Author's Note: The author and CCN have zero connection with Black Arrow. Claims of monetary compensation are blatantly incorrect. The accusations from customers are continually being investigated, ever since the original tip. However, accusations cannot be published as fact without clear evidence or authority. The same goes for Black Arrow. CCN will quote either side, but will not publish those quotes as fact unless proof is provided.
If you’ve spent a minute in the Bitcoin community, it’s easy to notice that many people work on the philosophy of “guilty until proven innocent” due to the massive amount of scams and malicious attempts at theft from some bad apples. There’s also a drive to push Bitcoin away from the negative association with money-laundering, drug trade and the recent leaking of celebrity nude photos.
Because of this, the community can be quick to call a scam or complain about a product, looking to unearth another bad egg. In a community driven on transparency, a surefire sign that something has gone awry is company-driven censorship. Pair that with a suspected product catching fire, and there's a suspicious feeling shared by all. Bitcoin mining hardware company Black Arrow wants to clear the air and tell their side of the story as well.
It all started with an anonymous tip to CCN.
[divider] CCN [/divider]
“In advance of their paid-appearance at the bitcoin conference Black Arrow have deleted over 100 pages of discussions from unsatisfied victims from their thread in the bitcointalk forum, in an blatant attempt to whitewash their incompetency and failure to deliver acceptably at every stage.”
The accusation points out that Black Arrow is a part of the upcoming Inside Bitcoins international conference at the Grange St. Pauls Hotel in London starting September 15 as an exhibitor or sponsor. Apparently their deletion of pages is true as well, as many on the forum have noticed that Black Arrow’s bitcointalk thread has shrunk substantially from 420 pages to 370 pages as CCN conducts research.
Black Arrow Team Addresses The Issue
Alex of the Black Arrow Team addressed the rumors through an email to CCN, stating the following:
"We are only deleting posts made by people paid by competition mostly because they started posting personal data of some our management team. We suspect that these persons are paid by competition as they have not purchased from us but they find the resources to be 12-18 hours on the forum trying to put us out of business. 80-100% of their posts are only in Black Arrow's thread. They will pick up on anything we do and nothing that we do is good enough. We have noticed that these people are very active on these forums since we have announced our 14 nm chip giving us one more reason to suspect that something is fishy here."
Black Arrow Miners Catching Fire
Another portion of the anonymous tip had this shocking lead about a rumor surrounding Black Arrow X-3 miners. The miners boast a 2000 Ghash/second performance, but apparently are accused of catching fire. The tip said:
“It's important that any further victims go in fully aware, with their eyes open, of the track record of this company's own ASIC project, which is arguably negligent. With the most recent issue being the few that have appeared in the wild are now setting on fire posing a legitimate risk to life.”
Surely enough, there’s a thread on ecointalk where several users are claiming a problem with the fires. It wasn’t just hearsay either; the forum user even provided pictures of the damage after they put out the fire.
On the forums, Black Arrow responded diligently and worked with the user to find a solution as quickly as possible. It was noticed throughout the community that even with the ten-month product delay, the miners weren't tested.
“Until now we have shipped all X3s immediately as they were manufactured. We will now add an aging procedure in order to test for further problems,” The Black Arrow representative responded. “We sincerely apologize for this problem.”
Black Arrow Team Address The Fiery Miner
Alex was also able to expand on this issue, offering insight along with their plans for future correction.
"Regarding the miners catching fire, we have been unable to make any miner to catch fire. We have indeed reproduced the issues with power supplies but after carrying extensive testing, no miners have caught fire. If you examine the pictures posted by our customers it can clearly be seen that there is only smoke and exploded capacitors, same like in this movie."
"We are still running tests to see if there is anything with the board and we went to the CE certification team to examine it as well."
Alex then explains another problem, identified by the Black Arrow team itself.
"However, there is a problem with the removable PSUs that we have shipped with our miners. This PSU is designed by a local Shenzhen company and we are only their customers. It appears that they have done a not so good job designing it and right now they are in the process of fixing them. We are now recalling all X3 PSUs but we need to wait until they are sure that there are no more problem with the PSUs. We have posted on our website news for recall and have emailed every X3 client individually asking them to stop using X3s until we change the PSUs."
"This PSU damages a capacitor on our board. This capacitor needs to be removed because due to the noisy power supply it swells and leaks. It can be removed easily by pulling it out."
In a community so driven by transparency, the best route may be handling to problem up front and improving the products. It looks as though Black Arrow is identifying two big problems: malicious competitor practices and a need to fix hardware problems.
As the story continues to develop, CCN will be watching the responses on the forums and investigating further. If you have a news tip that you think would help the investigation, tell us. If your news tip leads to an article, you'll be rewarded $10 paid in bitcoins.