I have been interested in the lightning network for a few months now, so I picked up a Lightning Node made by Casa for $250 when they were running a sale on Black Friday a few months ago.
It is a straight forward plug-n-play node that runs
- Full Bitcoin core node
- Lightning Network Daemon (LND) which is a complete implementation of a Lightning Network node.
In other words, the easiest way to run your own Lightning Network node and start making payments on the lightning network.
There is virtually no setup required to setup the node without advanced configuration. Just take it out of the box, plug in the ethernet cable to your router, the harddrive connector from one side of the Casa node to the other, and then plug it into your wall for power.
Once it’s plugged in and connected, you navigate to
casa-node.local in your browser and it launches into configuration.
You are asked to write down your 24 word seed phrase on a piece of paper they provide you and store it in a safe place.
The node itself comes “pre-loaded” with the Bitcoin blockchain, usually up to 98% or 99% depending on how long it took to receive the node once it shipped. You have the option to download the blockchain from scratch, but I didn’t do that. I think it would take a few days.
Interacting with the node
You can access and control your node using the same
casa-node.local endpoint in your browser while connected to the same network. The user interface allows you to open channels with other peers, send on-chain bitcoin to the node, and send and request lightning payments from it.
I have to say, the sending and channel functionality on the dashboard is pretty rudimentary compared to other wallets out there like Zapp but it does look clean and it easy to figure out.
I sent about 0.02 BTC to my node and opened a channel with Pierre Rochard’s Lightning Power Users node and then put my Casa on autopilot so that it can open and close channels with other peers on my behalf.
Room for Improvement
Overall I think that Casa has put out a great product to easily onboard people to the lightning network. It’s focus on ease of use is second to none.
The only improvements I would like to see is giving users more control of the node and allowing them to connect other wallets to it like Zapp or Eclair. I emailed their support team about this and am waiting to hear what they say back.
Since writing this initial post, Casa’s Support Team has responded to my email. They said for security reasons they do not allow customers to access their macaroon or TLS cert to use on Zap. That’s fair.
They have also released the Casa Keymaster app for iPhone and Android to give you a mobile wallet so you can send Bitcoin on the go from your phone. The app also holds a private key to particially approve a multi-sig transaction from your Casa Node.
In addition, their multi-sig solution is the most secure way to store Bitcoin on your own. With a key on your phone, a key housed on a hardware wallet like a Trezor or Ledger, and a key held by Casa (for the 2-of-3 multisig package), your funds can’t be accessed unless two of these keys are used to approve a transaction.
Finally, they released a Chrome extension to allow you to pay Lightning Invoices and Bitcoin Invoices seamlessly in your browser.