In this review, we will go through the simple process of unpacking and setting up a Casa Bitcoin Lightning Node.
If you are not yet familiar with what a Casa Node is, head on over to the official announcement post for some further reading.
The Casa Node is basically a plug-and-play full Bitcoin node, with a lightning node included. Currently selling for USD$300, it allows for a simple setup process, which can be completed by anyone with little or no technical experience.
Have you always wanted to run a full Bitcoin node, but were turned off by the technical aspects of putting it all together? Then this is one of the best solutions currently available to you.
There’s not much inside the box—and there’s a reason for that!
Apart from the device itself and the three cables required for connection, there is a welcome note (nice touch!) and a quick-start setup guide. There is also an optional mounting plate and some power adapters for various countries and regions. As you’ll see below, the Casa Node is extremely easy to connect.
All that’s required to get the Casa Node connected is three cables: a hard drive adaptor, an ethernet cable and a power cord. The hard drive adaptor makes a looped connection on the device itself. The ethernet and power connectors are external—connecting to your router and electrical socket respectively.
The device measures only four inches square, so it won’t take up much space at all once connected to your router. As mentioned above, there is an optional mounting plate that can be used to mount the device to a vertical surface.
Once you have the device connected to your router you can simply visit casa-node.local to begin the initial setup. We noticed that Chrome browser automatically performs a Google search for .local domains. So if you land on a Google search result page instead, just add http:// before the URL, or add a backslash (/) to the end of the URL and it will connect with the device: http://casa-node.local/
Make sure you take extra care going through the security setup screens while recording your 24-word seed and Casa Node password.
There is no ‘Forgot password’ option!
Once you have completed the important security steps and recorded your 24-word seed and password, the next step will involve syncing the bitcoin blockchain and lightning node.
Please read the advice and warnings that are displayed.
WARNING: The Lightning Network and Casa Node are experimental technology. Make sure you only transfer funds to the node that you are willing to lose.
Wait until the Bitcoin node and Lightning node have fully synced (recommended!). Rough guidelines suggest that one hour is required for each day the chain is behind—however this will vary per user. Note that the Node will not refresh once it reaches 100%, so it’s a good idea to reload the browser tab every couple of hours to check the progress.
Once the Bitcoin Node shows ‘Synced, 100%‘ and the Lightning Node shows ‘Active, Online‘, it is now safe to start configuring your Lightning Node settings. Clicking on Lightning Node > Manage Node brings in the settings screen where you can fund your node wallet and configure lightning channels.
The first step is to send some bitcoin (BTC) to your Node wallet. Click the ‘Add or remove funds’ link. For our node, we sent 0.104 BTC from a Coinbase wallet to the node. The transaction was immediate and the node balance (‘BTC in node wallet’) updated accordingly.
Casa recommends switching on the Autopilot feature, which will automatically configure and connect channels to optimize your chances of successfully routing a lightning payment. To do this simply slide the toggle to the ‘On’ position.
To finalize Autopilot, you will need to decide how many channels you would like to open, and the maximum amount of bitcoin (BTC) each channel can hold. This step needs to be completed, in order for Autopilot to know how much of the Node wallet balance it can distribute into channels.
For our node, we opted for simplicity and used a maximum of 10 channels, with a maximum of 0.01 BTC in each channel. All ten channels were created within 1-2 hours.
As far as setup goes, that should be all you need to do to get your Casa Node up and running.
Congratulations! You are now successfully running your own Bitcoin lightning node.
Some users have reported issues that required setting a static IP address for the Node. However, most home routers should work with the Node without issue. If you are experiencing issues, connect with the Casa team in the Telegram channel—you will have received an invite link via email.
A quick test to know if your Node is working correctly is to try and send a lightning transaction. The tutorial linked below from Casa is a great way to test your Node an make your first lightning payment.
Making a lightning payment
If you want to try creating a custom channel and making a lightning payment, you can follow the Casa tutorial on Medium.
To open a custom channel, click on Lightning > Manage Node > Custom Channels > Manage. You can use a peer connection code for the node you want to connect to—which includes the public key, ip address and port—or you can switch to manual entry mode and add the individual details separately.
Casa store peer connection code
Casa store connection info
Public key: 0391489a933ab83094d1af43b3df3e8c8d467474649361912f05211d0e68a28fc9
IP address: 184.108.40.206
It can take an hour or more for the transaction to get confirmed on the blockchain, and the funds to be deposited in the channel. Once complete, you can go to the Casa store to purchase some stickers, as outlined in the tutorial.
Once the channel has opened, you can complete your order at the Casa store. You will then be able to make the payment through your node.
Click on Lightning Node > Transactions > Send Lightning Payment. Next, paste in the payment code from your order confirmation screen at the Casa store.