Digital Shovel makes its own plug-and-play Bitcoin mining container. It’s not actually a customized shipping container, it’s a small metal building they make in-house at their Canadian factory. So to get right to it, why would anyone buy this anyway? These Digital Shovel products are designed to make it easy to deploy and scale Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency mining farms, their prices vary depending on market conditions, configuration, and volume but the one pictured is approximately a $20,000 unit.
I have been working on building my own BTC crypto mining farm, and I have been documenting the process on my YouTube channel, VoskCoin, so I reached out to Scott Johnson of Digital Shovel to see if he’d be interested in supplying us with a pod to review instead of the planned mining shed I was working on. Surprisingly he was in, and sent me a prototype 208v version, normally they only build 415v 3-phase pods.
The design of the Digital Shovel pods is pretty simple, but effective, as air-cooled Bitcoin mining is simply just moving ambient air through the miners. There is a cold side, a hot side, some shelves in-between, and industrial outlet extenders called PDU or Power Distribution Units, as well as a network switch as each Bitcoin ASIC mining rig needs power and internet, through an ethernet connection. The airflow on the M300 minipod is boosted with 4x 15,000 CFM fans.
So that’s the introduction and overview of the Digital Shovel M300 but how has my experience actually been, as I have definitely hit a few hurdles…. Initially, it was super exciting, the build quality is evident, as this pod has been redesigned and enhanced numerous times over the last several years, and everything was fresh including that new paint smell lol.
In our haste to deploy our Bitcoin and other Altcoin mining rigs unfortunately wire management was not a priority, we quickly deployed about 20 miners into the pod, and at first things were pretty good… One of the coolest things about the Digital Shovel Minipod is that it comes with Smart PDUs that monitor power usage, can remotely restart miners, and even add or remove exhaust fans as needed based on the temperatures.
Unfortunately for me, they never finished the beta software for the 208v version, so I have never had this functionality, the good news is their standard 415v units have that. Digital Shovel also reports their new PDUs designed for single-phase and three-phase electricity will also support those functions, so I guess we can chalk this up as a beta product problem.
I have had a few issues with the drainage in the floor as water does get inside the Digital Shovel Minipod, but it has never made it to the mining rigs nor caused any actual problems. Some of my drainage holes were partially or entirely filled with paint, and then some mud caked in there over the months, I asked DS about it and they recommended just reaming out the holes with a drill, so that’s on my to-do list when I give the interior of the pod a deep cleaning soon.
My first major issue with my Digital Shovel Minipod was that one of my PDUs kept failing, and it seemed to just get worse over time, it would trip even with only a couple of miners on it. A few things to note here is that I have a prototype PDU design from DS, it was made specifically for 208v, so I was able to run 2 hots and a neutral to get 2/3rds capacity on single-phase electricity, if that’s confusing, consult a professional electrician!
This issue led to a lot of frustration, down-time, and troubleshooting, eventually, thanks to BMA Enterprises Crypto Division we were able to figure out that the internals of the PDU were not tightened down enough, either never tightened properly at the factory or they loosed in shipping or possibly even overtime but that’s unlikely in my opinion, especially given the timeframe.
This was especially confusing because I only run 200 amps to each PDU, so tripping a 350 amp breaker was quite alarming, it also resulted in the main breaker on my 200 amp panel partially melting. I discussed the issue with Digital Shovel and they said if it was a normal unit they would have just sent me a replacement to swap in, but again, my prototype was no longer being produced as well as no spares of it on hand.
In the same timeframe one of the network switches, because the Digital Shovel Minipod comes with two, failed, leading to more issues and troubleshooting. I was pretty frustrated at the time and we just swapped in an alternative network switch, again I contacted DS about the issue and they said they keep a ton of those on hand and would have just shipped me a replacement.
So now I have both PDUs working properly again, this is probably month ~5 of owning the Digital Shovel pod, miners are hashing away, and it is relieving as I have more than 22 miners deployed inside of this pod at times. Finally, I can relax a bit, as downtime in a mining farm operation is the kiss of death, and now I can start to enjoy and appreciate the pod again, as it’s working as it is intended to.
I thought this would be a great time to finally change the air filters on the Digital Shovel Minipod, it uses a whopping 18 air filters, sized 24x24x4, I just jumped on Amazon and ordered them, but given the current mining profitability and cryptocurrency market conditions, it was a huge expense against the monthly mining profits, costing over $330 to replace them!
Another month or so went by, happily mining Bitcoin, stacking my satoshis, and turning my focus to other pieces of the VoskCoin mining farm like deploying an immersion mining container, which fun fact, Digital Shovel is also designing an immersion mining Minipod (unknown ETA), a productive month on the farm.
Anddddddd then a new issue popped up, one of the 4 exhaust fans, actually the one Alexa Miss Vosk was touching in this picture when we first installed the Digital Shovel Minipod, stopped working. I did some quick diagnostics and troubleshooting, confirming that the fan motor went bad. This fan in particular has seen more use than all of the other fans, so statistically, it was most likely to fail, but disappointed to see a failure within a year. I contacted Digital Shovel about the fan failure, and they said they’ll be sending me a replacement fan motor, but I have yet to receive it.
I’m in Virginia, and we are now entering the colder months, so operating with 3 fans is no big deal, even if another fan failed 2 fans would surely suffice until late spring of next year, however, it’s a losing strategy to let critical items like fans stay unaddressed so I hope to replace that fan motor soon.
Sometimes I wonder if I am an unlucky guy lol, but then I remember I have this super cute pup Tails, and a fantastic Fiance so I know that’s not true. I have hit a lot of road bumps with the Digital Shovel Minipod over the last year, but they are exactly that, just road bumps.
The only major issue with the PDU tripping and thankfully we have successfully repaired that, it has been fully loaded and operational for a few months already, and all of the other issues are pretty small.
I have had a good experience overall with the Digital Shovel, I am happy with it, it is an impressive product, and I think it’s a great addition to the cryptocurrency mining ecosystem. Sure you can always DIY mining solutions like customizing your own shipping container, or building a mining shed, but having a solution you can just order right off the web is a great thing, and Digital Shovel has even run promotions where they accept Bitcoin in exchange for their products which is a super cool thing to do in my opinion.