Learn How To 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 usu­al­ly under $50 with ship­ping and don’t use much data. 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!


40 responses to “Learn How To Use The Helium Network”

  1. Cristian H Avatar
    Cristian H

    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. Gary Boudrie Avatar
    Gary Boudrie

    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. Ian c Avatar
    Ian c

    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. I haven’t seen those, but test ’em out and let me know what you learn. Neat!

  10. Nik,

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

  11. 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.

  12. Marco Martins Avatar
    Marco Martins

    Don’t you have to pay for the “traf­fic”?

  13. 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.

  14. Marco Martins Avatar
    Marco Martins

    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

  15. 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.

  16. Marco Martins Avatar
    Marco Martins

    That’s basi­cal­ly free ?

  17. 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.

  18. Any­one know what net­work Pur­pleAir uses? There’s a lot of those here in Ca. I’d be will­ing to put out the $ for it if I knew it would use my hotspot. 

    Do you know of any oth­er sen­sors that are already in high deploy­ment that use our hotspots?

  19. is there a way i can see what sen­sors are in my area? is that on the con­sole or anoth­er app? i. still wait­ing for my bob­cat, but would like to see what sen­sors are in the area or what data would be flow­ing into my hotspot…..
    thanks Nik

  20. Not sen­sors as far as I know, but you can see data flow in an area here.

  21. Ben, I have a cou­ple of PA sen­sors, some for work, and they work pret­ty good com­pared to pro­fes­sion­al dust mon­i­tors. They are using local wifi of the cus­tomer. They’re not cheap either, almost $300 a piece. When I use them remote­ly, I have to use a battery/inverter, and then use my cell as a hotspot. It would be cool if they made some­thing that uti­lized the Heli­um Network.

  22. Under inte­gra­tion and sta­tus in Heli­um con­sole while run­ning the temp sen­sor should it say no-status?
    I did set it up and added to data cake and it is being found by a hotspot

  23. Hi James, I’d check over in #sen­sor-dev in the Heli­um Dis­cord, although if you’re get­ting data you’re prob­a­bly fine.

  24. hi nik
    Is there any­way to get your dc to the heli­um app?


    hi there, i have already installed LHT-65 and placed on the exact same out­door box that is used for my bobcat.
    after 30 trans­mit­ted pack­ets my min­ers has not heared any of them being 2 cm away from the sen­sor while at the same time 9 of them are heared by a hotspot many km away. is there any dis­tance restriction ?

  26. Hi Geor­gios, you may have the sen­sor in a “dead spot” not cov­ered by your Hotspot’s anten­na. Try mov­ing it away from the Bob­cat box a bit (and shield­ing it from oth­er directions.)

  27. Hey Nic,

    Do you know if there is a lag in the sen­sor data prop­a­gat­ing through the network?

    I’m look­ing into using Dragi­no door Lora sen­sors for a home secu­ri­ty set­up, and trans­mis­sion time would be impor­tant for that. 


  28. So, from what I’ve been read­ing, you wont earn enough HNT to even off­set the cost of these sen­sors. Basi­cal­ly, the only rea­son to add sen­sors is to help the Heli­um net­work grow?

  29. That’s not how it works. Sen­sors will cost you mon­ey (in data cred­its) to use the Net­work. The rea­son to add sen­sors is because you have some­thing that is prof­itable to measure.

  30. Mr. Smith Avatar
    Mr. Smith

    Just thought you’d like to know that there are already some dead links on this (so, how do you use the heli­um net­work) page already:

    Dragi­no LHT-65 tem­per­a­ture and humid­i­ty mon­i­tors” isn’t tru­ly dead, but it produces:
    Search results for ‘LHT65
    Your search returns no results.

    fol­low the steps for that one, here” is dead and
    “Helium’s LHT65 instruc­tions” is also dead.

  31. Thanks Mr. Smith, will get those updated!

  32. Nik, could you go into a lit­tle bit more detail. On how it sen­sor would earn income if I deployed just one or two in my own yard or do I need to spread them out and mul­ti­ples across my city. To earn a sec­ond pas­sive income. Sug­ges­tions of sen­sor’s like prox­im­i­ty sen­sors for vehi­cles need­ing report­ing back to home­base. Or just tem­per­a­ture mois­ture dust. Also It sounds like using the net­work is going to cost a vari­able amount depend­ing upon the data being col­lect­ed from the sen­sor and cost to sent it. Also now I need to mar­ket the infor­ma­tion to earn some­thing by sell­ing the data to some­one. This all-seams extreme­ly vague on how to do that now. Do you have any insight to those questions.

  33. Hi Erin,
    It all is super vague for now; this is the next step of Heli­um and no one has it dialed yet.

  34. I’m inter­est­ed in con­nect­ing some items like a Sonde receiv­er or an AIS receiver.
    Cur­rent­ly have a LORA 433MHz receiv­er , using “cus­tom” firmware, col­lect­ing data on Son­des to at least 120Km away. The anten­na was tuned on a VNA , it is about 2″/5cm stub­by antenna.
    How­ev­er my inter­est is installing anoth­er receiv­er 150Km away to detect Son­des com­ing from anoth­er launch sta­tion. They have a low data rate and are only trans­mit for 2 hours twice a day.
    Any ideas on a prac­ti­cal LORA inter­face to Helium.
    I haven’t set up a Heli­um hotspot of my own ‚yet.

  35. Check out the work Star­watch­er aka Matthew Patrick over at NovaL­abs (for­mer­ly Heli­um Inc.) More on him here.

  36. Hel­lo Nik (and his fol­low­ers as well),

    Have you ever heard of a sit­u­a­tion where no mat­ter what you do you can’t get a sen­sor to pro­vi­sion on the net­work until you pow­er-cycle (not a SW reboot) your bases­ta­tion? I’m a lone wolf out in the coun­try with a Bob­cat 300. The sen­sor is LDS02 Dragi­no door sensor.

  37. Hi Mar­lan, I haven’t seen that, but you might check in on the Heli­um Dis­cord #sen­sor-dev chan­nel, as they may have some bet­ter answers for you.

  38. Lior Kvatinsky Avatar
    Lior Kvatinsky

    Hey Nick!
    Great work in Europe.
    Me and my busi­ness part­ner fol­lowed you for awhile and learned a lot from your content.
    We heard your advice for find­ing ways to use the Heli­um network.
    We are build­ing a com­pa­ny which pro­vides IOT sen­sors to small busi­ness­es (cur­rent­ly restau­rants are our main target).
    Our first client asked for 10 sen­sors and is very hap­py with our service.
    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, both of us does­n’t have a lot of tech­ni­cal knowl­edge, and every­thing took awhile to fig­ure out..
    But now we face a new challenge:
    Heli­um Con­sole let us oper­ate only 10 devices and one organization ?
    We try to go over our options for increas­ing the lim­it but it’s very tech­ni­cal and com­pli­cat­ed (run­ning our own server).
    Do you have any idea what should our best course of action should be?

  39. Hi Lior,
    Three options:
    1) Short term you can reach out to Heli­um Foun­da­tion and ask for access to a Con­sole with more devices.
    2) Reach out to Paul over at disk91.com and ask about pric­ing for run­ning this for you; that’s his expertise.
    3) Dive into Chirp­stack and be ready when Heli­um makes the switch. That’ll be a longer term play.

    Best bet if you’re not tech­ni­cal is prob­a­bly Paul.

    Good luck with it, and if there’s any­thing I can do to help, please let me know!

  40. Lior Kvatinsky Avatar
    Lior Kvatinsky

    Thank you my friend I appre­ci­ate your response!
    — I’m try­ing for weeks to reach the Heli­um Foun­da­tion and no response/: is there a spe­cif­ic per­son from the Foun­da­tion you know I can contact?
    — I assume that there’s some I’m not aware of: What is the switch you men­tioned? Does the con­sole gonna merge or discontinue?

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