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.


100 responses to “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.


  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. Leonardo Avatar

    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. Hi Bill, use what you have, sounds like a great start!

  7. Aldwin De Torres Avatar
    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?

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

  9. 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?

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

  11. Vincenzo Avatar

    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

  12. Hi Vin­cen­zo, take a look at this link.

  13. 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?

  14. 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!

  15. Martin Avatar

    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?


    greetz Mar­tin

  16. 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.

  17. Martin Avatar

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

  18. 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?

  19. 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?

  20. Hi Dave,
    Depends on anten­na gain. Check the bot­tom of the hotspot ref­er­ence page for lengths to run.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

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

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

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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 😉

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. Thanks dear. Appre­ci­ate your time and advice!!! DM

  33. 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.

  34. 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. 🙂

  35. @NIK… Appre­ci­at­ed! Great site btw. Good luck with it! Deena <3

  36. @NIKTHX! Deena <3

  37. 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


  38. Does­n’t appear to make a dif­fer­ence. Cat 5e works as well. 😉

  39. Paul Greenhalgh Avatar
    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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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?

  42. 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.

  43. Kevin H Avatar
    Kevin H

    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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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!!

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

  49. 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

  50. 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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