Unlock Helium 5G: My Rooftop Installation


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How hard is it to deploy a Heli­um 5G min­er? There are at least three aspects to this: Phys­i­cal, Legal, and Risk/Reward. Let’s start with the eas­i­est one, which is the phys­i­cal installation.

As it turns out, a Heli­um 5G min­er is not that dif­fer­ent than a LoRa min­er to phys­i­cal­ly install. Just like a LoRa min­er, it needs to be con­nect­ed to pow­er and the inter­net. In most min­ers, this can be accom­plished via a PoE (Pow­er Over Eth­er­net) set up, though the pow­er require­ments are typ­i­cal­ly more, in the 20–30 watt range (vs 5 watts for a LoRa miner.)

The gen­er­al sig­nal flow looks like this: Inter­net service–>Modem–>Router–>Miner–>Radios (can be more than one)–>(sometimes) mul­ti­ple anten­nas. You can keep it sim­ple with a radio/antenna com­bo, or you can get com­plex with mul­ti­ple radios and mul­ti­ple anten­nas. If you want some­one to install yours for you, Heli­umDe­ploy has a “find installers” page here. If you think you can do it your­self (I think you can!), keep reading.

Here’s a video of a very basic set­up, like Option 1, above.

Next, you’ve got to find a loca­tion. That’s the hard­est part. The three vital aspects of a suc­cess­ful Heli­um 5G install are: 

  • High foot­fall
  • Poor cur­rent coverage
  • High dwell time. 

List­ing ’em is easy. Find­ing a place where all three inter­sect can be real­ly tough.

Now, when we final­ly get 5G Map­pers (a top secret project cur­rent­ly under con­struc­tion) we’ll have a much bet­ter idea of where cov­er­age already exists, but until then, you’ve got 2 choic­es. First, you can use an Android app like Cell Net­work Info on most Android phones; a Galaxy S10 is an excel­lent choice. If you don’t/won’t use an Android, you can (like I do) just wing it. If you’re see­ing a lot of peo­ple stand­ing around on their phones and it appears they don’t have great cov­er­age, you might have a good spot. 

That’s what a local trol­ley stop looked like to me, so I took down a “LoRa-only” min­er I had up and replace it with a Heli­um 5G set up. 

Your sec­ond option for check­ing out cov­er­age is to use exist­ing cell net­work maps, like CellMap­per. When you use that, you want to go through the car­ri­ers and choose “band 48 — CBRS” to check cov­er­age in your area. Those maps are NOT always accu­rate, but they’re a good start. I’ve found that if you choose the “5G Net­work” it often won’t let you choose band 48, so try the 4G-LTE as well.

Once you’ve got your loca­tion and it looks good, get that install up and run­ning. As I write this in mid-July 2022, the rewards a Heli­um 5G min­er will earn are still unclear. At the end of the day, what will real­ly make a dif­fer­ence is when peo­ple start actu­al­ly USING the net­work, so until Heli­um announces a deal with any of the majors (Ver­i­zon, T‑Mobile, AT&T, Sprint) we’re all just putting these up with NO guar­an­tee of any­thing oth­er than pro­vid­ing cov­er­age for the Heli­um network.

I know there’s still a ton of uncer­tain­ty around 5G, so in ear­ly July I asked the Gris­tle Crüe what ques­tions they had (the Gris­tle Crüe is my pri­vate mem­ber­ship option) and then posed them to an expert (Den­nis aka Elmo aka The Pro­fes­sion­al). I thought the inter­view was use­ful enough to release to the gen­er­al pub­lic, here it is! If you want to join the Gris­tle Crüe and have a chance to get your ques­tions answered, check us out here!

Still have ques­tions about a Heli­um 5G deploy­ment? Did I get some­thing wrong? Leave a com­ment and we’ll make this a bet­ter resource for everybody!


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