What You Need to Know Before Getting a Helium Miner, Everything YOU Need To Know About Mining in 2022, Profitability in 2022 (Is It Still Worth It?)

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Everything YOU Need To Know About Helium Mining in 2022
The Best Helium HNT Hotspot Miner to Buy in 2022 | Antennas For Your Helium
Is upgrading your antenna worth it? The short answer is “probably”.  The longer answer involves diving in to how Helium works, how an antenna works, and why buying an aftermarket antenna may help you earn more HNT.
It is estimated that there will be nearly 400,000 active Helium hotspots by the end of 2021. So once you join the network, how do you maximize your helium token rewards?

What’s the best antenna for your Helium miner?

In this review we will look at two different antennas that we have picked. These are the Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna and Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna. In our buyer’s guide we also make recommendations on how to pick an antenna depending on the location where you plan on installing it

Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna

An 8 dBi is more directional and focused than either the stock antenna or the Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna. This means that it will also have larger range in the horizontal direction at the expense of in the vertical direction. I use an 8 dBi antenna with our hotspot that’s in the attic of our house and it works well for our RF scenario. For instance, I can see hotspots as far away as 18 miles (29 km) on land and twice that distance across a body of water. The Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna is a good choice for many scenarios.

How to pick an Antenna for Helium

Helium hotspots ship with a stock antenna. The Nebra hotspot for instance ships with a 2 dBi antenna. It’s worthwhile to try this antenna first and establish a baseline for how it works for a few weeks before upgrading to a higher gain antenna. This is the approach I took and it’s worked well.

Frequency Bands

The most important consideration in picking an antenna is the frequency at which your Helium network operates. This is determined by geography. For instance if you live in the USA or Canada, the Helium network operates in the 915 MHz unlicensed ISM band. If you live in the UK for example, the network operates in the 869 MHz band.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Antenna Gain?

Antennas, especially those under consideration in this post, are passive devices. They don’t amplify signals. Contrast this with GPS antennas that are typically active with built-in amplifiers that help with signal reception.

Antenna gain is a measure of how well they transmit and receive signals at the frequency under consideration. The gain of an antenna is specified in ‘dBi’. Quite simply this is the gain relative to a simple isotropic antenna.

Typically the higher the gain of an antenna the more directional or focused it becomes. This directionality however comes at a cost – it doesn’t radiate or receive energy equally from all directions. A directional antenna is used if you want to focus your reception or transmission activity in a particular direction at the expense of uniformly in every direction.

If you’re trying to capture signals further away for instance, it makes more sense to pick the higher gain 8 dBi antenna. Alternatively if you want to capture signals from hotspots near and far, we recommend picking the Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna.

Should I upgrade my Helium Antenna?

In many cases, the answer to this is Yes. The stock antenna has a gain of 2 dBi. In order to reach further you need an antenna with higher gain. I have a couple of hotspots and in both cases, I’ve upgraded from the stock antenna to ones with higher gain (dBi). However I recommend using your stock antenna for a couple of weeks to establish a baseline of performance prior to upgrading.

Can I use a TV antenna for Helium?

No you cannot. A TV antenna covers different frequencies than used by Helium. So if you use a TV antenna you will not be able to transmit and receive signals as well as with either the stock antenna or those we recommend in this post.

Where should I place my Helium Hotspot for maximum HNT earnings?

The best place to mount an antenna is on the highest point possible. If you live in a house that means on the rooftop or at least in your attic. If you’re have an antenna tower in your backyard, that would be ideal as well.

In these situations, you are better off starting out with the Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna and experimenting with and upgrading to the Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna if it makes sense.

What is the cheapest Helium antenna?

The cheapest Helium antenna is the stock antenna that ships with your hotspot. It is a quarter wave dipole that looks like this. A good antenna will pay for itself many times over – sometimes even in the course of a single day. This is definitely not an area where you want to economize. In fact we recommend buying a number of different antennas and experimenting with placement on your property, mounting height and other factors.

What is the range of a Helium Hotspot?

The range you are able to achieve largely depends on where you place your antenna and hotspot. It can be as high as 40 miles or even more if there are no obstructions. The larger ranges are practically achievable when there are two well placed hotspots across a lake, for instance.

Are Helium Hotspots safe to use?

Yes Helium hotspots are safe to use. They meet FCC/CE regulations and are certified.

How do we mine Helium?

Helium is mined using a hotspot connected to the internet. In order to be able to mine any significant amount of Helium you need to be able to witness other Helium hotspots.

Can I mine Helium on my PC?

No, you cannot mine Helium on your PC. Helium needs dedicated hardware – specifically a Helium Hotspot that needs to connect with other hotspots to mine Helium.

What is the best antenna for a Bobcat Miner?

The Bobcat miner ships with a 4 dBi antenna. The antennas recommended in this post: Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna and Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna would both be an upgrade over the antenna included with the Bobcat miner.

What is a recommended antenna upgrade for a Linxdot Miner?

The Linxdot miner ships with a 3 dBi antenna. The antennas recommended in this post: Signalplus 5.8 dBi antenna and Embedded Works 8 dBi antenna would both be an upgrade over the antenna included w

Accessories and Considerations

Power Supply

Hotspot Miners come with a DC power supply. However you may want to mount the miner on a tower. The benefit to mounting on a tower is that it will reduce the length of cable between the antenna and the miner. This in turn reduces noise to result in better sensitivity, more witnesses and therefore more HNT!

However mounting on a tower presents a challenge when it comes to powering the miner. One product that allows you to simplify powering of the hotspot is a Power over Ethernet adapter.

Cables

It is important to keep the length of cable from your antenna to your hotspot as short as possible. Why is this? The simple reason is that the longer the cable, the greater the attenuation. An increase in attenuation by 6 dB will reduce your range by half. And in the world of Helium that means your hotspot will witness fewer beacons. If you’re interested in reading more about this check out our post on Noise Figure. In the picture below you can see cable attenuation as a function of both length and frequency.

As you can see the attenuation of the cable increase with length. As well, the higher the frequency, the greater the attenuation for a given length of cable.

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