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Advanced Hotspot Placement Strategy

Ready to go deep on opti­miz­ing your hotspot? This lever­ages the fun­da­men­tals of WUPU and assumes you have more than a pass­ing knowl­edge of Heli­um. I’ll pull back the cur­tain a lit­tle bit and share exam­ples of the strate­gies I use. The list of strate­gies cov­ered in this post is at the bot­tom, under the Terms, Tools, and Strate­gies (TTS) section.

Why am I doing this? By shar­ing knowl­edge about how to best deploy a Heli­um Hotspot, we make the net­work over­all more robust and like­ly to suc­ceed. If, like many peo­ple, this is your first expo­sure to phys­i­cal net­works, or anten­na place­ment, or just radio com­mu­ni­ca­tions in gen­er­al, you’ll prob­a­bly make mis­takes that will cost you HNT and will cost the net­work good coverage. 

Let’s dive in and improve together!

Ok, we’ll start with WUPU. WUPU stands for Wide, Unique, Prove­able, and Use­ful cov­er­age. For a hotspot to earn max­i­mum HNT rewards it has to meet all of those. We’ll go through exam­ples of each one.

First, let’s do Wide. The more cov­er­age you have, the more options you’ll have for the Well Fit Belt strat­e­gy we’ll go into lat­er. Com­mon mis­takes when assess­ing a hotspot for whether or not it has Wide cov­er­age are to look just at the pret­ty green dots on Explor­er and not see topo­graph­i­cal restric­tions. Here’s an exam­ple of a client show­ing me what they thought might be a great Edge strat­e­gy (defined in the TTS sec­tion at the bot­tom) for Wide coverage.

What’s the kick­er? In Explor­er, this looks like it might be at the foot of that moun­tain range to the east, and that those moun­tains might even help focus your cov­er­age to the north and west, poten­tial­ly reach­ing all the way into the L.A. superclusters.

Here’s what the RF sim­u­la­tion looks like in Helium.Vision:

You know how many hotspots that place­ment will con­nect with? Zero. Being buried in a val­ley will kill your coverage. 

Yep, despite seem­ing like a poten­tial­ly great Wide place­ment option for an Edge deploy­ment, you’ve got to look at the total pic­ture, and topog­ra­phy is a big deal. Oh, and ALWAYS pull an RF sim on any pro­posed place­ment. I use Helium.Vision for their RF sims as well as the mul­ti­ple oth­er data sources you can pull in, full video on how to use that tool here.

Ok, next in WUPU is the Unique aspect. This can be a con­fus­ing thing, as it does­n’t mean that your hotspot needs to pro­vide total­ly unique cov­er­age. It’s just that your cov­er­age should not dupli­cate, or even come close to dupli­cat­ing, anoth­er hotspots coverage. 

Here’s a great exam­ple of doing a ter­ri­ble job at Unique place­ment. Behold the Great Taffy Boa in Puer­to Rico, with what appears at first glance a Unique place­ment in the mid­dle of the west half of the island. It might be Lone Wolf-ing it, but at least it’s pro­vid­ing Unique cov­er­age. Or is it?

This is an exam­ple of what hap­pens when you order two hotspots to dou­ble your earn­ings, then just plonk your sec­ond hotspot down at Grand­ma Sal­lie’s house who lives right next door. Let’s zoom in on that place­ment that appeared to be Unique:

Those two hotspots are in the same Res 8 hex, pro­vid­ing dupli­cate cov­er­age, with both earn­ings get­ting trans­mit reward clipped at a .50 Reward scale. Talk about leav­ing mon­ey on the table! You could move one of those to anoth­er loca­tion 300 meters away and dou­ble your earn­ings on BOTH hotspots, meet­ing at least 2 of the WUPU require­ments (Unique and Proveable. 

That brings us to Prove­able. Your hotspot can (and should, if you want to earn!) over­lap cov­er­age with oth­er hotspots, thus mak­ing your cov­er­age Prove­able through a dis­tance and bear­ing read­ing of the radio waves being trans­mit­ted and received. Here’s where the dance real­ly begins, as the more loca­tions you can “Prove” with, the gen­er­al­ly bet­ter your earn­ings will be, up to a lim­it. What’s that lim­it? Why, 25, of course. This brings us to the Well Fit Belt strategy.

The Well Fit Belt strat­e­gy is to find an area where your hotspot can wit­ness 25 oth­er hotspots with­in the range of your anten­na. Any more than 25 and you’re wast­ing effort. Less than 25 and you’re leav­ing earn­ings on the table. The min­i­mum you want wit­ness­ing your bea­con for max­ing out your earn­ings is 4, but why would you try and max­i­mize with a minimum?

Typ­i­cal­ly, the “belt” around your hotspot (assum­ing clear LoS in all direc­tions) goes from 300m (min dis­tance to wit­ness) to 8–10km, which is with­in the range of the stock anten­na and there­fore every hotspot. Here’s a chart (from @para1 on Dis­cord) show­ing the dis­tances at which hotspots are witnessing.

What does that mean? You can draw a 10 km cir­cle around your poten­tial place­ment and be pret­ty sure that unless you’ve got some­thing in the way (moun­tains, hills, build­ings, etc), you’ll hit the hotspots with­in your cir­cle (unless you’re in a Canyons & Crags sit­u­a­tion, more on that later.) 

Here’s an exam­ple of a 10km belt with the 300m stand­off around the HS:

You’d want to look for a place­ment like this, with lots of hotspots (at least 25) with­in that belt area. The 300m stand­off in the inner cir­cle is actu­al­ly a lit­tle big as drawn, but it won’t hurt you to treat that as a 400–500m area any­way, as you’ll pro­vide more net­work cov­er­age with fur­ther spread apart hotspots with­out impact­ing your own earnings. 

What should a well placed hotspot in a Well Fit Belt look like when it comes to wit­ness­es? Let me show you:

This hotspot is nail­ing a ton of oth­er hotspots all with­in that 10 km belt. Sure, it’s hit­ting out­siders as well, but not as reli­ably or eas­i­ly. Focus on your Well Fit Belt!

What about earn­ings? This is one of my fave exam­ple hotspots. I worked with the own­er to make sure it was up as high as pos­si­ble, and we’re both pleased with the results.

Keep in mind those earn­ings will con­tin­ue to drop across the board, this is just a snap­shot in late April with only 28k hotspots on the network.

The final part of the WUPU acronym is Use­ful. Remem­ber, the whole idea of the Heli­um net­work is to pro­vide use­ful cov­er­age to IoT devices. You can have a great set­up, but if it’s not actu­al­ly trans­mit­ting data then you’re not real­ly con­tribut­ing, you’re just tak­ing. This is a great rea­son to buy a least one sen­sor and put it up near your hotspot. It can be any­thing, from an LHT-65 that tells you the humid­i­ty and tem­per­a­ture (and is a very fast way to check if you’re HS is still up and pro­cess­ing data) all the way out to cus­tom built weight plates, horse coun­ters, bomb snif­fers, and and snow depth measurements. 

Sign up for a Con­sole account, pro­vi­sion the device, con­nect to Dat­a­cake or MyDe­vices Cayenne and get just a lit­tle deep­er into how the Heli­um net­work oper­ates. I believe, with­out any evi­dence, that hav­ing a sen­sor pass data through your hotspot improves your earn­ings. Again, no evi­dence for that, just my expe­ri­ence and hunch.

I’ll fin­ish out by talk­ing about look­ing for a “uni­corn” oppor­tu­ni­ty, one I call Canyons & Crags. This is a hotspot that placed in such a way that it’s able to wit­ness and bea­con to many oth­er hotspots that can’t see each oth­er, just as if it was up above a bunch of canyons and crags all filled with hotspots. 

This most­ly hap­pens in cities, where the build­ings form canyons & crags that block RF sig­nals between low hotspots and allow high, well placed spots, to com­mu­ni­cate with all the low­er ones. This focus­es earn­ings on the high hotspots. Find­ing those Canyons & Crags oppor­tu­ni­ties is one of the things I help my clients con­sid­er and iden­ti­fy for their deploy­ments, as a well done C&C place­ment will put you amongst the top HNT earn­ers world wide.

Ok, that’s a walk through WUPU and some advanced strate­gies. If you’d like me to cus­tomize a strat­e­gy for you and walk you through exact­ly how to make the most of your par­tic­u­lar oppor­tu­ni­ty, head over to my Heli­um Con­sult­ing page and sign up for a ses­sion. I’d love to help YOU make the most out of Helium!

Rock on!

-Nik


Tools, Terms, Strategies 

  • Edge Strat­e­gy — Plac­ing your hotspot on the edge of one or more clus­ters, usu­al­ly with the intent to con­nect 2 unre­lat­ed clusters
  • WUPU — Wide, Unique, Prove­able, Use­ful coverage
  • Canyons & Crags — Plac­ing a hotspot where it can “see” many oth­er hotspots that can’t see each oth­er, focus­ing earn­ings on the high hotstpot
  • Well Fit Belt — Using the 25 wit­ness lim­it for Heli­um to find a place­ment with­in the aver­age con­tact dis­tance of 25 or more hotspots with­in LoS
  • Helium.Vision — This is THE tool for pow­er users. There are oth­er excel­lent tools for one-off place­ments, like Helium.Place and HotspotRF, but for those of you look­ing for a top 1% place­ment HV is the go-to tool. 

16 thoughts on “Advanced Hotspot Placement Strategy”

  1. A lot of this con­tent went over my head but I am very inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about this stuff! Thanks for being trans­par­ent and upfront about what you rec­om­mend. You’re the only per­son online that’s tru­ly talk­ing about these HS for what they are, and not just cre­at­ing blog posts that try to sell your read­ers on prod­ucts that won’t ben­e­fit them 🙂 I real­ly appre­ci­ate your knowledge!!

  2. Great infor­ma­tion and research.
    Ques­tions if you have some time to answer.

    1. Could one add a exten­sion cord to this unit to pow­er it. If putting on the roof how would it get pow­ered if we don’t have an out­let near us. Does the RAK unit have any­way to pow­er by eth­er­net cable? I saw the nebra out­door had it but that is not com­ing til Octo­ber from what they say. 

    2. What is the max length of cord you would use from the unit itself to the anten­na. Would 10 feet high qual­i­ty cord be ok or effect it much. I need to keep unit inside house but want to put on roof for max height.
    Thanks
    Tommy

  3. Tom­my, look into an enclo­sure big enough for your hotspot that is at least rat­ed IP66, and buy your­self an eth­er­net POE to USB‑C split­ter. Make sure you have a POE injec­tor inside on the oth­er end.

  4. Sure, you can add an exten­sion cord to pow­er it. You could pow­er it with an eth­er­net cable using PoE, or Pow­er over Eth­er­net. This involves a PoE injec­tor and a PoE split­ter. For PoE, max length is 100m. For anten­nas, depend­ing on the gain and your goals, you can use up to 60′ of LMR400 with­out any major issues.

  5. Thanks Nik,

    Could the poe split­ter be done on the RAK 2 unit? Nebra has it built in on out­side unit. One less cable to wor­ry about. 

    Thanks

  6. Pret­ty sure you’ll need an injec­tor at the far end for the RAK 2. Does that make sense?

  7. I“ve got about a 100′ run of CA400 cable for my run to the anten­na, do I need any ampli­fi­ca­tion for this run?

  8. Seems a lit­tle on the long side to me. Not sure about ampli­fi­ca­tion, I’ve always focused on get­ting short­er anten­na cable runs.

  9. Pingback: Anatomy of a Hotspot Placement - One Man's Search

  10. Hi Nik, you men­tion the place­ment and that it is bet­ter in a hill. I was won­der­ing what height you enter in the app for the anten­na if your house is on a hill? 

    Great blog by the way. Thanks

  11. Hi Thomas,
    Heli­umVi­sion takes into account the ground ele­va­tion, so you just enter the ele­va­tion above ground.

  12. In your 10km San Diego exam­ple above, there are more than 25 wit­ness­es. How does this work? Do they are show as wit­ness­es, but you only get paid for 25 of them? I have a loca­tion in mind on top of a moun­tain that I believe can see well over 100 hotspots LOS — giv­en the 25 lim­it, is there any advan­tage to a loca­tion like this?

  13. Yep, you’ll max out any giv­en reward at 25 wit­ness­es. Being able to see more than 25 isn’t use­ful on any giv­en reward, but over time can be use­ful as you’ll have dif­fer­ent wit­ness­es for most bea­cons. WUPU cov­er­age is king.

  14. Hi Nik,
    I want­ed to thank you for all the arti­cles you have writ­ten so far. My knowl­edge and under­stand­ing in Heli­um has great­ly improved since I found your page.
    There is one uncer­tain­ty I tried clar­i­fy­ing with CalChip Con­nect which they were not able to help me with, so I am hop­ing you might.
    I have ordered a Rak V2 min­er and a RAK 5,85dBl_Fiberglass Anten­na. I am now search­ing for LMR-400 cables, I have found a provider which states I can use an LMR-400 cable with N Female — RP SMA con­nec­tors. How­ev­er I would expect to use an N Female RP SMA Female cable. The rea­son is the Anten­na has a N Male con­nec­tor hence I need a N female to cou­ple with this. In the RAK Min­er spec sheet it also shows and states an N‑Type Male con­nec­tor so I would assume that I need an RP SMA Female.
    Would you know the answer ?

    Thanks in advance.

  15. Thanks for the answer. Excuse me for being dense, but if you only get reward­ed from 25 wit­ness­es, how does hav­ing more wit­ness­es that see bea­cons help rev­enue? If I had two options: A. easy/ Place a hotspot halfway up a moun­tain that sees exact­ly 25 wit­ness­es, or B) hard / place it at the top of a moun­tain that sees 100 wit­ness­es. Giv­en a more dif­fi­cult install, would B make any mon­e­tary sense over the long run?

  16. Prob­a­bly, as you won’t always see the same 25 wit­ness­es. Plus, doing the hard thing is usu­al­ly the most rad option. 🙂

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