The Bitcoin Hobbyist: Nodl One: A love ❤️ hate 🤬 Relationship

Source: Photo by Author

After a recent power outage I was compelled to do this review. I am currently running two full Bitcoin nodes, one is an Umbel and the other is a Nodl One. Both of my nodes are connected to a Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) ( I learned the hard way as power outages zapped my Casa Node into oblivion). Once I knew the power was going to be out for a while I started the process of powering down my nodes safely so I do not corrupt the data and have to reset the node from scratch (learned from my Casa Node days). So! The Umbel powered down came back up with no issues. Now the Nodl One was a completely different story. I was ready to shelve this node and move on but just when I think it was caput it comes back to live and up and running. Below is a recap of my experience with the Nodl One to date.

Background

Since getting into Bitcoin back in 2017 I been obsessed with not only the network but all the different hardware that comes with interacting with this network. While my budget is limited I do try to buy new products and give them a try. Since I am not a technical person my goal is to try them out and give a review of how these products perform so if some normie out there want to give Nodl that have a review they can draw from to make their decision to purchase one.

So I first heard about nodl on the Tales from the Crypt (TFTC) podcast. My usual go to for Bitcoin media. The co-host Matt Odell used and loved the Nodl. He mentioned how it was an absolute beast and ran with no issues BUT came at a hefty price. At this time time Nodl had two versions. The Nodl One and the Nodl Dojo. The Nodl One sold for about $499 when I purchased it and the Nodl Dojo in the sleek red came in at a price of I think $799 or $899 with more robust features. As of this writing the cost of the nodes have increased. If you are interested in buying one you can find a link to the site here.

I opted to buy the Nodl One (pictured above) using bitcoin (which I immediately repurchased the bitcoin spent) and waited. Since each nodl is made by hand from order to delivery must of taken like 5 months. I just remember it took a very long time for the Nodl One to arrive. After it arrived I dove right in.

Operation

Getting set up with the Nodl One is very easy. The node ships with a paper that gives you clear instructions on how to set it up (which is just plug and play. Plug in the power and the ethernet cords navigate to the web address on your paper boom you are greeted with the Nodl One home page)

Source: Screenshot from iPad

Once on this screen you enter your password in the top right click on the Nodl logo in the middle (I just LOVE this logo by the way) and it takes you to the admin screen where you have access to all of your node features and controls.

Source: Screenshot from iPad

there are many more options you can choose to interact with than what you see here. But the main functions of the Nodl One allow you to run a LND lightning node, Ride the Lightning (RTL) lightning node manager, and Samurai Wallet’s full node implementation called Ronin Dojo for easy link to your Samurai Wallet.

Operating your node from here is very easy. When you click on each of the details and settings buttons for each service your Nodl One is running reveals pretty good instructions on how you may want to interact with your node. Want to link a software wallet like ZeusLN or Fully Noded you can do it through these settings. By doing that you are making sure you are using your own node to verify any transactions that come to your Bitcoin wallet. And thats it! you are up and running with your Nodl One. For the record my Nodl One had tremendous up time (about 435 days I believe before the power outage). As you can see it has been running now for only three hours. During those 435+ days I did have a few hiccups which I will discuss.

Issues and Support

While the Nodl One had a nice run time of 435+ days it didn’t come with its own set of hiccups. Since I have operated this slick piece of hardware it has given me issues. I have had small issues such as

  • Password randomly not working
  • Getting overheating messages that randomly disappear
  • Bad Gateway errors

But these issues always worked themselves out. I did not seek support for these.

But when I needed support Nodl at first had this ticketing system where users can go to the site pull a ticket and get help with your issue. Currently, Nodl has redone its website and approach to support and this option is no longer available. The next avenue you have for support is joining their Telegram group called nodl support. You can join the group here. The group currently has 333 members.

Below is a list of items I sought help with. I broke it out into issue, support method and the result.

  1. Failure linking my Zap wallet (10/12/2020)

Support method taken: Opened a ticket (email to support@nodl.it)

Result: If i remember correctly this went unanswered. When I was still tinkering with things I wasn’t sure how to get this to work. Eventually I got the wallet to connect but with no response from Nodl. After I resolved the issue on my own Nodl finally closed the ticket response as resolved. See picture below for the ticket monitoring flow. Overall this is just bad customer support.

Source: Screenshot from iPhone

2. Asked a question about backing up my Nodl using the PGP key signature (11/12/2020)

Support method: Opened a Nodl Support ticket

Result: Nothing it’s 2022 and this ticket is marked resolved but I still don’t know how to use this feature to safely backup my data on my Nodl One. Nodl again marked this as resolved with not even a single contact to me. Another example of poor support. It blew my mind as to why have ticketing system and never use it to help your customers? It made absolutely no sense! See picture below for the ticket monitoring flow.

Source: Screenshot from iPhone

3. Asked to get help with failing to connect to RTL. (11/12/2020)

Support method: Opened a Nodl support ticket

Result: No response from Nodl. They closed the ticket about a month. In 2021 I did get an answer on how to fix this issue in the Telegram group chat but it goes back to my original question why offer a ticket service and completely ignore it. See the photo below for the ticket monitoring flow.

Source: Screenshot from iPhone

4. Nodl One was giving error with the message “Fatal error system is Overladed” (2/2/20210)

Support Method: Telegram support group.

Results: Ketominer one of the original founders of Nodl (a super nice guy will help when he has time) responded fairly quickly. Before he can diagnose the issue it resolved it self. Also another user helped me fixed my above issue with RTL failing (just stopping the service and restarting it). This support was reasonable. Ketominer and another user helped me resolve my issue. Telegram support is very cluttered and can get spammy at times but in this instance it was helpful.

Source: Screenshot from iPhone

5. Upgraded the Nodl Software and lost my webpage control screen. It became a blank white screen. (10/17/2021)

Support Method: Telegram support group.

Result: This is was VERY frustrating to get help on. Nodl released an update that had some bugs. Many of the users were constantly in the Telegram chat asking for help. The update would hang and wouldn’t sync. Also had issues with electrum and dojo not working properly. My biggest issue was after upgrading I couldn’t control my node from the webpage. My skills on the command line and via ssh was lacking to control my node that way. This one was painful for me. Ketominer suggested I follow a list of commands from another user:

Source: Screenshot from Iphone

be even after following that I had no success. Other users suggested closing the browser and delete the cache which I did but still had no success.

Then FINALLY I got the command that ended the white screen of death!

Source: Screenshot from iPhone

Ketominer to the rescue. The support response was very poor. I know developing software is very complex and I am very thankful for the Nodl team being entrepreneurs and bring a product to market that solves the Bitcoin node problem but to be a strong business you need to have strong customer service and these methods of using tickets and Telegram group chats can be very frustrating. You put your issue out there and you hope it can get answered and some times it does other times it gets ignored.

6. Nodl One unresponsive after proper shut down due to power outage (1/16/2022)

Support Method: Telegram group support.

Result: Nothing. After shutting down my Nodl One properly I had the hardest time getting it to come back on line. After troubleshooting it with no success(plugging it in and out, trying to ssh in with no success) it finally came back spontaneously. I turned off my VPN and accessed the webpage given to by the Nodl team entered in my unlock password and finally got my Nodl back up and running. The Telegram group support was zero help. Looking at it previous chats it appears the maintainers haven’t helped the customers in a few days.

Final Thoughts and Rankings

First and foremost I want to thank the Nodl team for putting out a very nice product. Very nicely crafted, sleek, and beautiful with a nice metal shell. Here is a look at the Nodl from the back

Source: Photo by Author

Besides the little quirks and the lack of good customer service (which is quite common in the Bitcoin space) the Nodl is a good option for those looking for a plug-n-play solution. Little technical skill is needed to operate this node and it has all the basic app to build your self sovereign stack. With the latest issue I had with the Nodl I was ready to retire it and go in a different direction but now I can’t! The Nodl is running quite well. While I still don’t trust it 100% yet. I am hoping the technical support will improve form here on out.

Below are my Rankings of the Nodl One.

(A = Outstanding, B = Very Good, C = Satisfactory , D = Poor, F = Fail)

Easy to Locate — — — — > A

User Interface — — — — -> B+

Stability — — — — — -> C +

Relevance — — — -> D (not well known outside Bitcoin community)

Tech Support — — — — -> F

Overall — — — — -> B

Thank you for taking the time to read this post! For a free 500 sats scan the QR code below with a lightning wallet (only one scan available). If you have any questions please drop a comment or DM me on Twitter I am willing to help where ever I can.

Hobbyist Out!

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God, Family, Work, Freedom, Bitcoin

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