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!

34 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!

  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. Trans­lat­ed by Google
    Excel­lent Nik, I’ve only just man­aged to under­stand the PoC cycle. Con­grat­u­la­tions on the great work here.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. Pingback: Winning At Helium: The Right Way To Get Started - Gristle King - A Guide to Helium

  17. 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.

  18. 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. 🙂

  19. Pingback: Why Isn't Your Hotspot Earning More? - Gristle King - A Guide to Helium

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  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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.

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

  27. 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.

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