Bitcoin event organizer and Bitcoin Magazine contributor.
A couple of years ago, I had an issue when my power went out at my apartment, and my RaspiBlitz went offline. It was the start of a new project, i.e., “how do I prevent this from happening again?” I won’t go into the technical setup in this article, as I have written an article with in-depth instructions on how you can try this out for yourself.
This is more of a fun lets get #reckless with a Lightning Node article. I mean, if we are going to call ourselves Bitcoiners and not get #reckless with tools, applications, and hardware, then what are we doing? The premise here, I was being sent to California for work. Now, if you run an LN node at home, you experience power outages, internet outages, hardware freeze-ups and anything else you can encounter while maintaining a node — but you are home, so you know how to fix everything and get back to normal with minimum down time. What if you are on the road for an extended period of time and that happens? Hopefully you have someone at home that can fix it for you or at least guide them. If you don’t, are you going to leave your node offline for “x” number of 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 used for a couple of decades because of the development of protocols, infrastructure, and hardware that make it all possible. So I thought, what if I could show off my Raspiblitz node as mobile banking 2.0?
Now lets get #reckless
I drove over 1,000 miles from Denver, Colorada to El Segundo, California.
I packed the family, grabbed my LN node and we hit the road. Here is a pic as we left. My car was loaded with the family, kids, dogs and my node. I needed to find a good enough spot, where it wouldn’t get manhandled 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 unit. I had never fully tested the battery life before.
This next pic is somewhere in Utah. I don’t remember where, but it was midday and time for some lunch. My battery was still alive and the node was synced. I know I lost connection through parts of the Rocky Mountains but the node synced up once cellular connection was reestablished.
The other photo I’m showing is the RaspiBlitz menu screen, showing my node is connected and synced. **Note** I only took one photo of the menu, as it was not needed to show multiple times.
Our next stop would be Las Vegas for the night. Sometime after we left Utah and got to Las Vegas the battery finally died and my node went offline. I got a bit #reckless because I was driving and forgot to check the battery, and let it die. I estimate the battery life to be 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 trip. Once we got to Las Vegas I recharged the battery backup and resynced. Once I got a good enough charge I took it out for another photo.
It just 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!” *The crowd goes wild!*
The next day we left for California. The battery pack kept the node powered the whole way to the hotel, about five hours for us. While California was our home for a week I didn’t take the node with me while on the road. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I left it at the hotel. As you can guess the node will only sync when it receives my cell phone hotspot connection. So, the days I didn’t take it with me, I turned it off at the hotel and when I got back, powered back on and resynced.
Could I have tried to configure the node to connect to hotel WiFi? Possibly, if I edited the WiFi file. I would have needed a screen to see the assigned IP address to connect. That’s one downside of going headless (without a screen) without a connection to your own devices.
Next up was a photo op at Surfside Brewery. As you can see I have it chilling on the bar with me. Yes totally #reckless. I get it. This would be the same location a couple days later where I held one of my Cryptobeerkings events which I normally do in Denver — but why not take everything mobile, and spread the word of Bitcoin through events like these, in a totally different state and with a bunch new Bitcoiners that I got to meet?
The week came to an end and we had to make the return journey, which was a pretty similar two-day trip. This was the last photo I took from the hotel in St. George, Utah.
To wrap it all up — it was a successful #reckless road trip. We did over 2200 miles with two kids, two Siberian Huskies and my LN node. Through it all my node survived the venture there and back. I bet a lot of people seeing the photos and reading the stories went full-on cringe mode. I get it. That was the point of this journey and article. I wanted to document the journey of being #reckless while still showing the abilities of Bitcoin, so others don’t have to. I wanted to show all the tools the awesome Bitcoin developers have spent years working on, actually being applied in real-world use cases. We as a community have moved on from Bitcoin Twitter, users who can’t code or develop, to being able to apply these tools in real-world situations and make up excuses to get #reckless and to succeed! This is a testament to this community.
That being said, my setup was not perfect. I’m sure there are better cases or products that would have made the whole setup better. Yes — but this is what I had at my disposal at the time. Maybe some hardware and/or developers 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 as my mobile phone app. I was able to connect to my node via a Tor address. I even tested payments from it in the days leading up to the Cryptobeerkings event at Surfside Brewery.
I hope you’re “wowed” and/or inspired to come with some fun ways to get #reckless. So, is this mobile banking 2.0? Bitcoin mobile banking? Eh, we will work on the terminology later. Enjoy friends. #Reckless.
This is a guest post by Anthony Feliciano. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.