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. Do NOT, by the way, try to get the giant anten­na in the pic­ture below. While it looks huge and cool and rad, it is the wrong anten­na to use for these deploy­ments. I spent a fair amount of blood and trea­sure to learn that les­son. You don’t need to. 

First: 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: Sim­ple: Pick from the McGill selec­tion. They’ll all work well. 

Put it out­doors at least 10′ above all the build­ings around you. Run 40′ or less of LMR400 cable to it from your hotspot. If you have to go more than 40′, use LMR600 if you’re feel­ing extrav­a­gant. 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 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!

One of the best tools to use when assess­ing a new site is Heli­umVi­sion. Remem­ber, loca­tion is FAR more impor­tant than anten­nas. If you’d like to learn more about Heli­umVi­sion (I use it in every one of my con­sults) I’ve built a Mas­ter Class on it, over here.

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 gen­er­al­ly gets too pre­cise to pro­vide the Wide cov­er­age (the W in WUPU) that we want.

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 how it *actu­al­ly* works. The gain pat­terns are nowhere near as dif­fer­ent, and a high gain anten­na will STILL hit the ground with­in 1,000′ of even a 100′ build­ing. 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 might 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* (when this was writ­ten, 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 should 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 usu­al­ly 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 an out­door HNTen­na or a McGill in the 3–6 dBi range, 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 either the HNTen­na or a McGill in the 3–6 dBi range and 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? Try a 8–9 dBi patch anten­na, like these.

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, check out  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


491 responses to “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. Avatar
    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.

  3. […] Here is a link from a guy, that shares more spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion about heli­um ante­na placement . […]

  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 ?

  7. Hi Anna, I’d go with an HNTen­na.

    — 100′ TALL TOWERS
    SO ROGHLY 40′

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

  10. 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

  11. Get ’em as high as you rea­son­ably can. 🙂

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. Patrick Fitzpatrick Avatar
    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.

  15. 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.)

  16. 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!

  17. Hi Mateo, since you’re in the EU and radio pow­er out­put is low­er, I’d go with a 5.8.

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. Hi Robin, I haven’t had my hands on a Fines­tra, but it should work fine with any anten­na. Enjoy!

  22. 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

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. Siegfried mabanta Avatar
    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.

  29. What part of the world are you in?

  30. 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?)

  31. 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?

  32. Hi Daniel, you’re far bet­ter off find­ing a new location.

  33. 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.

  34. 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

  35. Tough call. What’s the tree block­ing as far as oth­er hotspots?

  36. 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…

  37. 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.

  38. 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!!

  39. Hi Cathy, check this post on HIP 17, it’ll help you make an informed decision.

  40. 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

  41. Heather McMahon Avatar
    Heather McMahon

    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.

  42. 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

  43. Depends on the type of cable you use, read this.

  44. 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.

  45. Yes, read this. Prob­a­bly LMR 900.

  46. Andrew Holman Avatar
    Andrew Holman

    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.

  47. 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

  48. I’d stay away from high gain anten­nas and focus on find­ing a bet­ter location.

  49. […] 6 months into this, after writ­ing the first few arti­cles (the Rough Guide and the one on choos­ing an anten­na specif­i­cal­ly), I start­ed get­ting phone calls from peo­ple need­ing help. At first it […]

  50. 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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