UX Meets Lightning
For anyone who follows our social media, you would have seen our previous writing on the current user experience of the Lightning network (for those who haven’t, look here). In that article, we wrote about the Casa node solution that had recently been released — and how its UX improvements would help with the progression of the network. Over the holiday break our node finally arrived, giving us the opportunity to experience the Lightning network as it should be — nice UX and all.
The Casa Node itself came with a number of different things — as you can see in the video. The main thing of course is the node itself, which is a Raspberry Pi assembled into a Casa branded plastic box. The node is powered via a typical Micro USB power adaptor (they provide foreign adaptors for different regions), and the network connection is done via Ethernet port on the side of the node.
Probably the strangest part of the device is the external USB to HDD cable which you have to connect from a USB port on the device to the HDD connector port on the device. This will likely be removed in future iterations of the product, but for now it is just part of its functionality.
Setting up the node wasn’t particularly difficult — mainly due to the very helpful guide included in the Casa package. The two major steps here were port forwarding the correct ports (there is a guide on the site for that too), and syncing up both the Bitcoin and Lightning nodes. Syncing on the Casa node is a major improvement over Bitcoind or other clients, mainly because of the centralised copy of the blockchain that Casa provides preinstalled on the node. For those who prefer to sync their own blockchain fully, there is also that option provided (see the video below).
The best way to describe the Casa node UI is as a clean way of accessing the key functions of a lightning network command line like lncli. The design is sleek, easy to use and the help documentation is informative. Probably the most interesting part of the Node at the moment is the Autopilot channel creating feature. This is an extension on the traditional functionality of a lightning node, and is just one of many great UX improvements we expect to see from products like this in the future. The video shows an excerpt the node being used — but we recommend you buy one to get the full experience.
We didn’t have a huge number of issues with the node — the only real technical barriers are managing the port forwarding process, but the help documentation on the Casa site does a good job of explaining that for most routers. There are some minor issues with rebooting the node after a shutdown, but these are more time lag issues to do with the Lightning client rather than the node itself.