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Helium Tools, Part 2: Hotspot RF

The con­stant ques­tion with Heli­um is, “How much will my hotspot earn?” While I’ve cov­ered the strat­e­gy for max­i­miz­ing that in oth­er posts, it sure is nice when you have a tool that helps dial in your accu­ra­cy. HotspotRF aims to be one of those tools, and I sat down with the own­er, Aidan Cur­ry, to walk through how to use it. 

Like Helium.Vision (walk­through here), HotspotR­F’s main offer­ing is RF (for Radio Fre­quen­cy) simulation. 

Let’s say you just moved to Vegas, up in the nice part of town just north west of Sum­mer­lin. You want to know if putting a 21′ pole on top of your two sto­ry house will pay the mort­gage, right?

One of the best ways to see if your loca­tion *might* work is to run an RF sim­u­la­tion to see how far those lit­tle LoRa pack­ets will fly. You plug in some details, like your spe­cif­ic fre­quen­cy (915 for us North Amer­i­can types), anten­na gain, cable loss, height of anten­na, and type of ter­rain, and HotspotRF will spit out an image of what your radio cov­er­age should look like.

As with all sim­u­la­tions, it’s not a guar­an­tee. HotspotRF makes it pret­ty easy to get a good idea of the cov­er­age you have. The col­or cod­ing of hotspots is super sim­ple to under­stand, and the fea­tures under devel­op­ment, like esti­mat­ed rewards and a recal­cu­la­tion of how your deploy­ment will effect every­one around you, sound pret­ty rad. You can hov­er over a hotspot to see its earn­ings, which saves you from open­ing up a win­dow over in Explor­er to do the same thing.

As of April 19th (and it’s under active devel­op­ment), it’s not show­ing 3D or build­ing effects with­in the sys­tem, although you can down­load a KMZ file and see ter­rain on Google Earth Pro.

In gen­er­al, this seems to me to be most use­ful for folks look­ing to deploy a hotspot with­out doing a deep dive into Helium. 

Here’s the walk­through with Aidan. We had some tech dif­fi­cul­ties right in the mid­dle of it, so you’ll see a jump from a day to a night call. Enjoy this new tool!

Want to try it out for your­self? They’re offer­ing 10 free cred­its to new users (at least for now, Aidan said they may dial that num­ber down sig­nif­i­cant­ly), so give HotspotRF a shot today!

11 thoughts on “Helium Tools, Part 2: Hotspot <span class="caps">RF</span>”

  1. Best expla­na­tion till now and still a lot of ques­tions in my mind 🙂 ‚but you clar­i­fied most of them,one thing i need you to ask,i live in a very small coun­try where till now there is no heli­um hotspot,it means that there is a small num­ber of Iot devices,does it mean that my hotspots in case i have 2–3 will mine few coins,will i gen­er­ate less then if i were in a big country??thank you

  2. Thanks Eri! It’s not the size of the coun­try, it’s the num­ber of hotspots that con­nect to each oth­er while pro­vid­ing the best/most cov­er­age. 2–3 should do well. In the long term the pro­cess­ing of data will start to mat­ter more, but for now, most of the rewards are relat­ed to proof of coverage.

  3. Just won­der­ing if I have 4 min­ers in prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er with none around so far will I still be earn­ing enough or should I get more?

  4. Depends how you set them up. 4 is the min­i­mum for start­ing to earn well, but no guar­an­tee. 25 is the top end. You’d want to pro­vide WUPU cov­er­age for max earn­ings. Wide, Unique, Prove­able, Useful.

  5. Sounds like you found out. Con­sen­sus Group (CG) rewards are pret­ty excit­ing, but ran­dom and rare. They’ll go away once the Val­ida­tors come online, but for now it’s like win­ning the lot­to; nice, but not reliable. 😉

  6. shawn l reuland

    Hel­lo Nik, do you use any LoraWan field test devices? I.e for mea­sur­ing sig­nal strengths either against a deployed Heli­um min­er post-instal­la­tion or a pre-deploy­ment sim­u­la­tion? Or are these sites like HotSpotRF and Heli­umVi­sion basi­cal­ly good enough to replace? 

    Would be great to hear any insights on either approach. I see the Ade­u­nis field tester men­tioned, looks pricey. I’m assum­ing any type of site sur­vey for pre-min­er instal­la­tion, would just be done with a reg­u­lar LoraWan GW on the pole and then you use one of these field test mobile tools and wan­der around, mea­sur­ing the RSSI’s perhaps?

  7. Hi Shawn, I’ve bought and used the Ade­u­nis. If you’re in San Diego hit me up and you can bor­row it. It’s fun to map things out, but I did­n’t find it ultra use­ful. LoRa goes such a long way that cov­er­age is usu­al­ly amaz­ing from any giv­en anten­na. You can build your own map­per for much cheap­er, which is a cool way to get into some code and sup­port Helium.

  8. Hel­lo Nik, I’m in SD, thanks for offer on that. I’m grokking the Heli­um Map­pers on that project, def­i­nite­ly cool, I like the Dragi­no track­er as option for hav­ing a live Heli­um node to ver­i­fy net­work traf­fic also. I think the cloud map­per usage requires hav­ing the Gate­way already joined to Heli­um net­work via the Con­sole? I was think­ing ini­tial­ly of options for field test­ing just the LoraWan cov­er­age on a deploy­ment pri­or to being on Heli­um net­work, as relo­cat­ing Heli­um gate­way to each poten­tial place I’d wan­na check is not trivial.

    I see the Wis­Gate­way D0, is rel­a­tive­ly cheap Lora GW dev board and If I pair that with the cheap­est hand held field ana­lyz­er seen on ebay, am look­ing at about $300 for some nice toys. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, no U.S. dis­trib­u­tors car­ry the Wis­Gate­way D0, so, to get that would require order­ing from RakWireless.com, which is hits you with like a $50 ship­ping fee at min. 

    I’m blown away by the Heli­um eco-sys­tem going on here, try­ing to catch-up to be rel­e­vant. I’m sw engi­neer in iot field, have worked on a few plat­forms, most­ly pat­tern of prox­i­mal sensors(wired or 802.15.4) and then always a sep­a­rate gw which does wan back­haul over wifi/lte, so can see where the Heli­um net­work becomes com­pelling enabler for iot apps as it removes the need for gate­ways, which is a huge cost/consideration for any iot prod­uct. once this nation-wide net­work of heli­um min­ers real­ly gets rolling..

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