This week’s guest on the Cardano SPO Column is a stake pool that is 100% powered by solar and donates 25% of fixed fee to American Forests: Reservoir Node [RSV].
Last week’s guest was a stake pool that supports organizations that help prevent monkey electrocutions.
This initiative is a point of reference for everything Cardano and every week or two we will invite a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.
Considering that many of our readers are new to the crypto space, we will have a mix of simple and technical questions.
Cardano SPO, interview with Reservoir Node [RSV]
Hi, thanks for your time. Tell us something about you, where are you based and what is your background?
My name is Tom and I’m from the United States. I’ve lived in Argentina, Bahamas, and Dominican Republic. The pool currently runs in Baltimore, Maryland with a backup in rural Western New York State.
I have a background in open source software and Linux system administration for telecommunications. I first learned the basics of solar installation living and cruising on small sailboats. I’m also a horticulturalist and study Chemistry.
What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become a Stake Pool Operator (SPO)?
I’ve been using cryptocurrencies for six years. In early 2021 I discovered Cardano while searching for a more meaningful and participatory project on which to focus my attention. I found the long term vision of growth through real use cases in the developing world ambitious and captivating.
I discovered that I could start a pool and mint blocks with reasonable regularity, and now RSV has been producing for almost a year. Beyond the attraction of the vision and technology, the scale and decentralization of the Cardano development and governance community really drew me in. I have been a Catalyst community advisor since Fund4, using the process to find technical projects I want to support or become involved in.
The pool space is a hot topic right now, and it’s very difficult to be relevant as a small pool. My main goal as an operator is to establish a root of trust within the development community because I foresee opportunities for pools to run additional off-chain services as the Cardano ecosystem develops. RSV hopes to provide additional rewards to delegators from this work.
What are the strengths and challenges of running a bare-metal off-grid stake pool powered by solar energy?
I already had a substantial solar setup at my locations, but I ran the pool on hosted bare-metal servers for the first few months. It turns out one of the biggest challenges of self-hosting is establishing a reliable internet connection with redundancy. The cost of additional internet connections somewhat offsets the cost savings of hosting at home, so considering the investment in computing and solar hardware, cost savings only become significant over an extended period of pool operation.
A major benefit comes from distributing the network away from centralized hosting centers. With multiple internet providers and battery backup, the node becomes very resilient. The operator can access their servers under any circumstances, schedule their own maintenance windows, and monitor power consumption. The small form factor servers I use have full-power intel CPUs and can hold up to 64 gigabytes of RAM, but under normal operation are extremely energy efficient. Soon I will be launching a dashboard where anyone can monitor our stake pool’s power consumption in real time, as well as power generated by our solar installations and wind turbine.
While I would love to see more off-grid SPOs join the network (and many already exist) the challenges to run from remote locations will increase as the block size and memory limits for Cardano continue to be bumped up. More internet speed and bandwidth will be required to propagate the larger blocks to the network in a reasonable time, and the coming peer to peer protocol for node communications will likely punish nodes with significant latency.
Can you tell us what World Mobile is? What is an Earth Node and why have you reserved one?
World Mobile is a telecommunications startup that hopes to use a variety of technologies to bring inexpensive handset connectivity to parts of the world that are currently un or under-connected. They have a partnership with IOG and will use Cardano and Atala Prism for settlement and identity. World Mobile has partnered with the government of Zanzibar to connect the region’s fishing fleet to enforce sustainable practices and anti-poaching by the deployment of aerostats (blimps) that can transmit a signal over a 70 km radius, essentially connecting the whole country.
Every World Mobile user will have a digital identity that will serve as a source of credit, potentially giving them access to blockchain-based financial and insurance services in the future. Individuals in these countries will be able to set up access points to distribute the network among their community, and earn income from providing these services.
I have a telecommunications background so I was immediately captivated by this disruptive vision and potential to provide the “RealFi” use cases central to the long term vision and growth strategy of Cardano. An “earth-node” is the World Mobile equivalent of an SPO and I reserved a slot so that RSV could participate in this “moon shot” in a meaningful way.
Great contribution. Any final thoughts? Where can people find you?
Thank you for your time, and please consider staking to small pools! I provide updates on the Twitter account but you are more likely to find me in the Discords of various Catalyst-funded projects where I try to keep a finger on the pulse of Cardano development and participate in projects that should bring value to our delegators in the future.
Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the SPOs are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOHK.