Since I could not figure out how to get sats out of Alby (Lightning Network) back on-chain (Bitcoin blockchain), I decided to get the ball rolling on my Start9 Bitcoin node and purchased $100 in Bitcoin using Cash App. I didn’t want to spend more money buying Bitcoin. Unfortunately, it seemed the quickest way to get started on Start9.
I moved Bitcoin from Cash App to my Bitcoin node on my Start9 server using the Ride the Lightning App and I’m trying to open a channel to Podcast Index. It’s difficult to know if I’m doing any of this correctly. There is no way to know how long it takes to open a channel. You can’t transact in Lightning until you open a channel either.
The act of opening a channel gives you what they call “outbound liquidity”. It’s like making a pledge to transact to a certain amount, and you pledge those sats to a node that you know handles a lot of transactions and has a lot of other channels open with other nodes. This makes sure you have many routes for your satoshis to travel. If you don’t have this, you’ll have a difficult time sending and receiving sats.
Opening a channel gives you the ability to send sats out but doesn’t give you the ability to receive. In order to be able to receive, you have to get someone to open a channel to you or you have to start buying stuff. Using Bitcoin and Lightning is a horrible chicken and egg situation and it takes several hundred dollars, in my opinion, for your node to be sufficient to start transacting. This is why most people use custodial wallets. If you use a custodial wallet, you don’t have to go through all this. You simply buy some bitcoin and move it to the custodial wallet of your choice. The problem with a custodial wallet is that it’s custodial. Someone else is holding your sats. This is why I want to learn how to host my own node.
It’s really quite a pain in the ass. I don’t see how your average everyday person would ever want to get involved in hosting their own node. I’m hoping someday this gets easier. The only reason I’m doing this is so I can gain an understanding of how all this works. It’s frustrating.
Right now I’m waiting for my channel to Podcast Index to open. I don’t know how long this will take. Last time using my Umbrel it took over an hour. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long.
I can never get over the uneasy feeling of using Bitcoin and the Lightning Network. I don’t fully understand it, and I’m always concerned my money is going to go *poof* into the vast expanse of the Internet. I’ll update again once I have inbound and outbound liquidity.