What’s The Best Antenna For Your Helium Hotspot?

Here is a step by step method for under­stand­ing how to choose the best anten­na for your hotspot place­ment. Each place­ment demands a well matched anten­na in order to pro­vide val­ue to the Heli­um Net­work and con­se­quent­ly earn the most HNT pos­si­ble for that location. 

First though: Hotspot place­ment opti­miza­tion is FAR more impor­tant than what anten­na you use, more on that here.

High Mountain antenna placement for Helium in the backcountry of San Diego

Sec­ond, for those of you who just want AN ANSWER: Get this anten­na and put it out­doors at least 10′ above all the build­ings around you. Run 20′ or less of LMR400 cable to it from your hotspot. If you have to go more than 20′, use LMR600. That’ll prob­a­bly get you 80% of the results you could get with far more effort and expertise. 

Wait, you want to actu­al­ly learn and match your anten­na to your sit­u­a­tion so you get the max­i­mum rewards possible?

Ok, let’s start with broad strokes: The anten­na you choose for your hotspot place­ment should match your topog­ra­phy, your ele­va­tion, and your lines of sight.

Let’s start with topog­ra­phy. Topog­ra­phy refers to the build­ings, earth, and water that sur­round, chan­nel, and block your radio sig­nals (prop­a­ga­tion.) The top­ic of radio prop­a­ga­tion involves a tremen­dous­ly deep dive all the way down to the fun­da­men­tals of physics, but we’ll keep it pret­ty simple.

BLUF (Bot­tom Line Up Front) — The flat­ter your topog­ra­phy AND the more trees/vegetation you have block­ing your Line of Sight to oth­er hotspots, the high­er gain omni anten­na you can use, up to 9 dbi.

Remem­ber, topog­ra­phy isn’t just hills and moun­tains, it includes build­ings, trees, and oth­er obstacles. 

Ok, let’s get dirty! In gen­er­al, earth in the form of moun­tains or hills will block radio sig­nals. Even though a hotspot may seem very close to you, if there’s a hill between the two of you, you prob­a­bly won’t wit­ness each other.

You may check out your loca­tion on the Heli­um Explor­er Cov­er­age map and think you’re per­fect­ly posi­tioned in regards to near­by hotspots, like this:

Remem­ber to check Google Earth!

See how that spot is tucked into a bunch of hills? Unless you put up an anten­na that’ll stick over the top of the hills, you’re restrict­ed to wit­ness­ing only oth­er hotspots in your imme­di­ate area, and in this case, that area is small!

Ok, so that’s earth. Earth = No Radio Waves Get­ting Through.

What about build­ings? How much will build­ings block or reduce the pow­er of radio propagation? 

Accord­ing to a study done in 2012 on a wide swath of build­ing mate­ri­als and focus­ing on the GSM 900 MHz band, a rein­forced con­crete wall that is 20cm / ~8″ thick will atten­u­ate the sig­nal by 27 dB. An inte­ri­or plas­ter wall will reduce pow­er by any­where from .8 to 3 dB.

What does that mean? Dis­claimer: RF geeks, I’ma get loose with terms here. Relax.

This reduc­tion in pow­er is called “atten­u­a­tion.” In gen­er­al with radio com­mu­ni­ca­tions, you don’t want any atten­u­a­tion. Atten­u­a­tion can hap­pen with earth, build­ings, forests, and even win­dow coat­ings. How much pow­er will you lose? Let’s run some numbers.

Amer­i­can based hotspots start off by push­ing out 27 dBm. Euro­pean and oth­er areas start WAY low­er, at 14. Add the gain (dBi) from your anten­na and sub­tract the loss­es from any con­nec­tions to fig­ure out your Effec­tive Isotrop­ic Radi­at­ed Pow­er (EIRP).

That means a 6 dBi anten­na will give you 33 dBm of EIRP with a US hotspot. 27dBm + 6dBi = 33dBm in the direc­tion of anten­na gain. Now you’ve got to cal­cu­late cable and con­nec­tion loss.

As a rough rule of thumb, each con­nec­tion (hotspot to anten­na cable, anten­na cable to anten­na, or going through an enclo­sure wall using a con­nec­tor) will drop your EIRP by .5 dB. Cable loss­es vary by cable, which is why most peo­ple use a “low loss” cable like LMR400. If you want to run your EIRP num­bers, here’s how.

Ok, ok, ok, why does it mat­ter whether or not you know your EIRP

Let’s take a short detour into dBm and pow­er. dBm is based on a log­a­rith­mic scale. For every increase of 3 dBm, there is twice as much pow­er out­put. Every increase of 10 dBm has a ten­fold increase in pow­er. The dif­fer­ence between a 3 dBi anten­na (what most hotspots ship with) and an after­mar­ket 9 dBi anten­na is a fac­tor of 4! 

Of course, that 4x pow­er comes at a cost; the beam is focused; more laser and less light­bulb. That means that unless you aim your anten­na very care­ful­ly, you can blast all that pow­er into places that have no hotspots.

Here is a great exam­ple demon­strat­ing atten­u­a­tion and topog­ra­phy. This hotspot is placed on the north side inside a build­ing. It’s up high with a high­er gain anten­na, and in gen­er­al, inac­cu­rate­ly aimed over most of the near­by hotspots.

Most of the wit­ness­es it’s get­ting are fur­ther north. Some of the sig­nals bounce off to the side, prov­ing that “RF is weird.” 

To the south, the sig­nals are blocked or atten­u­at­ed by inte­ri­or and exte­ri­or walls, but appar­ent­ly there is a small win­dow or open­ing where those weak­ened sig­nals are escap­ing, then going pret­ty far over the water. Pret­ty neat, right? I mean, not for the hotspot own­er, but it’s a neat demon­stra­tion of the concept.

That image is also a great exam­ple of why you should nev­er put a hotspot anten­na inside; you are los­ing a ton of pow­er before the radio waves ever get out­side the building.

Water allows radio sig­nals to trav­el much fur­ther than nor­mal; look at any hotspot next to a body of water and you’ll see it will con­nect with oth­er hotspots at much fur­ther ranges across the water than it will across land. 

Let’s not get too into the weeds here. As I said at the begin­ning, the gen­er­al rule for topog­ra­phy is this: The flat­ter your topog­ra­phy, the high­er gain anten­na you can use, up to 9 dBi for 95% of place­ments. Beyond 9 the pat­tern gets too flat AND you’ll vio­late the power/signal rules Heli­um uses to help com­bat spoof­ing. When you vio­late those rules, you get invalid wit­ness­es. Invalid wit­ness­es = 0 HNT

Now you know why lots of folks have been pick­ing up 9 dBi anten­nas and blast­ing away with ’em, then won­der­ing why they’re not “work­ing”.

Remem­ber, topog­ra­phy includes not just hills, moun­tains, and water, but all the build­ings, bridges, and oth­er struc­tures that might block your radio sig­nal. Cities in gen­er­al do not have a flat topog­ra­phy, even if they’re built on flat land. All those spiky build­ings stick­ing out will gob­ble up your radio signals.

That brings us to ELEVATION. If you want to bend your mind a lit­tle bit, think about this: The high­er your ele­va­tion, the flat­ter the rel­a­tive topog­ra­phy is, and the LOWER dbi anten­na you can use. Wait, what?

Remem­ber, a high dbi anten­na focus­es the sig­nal of your anten­na. In an omni anten­na (we’ll get to direc­tion­al or sec­tor anten­nas in a minute), that shape becomes a flat­ter and flat­ter plane. If that plane is super flat, it’ll fly right over the tops of all those hotspots you want to hit. Let’s go through 3 examples.

Now, those aren’t total­ly to scale; I did­n’t get an art degree. Still, you can see why in *most* cas­es, you want a low or medi­um gain anten­na up high.

You can also run that idea back­wards; if you’re in a real­ly flat area where you don’t have a lot of obsta­cles, a high gain anten­na down low can be your best bet. Still, most peo­ple don’t live in the desert, and the flat­test state in Amer­i­ca has a ton of trees on it. If that’s your sce­nario, get a high gain (6–9 dBi) anten­na up over the tops of those trees for max­i­mum coverage. 

That brings us in a round­about way to Lines of Sight. Remem­ber that $39 paper I quot­ed ear­li­er regard­ing how much RF ener­gy a giv­en build­ing mate­r­i­al would absorb? The gen­er­al take­away for us Heli­um Hotspot own­ers is this: Our anten­nas won’t blast through much more than 2 build­ings.

That means if you’re INSIDE the build­ing, you’ve burned most of the ener­gy of the anten­na just get­ting out­side the walls. If it hits just one more “thing”, whether it’s a build­ing, a tree, or a bill­board, that’s prob­a­bly the end of the line.

This “Lines of Sight” idea has an impor­tant impli­ca­tion in under­stand­ing how some of the top earn­ing hotspot/antenna com­bos are doing so well. The hotspot Docile Bone Pony* (at the time of this writ­ing, one of the high­est earn­ers in the world) is on top of a 16 sto­ry build­ing in a major city with a medium/high gain anten­na (8 dbi from eBay on 60′ of LMR400.) It has Lines of Sight to a lot of oth­er hotspots, BUT those oth­er hotspots don’t have great lines of sight to oth­er hotspots around ’em.

That means that DBP is see­ing a lot of hotspots that AREN’T see­ing a lot of hotspots. I’m going to anthro­po­mor­phize this a bit, but their only option is to com­mu­ni­cate with DBP. So they do. And DBP earns like crazy. It’s an exam­ple of the incred­i­ble earn­ing poten­tial that exists when pro­vid­ing asym­met­ric val­ue to the network.

While we’re on Lines of Sight, let’s talk about the range of a stan­dard hotspot. Accord­ing to some excel­lent work done by the inim­itable @para1 on Dis­cord, most hotspots do most of their wit­ness­ing with­in a 10km range. Now, an in depth dis­cus­sion of the impli­ca­tions and restric­tions of this table is beyond the scope of this arti­cle, but your gen­er­al take­away could be “Opti­mize your anten­na for hot­pots with­in 10 km” aka most peo­ple don’t need a high gain anten­na.

@para1’s table, post­ed in Discord

I’ll dou­ble tap this range thing with an exam­ple of a hotspot I run, which has a 3 dBi HNTen­na on top of a 20′ pole on top of a ~30′ build­ing. It *rou­tine­ly* gets wit­ness­es over 200km away. While it seems that a high gain anten­na will get you bet­ter range, it does­n’t real­ly mat­ter. It’s Line of Sight that is the secret here.

Final­ly, Lines of Sight can be blocked by forests. Depend­ing on who you lis­ten to, LoRa does­n’t go through much more than 60 meters of dense for­est. I’m sor­ry rur­al Flori­da, you’ve just got a tough row to hoe on that one. Dense for­est in between you and oth­er anten­nas is about the only time a high­er gain (up to 9 dBi) makes sense, and even then it may not make a giant dif­fer­ence. Forests are RF sinks.

There is one more thing to think about with Lines of Sight. The 900 MHz fre­quen­cy needs some run­way, ide­al­ly 50′/15m to fan out enough to dif­fract around obsta­cles. Read that again and you’ll have an advan­tage over every­one who does­n’t get that concept.

The con­cept of Fres­nel zones and dif­frac­tion in radio wave com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of the fun­da­men­tal dri­vers of the “RF is weird” refrain you’ll hear when­ev­er you see a pat­tern that does­n’t imme­di­ate­ly make sense. Basi­cal­ly, the fur­ther out your radio waves go, the more they can spread out along their radi­a­tion pat­tern, the less like­ly that all of the waves get blocked, and the more like­ly that at least some of ’em will get to anoth­er hotspot. 

At some dis­tance they’re so spread out that you’re basi­cal­ly not going to make a con­nec­tion, so the effec­tive “win­dow” shrinks back down. Like this:

Check out RadioMo­bile to get deep on Fres­nel zones.

If you set up your anten­na so that you’ve got lots of clear space around it before it hits obsta­cles, those radios waves have enough spread to start “bend­ing around” those obsta­cles. This is yet anoth­er rea­son not to set up inside. 

Here’s anoth­er “I def­i­nite­ly did­n’t go to art school” draw­ing to demon­strate the idea of run­way and diffraction.

If you give those radio waves some room to spread out, they can get around obsta­cles. Let ’em breathe!

Ok, we’ve got one more thing to con­sid­er before wrap­ping up. Many of you will have been scour­ing ham radio sites to fig­ure out how to improve the range of your anten­na. Keep in mind that the goal of many ham radio oper­a­tors is incred­i­ble range, but that can come at the cost of broad cov­er­age. Doing exact­ly what a ham oper­a­tor does may give you the results they want, not what you want.

YOU want to hit as many high scale hotspots as pos­si­ble. You’ll do that by using a low gain anten­na up high, with clear lines of sight all around.

Remem­ber, you’ll earn the most by deliv­er­ing the most valu­able & prov­able cov­er­age to the net­work. The con­cept is sim­ple. The exe­cu­tion can be com­pli­cat­ed. If you want help with get­ting the max­i­mum val­ue out of your place­ments or strat­e­gy, I’m avail­able for hire.

For those of you who skipped all that and just want to know what anten­na to get, here are 4 gen­er­al­ly good options for the 3 most com­mon scenarios.

  1. In a build­ing in the city? Get the out­door anten­na here, put it out­side up as high as you can.
  2. In a build­ing where you just can’t get up high? Use the stock anten­na that came with your hotspot. Also, find a bet­ter place­ment loca­tion. You did read about that, right?
  3. In a sub­ur­ban house? Get that same anten­na as my city rec, put it on a pole out­side and up high.
  4. On a moun­tain where you can’t pos­si­ble trans­mit behind you (because the moun­tain will block your sig­nal) and you have an enor­mous view of civ­i­liza­tion and your near­est hotspot is more than 5 miles away? Get this patch anten­na and aim it at civilization.

I’ll round this out with what to def­i­nite­ly NOT do. Don’t just look at the gain of an anten­na and think high­er is bet­ter. Don’t both­er with Yagi anten­nas. Final­ly, don’t wor­ry too much about your anten­na. In the big pic­ture of earn­ings, it is FAR more impor­tant to have good place­ment and ele­va­tion. The fan­ci­est, coolest, most high tech anten­na in the world won’t get you much if you’re in a crap­py loca­tion down low.

Best of luck with your place­ment and earn­ings, I’m stoked to be a part of this amaz­ing com­mu­ni­ty! If you’re look­ing for work in the Heli­um ecosys­tem, please check out this rad project I’m a part of called Heli­um Jobs. You can post and find jobs there, help sup­port the ecosys­tem by mak­ing it eas­i­er to con­nect pro­fes­sion­al­ly, and let the world know that YOU exist and want to help con­tribute with­in the Net­work. Rock on!

Resources and Further Reading

A deep­er dive into under­stand­ing how RF works.

Cal­cu­lat­ing RF Pow­er Val­ues (explains why a 6 dBi anten­na dou­bles your power)

900 MHz: The Wire­less Work­horse. (Prob­a­bly why Heli­um chose LoRa)

List of Helium Hotspots & Their Antennas

Before you read this and assume that you must have a high gain anten­na in order to get great earn­ings, please keep in mind that these hotspot own­ers are gen­er­al­ly tin­ker­ers and often have some exper­tise in RF the­o­ry. The results are a lit­tle skewed because of that.

UPDATE: Heli­umVi­sion now reports this for all hotspot own­ers who have entered this on Heli­um app. I’ve closed sub­mis­sions on this page. 

Docile Bone Pony — Ele­va­tion: 16 sto­ries, Area: Greater Boston, MA. Anten­na: 8 dbi omni from eBay, Cables: 60′ of LMR400

Sweet Sage Pike — Ele­va­tion: 43′ above ground, Area: San Diego, CA. Anten­na: Near­son 9, Cables: 5′ of LMR400

Chilly Blood Mon­goose — Ele­va­tion: 41′ above ground, Area: San Diego, CA. Anten­na: Laird FG9026 (6 dbi), Cables: 5′ of LMR400

Lucky Men­thol Wasp — Ele­va­tion: 60′ above ground, Area: San Diego, CA. Anten­na: RAK 5.8 dbi, Cables: 11′ LMR400

Nice Lip­stick Chim­panzee — Ele­va­tion: 25′ above ground, Area: San Fran­cis­co, CA. Anten­na: RFMAX | ROSA-900-SNF, Cables: 5′ LMR240

Inter­est­ing Pearl Star­ling — Ele­va­tion: 35′ above ground, Area: North Shore, MA. Anten­na: RAK 5.8 dbi, Cables: RAK pig­tail inter­face con­vert­er bun­dled with antenna

Jumpy Iron Fer­ret — Ele­va­tion: 34th sto­ry, Area: Chica­go, IL. Anten­na: Stock, Cables: N/A. Indoor setup.

Kind Infrared Lynx — Ele­va­tion: 15′ above ground, Area: Den­ver, CO. Anten­na: Tao­glas 8 dbi. Cables: 15′ LMR400

Lucky Dijon Scal­lop — Ele­va­tion: 33′ above ground. Area: Engle­wood, CO. Anten­na: RAK 8 dbi. Cables: RAK pig­tail cable

Sticky Pear Dol­phin — Ele­va­tion: 311′ above ground (moun­tain). Area: San Fran­cis­co, CA. Anten­na: Oukeione 3 dbi. Cables: Bingfu

Petite Men­thol Leop­ard — Ele­va­tion 25′. Area: Napa, CA. Anten­na: 5.8 RAK. Cables: Bingfu

Best Tan­ger­ine Racoon — Ele­va­tion: Sec­ond Floor Win­dow. Area: Bay­onne, NJ Anten­na: Stock 3 dBi Cables: 1m pigtail

Warm Juniper Pan­ther — Ele­va­tion: 4th floor rooftop. Area: Bay­onne, NJ Anten­na: Near­son 9 dBi. Cables: 4′ LMR400

Scrawny Egg­plant Pan­da — Ele­va­tion: 35′ Area: Lake­wood, OH Anten­na 4 dBi Mul­ti­pole Cables: N/A

Ancient Cider Grasshop­per — Ele­va­tion: 40′ Area: Kansas City, MO Anten­na: RAK Wire­less 8 dBi Cables: 30′ LMR400

Oblong Slate Platy­pus — Ele­va­tion: 400′ Area: New York City, NY Anten­na: Prox­i­cast 10 dBi Cables: LMR400

Ripe Banana Gob­lin — Ele­va­tion: 2nd floor win­dow Area: Van­cou­ver, BC Anten­na: Stock 3 dBi Cables: N/A

Trendy Rain­bow Lizard — Ele­va­tion: 1st floor win­dow Area: Van­cou­ver, BC Anten­na: Stock 3 dBi Cables: N/A

Striped Pewter Osprey — Ele­va­tion: 20′ Area: Los Ange­les, CA Anten­na: RAk 5.8 Cables: LMR400

312 thoughts on “What’s The Best Antenna For Your Helium Hotspot?”

  1. You can def try it. Ele­va­tion usu­al­ly helps, but loca­tion is what dri­ves earn­ings. If you’re local­ly over­crowd­ed, loca­tion changes of 8′ usu­al­ly won’t matter.

  2. Salvatore Rainone Jr.

    well if its not gonna change sig­nif­i­cant­ly then i rather not spend the time and mon­ey to go 10 feet high­er. My sec­ond bob­cat isnt set up but the loca­tion i want to put it at has the router in base­ment.. so i need to fig­ure out how to get min­er high up with­out mov­ing router.

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  4. My ques­tion to you is, what anten­na should I use for my set­up. My min­er is locat­ed in Queens, NYC, and it is about 20–22 feet up right now in my attic. I would like to move it to my roof on top of my chim­ney. I have a bob­cat min­er and I use the stock 4bi anten­na. Should I just get the out­door enclo­sure kit and use the stock anten­na or should I buy a dif­fer­ent one? Please let me know if you need any more info!

  5. Hi Kel­ly, the anten­na won’t make much dif­fer­ence; Queens is pret­ty over­crowd­ed. The *best* anten­na will prob­a­bly be an HNTen­na, but again, the local over­crowd­ing is the big prob­lem. You’ll be far bet­ter off mov­ing well out­side the city.

  6. Hey ? I live in a hilly town (20 min south of Seat­tle) that’s not ful­ly cov­ered but has a cou­ple hexa­gons that have 2–3 hotspots.
    What anten­na would you rec­om­mend for one that’ll be at the top of a 3 sto­ry house, on top of a hill that over­looks the main town ?

    — 100′ TALL TOWERS
    SO ROGHLY 40′

  8. Good ques­tion. I would­n’t think so, but it’s pos­si­ble. Get the anten­na high and you’ll prob­a­bly be fine.

  9. In a one sto­ry sub­ur­ban house, sur­round­ed by many sim­i­lar hous­es with same sur­round­ings . High­est point is chim­ney ~25′ above ground. Trees 30–80′ tall about 30–40′ away from the chim­ney pret­ty much on all sides, and many trees between neigh­bor­hood hous­es. Have a few hotspots (all Syn­cro­Bits) with stock 3dB anten­nae to set up in the area. 

    I’m think­ing a good start would be atop a pole attached to chim­ney (on each house)…? But what length pole? Should 10′ be enough? 20′? High­er? High­er dB anten­nae, per­haps? TIA

  10. Just got my Linx­dot min­er today. I’m in the foothills of the West­side of Col­orado Springs, with a view of the entire city. I have 2 questions:
    1. Do I need a Patch Anten­na? There are dozens of Hotspots I can wit­ness less than 5 km away.
    2. Will run­ning my hotspot on wifi (after it’s synced of course) cause any reduc­tion in min­ing rewards?

  11. Shawn, you don’t need a patch anten­na, and run­ning your hotspot on WiFi just makes it more like the hotspot will drop con­nec­tion and miss out on rewards. Keep it on eth­er­net cable if you can.

  12. Patrick Fitzpatrick

    Hey Nik,

    Thanks for you awe­some arti­cles. Clever and humor­ous, always easy and great to read. I’ve been debat­ing and read­ing and yours seems to give the best advice. I was even shocked to see Petite Men­thol Leop­ard I’m your arti­cle which is close to me.

    Ques­tion is: My Syncro.Bit min­er only gets .01 HNT a day. My loca­tion is Napa in the foothills with a forest­ed area. I know a anten­na will most like­ly help. I’m think­ing a 8–9 dbi would help my sit­u­a­tion most right? I’m guess­ing if I get it out­side on my 2 sto­ry home roof it would allow bet­ter allow Site of Vision from trees and hilly area. Would you then rec­om­mend the 915Mhz / 8 dBi gain Omni LoRa Anten­na with 20ft Cable or the anten­na that Syncro.Bit sells on their web­site? Does it make sense to buy the anten­na on the Syn­cro web­site for it’s the same brand? 

    Also I want­ed to inquire about Heli­um Net­work Jobs you men­tioned as well if there are any opportunities.

  13. Hi Patrick, the most impor­tant thing will be to get the anten­na up high with a clear line of sight to oth­er hotspots. The brand/dBi gen­er­al­ly does­n’t mat­ter, just try and keep it a low­er dBi (5.8 is more than enough.)

  14. Guys, I have a ques­tion, I am going to place a hotspot in a very tall build­ing — in which I have an office- in the cen­ter of a very big city ‑Madrid, Spain-. It is 60m- 200feet, and I’ll be able to place it out­side because we have a ter­race. My ques­tion is if I should go with an 8dbi, or a 3dbi. I am con­cerned that an 8 or even a 5dbi are to flat and don’t reach the hotspots that are direct­ly below us (as it is a build­ing lit­er­al­ly locat­ed in the cen­ter). My scale is 1.00 as there are no hotspots in the “dead zone”. 

    Thanks for the advice!

  15. Is an omni-direc­tion­al anten­na actu­al­ly omni-direc­tion­al? Read that theyre not but god knows how i could direct them?

  16. Hi Tom­my,
    “Omni-direc­tion­al” is more of a guide­line; they shoot out radi­a­tion in *pret­ty much* all direc­tions. You could direct them with a met­al shield, and com­pa­nies sell that, but there’s no great rea­son to.

  17. Nik,
    This arti­cle is amaz­ing and your atten­tion to qual­i­ty and detail is superb. I ordered my Fines­traMin­er today for my sub­ur­ban area, but can’t find info online if any­one has hooked up a HNTen­na to it for boost­ed sig­nal. Any expe­ri­ence mon­key­ing with FinestraMiners?

  18. Hi Nik thanks for all the pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion. I am actu­al­ly set­ting up my min­er and was think­ing about the anten­na. Im in EU in a small­er City with small­er Hills and no Hex is attached at the moment. I will place it as high as pos­si­ble and think­ing about a 8 or 3db one. The next big­ger City with the biggest con­nect­ed Net­work is about 3 miles straight with a Hill inbe­tween. Any rec­om­men­da­tion would bei appre­ci­at­ed. Kind regards Jo

  19. Yo Jo! :). Prob­a­bly an 8 for now since it’s an EU hotspot push­ing out much less pow­er. PoCv11 may change all of this, so just be ready to adapt.

  20. Thank you for being so help­ful Nik, the one thing I am not sure was men­tioned is whether or not it’s ben­e­fi­cial to use a met­al anten­na mast or a fiber­glass anten­na mast to reduce RF interferences?

  21. Hi Robin, I’d go with a met­al mast for dura­bil­i­ty. There’s prob­a­bly no appre­cia­ble RF per­for­mance dif­fer­ence for what we’re doing. I’ve got clients with both options and either works well.

  22. Hey nik, thank you for your information!!!

    I am liv­ing in a City 20 km away from Frank­furt (EU, Ger­many). In Frank­furt there are a lot of hexs. Between my City and Frank­furt there are no Hills, but there is anoth­er City, Offen­bach with also many Hex(ca.30) .Offen­bach is 13 km from my city. In my City there are 12 Hex. 

    My spots are about 10 m high. Would you Take a 3dbi or 8 dbi Anten­na. Any rec­om­men­da­tion would be appre­ci­at­ed. I cant decide and the pocv11 makes the dessi­cion even more complicated. 

    Sor­ry for my eng­lish and greetings

  23. Real­ly hard to say for the Euro region. I’d try the 8 dBi. I don’t think there’s a great solu­tion because the radio out­put is so low.

  24. Siegfried mabanta

    Hi Nik,
    Im a new­bie for hotspot, please help as I no idea for the anten­na range or dbi. But plan­ning to buy a bob­cat 300 with 4dbi stack anten­na. My loca­tion is at a urban area with same height of hous­es and some small trees. Im see­ing some hotspot devices near my area with a dis­tance of at 20km and low­est is at 3km to my loca­tion. Can you rec­om­mend me the anten­na i need to get more wit­ness­es con­nect­ed to my bob­cat 300. Appre­ci­ate your help.

  25. Have a Syn­cro­Bit stock in my attic now, I esti­mate 11m height. Plan­ning to move it out­side, but can’t decide on chim­ney (which would allow a pret­ty tall pole, but is maybe 8m away from a tree on one side) or just at the roof peak at least 16m away from any trees but prob­a­bly won’t allow for a super tall pole. In the US so decid­ing on anten­na (there’s 3 dif­fer­ent ones at the link, I pre­sume you’re talk­ing the out­door US 915 one, priced at $150?)

  26. I live in an apart­ment on the sec­ond floor… I have access to an out­door bal­cony but my MNTD gold min­er is cur­rent­ly in my win­dow with the stock 2.3dbi anten­na. There are trees and oth­er build­ings around and my build­ing is on a hill prob­a­bly 30–50 feet up from the road. There are two oth­er hotspots with­in 2 km from me but my min­er doesn’t detect them, and oth­ers are about 12–14km away. Should I buy a high­er gain out­door anten­na and install it on my bal­cony? Is this a lost cause because of my location?

  27. How much low­er is the roof peak? I’d prob­a­bly go there unless there’s a 5m or more dif­fer­ence. LoRa likes some space around it. Also take into con­sid­er­a­tion what is behind that tree that you want to hit (in terms of hotspots.)

    Yes, the out­door 915 is the one I use.

  28. Nik, the chim­ney top is maybe half a meter taller than the peak of the roof. But with a huge lever arm for the chim­ney I could safe­ly put up a pret­ty tall pole with the US 915 out­door anten­na on it. I doubt I could put up a 5m tall pole with­out cheesing off the neigh­bors though so it might only be like a 2m taller pole if I chose the chimney.

    Or I could cut down the tree.. Hehe

  29. I’d have to take a look, but it’s def­i­nite­ly going to block at least 25 degrees in that direc­tion (at least as far as direct LOS). It’s “not far” from that tree. There are actu­al­ly zero oth­er hotspots direct­ly blocked by that tree based on hotspot­ty, but that does­n’t mean there won’t be in the near future.

    Think­ing of it, and ease of instal­la­tion (because I’m going to have to hire some­one to go on this roof, it’s steep and I don’t like heights to begin with), I may just do a short-ish™ pole with the anten­na on it.

    Also, I see the HNTen­na and notice it’s only 3db gain. The region around us is pret­ty sub­ur­ban, and I’d be shocked if anoth­er hotspot shows up with­in 500m of me. But if I look out our upper win­dows, besides a house or two in all direc­tions, all I can see is trees beyond those hous­es. In total, vis­i­ble (LOS) hous­es from my house is maybe 30 hous­es because the trees are so mature around here, not to men­tion we’re bor­dered by a (for­est) park.

    Should I con­sid­er going for a high­er gain anten­na in that case? I pre­sume dipole of some kind? I mean, my best bet would be to put up a 30m tall pole, but…

  30. Height will be more impor­tant than anten­na. In a high­ly treed area RF at our fre­qs is gen­er­al­ly hard, so ele­va­tion will be your best bet. PoCv11 should even out the play­ing field for every­body, but it also means it’l be hard­er to get actu­al use­ful gain out of an antenna.

  31. Great info. You seem like to like help­ing peo­ple. 🙂 When I ordered my hot spot there were no oth­ers in my ‘red zone’. How­ev­er now, 5 mos lat­er, there is one… how­ev­er, there are also more now in my area over­all and 3 in my ‘sweet spot’.

    My ques­tion is I know the one in my red zone will cut into what mine earns but will the oth­er ones in my sweet spot maybe make up for that? Ask­ing b/c I do have a ‘host’ who is will­ing to let me place it at his house (none in his red zone) . Sim­i­lar ter­rains, neigh­bor­hoods, homes, trees, and num­ber of hot spots. I pre­fer it ay my house but not if hav­ing 1 in the red zone real­ly does cut into rewards. Not hooked up yet… just got it. Thanks so much for your great info!!

  32. Hi Nik, or maybe some­one know… I have a ques­tion about length of cable.
    I bought Bob­cat and I need to buy out­door anten­na for min­er, also cable for anten­na with 40 meters length.

    1) can min­er work with 40 meters cable between anten­na and miner
    2) what type of Anten­na I need
    3) what type of cable I need

  33. I live in a pret­ty seclud­ed area with a cou­ple of green hex­es. Although they have no wit­ness­es not too far from me. Woodsy area with some hills and lakes. I am try­ing to decide between a 5.8 DBI & 8 DBI this will go out­side high near my roof. I am torn on which one I should get. There is a city with a ton of hex­es and wit­ness­es about 26 miles from me.

  34. Hi, I have ordered a bob­cat 300 min­er and I like to ask you about the anten­na cable length. I under­stand that the length of the cable is 1 meter that comes with the min­er. If I use a dif­fer­ent anten­na what is the max­i­mum length of the cable I can use in order not to have a sig­nal loss

  35. 5.8 will prob­a­bly do well, just get it up high. Hon­est­ly there won’t be a huge dif­fer­ence, espe­cial­ly after PoCv11 which lev­els out all radi­at­ed out­puts. More on that here.

  36. Hi, thanks for the great info. I have a 5.8 anten­na and was won­der­ing if mount­ing it to a wall or in front of a win­dow is best? This is on the 2nd sto­ry of my house. I do even­tu­al­ly plan to roof mount once I can get access.

    Also, I recent­ly rein­stalled the stock Rak wire­less min­er anten­na too as I lost about 50% rewards for the week the 5.8 was con­nect­ed and wall mount­ed. The unit with stock anten­na was sit­ting in the win­dow previously.

    Wit­ness­es with the 5.8 dropped as well. Went from 13 to 8.

  37. Hi Nik,

    I am try­ing to trou­ble shoot for my broth­er in the Austin Texas area. He has a nebra out­door and is unfor­tu­nate­ly a bit far north of the city in Lean­der Tx. I imag­ine it as if he is real­ly far from oth­er hot spots and wants to reach the oth­ers towards the city so based on what I read he prob­a­bly wants a mid to high gain anten­na point­ed specif­i­cal­ly in the direc­tion of the city until the net­work grows out north clos­er to him. Would this be the right train of thought and do you have a rec­om­men­da­tion on anten­na ? Thanks

  38. Pingback: Lessons Learned From A Year Of Helium Deployments - Gristle King - A Guide to Helium

  39. Hel­lo, every­one. I need your advice.
    I am cur­rent­ly using the 4db anten­na from Bob­cat (about 2m High) and am won­der­ing whether a 5db omni­di­rec­tion­al anten­na (https://www.wimo.com/de/18003–868) or anoth­er anten­na would make sense.
    my loca­tion: Lit­tle Magen­ta Dolphin
    There are tall build­ings around me
    Or does it make sense to put a 2nd anten­na over a split­ter in the backyard?
    My build­ing is made of rein­forced concrete

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