So how do you USE the Helium Network?

While many of you are ham­mer and tongs at the game of deploy­ing hotspots, the real oppor­tu­ni­ty is begin­ning to shift from *build­ing* the net­work to *using* the network.

One of the best ways to learn some­thing is to do it. Let me show you how, for about $40, you can add your first sen­sor to the net­work and visu­al­ize the data.

Before we get there, let’s think about why this is impor­tant, and how know­ing how to do this will give you a com­pet­i­tive edge. This’ll go into strat­e­gy and the­o­ry plus my own pre­dic­tions, so if you just want to skip the­o­ry and get start­ed, jump here.

Strategy and Theory — A New Network

Heli­um is par­tic­i­pat­ing in a move­ment that is the sin­gle largest jump in human evo­lu­tion for the past 10,000 years or so. If you would wind back in time 10,000 years to the pre-agri­cul­tur­al era and talk to a hunter-gath­er­er, the infor­ma­tion they knew about the world would melt (or at least tem­porar­i­ly re-form) your brain.

From odd aspects of sens­ing the world, like ocean nav­i­ga­tors dip­ping their scro­tum into the sea to feel very slight water tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences that indi­cat­ed what cur­rent or part of the world they were in, to Native Amer­i­cans who knew where the ani­mal they were going to hunt and kill that day was well before they left camp, humans had a high­ly devel­oped inter­nal view of the world. This was based on pay­ing atten­tion to sens­es so fine­ly tuned as to be unbe­liev­able today.

That view is almost entire­ly lost, and any indi­vid­ual human will prob­a­bly nev­er expe­ri­ence it again. We will expe­ri­ence some­thing even richer.

With the help of edge com­put­ing, a wide deploy­ment of sen­sors and sen­sor types, and the bur­geon­ing abil­i­ty to both visu­al­ize and use data, we humans are begin­ning to re-under­stand our world. Heli­um is a part of this.

When you deploy a Heli­um hotspot, you’re prob­a­bly aim­ing to max­i­mize your HNT earn­ings. That’s cool, so am I, and on top of that I’d love to help you with it. Still, the thing you may not be think­ing about is what’s beyond the HNT earn­ings. What are the oppor­tu­ni­ties that are pop­ping into exis­tence just by you and a few thou­sand oth­ers build­ing our own net­work that moves data from invis­i­ble to visible? 

The sim­plest expla­na­tion is that by increas­ing the “data den­si­ty” of a busi­ness, then by show­ing them how to use that extra data, you give them a valu­able com­pet­i­tive edge. In some cas­es that edge will save them mon­ey. In some cas­es it will make them money. 

This data den­si­ty is the “new and improved” ver­sion of how we humans sense the world. As a quick (and non-mon­e­tary) exam­ple, imag­ine the hunter-gath­er­er from 10,000 years ago. She knew where to go that day to find the best food because of her indi­vid­ual sen­so­ry con­nec­tion to the weath­er and sea­son, but she could­n’t real­ly share that knowl­edge with you, oth­er than to tell you where to go. 

If you deploy a weath­er sta­tion net­work of 20 units over, say a few thou­sand acres, you will have cre­at­ed a far denser sen­sor net­work than any stan­dard weath­er sta­tion deploy­ment, and ANYONE IN THE WORLD can have instant access to that data. If you decide to help peo­ple visu­al­ize that data, now you have added tremen­dous val­ue that is avail­able to any­one who wants it. Maybe you charge for that data. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you share it in a way that oth­er experts can help you refine your under­stand­ing fur­ther. What­ev­er you do with a sen­sor net­work like that, you are con­tribut­ing to ele­vat­ing our human under­stand­ing of the world, and that’s pret­ty damn cool.

Now, you can apply this data den­si­ty idea any where you can imag­ine, so start imagining. 

Is it use­ful for the local truck­ing com­pa­ny (or an Ama­zon DSP) to know where their vehi­cles are at 12 sec­ond inter­vals? Is it use­ful for your local restau­rant to know the inven­to­ry lev­els in an off-site kitchen, and for every oth­er com­pa­ny who shares that off-site loca­tion to also know their inven­to­ry lev­els based on weight-plate sensors?

Will FedEx see a use for track­ing indi­vid­ual pack­ages, or pal­lets, or trucks, or air­planes? Would a sup­ple­ment com­pa­ny ben­e­fit from track­ing the prove­nance of it’s sup­plies, so you know the high-end col­la­gen you bought actu­al­ly came from ani­mals humane­ly treat­ed, and if you want­ed to you could track from cow to cof­fee? You ARE putting col­la­gen in your cof­fee, right? Wait, that’s anoth­er article.

How about your local gov­ern­ment? San Diego sure could ben­e­fit from know­ing when wild­fires were start­ing way before they get report­ed by human sens­es. Deploy­ing a net­work of air qual­i­ty sen­sors might save BILLIONS of dol­lars if we can stop a wild­fire when it’s only cov­er­ing ½ an acre. 

When it comes to deploy­ing sen­sors, the only lim­it to cre­at­ing and using data den­si­ty is your imagination

So, how do you go about adding to this data density?

Let’s get started! 

Here’s a broad overview of how the whole thing works:

  • Buy a sensor
  • Sign up for a Heli­um Con­sole account
  • Pro­vi­sion your sen­sor (this just means you claim own­er­ship of it dig­i­tal­ly, so that you’re the one con­trol­ling the data flow)
  • Con­nect that sen­sor to some kind of data visu­al­iza­tion platform
  • Deploy the sensor

Step 1: Buy­ing a Sensor

I sug­gest start­ing with some­thing sim­ple and cheap. I’ve deployed a bunch of the Dragi­no LHT-65 tem­per­a­ture and humid­i­ty mon­i­tors. I use them to act as a dou­ble-check on mon­i­tor­ing whether or not a hotspot is up. They’re under $40 with ship­ping and don’t use much data. Robot­Shop is def­i­nite­ly not the only place to get them, but it’s a good place to check out oth­er sen­sors you might want to buy. Do NOT throw away the box with the DEV EUI stick­er on it. You’ll want that info. We’ll see a quick tip to see a long list of sen­sors in the next step, Provisioning.

Step 2: Pro­vi­sion­ing the Sensor

You’ll need to set up a Heli­um Con­sole account. Heli­um has an excel­lent set of instruc­tions on their site for how to do that, head over there and fol­low the steps to get yours going. Heli­um has also done a great job of walk­ing you through adding a spe­cif­ic device. 

Since you already bought the LHT-65, we might as well fol­low the steps for that one, here. Yes, typ­ing in the DEV EUI, APP EUI, and APP KEY is a PITA. The only short­cut is using the QR code on the device to give you the DEV EUI, which you can then copy/paste.

Ok, now that you’ve got a sen­sor, a Con­sole account, and you’ve pro­vi­sioned the sen­sor, you’ll need to acti­vate the sen­sor. In this case, that means you push the only but­ton on the device for at least 3 sec­onds. Yeah, it’s that easy. Here’s the man­u­al if you want to dive in deep­er. It may take a few min­utes for it to show up in Con­sole. I rec­om­mend get­ting the LHT-65 out­side and with­in direct Line of Sight to your near­est hotspot just to ensure this first process goes smoothly. 

You can watch as near­by hotspots pick it up. Scroll down to the Event Log, open up an Event, then click on Hotspots. That’s the hotspot that’s “hear­ing” your device.

Now let’s talk about inte­gra­tion with data visu­al­iza­tion platforms. 

Step 3: Con­nect & Visualize

As you’ve prob­a­bly seen after fol­low­ing those steps, Heli­um Con­sole is not built for the aver­age per­son to just look at and visu­al­ize data. 

For that, you’ll need to con­nect your Con­sole account to anoth­er plat­form. If you want the eas­i­est ver­sion, just fol­low along with Heli­um’s LHT65 instruc­tions and use myDe­vices Cayenne. It’s free and easy.

You can use oth­er tools to visu­al­ize the data as well. From your Heli­um Con­sole win­dow, click on the Inte­gra­tions menu on the left side and then look for all the pre-built inte­gra­tions. Let’s try Dat­a­cake.

Head over to the Dat­a­cake web­site and set up an account. Once you’ve got that, go back to Heli­um Con­sole and look for Inte­gra­tions on the left menu. Click on that, then choose Dat­a­cake. There’s a full set of instruc­tions on how to do this, so at the risk of send­ing you to the Heli­um site, you should go check those out.

Ok, the next step is con­fus­ing. With the LHT65 pro­vi­sioned in con­sole, you have to tell Dat­a­cake AND Con­sole what you’ve done. In Dat­a­cake, look for the blue Add Device but­ton, then choose LoRaWAN –> New Prod­uct from template–>then search for LHT and click on the Dragi­no LHT65 radio but­ton. Like this:

Next they’ll ask you to choose the Net­work Serv­er you want to con­nect. Look for Heli­um, then click next. 

Now you’ll need to put the DEV EUI in. Hot tip: Use copy/paste to pull it over from your Con­sole account. It will look dif­fer­ent than the DEV EUI you’ve typed in, don’t wor­ry. Just copy/paste. Trust me on this one. 

For this first device, choose the Free plan and then con­nect away. That’s it.

I’ve found that it usu­al­ly takes a while to start actu­al­ly SEEING the data. Be patient. It’ll come. 

Now the fun part starts: Deploy the sen­sor! A sen­sor is just one more tool in your tool­box as you help build this new world of IoT interconnectivity. 

How will you use data to change your world?

Get ’em!

17 thoughts on “So how do you <span class="caps">USE</span> the Helium Network?”

  1. Hi Nik, thanks for always shar­ing great con­tent with the Heli­um com­mu­ni­ty, I real­ly enjoyed this post. In the­o­ry any LoraWan sen­sor is com­pat­i­ble with Heli­um, as far as I under­stand. But, is there any­thing in par­tic­u­lar that I should look for oth­er than the 915 (US) fre­quen­cy band? Thanks!

  2. I don’t think so. Still the Wild West a bit, but 915 is my north star for now. 🙂

  3. Hel­lo Nick,
    I am just get­ting start­ed and wait­ing on my Free­dom­Fi hotspot for deliv­ery. My ques­tion, relat­ed to to ques­tion above, do the cur­rent mod­els being or get­ting ready to be shipped come in at 915 default, or is this some­thing you need to state and pay extra for in said con­fig­u­ra­tion and components?
    One more quick ques­tion, I have a sec­ond hotspot on order also from Heli­um and Free­dom­Fi, should I can­cel the sec­ond hotspot and just put my mon­ey to bet­ter use in the sys­tem on oth­er components?

    Thank you,

  4. Hi Gary, not sure about the Free­dom­Fi, none of those have shipped yet and don’t look like they will for a while. Should be pret­ty straight­for­ward re. 915. As far as a 2nd Free­dom­Fi hotspot, I’ve seen those slots on the wait­ing list are sell­ing for a boat­load on eBay. Tough call.

  5. Hi Nick, I have enjoyed your projects with the heli­um net­work. I live in the north bay area, and I have access to a moun­tain top. I would like to pick your brain on your moun­tain project deploy­ment with the heli­um net­work, I’m cur­rent­ly fol­low­ing your set­up as far as I can tell from your videos.


    Hi Nik;
    thank you for the great con­tent. Im awat­ing 2 of the bob­cat min­ers that i have ordered and I have been think­ing about how it is not enough for me to just put up the min­ers, but that the real longevi­ty and accep­tance will be cen­tered on Using the network/finding ways to show poten­tial users how they can use it as well! the temp/humidity sen­sor is some­thing that I will buy as a use case sce­nario in order to show peo­ple the poten­tial. I live in a small town, and most of my “neigh­bors” would be bet­ter served if I could show them a way to use it. We have a lot of peo­ple who are con­stant­ly “los­ing” their pets. I have been think­ing that if i could find a device that they could attach to their pets col­lars, that would help them find their kit­ties and dog­gies, then I would be bet­ter able to pro­mote the net­work as well as find vol­un­teers to host my min­ers. Do you know of an appli­ca­tion that is on the mar­ket that would meet this requirement? 

    thanks for your help and for shar­ing your knowledge!!!


  7. Hi Chris,
    There’s noth­ing super small and sim­ple *yet*, but it’s com­ing. Def. keep an eye out for new sen­sors. I’ll write more about the ones I’m work­ing on bring­ing online once I’ve got ’em up and run­ning. You’re def on the right track though, keep learn­ing & exploring!

  8. Anoth­er bril­liant arti­cle. Definete­ly going to pur­chase a cou­ple of the LHT65 units. Do you have any expe­ri­ence with the LSN50v2-S31 — LoRaWAN Tem­per­a­ture & Humid­i­ty Sen­sor? While larg­er, its only £15 more expen­sive but seems like it could alert you if your hotspot was in dan­ger as it claims to have instant mode.

    Thanks again for direct­ing me here!

  9. Nik,

    Thanks for the great con­tent. Is there any returns/rewards/economics for deploy­ing sen­sors with­in the heli­um net­work yet?

  10. Well, there’s a cost in data cred­its to deploy sen­sors, but you can charge for access to that data, or to make sense of that data.

  11. Yes, you have to pay for the data on any sen­sors you “pro­vi­sion”. If your hotspot is pro­cess­ing that data, it’s basi­cal­ly a net zero cost. If some­one else’s is, you’ll pay. If you turn around and charge a mar­gin to the cus­tomers you’re pro­vid­ing a ser­vice for, that’s how you’ll turn a profit.

  12. Does that mean that if I have hotspots run­ning I can use my earned HNTs to pay that traf­fic direct­ly from my earn­ings or I do still have to buy credits? 

    How much does a device like this report­ing every 10 min­utes would “cost”?

    Thank you

  13. Sure. You’d have to sign up for a Heli­um Con­sole account and buy DC with HNT. I’ve had one run­ning May 2nd to Sept 5th which has used 8,532 DC.

  14. depends on what you call “free.” 🙂 It’s def­i­nite­ly cheap, and espe­cial­ly if you’re earn­ing HNT off a hotspot, eas­i­ly afford­able to run lots of data.

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