Selecting the Best Antenna for a Helium Miner
Helium antenna selection is critical for optimizing the performance of a Helium miner. The external LoRa antennas that are used not only need to have adequate gain but also need to be well-matched to the specific location of the gateway. This short article outlines the key considerations for selecting a LoR antenna for a Helium gateway.
By optimizing the specifications as well as the placement of your antenna, your miner will have the greatest uplift in performance. Because Helium Network Token earnings are dependent on interactions with other hotspots, the aim of selecting and positioning an antenna is not only to achieve the largest coverage, but also maximize visibility to as many nearby hotspots as possible. Helium mining is strategic and more than selecting a LoRa anetnna with the highest gain. Your objective is to provide the most accessible and provable coverage to The Peoples Network as this provides the most cryptocurrency renumeration. External LoRa antennas need to be matched to their location on the basis of:
- Topography: This is the lie of the land; how natural features like hills, vegetation and bodies of water and artificial features like buildings are arranged. Topography determines how the LoRa radio frequency signal will propagate as it travels from an IoT device to the antenna. For Helium mining, flatter terrain with minimal obstructions like hills or large concrete buildings are better for hotspots as there is more chance that miners will be visible to one another and be able to participate in Proof of Coverage (PoC) challenges and witnessing. Where the topography is flat and unobstructed, a high gain antenna (9dBi or more) at a lower height can have maximal benefit. Though the LoRa signal can penetrate building and walls it does become significantly attenuated by thick concrete and other phenomena like reflections and refraction also take place. In urban environments, antenna selection needs to consider these challenges as it will be harder to get the benefit of increased antenna gain.
- Elevation: Elevation is advantageous for antenna placement as it keeps the antenna clear of obstructions. However a high-gain antenna that is significantly elevated may be clear of other nearby hotspots, due to it having a flattened pancake-like omnidirectional pattern that passes straight over the hotspots it needs to connect with. Where a LoRa antenna can be elevated, choose a lower gain antenna, between 3 and 5 dBi and mount it high.
- Line of sight: Excellent visibility of your antenna to neighboring hotspots and IoT devices is always advantageous and means you do not need as much gain.With excellent line of sight there is no need for a high gain antenna and where line of sight is obstructed a lot of the signal is being attenuated by the obstructions (e.g. buildings, vegetation). Here, strategic placement of a medium-gain antenna may mean that a hotspot can see a lot of nearby hotspots that are unable to the hotspots around them. In fact, most Helium miners will do the majority of their witnessing within a 10 km range.This is advantageous as these poorly positioned hotspots will rely on the medium-gain antena hotspot for PoC witnessing, leading to high earnings.
Why high-gain antennas can damage your Helium miner earnings
Firstly, in Helium, high-gain antennas are LoRa antennas with a gain of 6 dBi or more. Purchasing the highest gain antenna should not be the first or only strategy for enhancing Helium network earnings, as high-gain antennas can potentially reduce your miners earnings.
Helium antennas with a gain above 9 dBi which have not had their transmit settings modified could potential be breaking Federal Communications Commission rules.
Helium blockchain (which is the bottom line when it comes down to what a Helium miner has been doing and what it will earn) cannot discern the antenna that is being used with a miner and often assumes that antennas with higher gain is incapable of producing a signal that is stronger or clearer than the stock antenna that comes with most miners. There is therefore the potential that blockchain will invalidate certain PoC results, losing earnings.
Types of Helium LoRa antennas
Because Helium antennas need to be outside to maximize earnings, a hard-wearing outdoor LoRa antenna of a suitable gain is required. The key types of LoRa antenna that can be used for outdoor installation include:
This 6 dBi outdoor omnidirectional antenna is corrosion resistant and can be used for US (915 MHz) and EU (868 MHz) Helium miners. It has a fiberglass radome and a sturdy N-female connector that can be attached via a suitable antenna cable to the miner.
This antenna would be a good match for a flat suburban neighborough where it can be pole mounted with the height adjusted according to the rate of earnings.
This 8 dBi Colinear LoRa antenna can be used with US (915 MHz) and EU (868 MHz) Helium hotspots. If you have flat open terrain, with good line of sight this N connector antenna can be pole-mounted at moderate height for outstanding local visibility and coverage.
A directional antenna like a Yagi or patch antenna can be used effectively for providing coverage when mounted at height in a location where there is a large obstruction like a large hill or mountain meaning that the coverage will only be in one direction. In this situation a Yagi can be mounted at height and pointed in the direction of the nearest cluster of hotspots.
If an outdoor antenna installation is inaccessible, a higher gain articulating LoRa antenna can still be connected to a better positioned miner, making use of height and location within a property.
Best cable for Helium antennas
The type of coaxial cable that is run between an antenna and miner can affect the hotspot performance. This is because there is signal loss along the length of the antenna cable which leads to an overall loss of the acquired signal. For this reason, the cable should be high quality, ideally double shielded and kept as short as possible. Helium experts recommend LMR 400 as a rugged cable that is suitable for outdoor installation. It is exceptionally low loss.uy an LMR 400 type double shielded N-male to RP-SMA antenna cable here.