Why Are My Helium Hotspot Earnings So Spiky?

Why will a Hotspot earn well on one day, then nothing the next?  Why isn’t there more consistency in earnings? 

There’s a clear reason for spiky earnings, and I’d love to walk you through it. 

Let’s start at the beginning of the Proof of Coverage (PoC) cycle, with the construction of a Challenge.  

Every Hotspot on the Network is eligible to construct and issue a challenge every 300 blocks.  Let’s define “Blocks” and “Challenges”.

A “block” is a unit of time, usually around 60 seconds.  300 blocks *should* equal 300 minutes, which of course is 5 hours.  So, a Hotspot can issue a challenge every 5 hours.

Now, *issuing* a challenge is not the same as beaconing.  This’ll get a little confusing, so bear with me. Understanding how the PoC challenge cycle works (and doesn’t work) will make the spiky earnings much more clear to you in about 3 minutes.  

For you uber-Helium geeks, I’m going to slightly over-simplify this in order to make it understandable. I don’t think we need to get into ephemeral public keys and SHA256 digests.  If you DO want to get into that, go here.

The “Challenge” is like a series of envelopes within envelopes.  When a Hotspot “issues” a challenge, that means they took 2 secret codes and put them in 2 envelopes so they’re separated.

The Challenger then sends this “envelope within an envelope” to a randomly selected hotspot on the network.

That second Hotspot is called the Challengee.  The challengee (and I’ll skim over a bunch of technical stuff here) opens the first envelope and uses the code inside to prove that they got the Challenge.

Then they open the second envelope and Beacon out that code over the radio.  

Any Hotspot who receives (Witnesses) that code then reports that code to the blockchain, effectively saying, “Hey, I heard code #2.”

The blockchain then checks with the Challenger to make sure all the codes match up and that they were all submitted in time. 

If everybody did their job correctly and on time (Challenger, Challengee, and Witness), the blockchain issues each participant a reward based on transmit reward scales.

By the way, if *anything* in that chain of events is wonky; if the codes don’t match up, if the whole process takes too long because a Hotspot was relayed, of if anyone is trying to game it, the challenge is declared invalid, and nobody earns.

Ok, so how does this explain spiky rewards?

First, remember that any Hotspot can only earn a reward if it participates in a valid PoC cycle. Invalid cycles don’t count.

Second, remember that WHERE the beacons are emitted is random.  Conceivably, all the beacons *could* be sent to the US state of North Dakota.  Remember, it’s random.

That randomness is at the core of why earnings are spiky.  Sometimes a bunch of Hotspots near yours all receive a challenge, all get to transmit, and you witness all of ‘em.  That’s a big earning day.

The next day, none of ‘em get a beacon, or maybe only a few.  Your Hotspot earns nothing, or maybe off only 1 beacon.  That’s a low earning day.

Since Hotspots are grouped in different densities and numbers around the world, you’re more likely (not guaranteed) to witness a beacon if you’re in a place where you can witness a bunch of other Hotspots.

A city with 1,000 Hotspots is more likely to receive more Challenges and therefore transmit more beacons than a small village with 4 hotspots. Even though the earnings per Hotspot is likely to be less in a city, you just have more opportunities to witness.

So, that should explain spiky earning.  Got questions?  Hit me up in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer ‘em.

Oh, and if you want help making sure you’re in the best position to earn the most HNT (not necessarily in the city, by the way), consider hiring me.  I’ve helped hundreds of hotspot owners improve their understanding and earnings on the Helium network, from folks with just one Hotspot all the way out to companies with thousands of Hotspots.  I’ve seen most of what you can do with Helium and I’d love to walk you through how to make YOUR contributions as valuable as possible.  Great value equals great reward.  Let’s do this!

42 thoughts on “Why Are My Helium Hotspot Earnings So Spiky?”

  1. Recently started diving into Helium, an interesting LongFi integration solution with LoraWAN. I hope the project will be the Global Developing even after this bull race. Thank you for your good work for the community!

  2. Francois Lapierre

    Thanks great to have more knowledge about the people network! I really enjoy your Blog always very clear!
    Now I only Hope my Frankenstein Rak V2 will arrive this year, and hope there will still be helium left ?. I did order in may seems like forever. Now …
    Your post keep me interested in the project!
    Frank.

  3. Hey Nik, big fan! I have a question regarding the “lower rewards within a city compared to a small town with 4 Hotspots” at the end of your post.
    The reasoning behind this is, like you have linked, the lower reward scale. But this still doesn’t necessarily mean that a Hotspot within a large city is earning less than in a small town, in fact that’s very very rarely the case. And this is what I want to comment/want to talk about: Don’t you think that’s unfair? All that Helium is about is to provide coverage, ideally all around the world and in remote areas. With that in mind, 4-5 Hotspots in a small hometown should earn more, because they do exactly what helium originally wanted to achieve: Provide coverage, even in remote areas. And yet, you find up to 50 Hotspots within a single Hex that earn more than thrice as much as Hotspots in a low density area. In my opinion, high density Hotspots should be punished much more harshly, because they don’t benefit the idea of helium at all. But of course, that probably won’t happen. Why would helium anger hundreds of thousands of people in high density areas? Just to satisfy a couple hundreds living on the land? Surely not.
    What do you think about this? Excited to hear your opinion!

  4. Hey Peter,
    Yeah, it’s not fair right now, but I expect that’ll change soon. The Helium team is small and has their hands full, but healthy network growth is vital; don’t think this has gone unnoticed.

  5. i have a hotspot up on a cell tower but it has not beacon in over 2 months it does everything else but actaully generate a witness list. any hellp?

  6. Hi Gio,
    Hmm, that doesn’t sound right. Has it ever beaconed? Do you have access to the router it’s using to connect to the internet? We could do a Hotspot Rescue on it.

  7. since its been on the tower no… its beaconed before but it was at a diff location. i do its using a cudy 1200 lte router with t mobile data plan

  8. Should all the hotspots have 8dbi antennas? I have locations in the city and suburbs that I’m preparing for.

  9. For those of us who want to help the coverage to grow, and profit from our miners, is there a profit benefit with the data credits?

  10. Not really. Since you’re paying for the data credits it turns out to be a net zero game. I still add a sensor to my deployments just to get data flowing and as a quick reference; if data is flowing, the hotspot is working. 🙂

  11. Good day Nik, small question – is the “relayed” status still a segnificant factor affecting earnings after the validators went online?

  12. Hi Dimitri, yep, it’s still an issue. Once all current hotspots are moved over to being Light Hotspots (roadmap here), relaying will no longer be an issue.

  13. One of my hotspots keeps switching from relayed to not relayed. We confirmed with the Internet provider that port 44158 is open. Nothing changes with the installation yet the relayed warning periodically comes on. Any suggestions?

  14. Hi Paul, the network reporting on Explorer and the app can be delayed by 24-48 hours. If you’ve seen your hotspot be unrelayed and you’re sure the port is open, it’s best to just wait a day or two. Common problems with relayed miners include opening a port on a “mesh” network but not on the router, or running up against ISP rules.

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  16. Love your articles, so informative/helpful. So my OG helium hotspot about a day ago suddenly started to have zero activity (witness, PoC, beacon, etc) and thus no mining rewards. It’s in a great location optimally placed and was doing anywhere between 1.5-3 HNT/day before and then all of a sudden nothing. Talk about lumpy earnings! There’s been no extraordinary weather/electrical events and I didn’t disturb it in anyway. I tried to unplug and plug it back in but still nothing.

    Any ideas what’s going on and how to fix? Thanks, as always.

  17. Hi KP, the network has been pretty funky lately, you’re not the only one to see a full stop. If you’ve got an OG, Helium offers support for that, or you can check their articles on Troubleshooting, including replacing the SD card. Still, if it was me I’d just wait another 2 days before I started freaking out. Patience is a superpower in the land of Helium. 🙂

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  20. Hi Nik, great job and thanks. Couple of questions. (1) Curious if you know a reason why miners that consistently have witnesses (3-5 with 6-9 nearby) seem to have trouble (1-4 times / day) being witnessed when sending a beacon (sent beacon – 0 witnesses), and therefore “waste” those beacons? (2) Is there anything we can do to help reduce the number of invalid witnessing events? I’ve already double checked all the connections, cables, etc. Thanks. Greg

  21. Beacon issue could be an issue with a relayed hotspot. Beyond what it sounds like you’ve done, not much you can do to reduce invalids; that relies on the far side (the other hotspot) to do their part as well.

  22. Hi Nik. Do you know how the Helium network choose from which hotspot to accept the witness? Let’s say one hotspot received a challenge and beaconed that challenge. 100 hotspots “heard” that beacon and submitted a witness. But only 18 (until PoCv11 take place) has been chosen as witnesses. Is it based on the RSSI, time it took for hotspot to submit the witness, location etc.? How to make your hotspot to witness more? (besides improving elevation, line of sight, ant., cable). Thank you.

  23. hi,
    i love your page,very educative.please i notice something on my hotspot. Some of my reward was missing.This is how it happen:i checked my app,i saw $25 reward. And after 1hour, i checked again,it was $23.in addition,I checked hnt price it was the same as it was 1 hour ago.
    please do you have any ideal what was going on.

    Tim Folor

  24. Hi, great post. I have jut got a new antenna in the last 4 days and have lots of people witnessing my hotspot, however I have witnessed only 60 hotspots, around half of what some folks near me have witnessed. Is there a reason I havent witnessed that many hotspots? Does it take after setting up a new antenna to start witnessing more hotspots? Basically I want to know how to witness more people, because other hotspots near me are witnessing more than me. Also my location is ideal as I am high up on a hill top.

  25. Just wait a bit. Network is pretty chaotic right now. If you’ve got 60 hotspots witnessing you, you’re doing fine.

  26. Hi Nik,
    I try to find someone like you and hope that you can answer this. So why my 7day AVG beacons are low as 80. I’m on top of the city with 51 witnesses, 2,3 time sent beacons but the witnesses for my hotspot are low. Some guys on the other hex are making from 160 to 300 beacons. Please give me a hand.

  27. Hi Nik, love your content, thank you again!
    I feel like it should be doable to have a rough estimate of HNT that would be “mined” for a potential future hotspot location, based on its parameters (height, antenna). I feel like Helium Vision is halfway there, helping envision signal coverage… in other words, how people/organizations investing in that network do their planning in order to get the best rate of return?

  28. Happy to help out, Noux. As far as prediction, it’d be very difficult to do anything longer than a week or two (if that) because you just don’t know how many other miners will come in to your area and crowd it out. As far as planning, I’d just look for a location that has power, internet, and excellent WUPU coverage.

  29. I have read your post with joy. Love the way how you simplify for people like me 🙂 What I was wondering I there would be a benefit to be able to have coverage at longer ranges. As this all seems connected, I feel that it is just as relevant for the further away hotspots to be able reach me as that it is important for them to reach me…

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