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 responses to “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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