What Can You Do On Solana? A Guide For The Helium Community

We’re switching over to Solana as our Layer 1 (L1 for the cool kids). What does that mean for you, a Hotspot owner?

Let’s start with the important stuff: On a day to day basis, about the only difference you’ll see once we switch over to Solana is that the whole system will run faster. Sure, there’ll be outages; there a part of every new technology, and Solana is no exception.

Still, most of the time what you should expect to experience is a working blockchain that’s faster than Helium’s original.

Ok, so “working and faster” is a good start, but…what else is there?

Helium brought a lot of new-to-crypto people into the crypto space, and while the promise of “decentralized” and “permissionless” and “smart contracts” seem useful as fuzzy concepts, how can you as a Hotspot owner actually use all that? Maybe you want to dip your toe a little deeper, say to ankle depth, into crypto. Where could you start?

You could start with the official Solana Ecosystem, but that seems to get overwhelming quickly. DeFi, Protocols, NFT Marketplaces, DEX projects…whew! Let’s slow down and find just one thing to start with. Let’s start with making a simple ticket to an event, and using the Solana blockchain to prove that the ticket you have is both yours and unique.

As an example, we’ll use the Here Be Dragons event that I’l be running at Solana Breakpoint in Lisbon. This is part of the Helium In The Wild tour sponsored by the Helium Foundation.

The event itself is one where you pick up a mapper (supplied by event sponsor RAK Wireless) and are given a set of landmarks, coordinates, and Hotspots to tag. The mapper uses the Helium network to prove when you were where. A fun mapping event is what I’d consider a soft intro into the Helium ecosystem.

I’m doing another soft intro, this time to Solana, by running the event ticketing using a Solana app called Cardinal. In Cardinal’s words:

Cardinal is a Solana Protocol that enables the conditional ownership of NFTs. We’re powering the future of NFT utility through rentals, subscriptions, staking, tickets and more.

Cardinal.so Homepage

Ok, so what’s a “protocol”? What is “conditional ownership”? Let’s go through this a step at a time.

A protocol on Solana (or any blockchain or system) is a set of rules that defines how data is allowed to be transferred between different systems. You might have one protocol for managing tokens (exchange of value), another for getting into an event (something combining time and access), and another for proving you attended an event (combining location and time). Protocols are the bedrock of how computers talk to each other.

Conditional ownership is the idea that you did or had something before you received something. It might be simple, like you paid something in order to receive a ticket. It might be a little more complex; you owned something (in your wallet) AND you paid some amount, and by fulfilling both conditions you now have absolute ownership over the item. Perhaps not totally obviously, conditional ownership opens up doors to fun games like, “You have to be a member of this club, and be at that location, where you collect a specific NFT, before you can have the right to buy some other rare thing.”

For my event, Here Be Dragons, I’m keeping it simple: You can buy a Solana NFT using Cardinal, and all proceeds from that go to a hackathon contest I’ll run in the future supporting a Helium + Solana project. The NFT costs about US$5 worth of SOL, the native token of Solana. I suggest using a Phantom wallet, but any wallet that Cardinal supports is fine.

You don’t have to buy an NFT to participate, you can just show up to the event and I’ll hand ya a mapper and a list, though at least register at the bottom of this page so I know you’re coming.

If you do decide to embark on this experiment with me and you buy the NFT, show up to the event and I’ll check you in by having you scan a QR code on my phone that makes sure you have the NFT in your wallet (on your phone). This proves that you were there, and I’ll experiment in the future with figuring out how to get a few extra cool things going your way just for being an early believer.

Now, for my nit-picky readers, you’ll have noticed that this isn’t actually an integration between Solana and Helium, it’s just using Solana to help manage a Helium event.

That’s pretty much where we’re at in October of 2022. We know we’re moving over, but we ain’t there yet. We also know a lot of really rad things are coming, like Helium Mobile powering the Solana Saga Phone. I mean, you saw that one coming, right?

Right now, there are three important things to do with this whole Solana x Helium thing.

  1. Use
  2. Dream
  3. Build


Step 1, “Use” is what I’m doing. I’m using Solana to do this event, poking around in the thing, looking for reasons to just try it out. For most of us, we learn really well by doing that. Sure, it may cost you a few bucks (or pounds, or euros, etc), but that’s cheap education.

Maybe you go a little deeper and check out a recent award-winning app called WiHi by Noetika, which lives on Solana and allows you to get paid tokens for connecting a weather station (no, not WeatherXM, this is something different). You could use the same weather station WXM is, just get paid in a different token.

You could check out another option and dive into Dialect, a Solana project based around web3 messaging. As you’ll see if you check ’em out, none of these are yet ready for prime-time; these ain’t things your grandma will use today.

If you want to check out other projects built on Solana, I’d head to any of their Hackathons; the Solana Summer Camp one is an excellent start!


Ok, so if you dream a little about NFTs integrated seamlessly with Helium, it’s not a huge stretch to think that a Hotspot could be an NFT, and holding that NFT give you access to that Hotspot’s rewards. Pollen already does this, so you know it’s possible. One cool thing (thanks for the idea AC!) is that, let’s say you have a banger hotspots and it cranks out HNT. You could rent a fraction of your NFT and therefore a fraction of your rewards to a group of people.

In that same vein, what happens when you make a hex an NFT that affects the Hotspot NFTs in it? HIP 15 & 17 is getting pretty long in the tooth, it’d be rad to see a proposal come out that heavily incentivize currently uncovered hexes and strongly disincentivizes the poor performers in an over-covered hex.

For example, as a single user you could just pay in SOL for someone to deploy (and remain deployed) in a hex where you want coverage. It could be a res8 hex or it could be coverage across a res4 region. Maybe the incentives get rewritten so that any uncovered res 8 hex on land gets 1.2x rewards of every currently covered hex on land. The possibilities once we have easy access to NFTs and start thinking of them as more than expensive jpegs get pretty darn interesting. Dream on!


The third you can do with Solana is build on it.

There are a LOT of people on that chain; it has one the highest numbers of active wallets out of any blockchain project, and Rust, Solana’s language, has a thriving community (can we call them Rustafarians?)

Maybe it’s YOUR idea you want to bring to fruition. Maybe you’ve seen the explosive growth of Helium, looked at your regular job, and thought, maybe I could do Helium stuff for a living? It ain’t impossible to learn Rust, and the Solana ecosystem is supportive of new developers coming in, you can jump into their viewpoint here.

Now look, you don’t have to do any of those things. You can just sit back and let your Hotspots generate a little HNT every day and go about your regular life. Check back in every few months to see what’s happened, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I also think if you take that hands-off route, you’ll miss some of the greatest opportunities we’ve seen yet; after all, it’s not every day that an L1 hops its rails and jumps onto another track. Giant movement always holds giant opportunity; are YOU the one who’ll figure out what the trapped value is?


2 thoughts on “What Can You Do On Solana? A Guide For The Helium Community”

  1. Hey Nik,

    seems because of that switch to Solana I can’t deposit hnt in my wallets anymore.
    Can I transfer hnt from my miner to my Solana wallet?


  2. Hi Bernie,
    Switch hasn’t happened yet, all that happened was it was approved to happen in the future. 🙂

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