Software: Putting Your Miner to Work
Many people use Linux for their miner but since I'm more familiar with Microsoft OSes, I installed a 64-bit copy of Windows 7. I can't stress enough how important it is to use Windows 64-bit over 32-bit. If you use the latter, get ready for a ton of headaches and unexpected behavior when it comes time to configure and run the mining software. Ask me how I know...
Once in Windows and your graphics drivers and other software is updated, it's a good idea to disable things that might interrupt the system's 24/7 operation such as the screensaver, hibernation (type "powercfg -h off" in an elevated command prompt) and the User Account Control prompt to name a few. I also set the system's power plan to performance and disabled the option to put my hard drive to sleep.
With the rest of your platform configured, you'll need to choose a mining software, a mining pool and set up a Litecoin wallet. There are many popular mining tools but for this build, I chose CGMiner version 3.7.2 as it's widely considered to be the easiest and most effective option. In the same respect, there are dozens of Litecoin mining pools to select from. What's a mining pool, you ask?
Litecoins are earned by using the processing power of your hardware to process transactions on the Litecoin network. By doing this, you can attempt to solve a "block" on the network and earn a payout of 50 Litecoins. Despite the fact that a new block is added every 2.5 minutes (versus every 10 minutes for Bitcoin), it can still take an incredibly long time to find a block on your own with a DIY rig like this.
That's where mining pools come in. They let a group of miners pool their processing resources to find blocks faster. When a block is found in a pool, the rewards are divided among the pool members based on their processing contributions. Each pool offers varying reward types and fees so you'll want to do your homework before choosing. I'm using Hypernova and haven't had any problems with it.
A Litecoin wallet is just as it sounds: a digital wallet that stores your virtual currency. The client, which should only be downloaded from the official Litecoin website, keeps track of your balance and lets you send, receive and view past transactions. The client offers built-in encryption and backup options, both of which I would highly recommend taking advantage of. And as always, be sure to use a solid password.
Next, you'll need to set up a "worker" in Hypernova, which is essentially the name and profile of your miner. Hypernova suggests using one worker per rig as it's easier to see when a system crashes. You'll need to choose a name, a password and which type of miner you're using (CPU or GPU). Once created, set the worker difficulty (128 worked best with our x3 GPU system, but you'll be limited to 8 or 16 with a CPU).
Now would be a good time to set up your payment details. Open your Litecoin wallet, click the "Receive" tab, then "New Address" at the bottom and give the address a name. This name isn't important but it will help you keep track of where funds are coming from in the event you have multiple incoming transactions. Plug the address you created into "Payment Address" under Hypernova's "Account" tab.
It's also a good idea to set an "Auto-Payment Threshold" to automatically withdraw your mined Litecoins from Hypernova to your wallet once you've crossed a certain threshold. I set mine to five based on the site's recommendation. Finally, select and enter a 4-digit PIN, which adds another layer of security for your account. It's imperative that you keep track of your PIN as there is no way to recover it.
Next, unzip CGMiner and go into the main folder with all of the contents. Create a new Notepad file and copy/paste the "getting started" information from Hypernova into this file and save it as a batch file (FILENAME.bat). Make sure that in your folder options for Windows, you have unchecked the option to hide extensions for known file types or else you might run into some issues creating the batch file.
Now go back to the batch file you just created and fill in the generic information (username, password, etc.) with your own information. For example, the username field will be in the format of "Username.Worker" meaning your Hypernova username and the name of your worker. Hypernova does a pretty good job of outlining all of this in its help section. Save and close the file when you are finished.