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Why Isn’t Your Hotspot Earning More?

So you’ve got your Heli­um Hotspot up and crank­ing and you’re all proud of your new deploy­ment. Well done you! 

As you cruise around Explor­er to see how much bet­ter your deploy­ment is than every­one else’s, you notice a neigh­bor who’s earn­ing more. What’s the deal? Are they cheat­ing? Do they have a mag­ic anten­na? How are they DOING that? Why aren’t YOU the one earn­ing the most?

Let’s walk through what mat­ters the most with Heli­um Hotspots, why oth­ers might be earn­ing more than you, and how you can *poten­tial­ly* increase your earn­ings. I’ll give it to you straight up front: You may not be able to fig­ure it out, but if you care­ful­ly go through what I sug­gest in this post, you’ll be much more like­ly to under­stand what’s going on.

First, the sin­gle most impor­tant aspect of a hotspot’s earn­ings is its loca­tion rel­a­tive to oth­er hotspots. It’s not the anten­na. It’s not the cables. It’s almost nev­er cheat­ing. It’s loca­tion. Even 100 meters can make an enor­mous dif­fer­ence. It’s not that the oth­ers total­ly don’t mat­ter, it’s just that loca­tion mat­ters so much.

A hotspot will earn the most if it can Wit­ness (has a clear Line of Sight to) many oth­er high trans­mit reward scale hotspots. This sys­tem of rewards is called Proof of Cov­er­age, or PoC. It’s impor­tant you under­stand Proof of Cov­er­age and the earn­ings break­down, as it’s fun­da­men­tal to why you earn more (or less) than your neighbors.

Earnings Breakdown

Out of all the Heli­um dis­trib­uted per epoch (every 30 min­utes or so), your Hotspot gets reward­ed for 3 pos­si­ble events:

  1. Cre­at­ing a Challenge 
  2. Bea­con­ing that Chal­lenge (being the “Chal­lengee)
  3. Wit­ness­ing that Challenge

I’ve cov­ered how that works in a sep­a­rate post, here.

For now, let’s sep­a­rate the PoC (Proof of Cov­er­age) piece from the oth­er HNT dis­trib­uted to investors, the Con­sen­sus Group (aka Val­ida­tors) and Data Trans­fer, and take a look at just PoC as a pie chart:

In case you need num­bers, in terms of avail­able HNT for an earn­ing event (NOT all HNT dis­trib­uted per epoch) that’s:

  • 4% for the Challenge
  • 19% for the Beacon
  • 77% for the Witness.

This should make it clear that your hotspot’s earn­ings are most affect­ed by the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of your wit­ness­es.

The Witness List: Quality & Quantity

If your and your neigh­bor’s hotspot have even slight dif­fer­ences in ele­va­tion or geog­ra­phy that change the Line of Sight access to oth­er hotspots, that can make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of your witnesses. 

Qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of Wit­ness­es are one of the biggest fac­tors in earn­ings differences. 

You’ll need to care­ful­ly com­pare their list of wit­ness­es to your list of wit­ness­es to see what the dif­fer­ences are. Just look­ing at a pic­ture of lots of sexy yel­low lines radi­at­ing out from a hotspot is NOT a care­ful com­par­i­son; get deep into Excel. 

Line of Sight: Slight Changes, Big Differences

The oth­er thing to check care­ful­ly is the Line of Sight you have as well as the oth­er hotspot. This can be dif­fi­cult and some­times down­right mis­lead­ing, as there’s no guar­an­tee a hotspot is *exact­ly* where they’ve asserted. 

For pri­va­cy rea­sons, many hotspot own­ers assert their loca­tion at the near­est inter­sec­tion of roads. Assert­ing your hotspot with­in about 150 meters does­n’t appear to car­ry any penal­ty in HNT earn­ings, though that’s NOT a guarantee.

That means you might think you’re mea­sur­ing the cor­rect line of sight, even though you’re not. Addi­tion­al­ly, there’s no require­ment to accu­rate­ly enter the ele­va­tion of a hotspot. The hotspot you’re try­ing to assess could be 30 sto­ries up a build­ing but report­ing as on the ground.

Even if you DO do care­ful research, you still may not have enough infor­ma­tion to accu­rate­ly assess why a neigh­bor’s hotspot is earn­ing more than yours. 

Antenna Choice (The Dark Side of High Gain)

What’s anoth­er fac­tor in earn­ings? Well, it’ll date this arti­cle a bit (this is good as long as PoCv10 applies), but under the PoCv10 rules, which I’ve writ­ten about here, if your anten­na OR that of your wit­ness­es is much high­er than the Heli­um RSSI/SNR guide­lines, that can inval­i­date your wit­ness earn­ings, and wit­ness earn­ings are what con­tribute the most.

Espe­cial­ly if you and many of your wit­ness­es have high­er gain anten­nas (any­thing above, say, 4 dBi), those gains add up, and can push you over the wrong side of the curve.

If you’re on the wrong (invalid) side of the RSSI/SNR curve, you don’t earn HNT. This is yet anoth­er rea­son to use the low­est dBi anten­na pos­si­ble; you’ve GOT to stay on the right (actu­al­ly, left) side of that line.

Unlike the first fac­tor, this does­n’t have much to do with the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of your wit­ness­es, it’s more to do with the strength and clar­i­ty of your radio signal. 

So there it is: The most like­ly fac­tors for a dif­fer­ence in earn­ings between you and your high­er-earn­ing neigh­bor are usu­al­ly explain­able, even if you don’t like the explanation.

How to Win

I’ll close out with some advice: Com­par­i­son is the thief of joy. If you get too wrapped around the axle try­ing to “beat” oth­er hotspots, you’ll miss a lot of the joy that goes into doing the best job YOU can do, giv­en the con­straints YOU have. Hotspots that fol­low the guide­lines for pro­vid­ing WUPU cov­er­age will con­sis­tent­ly earn the most. That’s the key. Con­tribute unique and use­ful val­ue to the net­work and you’ll be rewarded.

Best of luck with it all, I’m stoked to grow the net­work with you! If you need help with increas­ing your HNT flow and you’re will­ing to have an open mind and work hard, I pro­vide con­sult­ing for Heli­um Hotspot Opti­miza­tion.

Rock on!

30 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Your Hotspot Earning More?”

  1. Hey Nik,

    Insight­ful post, as always!

    I had a ques­tion about your part here, “many hotspot own­ers assert their loca­tion at the near­est inter­sec­tion of roads. Assert­ing your hotspot with­in about 150 meters doesn’t appear to car­ry any penal­ty in HNT earn­ings, though that’s NOT a guarantee.” 

    How does some­one assert their hotspot loca­tion in a dif­fer­ent place than where the hotspot actu­al­ly is, like an inter­sec­tion of roads? Is that done in the Heli­um app or anoth­er way?

  2. That makes sense and I have seen the abil­i­ty to change hotspot loca­tion there.
    What con­cerns me is not know­ing if I can put in an exact address of where my hotspot is or if Heli­um is going to ping it with GPS or some­thing and assert the loca­tion based on where it thinks it is.

  3. Hi Michael, you can assert an exact loca­tion. Heli­um will cen­ter it in the res 12 for the API (so if you use Helium.Vision you can see it there), but for easy-access pub­lic fac­ing info (Explor­er) it’ll show as cen­tered in the res 8 it’s in. No GPS pings.

  4. Does the dis­tance from the hotspot you are wit­ness­ing have any effect on earn­ings? For exam­ple, am I bet­ter off putting a sec­ond hotspot at a friends house that is 1km away or 3 km away? Or does it make no difference?

  5. Then, I’m assum­ing the only rea­son for assert­ing a loca­tion oth­er than where the min­er actu­al­ly is would be for pri­va­cy? Are there no oth­er added ben­e­fits? Or does reward scale also get affected?

  6. Hi Steve, as long as they have line of sight there should­n’t be a huge dif­fer­ence between 1 and 3 km.

  7. Hi Nik,

    I’d love to see you write a post about Relayed hotspots. I’m still wait­ing patient­ly on my Bob­cats, but learn­ing as much as I can in the mean­time. When­ev­er I look at the Heli­um maps I see a LOT of hotspots that are relayed.
    I’d love to see one of your thought­ful posts that breaks down the rea­sons this hap­pens, how it can be fixed, how/if it can be avoid­ed ahead of time (would open­ing up the ports ahead of time pre­vent it, for exam­ple?), what effect it does/doesn’t actu­al­ly have on prof­its, etc etc.
    I’ve looked at a num­ber of videos and posts, but end up more con­fused than when I start­ed. I real­ly appre­ci­ate your clear style of explain­ing things. 

    Thanks very much!
    Kelly

  8. Hi Nik

    I under­stand the con­cept that a high­er DBi anten­na shapes the sig­nal mean­ing it can reach fur­ther, but I’m guess­ing that does­nt actu­al­ly mean it can hear hotspots from any fur­ther away? or would a high­er DBi anten­na in the­o­ry allow you to wit­ness more bea­cons? also does your own anten­na affect the sig­nal strength of a received bea­con in RSSI or SNR? so if the bea­con­er has lets say an 8DBi anten­na and you’re get­ting invalid wit­ness­es, does chang­ing your own anten­na to a low­er pow­ered one affect the result mov­ing either the SNR or RSSI back to accept­able limits?
    On from this does a phys­i­cal­ly larg­er anten­na actu­al­ly help pick up more bea­cons in the sur­face area giv­ing a bet­ter chance of pick­ing up a rel­a­tive­ly weak sig­nal regard­less of DBi?
    It seems like you’d want an anten­na that had a rel­a­tive­ly low Tx gain as theres no point in reach­ing more than 25 hotspots for the bea­con reward, but a high abil­i­ty to receive to pick up as many sig­nals from as far away as pos­si­ble, all with­out inval­i­dat­ing witnesses.
    final­ly I’ve nev­er seen an answer to this final bit — do you know what decides which 25 hotspots are cho­sen to be wit­ness­es when more than 25 actu­al­ly pick up the sig­nal? there have to be cities where there are 100+ wit­ness­ing a bea­con, so there must be some code that defines this, is it sim­ply first come first served or is there some­thing that you can do oth­er than fix­ing relay­ing to improve chances of being one of the ones selected?

    Thanks!

  9. High­er gain applies to both trans­mit and receive. In the world of Heli­um, it does­n’t real­ly mat­ter, as even a low gain can wit­ness over 200km away rou­tine­ly with clear Line of Sight. High­er gains put you at more risk of inva­lid­ing the RSSI/SNR curve.

    For your 25 wit­ness ques­tion, it’s a race to report. The first 25 to report get the prize.

  10. I have a neigh­bour­ing hot spot that is about 80 meters away from me is it pos­si­ble to place my loca­tion near the edge of our shared hex to get 350 meters between us? Would there be there a penal­ty for doing this?

  11. Hi Keswick, as long as you’re not get­ting scaled, the only penal­ty for a hotspot with­in 300m is you can’t earn off of it. If you have plen­ty of wit­ness­es, that’s not a big deal.

  12. Hi Nik thanks for your reply,
    We are both cur­rent­ly scaled @ 0.41 so would the only ben­e­fit would be that we could wit­ness each oth­er? We are in a pret­ty dense area so maybe it’s not worth it to move I was­n’t sure if there was some oth­er penal­ty for being so close.

    Also great blog, I’ve learnt so much from you thanks!

  13. Pingback: How Do You Find The Best Site For Your Hotspot? - Gristle King - A Guide to Helium

  14. Hey Again,
    Sor­ry to keep ask­ing you ques­tions when you won’t take my mon­ey, but not too sor­ry, obviously.
    First, my orig­i­nal ques­tion is sim­i­lar to the wit­ness­ing one above. How is it deter­mined who gets to send a bea­con? Where I’m at, being the bea­con is 5 times more prof­itable than being a wit­ness. But some peo­ple are send­ing 4 times a day and late­ly I’m lucky to get 2 every 3 days.

    Regard­ing being the fastest to make the 25? Could long stretch­es of eth­er­net cable be respon­si­ble for slow­ing response time? I’ve got noth­ing over 300 ft, but cur­rent­ly that anten­na is the longest run at my house and goes thru a switch which my ASIC min­ers are on.

    On the relay thing, It seems like some of the high­est earn­ers are relayed (Not a major­i­ty, but a few) so I don’t under­stand what the con­cern is. Also it seems some of these relayed hotspots are respon­si­ble for what looks like me (and oth­ers) wit­ness­ing hotspots in St. George, or Seat­tle or oth­er unlike­ly places 1000 miles away. How does that happen?

    Let me know if you change your mind on that dona­tion thing. Thanks Again

  15. Hi Dick, chal­lenges are ran­dom­ly assigned to chal­lengees. A hotspot is eli­gi­ble to sub­mit a chal­lenge rough­ly every 300 blocks. Bea­con­ing should def­i­nite­ly not be 5x more prof­itable than wit­ness­ing; it should be the oth­er way around. It’ll sound sil­ly, but are you sure you’re read­ing those receipts correctly? 

    Prob­a­bly not eth­er­net length that’s your prob­lem. Could be the switch or your inter­net connection. 

    More on relayed hotspots here.

    Wit­ness­es over 150 miles away are usu­al­ly just hotspots that have been moved but haven’t changed their loca­tion yet.

  16. Hey Again,
    It’s actu­al­ly more like 10x.
    Typ­i­cal 25 wit­ness = 0.015 HNT
    Typ­i­cal Sent Bea­con = 0.15 HNT

    I’m not sure if I can paste a screen­shot here so here’s an exam­ple from my com­pet­ing neigh­bor. Just go to “all activ­i­ty”, scroll down until you find the blue “Sent” and com­pare to a sin­gle “wit­ness” with 25. (I tried to paste a screen­shot, but couldn’t)

    https://explorer.helium.com/hotspots/11WfakRNARmTR6G1HE65drJHPR65apwHTAQ8iSsuL3nWwXjWTpj/activity

  17. Of course it does work out even­tu­al­ly to your pic chart. You just get so few Send Bea­cons that they end up being a much small­er part of your rev­enue. Indi­vid­u­al­ly, they are quite significant.

  18. Hey Nik, I recent­ly added Lora sen­sor data to my net­work and ran some tests on my hotspot.
    After 4 hours send­ing 8 bytes of data every minute, I end up with burn­ing more HNT con­vert­ed to DC than earn­ing rewards !
    It sounds coun­ter­in­tu­itive but I thought rewards for data can now go up to 35% of total rewards.
    Per­haps you have an expla­na­tion or maybe you can do arti­cle some time on data rewards.
    Thanks, Sean.

  19. Hi Sean, hmm, I think there’s a basic mis­un­der­stand­ing here. You earn HNT for pro­cess­ing DC. As more data flows on the net­work, you’ll earn more HNT. Up to 35% of HNT dis­trib­uted per epoch is set aside to be dis­trib­uted for min­ers pro­cess­ing DC, but if it isn’t used, it gets re-allo­cat­ed to the min­er pool in general. 

    4 hours isn’t enough time to have a good pic­ture on how much your min­er will earn. 

    Every 24 bytes sent in an uplink or down­link pack­et cost 1 DC = $.00001” -Heli­um’s site

    1 DC = 24 bytes. With your 8 byte pack­ets you’re prob­a­bly not send­ing more than that even with the fcnt, fport, etc.

    So, 1 DC/minute for 4 hours = 240 DC. With HNT around $20 (just to make the math rea­son­able), each HNT = 20/.00001 DC, or 2 mil­lion DC. That works out to a cost of .00012 HNT for those 4 hours. Sure­ly you’re earn­ing more than .00003 HNT per hour on average?

    How much did you min­er make in that 4 hour peri­od? Usu­al­ly we like to see 7 day earn­ings for a min­er to get an aver­age, as rewards are spiky in the short term. 

    More on DC over on Red­dit, here.

    Let me know if that makes sense.

  20. Am I right in assum­ing it’s com­plete­ly just luck of the draw w/ how often you see action? My BF and I both set up our bob­cats last week. He’s killing it com­pared to me, he’s seems to get more action plus he has a wit­ness­es and I can’t get one 🙁 The BF saw great results when he moved his miner/antenna into his garage attic. I have mine out­side my 2nd sto­ry win­dow which I guess has helped some. 

    I’m Feisty Flax­en Robin. He’s Puny Misty Worm. I’m debat­ing if I should move my min­er to my mom’s house and hope it does bet­ter. I noticed that 1 min­er near me is offline. And the oth­er 2 clos­est are relayed.

  21. Hi Amy, it has much more to do with how many hotspots you have a clear line of sight to. There is a ran­dom ele­ment to whether or not you earn as a Wit­ness (10 hotspots ran­dom­ly cho­sen out of every Wit­ness­ing hs), but that’s it. Mov­ing your hotspot is the most pow­er­ful thing you can do when it comes to chang­ing earnings.

  22. Well I final­ly got 1 wit­ness, but there is still a lot more to be had, LOL. The wit­ness I got seems to be get­ting wit­ness­es in 360 degrees. The oth­er wit­ness close and online only seems to be get­ting them in the direc­tion oppo­site me. So I’m going to guess he’s not posi­tioned to do 360 (he seems to be get­ting about 180 degree cov­er­age). This seems to be a love­ly game of find­ing what works the best. I’m going to assume if those min­ers clos­est to be (but “behind me”) don’t seem to be online, it’s not worth focus­ing on con­nect­ing to them (They are relayed cur­rent­ly). It would seem I’m posi­tioned to face best right now, but there are trees, hous­es, a radio tow­er, etc that all prob­a­bly are mess­ing things up some­what, LOL.

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