Testnet and Qtum Mainnet Performance January 1–8

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro — Testnet block spacing histogram — Cristo Redentor, Rio

Here is the weekly review of Qtum Mainnet performance with the usual charts and graphs, and a tutorial about the Qtum test network (testnet). You can use testnet with your existing Qtum wallets to fully explore transactions, block rewards, etc. Testnet is a great resource for newbies and blockchain developers, and in this report, we put testnet to the test.

I am a community member and independent researcher, not affiliated with the Qtum Team, but I do appreciate their technical guidance and the robust discussions in the community.

Charts and Graphs

Data sources for this review of Qtum Mainnet performance come from the Qtum Explorer, the blockchain, logging from the qtumd server application and encrypted Telegram messages from Ipanema Beach.

Unique Reward Addresses

For the week, unique addresses per day peaked at 292 on January 5th. For the entire week, there were 1,094 unique addresses, vs. 964 last week.

Wallets winning multiple blocks stayed about the same as last week.

Active Transactions per Day

The number of transactions per day reached an all-time high of 17,043 on January 5. This peak occurred on a Thursday, and we have seen past peaks on Fridays. Ethereum has had some recent weekly peaks for transactions on Thursdays and Fridays. Bitcoin doesn’t have much weekly cyclicality, but then they don’t have smart contracts. Active transactions gives the count for transactions above the two baseline transactions for each block.

You can also see the transaction chart at QTUM Explorer.io and at the bottom of the Qtum Explorer home page.

Block Spacing Variation

From January 1 to January 7 there were 2 blocks with more than 20-minute spacing (vs. 3 last week), with the greatest spacing for block 75,404 at 30:26. Average block time is holding steady around 144 seconds.

Network Weight

The daily “New Network Weight”, shown is a daily calculation based on a 10-day exponential moving average of blocks won big big wallets with known balances:

The current network weight of 20.3 million gives an annual return of 4.3%


Healthy blockchain ecosystems are under continuous development and upgrade with new features, and they evolve with one or more test networks running in parallel with the main production network (mainnet). These test networks are used by developers and other interested people to explore, test, and develop the technology. There are multiple testnets available for various cryptos. The public testnet for Qtum is called “testnet”.

Unless you are testing new software, you can connect to testnet with the same wallet apps used on mainnet (the qtumd server application and the qtum-qt desktop GUI wallet). To launch the desktop GUI wallet qtum-qt on testnet just select it with your chooser/start menu.

To launch the server app qtumd and command line interface qtumd-cli use the “-testnet” switch:

In a Python script you can write:

Testnet Q & A

Switching to Question and Answer mode.

Q: How is the testnet different from mainnet?

A: Testnet is a separate blockchain from mainnet. It has different blocks, different transactions and different coins, but the operation, protocols and specifications are identical to mainnet (unless you are testing new software).

Q: Where is the blockchain?

A: In disk memory in your node (wallet) with an identical copy in all the other nodes.

Q: Where are my coins (for either testnet or mainnet)?

A: In the blocks in your wallet, and in the identical copy of those blocks in all the other nodes. Everyone with a blockchain explorer or node can see your coins, but only you, with the private keys in your wallet.dat file, can send or stake those coins. If your computer can’t sync the blockchain, or your computer blows up, or you delete the blockchain files, your coins are still in the blockchain and you can retrieve them after syncing a new wallet with the backup of your wallet.dat file. If you lose the wallet.dat file (and all the backups you made of the wallet.dat file) then your coins will still be tantalizingly visible in the blockchain for eternity, you just can’t send them anywhere.

Q: Are the wallet apps the same between testnet and mainnet?

A. Yes, testnet and mainnet use the same wallet app, which can be switched to run on testnet at startup. Notice the beautiful purple color on the testnet wallet GUI and logos. The other distinctive feature of testnet is the addresses, which all start with a lower case “q”, vs. mainnet addresses start with an uppercase “Q”.

Q. Is the blockchain the same?

A. No. Testnet and mainnet are two different blockchains. This is shown in the diagram above. Mainnet started before testnet, so the mainnet block height leads testnet by about 2,700 blocks. If you are running mainnet and testnet on the same computer, the wallet (node) will sync either blockchain into disk memory for your computer. The testnet blockchain will load into the folder “testnet3” — which is a reference to the 3rd testnet inherited from the bitcoin code. The mainnet blockchain takes up more memory because it is higher and holds more transactions than testnet. On January 7, 2018, the mainnet blockchain was 404 MB vs. the testnet blockchain was 131 MB.

Q. Is the wallet.dat file the same?

A. No, there are separate wallet.dat files for testnet and mainnet. The wallet.dat file for testnet is in the testnet3 folder.

Q. Are the active nodes the same on testnet?

A. No, a node can be on either mainnet or testnet. Currently there are approximately 2,000 nodes on mainnet, and there are approximately 40 nodes active on testnet. Of these nodes, about 30 are large wallets providing baseline capacity for testnet, and their quantity and size is similar the Skynet test network. Skynet was the public test network before mainnet launched. It is likely that the Qtum Team operates these 30 nodes to provide the basic infrastructure for testnet.

Q. Are the QTUM coins the same on testnet and mainnet? Could I transfer some of the free testnet coins to my mainnet wallet?

A. No, they are different coins. Going back to the drawing, 100,000,000 coins were minted in the genesis blocks for each of mainnet and testnet:

Although the coins work identically (they are twins separated at birth — three weeks apart) it would be impossible to move testnet coins onto mainnet. Within each blockchain, you can only send coins on that blockchain that were born on that blockchain in the genesis blocks.

Mainnet addresses begin with a capital “Q”, such as “Qa93nb…”, while testnet addresses begin with a lower case “q”, such as “qto45H…” Entering the wrong Q or q address in the wallet will cause an error.

Q. Is there a blockchain explorer for testnet?

A. Yes, at testnet.qtum.info, and it has all the testnet information available. You can see what people are testing, such as on block 59,159, which has numerous contract calls, including one with a 2.0-coin transaction fee. Good thing testnet coins are free.

Q. Is there a faucet for testnet?

A. Yes. A faucet is a Web site that provides free coins. You can think of it as an on-demand airdrop. The testnet faucet is at testnet-faucet.qtum.info, and you can withdraw test coins one time every 24 hours. Use the faucet by entering your testnet wallet address, and you will receive up to 100 test coins in the next block.

Also, I wanted to share some exciting news about my mainnet faucet: by sending 10 QTUM to smart contract address: QdonTFalLfoR$uchaNObvioUSscam you can then withdraw up to 5000 mQTUM from this faucet. Available only until midnight UTC tonight.

Q. Does this mean I could learn about change addresses, sendmanywithdupes, backing up and restoring an encrypted wallet on another computer, etc. with no risk using testnet coins? Can I jump on testnet, try some new type of transaction, make sure I completely understand it, then run the same transaction on mainnet?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I get block rewards on testnet?

A. Yes, and it is super easy, because the network weight is so low, currently less than 4 million. If you get test coins from the faucet every day for a week, you will have enough to win block rewards weekly.

Q. Can I run the wallets for mainnet and testnet on the same computer?

A. Yes. The apps run independently with separate blockchains, so this is no problem.

Q: Can you show the charts and graphs for testnet performance?

A: I thought you would never ask.

Charts and Graphs — Testnet Edition

Data sources for testnet analysis come from the testnet block explorer, logging from testnet qtumd, ripping the testnet blockchain, and encrypted Telegram messages about testnet from Copacabana Beach.

Unique Reward Addresses

Testnet has a core wallet population of 30 nodes, with a few additional nodes joining based on ongoing testing. For the month of December addresses per day peaked at 36 on December 28, and a number of days had the minimum of 30 unique addresses:

Active Transactions per Day

There are few transactions on testnet. Active transactions reports transactions for coins and contracts above the baseline two transactions for each block (the coinbase and coinstake transactions). For example, if there are 600 blocks in a day, there will be exactly 1,200 transactions if no one sends a single coin or contract transaction. Active transactions gives the number of transactions above this 1,200 baseline. These transactions would be for people using the faucet, testing contracts, etc.

For the month of December, the low for active transactions was 7 on December 3, and the high was 298 on December 20:

You can also see a 14-day transaction chart at the bottom of the testnet block explorer home page.

Block Spacing Variation

For the month of December average block time was stable around 145 seconds:

For blocks 52,000 to 56,000 (about a week) there were 3 blocks with more than 20-minute spacing, with the greatest spacing for block 54,053 at 26:08. The distribution of block spacings for this group of testnet blocks is similar to mainnet:

Network Weight

The wallet network weight calculation (a moving average based on the difficulty) shows a random variation on testnet, similar to mainnet. The chart below shows network weight for testnet blocks 62,000 to 63,500. We can get more precise with testnet network weight. The 30 baseline wallets have a total balance of 3944252.34591292, which gives the true network weight for testnet (not counting the few little guys seeded by the faucet). The true network weight for testnet is shown by the green line below and can give you a sense for how much error there is in the network weight calculation:

Annual Return

With a network weight of 3.94 million, the annual block reward return for testnet coins is 22.2% That’s some easy staking:

Come and play (learn) on testnet, it is there for you.

We end the report this week in Rio. You might want to beat the northern hemisphere winter blahs with a visit to a warmer, friendlier place such as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (home of 3 nodes). The beach is beautiful and the people are friendly (just don’t wear your flashy crypto jewelry to the beach). Have a fresh coconut on the beach, they’re almost as delicious as those block rewards!

Obrigado, and may your block rewards rise up like Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açucar) over Copacabana Beach,



1. Bodhi Prediction Market Alpha is live on Qtum Testnet! See a Bodhi test contract here.

2. A testnet block explorer for bitcoin, and Ethereum Ropsten.

3. If you only follow one link from this report, make it Ethereum Blockchain Visualization, from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Resource Organization (CISRO), Canberra, Australia. This is an amazing site that gives a real-time visualization of the Ethereum blockchain. Unconfirmed transactions float in a cloud (the mempool), and then pop into the blocks as the blockchain grows. For the transactions, you can see individual sends, contract calls, and contract creations (click on these floating icons to go to the blockchain explorer). Uncle blocks (unique to Ethereum) are shown with red headers, and you can see the main blockchain grow with green headers and green links. Show this site on your big-screen TV at your next crypto party.

4. Music about cryptic and crypto relationships from Alan Walker, Norwegian/UK EDM producer, in a live performance at YouTube Space NY (lyrics nsfw) by Alan, Noah Cyrus & Juliander, with some commentary for hodlers: “when it all falls down, then whatever.”

5. Wistful song about Ipanema Beach in Rio, from a simpler time before smart contracts and air drops.

Question and Answer

Question from Mahmoud Al-Karim July 23, 2018:

need make qt wallet testnet for qrc token.


Would this blog “QTUM 102: Build your own QRC20 Token” help? https://medium.com/@IAMEIdentity/qtum-102-build-your-own-qrc20-token-59547654b518

Blockchain researcher, occasional blogger