The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Helium Hotspot

So you just found out about Helium and want to crush it with your hotspot deployment? First, remember WUPU. That stands for Wide-Unique-Proveable-Useful coverage. WUPU is what makes for a reliably high earning hotspot. Here are the top 5 things that go against WUPU. Let’s start with the worst thing:

1 – Overcrowding

Putting your hotspot in the same res 8 hex as another hotspot WITHOUT providing significantly better coverage is a recipe for low earnings and wasted effort. I’ve gone into this in depth over in the Rough Guide.

I’m seeing a lot of folks who are just putting it in their house because they don’t have any other place to put it, even if someone else is already in the same res 8 hex! This goes against the first U in WUPU, which is Unique. That is…non-optimal if you want higher rewards. If you want to crush it with your deployment, focus 95% of your efforts on the placement aspect.

2 – Focusing on the Antenna

Most new hotspot owners go through some variation of “What’s the best antenna, money is no object?” Please read the post on antennas to learn why that’s not a high-earning question. You might think you’re going for the W in WUPU, which is Wide, but many times you’ll overbuy an antenna, getting a compressed signal that triggers anti-gaming witness invalidation measures OR goes far beyond the local hotspots you should be targeting.

3 – Not doing your research

You end up wasting a ton of your own time and that of others by asking a question in the forums that you could have answered far more thoroughly and profitably had you used a Search function. Trust me, you are not the first person with your question. Type it into Google exactly as you’d ask an expert and add “Helium Hotspot” at the end, or type the key words into the Helium Discord channel and scroll through the results.

4 – Not getting your antenna outside and up at elevation

This is a classic mistake. Look, Helium is a HUGE opportunity, but that opportunity will only exist as a tremendous one for hotspot owners who provide WUPU. If you put your antenna in a window down low, you are providing a very small area of useful coverage, it will be more difficult to verify it because your signal will be weak, and if there are any other hotspots around you you’ll probably be duplicating their efforts.

Related but usually not common with people who want to crush is the lone wolf deployment, where someone puts in a hotspot that through topography or distance can’t connect with any other hotspot. Even if they’re providing Wide, Unique, and Useful coverage, it’s not Proveable, so it doesn’t really count. Hey, I don’t make the rules (even though I think the Proveable rule is an excellent one.)

5 – Not connecting via a solid (usually ethernet cable) connection.

This is a smaller mistake but a source of frustration. The hotspots so far released don’t have super strong WiFi reception, so they end up going offline, or missing a signal, or just disconnecting. Save yourself a TON of trouble and just hardline the thing in. If your connection is unreliable, you’re not really providing Useful coverage.


All of these mistakes are as common as they are avoidable. If you just remember WUPU and apply it to every step of your deployment you can avoid them.

With about 10 hours of serious reading or study you’ll be in the top 1% of knowledgeable hotspot owners in the entire ecosystem, and you won’t make these. With that much study, not only can you avoid those mistakes, you’ll easily sidestep all the other low-earning pitfalls that many hotspot owners stumble into.

Have a look through this blog, reading it will be a useful addition to your 10 hours. I’ve written about how to optimize your hotspot placement, which antenna is best, how much you can expect to earn, and more.

94 thoughts on “The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your Helium Hotspot”

  1. Hi Nick – great articles, so helpful, have poured through every one of your Helium related post at least once 🙂 Like most I have hotspots on the way, the first bunch arriving in June. I currently live overseas in Auckland, New Zealand where there is nothing (yet), but I know that will change in coming months.

    One thing is bugging me, regarding the density and the 300m zoning issue, I would think this could lead (and probably is/has) to some major conflict. I know if I was earning 100’s of HNT a month and some cowboy put one 250m from a high earning rig and greatly reduced it’s potential, I’d be fuming.

    This must be happening all over the world in super dense enclaves (as illustrated on Explorer in cities like LA, San Fran, London, Berlin etc). Why doesn’t Helium step in and have a clear cut ‘First Come First Serve’ policy and nip this in the bud? I would think a clear, black and white policy here would alleviate so much stress and anxiety.

    I mean there are a lot of trolls out there, purely out of jealousy someone could greatly diminish your earning power. I know it would be illogical and counter intuitive, but so is being anti-vaccine and look how many of them there are.

    Anyway, haven’t seen it really addressed anywhere and like to get your thoughts on it. Are people lobbying Helium to address this big issue?

    Thanks in advance.

    C

  2. They may be lobbying Helium, but if you think of it from a network perspective there’s not a huge downside to people providing additional coverage. What IS likely is that the rewards system will be adjusted through chain vars to significantly discourage overcrowding while simultaneously rewarding WUPU coverage. (Wide, Useable, Proveable, and Unique.)

  3. Hello Nick, I wanted to know an efficient way to set up an indoor miner and have the antenna be outside in a high elevation. Any tips?

  4. You can use a length of LMR400, depending on your antenna up to 60′. Just make sure you get the right connectors. 🙂

  5. Nik,
    I’m about 150 feet up in a high rise and won’t be able to get on the roof. Balcony faces a dense population and I would get about a 180 degree “view” (facing north, 10 miles of east and infinite west).which is fine provided there are enough others to create the desired network.

    Any criticism of me accepting the limitation of non-360 degrees?

  6. Aldwin De Torres

    Hi Nik, I live in an area that receives thunder and lightning storms. I’m somewhat ambitious and thought about placing HS on top of buildings on a pole. However, I am very worried that’ll just attract lightning and destroy the HS. Any thoughts on placing the HS high and outdoors, but not run that lightning strike risk?

  7. Hi Aldwin, use a lightning arrestor and ground the antenna properly and you’ll be as protected as you can be.

  8. Hey Nick, Awesome cannel!!
    In an suburban setting, with mostly flat topography, 100 units within a 5 mile radius would a stock 3dbi antenna seem sufficient?

  9. Yep, just get it as high as you can and outside. 5′ above the roofline and you should do well.

  10. Hi Nick I am from Naples Italy and with my hotspot I cannot correct the “relayed” signal, even though I have activated port forwarding in the router. I contacted my telephone operator who replies that they cannot help me. What do you advise me to do? Thank you

  11. Hi Nik, So glad i found your info as I try to decide if this is feasible for me. My house has just one hot spot inside of 300 meters from it. says it is earning .83 – – – does this mean i should NOT put a hotspot at my house and seek another location?

  12. You’ll def want to be more than 300 meters away from that other one. Sounds like it’s a lone wolf, so adding in a hotspot (far enough away) could be a great idea!

  13. good day,

    i have a specific question with hotspot placment. In HIP 17 it says for res8: Number of siblings: 2, density_tgt: 1, density_max: 4 . So if i get it right i should place 1 hotspot in 3 hexagons next to each other to get 100% earnings.
    My question now: Am i allowed now to place 4 hotspots in these 3 hexagons(so 12 hotspots alltogether) or is it like one hexagone can be filled with 4 and the neighbours have to stick with one hotspot than?

    Thanks

    greetz Martin

  14. You could place 4 hs each in those 3 hexes without getting transit reward scaled, but a lot of them wouldn’t witness each other because they’d be too close.

  15. Tank you so much for sharing how it works! I will ofc take care that no one will be in the Red zone.

  16. I am surprised that Coax cable is not on this list. From what I have read, the quality and length of your cable can dramatically impact your dbi.
    For those who want to place an antenna on their roof but don’t want to put their HS in an outdoor enclosure, what is the longest length of a name brand (USACoax or Times Microwave) LMR400 cable you would recommend running?

  17. Hi Nik,

    You recommended not going over 60′ depending on antenna, can you provide more information on that?

    If I am running the ANT-NH900-OUT 3dbi antenna you recommend, what is the maximum cable length I can run of LMR 400?

  18. It really depends on antenna gain, and there’s not a hard and fast answer (even though it seems like there should be). Basically, the shorter the better. Out to 75′ has been used on an 8 dBi antenna successfully. You can go further, it’s just that the antenna won’t perform as optimally.

  19. Nik, crazy useful website, I’ve been learning a lot.

    Based on your advice I am going to approach a local brewery In an old industrial building with a 100 foot tall water tower. They have already run power up it for a big neon sign. The surrounding area is mostly three to five story buildings with clear views to two nearby downtown metros. I am already somewhat friendly with the brewery owner.

    If I get the greenlight, do you recommend I run ethernet/POE all the way up there? Or treat it like an off grid set up and put it on data?

    Also, the cage ladder runs all the way up to the pinnacle of the water towers roof, so I can get to the highest point easily. (Well, easily might not be the word normal folks would use, but you know.) Given the height advantage I will already have, is there any point to using a pole to go even higher, or can I just clamp the antenna onto the ladder cage at the top and call it good?

  20. Right on Andre. Maximum effort = maximum results, so I’d run PoE (under 300′) and be aiming at that pole. 🙂

  21. Beautiful, thanks Nik. Hope the brewery owner okays it, otherwise on to the next tower!

  22. I am having the mistake of not finding info on the basic understanding of the concept. It sounds bad, but that is where I am at. I am trying to see if I have this massive antenna, how is it that all of these little “toasters” and iot devices are able to talk back to me? It seems to me there has to be some limit of the range that they can throw? I have tried to connect to wifi hotspots from say a main house to a guest house and can’t get that working because on of the antennas can get to one router, but the other cannot get back on the back-leg of the communication. So, it seems to me that there would be a limit on how far away you can talk to an iot device, regardless of anything else. I feel like I missed the remedial basics of the whole process!

  23. No worries Brad, you’ve hit on an often overlooked aspect of this. Helium *Hotspots* can talk to each other over a 100 miles away with clear line of sight because they both have plenty of power and larger, more sensitive antennas than sensors. The sensors (and sensor nodes they’re attached to) usually have a much lower range, say 1-5 km. LoRa can punch through a couple of walls, it’s not like WiFi (different frequency and amount of information carried), so those aren’t really comparable.

  24. Thanks Nik, so just so I am making sure I am understanding this correctly: Any antenna, no matter how badass, that reaches over 5km is not going to be effective past the 5km distance (approximately). If I am talking to hotspots 30km away, I am wasting signal from 5-30km. The first 5km is making me money, the rest is just getting witnesses that don’t really matter. So I want to have a really broad footprint the goes from my antenna to say (under 10km) out to be “optimized”, is that in essence the gist? Thanks, I appreciate you 😉

  25. Well, depends on what you want it to be effective *for*.
    For earning from other hotspots you’ve got a potential effective range of 100+ miles.
    For receiving data from sensors, it’s a lot shorter.
    They’re two different things. Earnings come mostly from interacting with other hotspots for right now, so the 5km – 30+ km zone isn’t wasted, it’s just not what the network will eventually use.

  26. Hi… So we received an extended Verizon FiOS 2.0 router back on July 8th. Oh boy, who knew this would mess things up. My rewards etc. were great prior to this. Anyway, I was relayed after the upgrade, opened up port 44185, and connected via ethernet, however, it just isn’t working up to par. Rewards have been far and few in between and no witnesses, as opposed to having a nice handful of witnesses prior to July 8th. We have wireless 5G. I took out the ethernet cable and tried just going back to my wifi and now there have been zero rewards for almost 24 hours. Do I just suffer from patience issues or am I doing something wrong? Thanks in advance for helping me troubleshoot. DM

  27. In addition to the previous comment… P.S. Forgot to mention, we got a new router, an upgrade basically, and I opted for the extended router to make sure my wifi was strong on the second floor of my home. Turns out it is strong… The router and antenna have always been inside my home, 2nd floor, by a window with no screen. DM

  28. Hi Deena, rewards have dropped significantly in the last month. As long as you’re not relayed and synced up, it’s probably best to just wait it out. I’d stick with ethernet cable vs wifi. The witness list routinely resets, so it’ll build back up.

  29. Should I just plug it back into my router and miner (meaning ethernet) or do I have to shut the whole wifi down etc. Still a major rookie here.

  30. Hmm, I’d expect if you just connect your ethernet cable that should do it. I’d probably unplug the hotspot, connect the ethernet cable, then power the hotspot back on. Then go do something else for 2 days. 🙂

  31. Hi Nik,

    Is there any advantage to using a higher quality ethernet cable to connect your hotspot and router? I need to run about 50 feet of ethernet cable to get to my hotspot and I’m not sure if investing in some CAT8 could make any difference from using some old CAT6.

    Best,
    Mario

  32. Paul Greenhalgh

    So it needs to be outdoor, high, not too close to any other miners but not too isolated AND it needs to be hard wired to a network. In practicality this is surely almost impossible.

  33. Hi Paul, tell that to Trendy Ginger Starling, Shiny Shangria Mammoth, Flaky Coconut Marmot, Lone Daffodil Blackbird, and Rough Chili Bird. It ain’t impossible, it’s just unusual, and usually requires more work.

  34. Hey Nik, I was looking at those beasts and I am curious what the key to the equation is there, they have minimal witnesses. I have 81, they have 13-15 and their reach is not that great, but they seem to be just killing it. They are obviously not posting the real setup as it show 1.2dbi and 0′. Do you speculate that they just have insane height and covering everyone close by, but then why would there not be more witnesses. Am I hung up on witnesses and should not be?

  35. Hi Brad,
    Yes, you’re hung up on witnesses. More is not better, as you can see from the top earners. Have a careful read through HIP 15. From a big picture perspective, this line from the Github sums it up: “…each hotspot is motivated to provide as much coverage as possible WITHOUT [emphasis mine] over-rewarding redundant coverage.”

    It can get complex quickly, but the big picture looks like this: A top earning provides maximum proveable reliable coverage of other hotspots providing non-redundant coverage. It’s not easy to get that top spot. You’ve got to get your location, elevation, lines of sight, and placement in relation to surrounding hotspots right. Oh, and I guess your antenna. People love antennas. 🙂

    One quick edit: I didn’t check ’em at first, but a few of those in the top 10 hit some of the last CG, artificially inflating earnings. Still, the fundamentals remain the same.

  36. Heya NIK, two part question for ya…
    1.) I’ve been told I live in “dream zone.” Close to Downtown with some elevation help living on a small mountain. Also a dozen or so high earners around me (611-1011 distance from my place.) and about 60 green dots in a 2-3 mile radius around me. Just found out I have a 5 ft pole sticking out of the roof (ive never been up there before.) I was thinking of running a POE to minimize the mess (cables) but the roof pole is about 200 ft from my Modem. Does length of POE cable(s) matter when using this setup? Other than the max POE length rule of 300 ft or less? My antenna’s coax is only going to be 12 inches long or so (LMR400.) Overall thoughts on my setup ideas? Oh and would try a 5.0dBi Fiberglass Ant (via a pole mount; tapping onto the current pole up there now.)

    2.) I live in the hot desert and it rains maybe 4-5 days a year where I’m at. Is there a certain malleable material you can think of that won’t affect, conflict, or distort my outbound radio signal? So I can conjure up a homemade ‘umbrella’ of sorts? Or some type of cheap canopy/shield to keep my unit dry if needed? As it is designed for “indoor use only” for the time being…

    Thanks a lot for all that you’re doing for us home-gamers! Cheers!

  37. Hi Kevin, length of ethernet cable shouldn’t matter at all, just stay within that 300′ limit. For your outdoor question, I’d just use a vented enclosure to house your indoor unit.

  38. Hey Nik, after doing tons of research, i’m getting stuck on decissions about the right antennas for my specific scenario. I have oportunity to put my HS (6 in total) on a 12th floor buldings (rooftop), 400m apart. The closest HS are far away from 20/170km away. I wonder, should I try to reach em, while testing 8/10/12 dbi antennas – or should I focus on my zone and 6 hotspots? If so, which antennas could You recommend in this scenario? Hope to see some concrets from You! Lot’s of fake info and various, unreliable info out there… Have a great day and thanks for sharing Your experience with Us! Best, Kam.

  39. Kam, 20 km to the nearest hotspot will be a crapshoot. You’ll hit it, but not reliably enough to generate satisfying HNT. :). Focus on providing excellent coverage locally from high spots. Double check your res 7 density for your 6 hotspots 400m away. I’d stick with the HNTenna.

  40. Hey Nik, gotta say your website is such an awesome resource which I reference almost daily. Just received several rak miners and want to get these deployed to my hosts ASAP. Is it possible to sync them all at my home simultaneously first and then send to my hosts so they’re ready to mine right off the bat? Imagine I would have to re-assert locations on them but thought this would be more efficient than having each host sync/troubleshoot themselves. Any issues you see with this or any other better suggestions to deploying at scale? Thanks!!

  41. Yep, that’s fine. You can assert their final location when you first get ’em syncing at your place.

  42. Hi Nik… This is Deena from back on July 27rh… So, things worked out great…got my witnesses back after 3 weeks and was back in business. Then, as of Aug. 20th, Verizon upgraded the software to our home router in my area. As a result, our miner has done zero today. Question: Have you noticed that when software upgrades take place with routers there is a stall or set back with the miner’s performance? For example: miner sent out 3 challenges after upgrading – nothing, zero activity! Just curious if this is okay & that I just need to be patient again, and the miner will soon do it’s thing. As always, thanks in advance re: any feedback!
    With appreciation & regards, Deena

  43. Yo Deena! 😉 I have at least one miner that’s also done zero today, looks like there’s an issue with the network. I may go down tomorrow and see if I can replace the SD card (about the only thing you can do on a RAK V2), but I’m more likely to just…wait. Waiting is almost always the right answer when trying to diagnose something with Helium.

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