Mining Helium Main Points

Mining Helium (HNT) tokens is growing in popularity. For a few reasons, but, mainly because it can be INSANELY PROFITABLE! Whether you live in the country, suburbs, or an urban area, it’s possible to mine quite a few HNT tokens. As an example, a cluster of hotspots in a small Wisconsin town – Kiel – is managing over 200 tokens per month on each of the hotspots. With the current price of HNT $16, that’s over $3,200. Let’s talk about how to make that happen for you.

Potential Mining Rewards
Result with ~5 Witnesses Nearby

Whether you are new to mining Helium, waiting for your hotspot to arrive or have been running for a hotspot for a while, the topics in this article will help you make the most of mining Helium.

If any of these concepts are not clear, I recommend reading our introduction to Helium article.

Helium Mining Hotspots

Helium Miners
Current line-up of Helium Miners

By this time you know that it’s nearly impossible to get ahold of a Helium miner before Q3 2021. As tempting as it might be DO NOT purchase Helium Hotspots from eBay and other reseller sites – there has been a slew of scams. Because of this, most of the manufacturers will not support devices purchased via 3rd party.

I cannot speculate as to which one will give you the most profit. Yet, there are a huge number of RAK v2, Nebra, and Bobcat miners. I personally own two Nebra Indoor Hotspots that have been upgraded with outdoor antennas.

HotspotPriceAvailability (new order)
Nebra Indoor$424 USD / 300 GBPQ3 2021 TBD
Nebra Outdoor$594 USD / 420 GBPQ3 2021 TBD
Bobcat$429 (USDT/USDC)July-August 2021
RAK Hotspot v2$409.99 USDFall 2021
Syncrob.it$650 USDMid-September
Helium Miner Links & Pricing as of 5/11/2021

Proof-of-Coverage

How does Helium mining earn HNT with this small hotspot? Couldn’t my PC mine HNT faster? No.

The Helium network uses an algorithm called Proof-of-Coverage (POC) instead of other consensus algorithms used by other networks like Ethereum and Bitcoin, which rely on Proof-of-Work (POW). If you’re interested in mining, check out our article on NiceHash and how to earn BTC mining with your PC.

Challenge

Proof-of-Coverage does not require the hotspot to crunch numbers or solve puzzles in order to secure the network. Instead, POC has a process that attempts to validate that a given location has coverage. To do this, the network issues a challenge to a set of coordinates. In order to complete a challenge, there must be a Helium hotspot within range of the challenge – proving coverage of the challenge area results in a reward of HNT to the hotspot.

Witness

The reward can be earned by witness as well. A witness is another hotspot within range of another which is completing a challenge. When a hotspot witnesses a challenge it is also rewarded with HNT. Additionally, the reward for the hotspot solving the challenge is increased if there are more witnesses nearby.

Before you consider building a very dense witness farm, you should know that the rewards for witnessing are severely scaled back for more than four witnesses.

Mining Helium Witness
Hotspot with Witness Example

Consensus Group

A hotspot can become part of one or more consensus group. At the end of an epoch, the members of a consensus group are rewarded with 6% of all the HNT mined during the current epoch.

The members of a consensus group are selected by the network at random. All hotspots are available for selection.

Data Transfer

Another way to earn HNT is by transferring data on the Helium network. A data transfer occurs when an application that uses the Helium network sends and receives data within range of your hotspot and the hotspots facilitates the transfer.

At this time, there are some applications using the Helium network, see an overview of helium projects in this article. It’s inevitable that more data will be transferred in urban areas, yet, many apps do have rural and agricultural applications.

Over time the Helium network rewards are scheduled to adjust. At the start of the project more rewards are given to hotspots completing challenges and witnessing. However, data transfer will become the main approach for earning HNT in the long run.

Helium Mining Reward Timescale

Antennas and Miner Placement

Even with other hotspots nearby, it’s possible that your hotspot does not have enough coverage to witness nearby challenges. There are a number of factors to consider when you are trying to set up your Helium miner. Using these techniques you are almost certain to increase the profitability while mining Helium. If you take nothing else from this section, remember: Height is Right!

Indoor Placement

In the case that you are going to keep your miner indoors, you need to follow these guidelines to increase coverage and therefore profit.

  • Keep your hotspot (antenna) as high as possible. This likely means putting your hotspot in or near a window. If you are in a multi-story house, place it in a window on the top floor. Otherwise, just try to get it as high as possible.
  • Minimize obstructions. Choose a window that does not have large buildings or trees directly outside. Since the hotspot uses radio waves to provide coverage, removing obstacles will allow for the signal to reach further.
  • DO NOT place within an interior room. This means all of the radio signals need to first penetrate the interior walls before they can even reach outside to other miners.

Outdoor Placement

Any of the available miners can be placed outdoors as long as they are contained in a weatherproof enclosure. Another way to get your hotspot outside is to keep the hardware inside and attach it to an antenna that is outside.

  • Keep your hotspot (antenna) as high as possible. Mounting your hotspot securely and elevated is very important. You may choose to mount your hotspot to the roof of your house, on a pole, or on the exterior of a building. But, keep in mind that your hotspot will need to be within range of a WiFi connection or connected with ethernet.
  • Minimize obstructions. By placing your hotspot strategically to avoid nearby buildings, trees, and elevation, you can increase the range that your hotspot radio signal can travel.
  • Mount Securely. Because your miner will be exposed to the elements it’s extremely important to fasten the hotspot securely. Hotspots such as the Nebra Outdoor Miner come with brackets for mounting to a pole or to an exterior wall. Make sure to ground your device.

Adding an Antenna

Several manufacturers sell antennas that can be added to Helium miners. Although some believe that a strong antenna (higher dbi) is always better, that is not necessarily correct. The antenna used should be carefully considered to fit the exact specifications of your hotspots location. If you decide to pick up an antenna, there are a few more parts you will need. As they vary based on indoor or outdoor antenna use I’ve included two distinct sections to cover this.

Increasing the dBi of an antenna does increase the potential range of a signal, but, that comes at a cost; reducing the effective angle of coverage. See the images below for a visual representation of how dBi affects the signal pattern.

Antenna dBi example
dBi Antenna example 2

You can see clearly that although the signal will reach further, the angle at which it reaches becomes focused. This means that if you have a 10dBi antenna mounted on your roof, you could broadcast right over the top of a nearby hotspot. If that happens you can miss out on witnessing challenges!

In general, a lower dBi antenna (2-5.8dBi) will perform better in urban & suburban areas because their patterns are nearly 360 degrees of coverage. Where higher dBi antenna accel is in distant flat locations. Since my miners are mounted within the city limits with many houses and buildings nearby I am sticking to 5.8dBi or less.

Indoor Setup
  • 5.8 dBi Antenna – Sold by Nebra
  • Interior Mount – Broom Wall Mount to secure the antenna to a window or wall near the window
  • Coax Patch – Short (3.3ft) Coax LMR-200 to connect miner and antenna. Make sure to verify the coax connections match your miner before purchasing
Outdoor Setup
  • 5.8 dBi Antenna – Sold by Nebra
  • Mast / Roof Mount – Simple mount used for mounting various antennae to a roof. Consider adding an additional support if you are in a very windy area.
  • Coax Cable – Medium length Coax LMR-200 to connect miner and antenna. If you are going to increase the distance between the hotspot and antenna by more than a few feet, consider using LMR-400 to decrease dBi signal loss. If you mount a high dBi antenna and then connect it with poor coax, you will not realize the dBi increase.
  • Lightning Arrestor – Is placed between the antenna and coax. This provides a point for you to ground the antenna and protect against lightning strikes.

Tools to Maximize Profit Mining Helium

In order to figure out if the spot you have in mind for mining Helium is even worth trying, try these tools to help you estimate potential earnings and optimize radio signal transmission.

Helium Coverage Map

This map is provided by the Helium Network themselves. It is super helpful for seeing where active hotspots are located. In addition, by selecting a specific hotspot you can easily see the other hotspots that it can witness and how many rewards it has earned. By finding hotspots in your area you can estimate potential earnings.

Helium Hotspot Map

This is an example of a group of hotspots placed around the town of Kiel, Wisconsin. Because each of these miners is able to witness each other, profits are maximized. Judging by the distance between the miners, it’s likely that they are equipped with an antenna.

Kiel Hotspot Example

Helium.place

Helium Place is an excellent tool that shows where other hotspots are located, but, it also shows you the “sweet spot” for placing hotspots. By being able to visualize the sweet spot, you can ensure that you are not placing hotspots too close to one another. If you select an existing hotspot, Helium Place links back to the hotspot details of the Helium Coverage Map.

Helium Place Map Example
Helium.place Map Showing the Sweet Spot

Radio Frequency Line of Sight Tool

As the name indicates, this tool allows you to pick two geographical locations and determine if they are within line of sight. If two points are near enough and within line of sight, it’s almost guaranteed that they will be able to witness challenges for one another. Once you have picked the two locations, make sure to adjust the height (meters) of each location so that you can accurately simulate the height of your Helium hotspots antenna.

Helium Hotspot Radio Frequency Simulator

HotspotRF is an application that allows you to select a location, enter the specifications of your Helium mining hotspot, and it will simulate the geographical coverage of the radio frequency signal.

By accurately specifying the hotspot details HotspotRF shows exactly how far (estimate) your miner can reach and what its coverage looks like. Notice that the coverage of this simulation does not reach very far to the north, this is likely because of buildings or elevation that will interfere with the signal.

HotspotRF Map