So you brought yourself a helium hotspot and it finally arrived after 6 months. Congratulations the hard part is over but you may be wondering why you are only earning less than 0.1 HNT every day using the stock antenna. Well, the answer is simple and anyone can increase their HNT earnings with only a few basic changes to their system.
In this post, we will go over how to increase helium witnesses which will increase your earnings in a few simple steps, and why your earning may be dropping. Please note that any changes to your Helium miner will take around 3 days to sync to the network and show increased earnings.
I am trying to help out people so the helium network can grow with everyone having an equal chance of having the best rewards. Having an antenna down in the basement is doing nothing for the network or your earnings.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to increase helium witnesses
- 2 How to increase helium rewards
- 3 Helium hotspot has no witnesses
- 4 What to do if your helium earnings are down
- 5 Maximum Helium witness distance
- 6 Correct settings in the helium application
- 7 Use a Helium Miner with more than 1GB of ram.
- 8 Helium sent beacon no witnesses
- 9 Witness_rssi_below_lower_bound explained
- 10 Top earning helium hotspots
- 11 Conclusion
How to increase helium witnesses
The helium miner that comes new in the box will have a basic stock antenna. The range of this antenna is limited and the signal will be blocked with solid items such as walls, trees, cars, glass, brick, concrete, plasterboard, gyprock, tiles, etc.
This is why your WiFi in your home can only pass through a few walls before the signal is degraded and lost. The LoRa signal is blocked in the same way as WiFi.
The only way to increase the range of your helium miner is to get the antenna high enough to bypass all of these items for a clean line of sight. We do this via an external helium antenna usually mounted on the roof or inside an attic space.
With an uninterrupted LoRa signal, your range can be 20km+ with the correct antenna. With the increased range, you will receive more witnesses and in turn, increased earnings.
Check out this post on how to work out what external helium antenna you require for your area. Different dBi antenna gains will be needed in different areas. Eg 3 dBi for the city, 5 dBi for suburbs, and 8 dBi for the country. But there are also many other factors that come into play.
I have mounted my external antenna on a 2m pole on top of my double-story house. This gives me an elevation of around 12m from ground level. As the majority of the houses in my suburb are single-story I have a great uninterrupted line of sight into the city.
I went with a 5.8 dBi external helium antenna which increased my HNT rewards from 0.1 per day up to 0.7 HNT per day. A seven-fold increase just by changing the antenna.
The guide wires are there to stop the antenna mast swaying in the wind as this can change the beam angle signal.
I have wrapped the lightning surge protector connections in waterproof tape to stop any moisture from getting into the connections. An earth wire 10 AWG is installed down-to-earth stake on the ground level.
This will prevent unwanted static build-up and protect your equipment from lightning strikes. It is essential.
It is recommended to keep the antenna cable as short as possible. I have used 5m of LMR400 coaxial cable for this project and it has worked out great. Nice and flexible with very small signal loss.
How to increase helium rewards
With increased witnesses comes increased rewards. If you look at the top helium hotspots in the world you will see that are often in a high central location with many hotspots around them.
They will always use an external helium antenna and a short high-quality antenna cable to minimize cable loss. The recommended cable for a helium miner antenna is an LMR400 antenna cable or LMR600 for longer cable runs.
But we all can’t live in the perfect location on the top of a mountain, or in the top apartment of a 100 story building. So we have to get our external helium antenna as high as we can to increase helium rewards.
So here are 6 steps on how to increase helium rewards.
- Use an external helium antenna suitable for your area.
- Use the shortest LMR400 cable to connect your antenna to the hotspot. 5m or less is recommended. But 10m will work if you use LMR600 cable.
- Make sure your hotspot is not relayed.
- Use ethernet rather than Wifi which can drop out. If using ethernet disable the Wifi to prevent a network loop.
- Keep your helium hotspot cool during the hot summer days.
- Don’t place a hotspot within 300m of another helium hotspot as you will both get decreased rewards.
How to increase helium earnings
If you follow the 6 steps above you will get increased range, see increased witnesses, and in turn increased helium earnings. It is all about getting the best range you can. Remember we are providing a service for the internet of things (AKA IoT)
If the IoT device cant connect to your antenna then your earnings will be down. When other Helium miners can’t see or connect to your antenna your earning will be down. If you can’t connect to IoT devices your earning will be down.
So it is best to be the only one in your Hex, have a high antenna, and not be relayed. It is simple as that to see increased helium earnings. In the above image, 21 helium miners in one hex are just too much. No one is earning anything substantial.
The transmit scale is a multiplier that is applied to rewards of any Hotspot that witness you. This number is a representation of how dense a hexagon is, so more users in a hex equals fewer rewards. Eg – with 2 miners in a hex you will share the rewards 50% of all being equal.
HNT Distributions Per Epoch
|Reward Type||Percentage||HNT Earned by Reward Type|
|Network Data Transfer||Up to 35%||_Up to 607.6389|
Helium hotspot has no witnesses
If your helium hotspot has no witnesses you could have a number of problems such as.
- No helium hotspots in range.
- Antenna connection faulty.
- Wifi or ethernet internet down.
- Antenna gain dBi too high for your area.
- Antenna gain dBi too low for your area.
- External helium antenna the incorrect frequency for your country.
- External helium antenna coax cable run too long.
- Helium hotspot not synced to the blockchain network.
- Hotspot in relay mode and not portforward correctly.
- Antenna signal blocked.
What to do if your helium earnings are down
If your helium earnings are down check your network that you are still receiving witnesses. Something could have changed on your side of the network like your hotspot IP address has changed and you have relayed again.
There is a possibility that the helium network is down or they are pushing out an update to your miner. Usually, these updates take around 3 days for you to get back up to full earnings again.
You can use the Helium explorer map to check if other people in your area have fewer rewards or if someone has moved a hotspot into your 300m hex.
I also like to check out the status of the helium network. This will give you an indication of if there are issues or problems that could affect everyone’s earnings.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the helium network has been unstable a few days ago at the time of writing which has affected my earnings. With above 98% uptime on the network, it is still very good for a new expanding system.
A word of warning, never transfer HNT on the blockchain when there are issues on the network. It could get delayed or lost.
Maximum Helium witness distance
Now the maximum helium witness distance will be determined with a number of factors such as antenna gain, height, power, and location. Often radio waves will travel further over water. Hotspots won’t earn from other hotspots less than 300 meters away. But I have seen hotspots witness other helium hotspots over 50 km out with a good 8 dBi antenna.
Any solid object will decrease the radio signal dramatically. This includes trees, buildings, glass, wood, concrete, stone, and mountains.
Correct settings in the helium application
Make sure to input your antenna height and TX / RX gain in dBi. Measure the antenna height from ground level and input this value. Your antenna dBi rating needs to be selected and input into the Helium application. The reason for this is to stop invalid transactions.
Helium is implementing a Proof-of-Coverage system, PoCv11. Proof-of-Coverage is the system used by Helium blockchain participants to verify that Hotspots are where they claim. The new POCv11 also
- adds regional support for PoC
- removes SNR from the validity checks
- adds a regional frequency check
- complies with local power output regulations
It will greatly reduce location spoofing and stop those that are trying to game the system to get maximum helium rewards.
So in the example to the left select the dBi of the antenna and the height in meters from the ground level of your house.
This video will explain POCv11 in more detail.
Use a Helium Miner with more than 1GB of ram.
There have been numerous reports of people with older hotspots with 1GB of ram have had issues on the helium network.
A notification that went out stated that yet another blockchain outage was due to “older or underpowered Hotspots unable to sync and running out of memory due to a large block. Mining will be affected for these Hotspots with 1GB memory or less.”
Now you may be able to upgrade the ram depending on what Helium miner motherboard you have on the Raspberry Pi. But hopefully, a firmware upgrade will make these Hotspots work again or designate them lite (light) hotspots.
More ram will help with how to increase helium witnesses.
In the meantime don’t purchase any Helium miners with 1GB of ram or less. I like Linxdot helium miners as they come with 2GB of ram and fast eMMC storage. You can get an extra 3% off today with a Linxdot discount code found here.
Helium sent beacon no witnesses
If your Helium miner has sent out a beacon sometimes you get 0 or no witnesses. This can because of a number of reasons.
Often it is if the Challenger is relayed then you won’t get any witnesses if you send out a beacon. This is due to how the network works and the return packets don’t know where to go. You must have an open port to 44158/TCP for both you and the challenger.
There is not much you can do if the challenger is in relay mode. Just make sure you are not relayed.
IF Helium sends beacons but no witnesses check your antenna and get it higher if you can. There is a possibility other miners cant see you.
If you are seeing a few witness_rssi_below_lower_bound this could be because either the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) or SNR (Signal-to-noise ratio) is below the recommended levels set by the Helium algorithm.
This could happen if someone is trying to game the system by spoofing the hotspot location or your antenna is too powerful.
I tend to see witness_rssi_below_lower_bound in 3 areas close to me. They are the same hotspot so I suspect we both have very powerful antennas and our signal-to-noise ratios are too high. It is a shame that helium invalids some hotspots who upgrade their antenna and cables to receive the best range.
The following is an example of an invalid witness.
- Distance 4.2 km
- RSSI 97 dBm
- SNR 10 dB
- Frequency 917 MHz
If you plot it out you will see that the coordinates fall in the red invalid area.
The only way to overcome the high signal-to-noise ratio is to use a lower gain antenna. If you are using say an 8dbi try a 5.8dbi or a 3dbi antenna. In fact, 3dbi external helium antennas are perfect for the city environment. But at the end of the day if you are only seeing a few invalid witnesses a day don’t worry about it.
Top earning helium hotspots
You can check out Helium tracker to find the top-earning hotspots in the world. Most of us will never make it to the top 10 earning helium hotspots in the world but will some basic knowledge on how radio antennas work, you can surely work your way up the list to hopefully be in the top 100.
If you follow the above tips you will have increased Helium witnesses and earnings on your hotspot. Remember that any changes or updates to your system will take around 3 days for the Helium network to register and start sending extra witnesses to your hotspot.
This delay is just the way it is so you must be patient. Lit it sync and come back in three days to see how much HNT you have earned.
I can guarantee that if you upgrade the stock antenna to an external helium antenna you will receive increased earnings if there are other hotspots in range. Do it now and reap the rewards.
I am a qualified Industrial Electrician for the past 20 years and I love to share my knowledge on home repair jobs.
I love fast toys like Motorcycles, Cars, Jetskis, and Boats so writing about them is easy.
To keeps costs down I do all my own mods, repairs, and servicing. These skills I want to share with everyone. DIY is a skill everyone can learn.