What You Need to Know Before Getting a Helium Miner
Helium is the world’s largest LoRaWAN network, connecting data across the internet through physical devices known as Helium miners. Also known as The People's Network, this decentralized platform enables a practical adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT).
With Helium Network, it's not just your phone that connects to the internet — it's everything in your home. You can connect your smart door lock or smart fire alarm to the internet and receive data anywhere.
Innovative home products aren’t the only application for IoT devices. The IoT can also help businesses reduce costs while increasing efficiency with retail data tracking and analysis.
If you’re interested in helping to boost this technological advancement in our lives, you can easily contribute to the process — and even earn profits while doing so! All you need is a Helium miner, also known as a hotspot.
But what exactly is a Helium miner, how does it work, and where can you get it? Read on to find out all you need to know about this intriguing device.
What Is Helium Network?
Helium is a distributed network of long-range wireless hotspots designed to provide a decentralized wireless network for connected devices that are part of the Internet of Things.
IoT devices are intelligent “gadgets” that connect and exchange data over a network, providing a much wider range of connection as compared to Wi-Fi. With Helium, you'll never have to worry about your Wi-Fi connection going out again.
With Helium's decentralized network of intelligent devices, a centralized hub or router is no longer required: Each device can connect directly to other devices within the vicinity.
Helium utilizes blockchain technology, so people can set up hotspots that act as Helium miners and serve data to devices. This entirely new incentive model enables miners to earn hundreds to thousands of dollars every month by simply buying a hotspot and plugging it in.
So whether you're working from home on a Saturday morning or trying to get some work done while out at the park with friends, you'll always know that your Helium miners are helping you earn Helium tokens (HNT).
How Does Helium Mining Work?
The Helium Network is built on a decentralized architecture that uses long-range radio waves to reach broad areas. Combining this technology with blockchain can create a wireless network that’s more reliable than the network offered by traditional wireless providers.
Helium hotspots provide long-range wireless coverage for millions of devices within the Helium Network. This blockchain technology is called proof of coverage (PoC), a unique version of proof of work (PoW) that blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Bitcoin use to validate transactions.
Ways to Earn HNT Tokens
There are two ways to earn HNT tokens. Helium miners can earn HNT either through transferring data to other devices in the network or through proof of coverage.
The Helium blockchain boasts a widespread network; hence, it’s essential to validate that miners are providing proper wireless network coverage from time to time. This is where proof of coverage comes into play. The PoC algorithm checks on the radio frequency properties frequently to ensure that reliable coverage is consistently being produced.
Helium's unique proof-of-coverage model makes it possible for anyone to set up a hotspot and earn HNT for providing coverage to devices around them. As soon as the HNT is mined, it’s burned from the circulating supply of HNT to produce Data Credits.
The devices that use the Helium Network require Data Credits for accessing the network. Burn-and-mint equilibrium is created when HNT and Data Credits are created and removed, thus generating a supply-and-demand-based Helium economy.
Proof of Coverage Challenge
Earnings from relaying data to devices is straightforward. The more data transferred, the more the miner or hotspot earns. On the other hand, to earn from proof of coverage, hotspots have to witness or pass randomly assigned tests.
Helium miners routinely challenge other hotspots around them through radio waves to prove to the network that they’re recording the quality of the coverage. This is a measure used by the PoC algorithm for determining network quality, and it’s recorded on the blockchain.
The PoC protocol consists of three roles:
- Challenger: These are the validators of the challenge. The challenger can be viewed as a hotspot that issues the PoC challenge.
- Challengee: Also known as the beaconers, they are the targets of the challenge.
- Witness: These are hotspots located close to the transmitter that report the existence of the challenge data packets which are transmitted.
Helium miners frequently initiate challenges to random neighbor hotspots. The challenged hotspot must relay the accurate data to prove it’s operating correctly, and in the location it claims. Other nearby hotspots witness the challenge by verifying the information relayed and checking that the whole process goes as expected.
When the PoC challenge is completed, the mined HNT is then automatically sent to the Helium Hotspot App connected to the miner.
How Much Can You Earn From Helium Mining?
Contributors to the helium ecosystem earn HNT by mining and building the coverage for The People's Network using a compatible hotspot. Depending on your location, the amount of HNT you earn may vary. In February 2022, a participant claimed that he was able to earn more than $400 per month.
The Helium Network is built to encourage broad coverage, using a reward scale metric to reach this goal. Helium says that there should be a hotspot every 300 to 500 meters as a rule of thumb.
A Helium miner's reward scale is a number between 0 and 1 that serves as a multiplier for rewards earned from challenges. If you're located too close (inside 300 meters) to several hotspots, your reward scale will be reduced because of increased competition, resulting in lowered mining of HNT from challenges or tasks.
You can easily check the density of hotspots within a location via Helium Explorer. The explorer also shows the total amount of HNT that a specific hotspot has mined for the past 30 days. With this information, you’ll be able to gauge approximately how much you can earn, based on your location.
What Is a Helium Miner (or ‘Hotspot’)?
A Helium miner (or “hotspot”) is a wireless device that earns you tokens for your coverage. While the network’s early beginning only required one type of hotspot to perform all of Helium’s challenges, new kinds of hotspots are designed to cope with the rising demands of the rapidly expanding blockchain.
Full Hotspots: These can receive all rewards for their participation in activities, including proof-of-coverage activities.
Light Hotspots: These are an evolution of full hotspots in the sense that they’re software, rather than a physical device.
Data-Only Hotspots: These focus only on transferring data, so they only receive rewards for the data transfer.
Before you start building your first Helium miner, there are a few things you should know about this device:
These hotspots aren’t like ordinary routers that you use at home. They're small and quiet, but extremely powerful. With 200 times more coverage than a standard router, just a few hundred devices can cover an entire city.
Unlike the usual nodes, hotspots consume only 5W of power. Hence, this consensus protocol is more efficient and energy-friendly than proof of work.
All you need to get started is a simple Wi-Fi adapter — no specialized hardware is required.
You'll earn tokens for every megabyte of data transmitted through your network. But don't expect to get rich off of one miner; it will take more than one to make any real money from this venture.
Finding the Best Helium Miner
If you're looking to maximize your Helium mining rewards, the key is to understand your geographical location, how antennas work, and how to choose a suitable miner.
Radio frequencies have their limitations. Their strength reduces every time they collide with an obstacle, so geographical location is important. The gain of an antenna is also crucial. As the gain increases, the antenna’s beam angle becomes longer and narrower. Hence, if you live in a lower elevated area, you’ll have to use antennas with a higher gain of 5 dBi and above because their signal shoots up higher before going out.
The key to maximizing the rewards you get from your miner is to:
- Place the miner or hotspot as high up as possible.
- Use the appropriate gain dBi antenna based on your geographical location.
You can install a hotspot indoors or outdoors based on your requirement and feasibility.
An indoor hotspot is cheaper, safer, and needs less wiring. In contrast, the outdoor hotspot is a setup for when you don't have enough space.
The table below shows some of the best Helium miners available in the market.
The Importance of Antenna
Although the kind of hotspot you set up isn’t crucial, a Helium miner’s antenna is an important factor that needs attention.
The gain of an antenna is measured in dBi. Higher dBi means the signals will travel farther, but the signal reach will be narrow, while lower dBi means signal reach will be more profound.
In addition to the antenna type, geographical location also influences the antenna choice. For example, in a flat rural area with no obstacles like trees or buildings, an 8 dBi and even a 10 dBi antenna is suitable. On the other hand, in a hilly location, a lower dBi of 4 and below will be more appropriate.
How to Set up a Helium Hotspot
Connecting the Helium Console and Wallet
Before the physical installation of the hotspot, you'll first need to connect to the Helium Console and Helium Wallet.
The Helium Console is a powerful combination of management tools and network server capabilities that speed up the data transfer from IoT devices to the Helium Network. The Console also allows developers to manage devices and connectivity costs, as well as monitor data activity.
The Helium Wallet lets you accumulate the HNT tokens that you receive, and is used by anyone participating in the network. There are three types of wallets available:
Helium Hotspot App – Also known as the Helium Wallet app, it combines the managing of hotspots and tokens all in one app.
Command Line Interface wallet – It is the most flexible but requires technical expertise to use a CLI wallet. It is not suitable for a beginner.
Helium ledger wallet – It is a secure hardware wallet with helium software running on it. You can only transact HNT, however, transactions involving other tokens are not supported.
Physical Installation of the Device
Powering up the Helium hotspot is easy. However, an internet connection is required. Ethernet networks are far more reliable and sync the blockchain faster than Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, consider switching to Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi.
First, you need to ensure that the antenna is connected to the antenna port. Next, make sure that you have Bluetooth enabled on your phone, and that it's connected with the hotspot. Wait about 30 minutes for the device to update its firmware.
Afterward, turn on your hotspot and connect it via your phone. You can do this by pressing and holding the button at the back of the device. Then, open the Helium app to set up.
After you’ve clicked Register Hotspot, wait for approximately 15 minutes to half an hour for the setup to be complete. Once your hotspot shows up on the app, you'll have to wait for one or two days for the information to complete syncing before you can start mining HNT.
You can set up your miner either indoors or outdoors. The choice depends upon your space availability and budget, as indoor hotspots are generally less expensive compared to outdoor hotspots.
How to Optimize Your Helium Miner
Now that you have set up your miner, let's focus on optimizing it to earn more HNT. Take note that hotspots typically perform better in less competitive environments.
The good news is that you can still mine Helium successfully by optimizing your setup if you live in a competitive area.
Here are some of the factors affecting your miner's performance:
There will always be some hotspots that perform better than others in the cluster because of their height.
Radio frequency travels farther when antennas are mounted higher. If you can mount your antennas higher, you can significantly improve mining performance and earn more HNT.
When you buy an antenna, it's essential to understand that not all antennas are the same. They come in different shapes and sizes and have different strengths.
When choosing an antenna, it's essential to know how much gain it has, which in turn measures the signal strength that the antenna can pick up. The higher the gain, the stronger your signal.
Also, make sure that you pair your antenna with a suitable cable (shielded or unshielded).
Not all cable lines are created equal — some have better shielding than others. If your cable doesn't have good shielding, your signal will get lost between the antenna and hotspot.
Usually, a 200-grade shielding cable is recommended, but if your antenna's cable length is greater than 20 ft, a 400-grade shielding is preferred.
The Helium Network rewards miners for providing coverage and helping to build its network.
As you interact with more and more hotspots, the number of Helium Network Tokens (HNT) you earn increases.
However, if you’re within 300 meters of another miner, your HNT earnings decrease because your hotspot will compete with the other hotspot in the vicinity for available HNT. Multiple hotspots in the same location will not help to make the network.
Meanwhile, if you’re too far away from other hotspots (10 miles in rural flat areas, or more than one mile in densely populated areas), you may not be able to communicate with other hotspots. This will result in your earning fewer HNT.
Sometimes, the right tweak can help a Helium miner earn more, even in a saturated area. Thus, optimization must be your priority, post hotspot setup.
How to Cash Out Your Helium (HNT)
After you have your hotspot, antenna and cables and have mounted all necessary components, you’ll be ready to start collecting and converting your HNT into cash or other cryptocurrencies.
It isn’t possible to cash out HNT directly from the Helium wallet. Instead, you’ll have to transfer your HNT tokens to an exchange that supports Helium trading pairs, such as Bybit.
First, download the Helium Hotspot app on a mobile phone (or tablet).
You’ll need to create an account on Bybit, using your email or phone number. After setting up a Bybit account, transfer your HNT from your Helium Wallet and exchange it for USDT.
After following these instructions, your Helium Wallet will be set up and your HNT will be deposited into your crypto wallet.
The Helium miner is a disruptive piece of technology, enabling anyone to join Helium’s network and start earning.
Although earning depends on many factors like choice of antenna, budget and geographical location, mining Helium is a good source for people looking to make some passive income.
With the advent of the 5G cellular network, it will be interesting to see what new changes The People’s Network will bring for its new and existing users.