Check out this bitcoin hardware that bridges the digital and physical BTC worlds


One of the most popular narratives surrounding bitcoin (BTC) is that it’s often referred to as "digital gold," suggesting that it’s an improved version of physical gold. However, bitcoin, being a blockchain, a protocol, an asset, and a network, wouldn’t exist without some essential physical infrastructure, such as mining machines.

Nevertheless, the list of hardware and various gadgets extends well beyond this, enhancing the convenience and safety of bitcoin usage.

So, what are they? Let's delve deeper and explore the essential hardware or gadgets for bitcoin, from necessities to nice-to-haves.

Mining machines

This is perhaps the most obvious and best-known piece of bitcoin hardware. Mining machines, or just specialized computers, are essential for the blockchain and network to survive.

This powerful hardware aids in securing the network, confirming transactions, and generating new bitcoins in the process. (Read more: Top 5 unexpected use cases for bitcoin mining) Initially, it was possible to mine bitcoin using a regular laptop. However, as competition among miners increased, mining began to require much more powerful hardware. Therefore, regular GPUs (graphics processing units) were replaced with ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), which are now primarily used on an industrial scale.

However, you can still run your own ASIC at home, especially if you have access to cheap electricity. In this case, you'll need to connect your machines to a bitcoin mining pool to increase your chances of obtaining some of the freshly generated BTC, sometimes referred to as "virgin bitcoin."

The biggest players in this hardware market are Chinese companies such as Bitmain, Canaan, and MicroBT. However, this hardware market is expected to diversify as new projects are in development. For example, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey-led payments company Block is now developing new bitcoin mining hardware as well.

Bitcoin nodes

Another essential physical component of bitcoin is a node. A node is a computer that runs the bitcoin software, stores the blockchain's history, and verifies BTC transactions.

Nodes communicate with each other and collaborate with miners in the process of adding and validating transactions. By running their own bitcoin node, a user not only helps maintain the network and increase its decentralization but also can use bitcoin without relying on third parties and increase their own financial privacy. As of the time of writing, according to data from bitnodes.io, there were 18,162 reachable Bitcoin nodes.

You can run a node on your computer, build your own bitcoin node, or purchase a preassembled one from companies such as Umbrel or Nodl. The latter two options facilitate keeping your node online continuously. The most costly option is purchasing this hardware. Umbrel offers a plug-and-play home server, which also functions as a bitcoin node, for $400, while Nodl's price ranges from $570 to $1,000.

Hardware wallets

While online/mobile wallets can help you spend your BTC more easily, hardware wallets offer a more secure option for storing larger amounts of this cryptocurrency.

There are multiple options to choose from, each with its own unique features and trade-offs. Individuals can select a wallet based on their needs, technical knowledge, and budget. For example, do you require a BTC-only option (which is considered to be more secure), or do you want to store other cryptoassets as well? Do you prefer open-source software, or is closed-source software acceptable?

Perhaps you're interested in what's known as an air-gapped BTC wallet, meaning it would be disconnected from the internet and any form of wireless communication. That option is available, too.

Backup solutions

A BTC user who desires control over their assets and seeks a backup strategy in case of wallet loss must familiarize themselves with what are known as seed words. These consist of a list of 12-24 random words crucial for accessing BTC.

One popular option for safeguarding them is through a steel-based solution. Among these options, users can find steel plates for engraving the words, utilize specialized engraving machines or pen-like engraving solutions, arrange the words in a special cassette, or store them in a capsule. All these solutions are designed to protect the words from water, fire, and physical damage, albeit with certain limitations.

Signing device

When it comes to securing your BTC, new solutions continue to emerge, and one of them is SeedSigner. It aids in creating your BTC keys in a more secure environment and signing BTC transactions via QR code. According to the developers of this solution, it also reduces costs for bitcoiners who use multi-signature (a.k.a. multi-sig) solutions to secure their stash.

Multi-sig requires more than one device to sign a BTC transaction. SeedSigner can be built on your own or purchased pre-assembled for $80 to $150.

BTC bearer instrument

Another unique piece of hardware is OpenDime. It is a disposable hardware wallet, often referred to as a "credit stick" (akin to a credit card), which can be used like cash.

You simply preload this stick with BTC and give it to someone as payment, similar to using a regular bill. It also provides a convenient method for gifting BTC to someone. The balance of the stick can be checked using both Android and Apple mobile devices. You can obtain three OpenDimes for $69.

Bitcoin satellite

To further increase your financial sovereignty and privacy, you might also consider utilizing a Bitcoin satellite. Read our previous article to learn more.

Business hardware

If you're running a business, there are also bitcoin hardware examples tailored for business needs. One example is the BTC ATM (Automated Teller Machine), which enables your clients to buy/sell BTC in a manner similar to using a regular bank ATM. Additionally, retailers might be interested in BTC POS (Point of Sale) terminals, which facilitate accepting cryptocurrency payments.

Want more?

If all these physical items aren't sufficient for your bitcoin-related needs, you can delve into the vibrant world of BTC merchandising, offering various gadgets from BTC price-showing clocks to pocket-sized BTC miners priced at $3. Moreover, as the industry continues to evolve, we can anticipate even more innovative hardware solutions emerging to enhance the security and convenience of the Bitcoin experience.