helium light hotspots explained

The helium mining ecosystem is about to transition to a Light Hotspot model. This will be beneficial to all helium miners out there that are becoming underpowered with low memory and data storage space.

The big problem is many hotspots have only 32GB of storage space. As the helium blockchain has grown to just about fill an entire 32GB memory storage there is not enough room for the operating system and cache swap files.

As the blockchain network grows, each Hotspot running a full node has increasing load requirements and is starting to fall out of sync due to the higher compute requirements.

Rather than force people to upgrade their helium miner micro SD cards, light hotspots were introduced to make life simple again. All that will happen is an update will be pushed out from the manufacturers and it will convert regular hotspots to light hotspots overnight.

New Light Hotspots will be cheaper, and they will no longer need to sync to the blockchain, won’t have relay issues, or create challenges. Validators will take over this role via HIP 55.

How will light hotspots be better?

Well for starters you won’t need to download the entire blockchain data and snapshots. This will save me in excess of 50GB of data downloaded a month for me at least. Maybe more for others that are continually downloading snapshots due to 32GB internal storage.

Relay problems will be a thing of the past. If you are having issues getting your hotspot port forward correctly or you are behind a CG-NAT you could be losing earnings. Light hotspots fix this so deploying a remote miner such as my solar-powered off-grid helium miner now becomes easy and cheap. You could possibly get away with a 20GB data-only mobile plan now.

Light Hotspots are the evolution of how LoRaWAN gateways will interact with the Helium blockchain. Hotspot’s consensus work has been moved off of physical Hotspots and onto Validators.

With Validators producing new blocks, processing data, and initiating PoC challenges, this would eliminate relayed status requirements. Syncing and snapshot issues will be a thing of the past as SD card problems tend to stem from extremely high usage. Learn which is the best Helium miner micro SD card for your hotspot and how to replace them.

How will HNT rewards be affected?

How will HNT rewards be affected? light hotspots
https://docs.helium.com/mine-hnt/light-hotspots/

Most people will see no change in their HNT rewards. Light hotspots will still process data, send beacons, and witness beacons. The only downside is that it will no longer challenge beaconers. As this only makes up 0.9% of HNT emitted per epoch most people won’t notice the small loss in earnings. Hopefully, it will be made up in more consistent earnings will fewer periods of no activity.

As more hotspots are coming online every day the fixed amount of HNT has to be shared between the 728000+ helium hotspots ( current at the time of writing) Most people will see a decrease in earnings every month. That is just the way this network reward operates.

With the load moving to validators your hotspot will be more reliable and have fewer SD card errors. So hopefully higher rewards if you are currently having sync issues due to the large blockchain height.

So I don’t need to worry about being relayed?

Correct once the light hotspot firmware is deployed being relayed will be a thing of the past. No more peer-to-peer communication over the network. All communication will be via the validators through the router’s outbound connection.

Once you are transitioned over to the light hotspot you can disable any port forwarding on your router or you can just leave it in place. I would disable it to be safer.

How can I increase my HNT earnings?

How can I increase my HNT earnings?

Start by having an external antenna mounted as high as you can go and connect it with a short length of LMR400 cable. Don’t forget the lightning arrestor.

Make sure you have a good line of sight to other hotspots in your area. If you have a mountain or a large building in the way your earnings will be lower.

A good quality ethernet cable should be connected to your helium miner to provide a reliable connection and prevent Wifi dropouts.

Make sure to be in an area that is not over saturated with other hotspots in your hex.

A fast internet connection is required with a good data plan. Don’t forget to port forward 44158 on TCP. But this won’t be required when light hotspot firmware gets activated.

Check out my helium miner installation guide for single and double-story houses.

Can a single solo lone wolf hotspot make any HNT?

Can a single lone wolf hotspot make HNT?

A helium hotspot all out on its own unable to see another helium hotspot is going to have a hard time making HNT.

In the past, the only way these single hotspots were able to make HNT was by creating challenges of 0.9 rewards per epoch. Now that validators have taken over this role and the rewards a lone wolf hotspot can only make rewards via data or if another hotspot comes into range.

I would encourage if anyone wants to deploy a hotspot remotely that you do some homework first to see if you can reach another hotspot. Or you will need to deploy two hotspots to earn rewards via POC.

A single lone wolf solo helium miner is going to make 0 HNT without data packets or proof of coverage rewards.

Will light hotspots become cheaper?

In theory, light hotspots should become cheaper but not by much. At the moment there is a premium on most hotspots sold due to the supply and demand factor. Some people have waited over 10 months for a hotspot from various manufacturers like Bobcat and Nebra.

I don’t think light hotspots will be much cheaper maybe $50 less due to fewer hardware requirements, slower processor, less memory, and smaller storage space.

I have yet to get my hands on a light hotspot and I won’t purchase another until I can get one fast and cheap. Guess the rest of the world may be thinking the same thing. We are getting closer every day to 1 million helium miners.

Helium AHR

Helium AHR Annualized Hotspot Return
My current AHR from one of my helium miners as of 15/4/22

A nice feature currently on the Helium Explorer is called the AHR. The AHR is the Annualized Hotspot Return for the indicated Hotspot. The AHR is estimated based on the Hotspot’s actual $HNT earnings during the prior 30 days, using a 365-day calendar year and the present $HNT market price.
The AHR is calculated without considering additional expenses and taxes. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

This is a nice feature and should make users and future hotspot owners more informed about how long it will take to pay back their miners.

Will all Helium Miner hotspots be compatible with light hotspot firmware?

Yes, as long as the manufacturer has pushed out a firmware update your hotspot will be compatible. Even if you are still waiting for one in the post as soon as it arrives it will update to become a light hotspot.

For all new hot spot owners, I recommend plugging in the hotspot as soon as it arrives into an ethernet port and letting it update first for a few hours before trying to connect to it via Bluetooth. You want it to do all the updates first before your try and set its location and attach it to your wallet. The onboarding process will be smoother.

Will the light hotspot firmware fix my helium miner?

Maybe, maybe not. What the light hotspot firmware will do is stop you from having to download blockchain snapshots so often. This will give you are better sync status and shorter periods of inactivity. There are hundreds of reasons why your helium miner may be showing off line.

  • No power to the hotspot.
  • The Internet is down.
  • Old firmware.
  • Faulty antenna or cable.
  • Blown lightning arrestor if fitted.
  • Full micro SD card, replace it with the best micro SD card for helium miners.
  • Faulty micro SD card.
  • Unable to download or sync to the blockchain.
  • Unable to download new firmware.
  • Helium network down.
  • Overheating hotspot.
  • WiFi or Ethernet problem.
  • Hotspot not set up for location and antenna dbi.
  • Moisture in the hotspot.
  • Corrosion of the antenna connections.
  • Unable to assert hotspot location.
  • Spoofing or gaming the helium network. (Don’t do it)

Go through this mega Helium miner troubleshooting guide and see if some of the solutions and fixes sort out your helium miner being offline.

When will light hotspots become live?

There is talk of a May 3rd, 2022 date (now moved to 11th may 2022) but there have also been a lot of delays for various reasons. So on that date or later I’m not holding my breath, it will happen when it is ready. Let’s just make sure it is rock solid before it goes live.

Conclusion

Time will tell if the light hotspots will be a good thing for the helium network. I think it will be even though I have never had an issue with my Sensecaps and Linxdot hotspots. (Discount code notsealed3 for 3% off Linxdot)

It will make it more user-friendly for people who just want a plug-and-play helium miner without having to upgrade micro SD cards and mess with port forwarding settings.

Happy mining fellow men and women.

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