[Update 29-May-2022 – the steps here are outdated, I just tried with FW 5.24 and it is better; new post to follow. TL;DR – Follow the included quick start steps, it may take a longer time (20 mins) before you can finish the final assertion. If the scan does not pick up the hotspot, press and hold the button for 10s and scan again. No longer need to power cycle repeatedly.]
Finally, after 13 months, me and my friends’ order of Nebra Helium miners have been delivered. Sure, we aren’t happy that we waited so long, but we are after all victims of the pandemic. The fact that Nebra survived the years and still delivered in the end speaks for itself. Thank you team Nebra!!
Now, it is May 2022, and have the Nebra Rock Pi miners on hand. Eager to setup, but the included steps just don’t work. So, after some googling, and testing with the first 3 miners being set up, we are feeling good about the steps to be outlined below.
Follow the included steps first
If you are here, it’s likely you have already tried the steps provided on the quick start sheet included with the device. In the off chance that you haven’t followed it, give it a try first. In case Nebra has already fixed it. Online version is https://support.nebra.com/support/solutions/articles/24000075252-rockpi-hotspot-quick-start
So, the setup guide states to assemble the device, power up and wait for 5 minutes. Then eventually the green LED will flicker. The problem is that you don’t need to wait 5 minutes, and the green LED doesn’t really do a slow flash, but a quick flash. If you see the quick green LED flash, you are likely going to need to follow the steps below.
If you don’t see any green LED flash, then you probably should wait. Don’t power off the device if the green LED hasn’t started to blink.
I’ve read several reports of various miners from different manufacturers burn (damaged) because the antenna was removed while powered on. As a strict precaution, I will caution you to never power up a hotspot if the antenna is removed; and never to remove the antenna if the power is on. Always power off the hotspot before you remove the antenna, for example you are trying to replace it.
The alternate steps
So, if the included steps didn’t work, you can try the following. It will take several reboots (via power cycles), but you should get there eventually. If all goes well, you’ll be good in 30 minutes.
As a preparation, you must have :-
- Helium app installed and wallet created
- Nebra app installed and linked to your Helium app
I will start the process with the Nebra app first, but if it fails, you can fall back to the Helium app. Both works, but since it’s a Nebra hotspot, it’s just my suggest to try with the Nebra app first. Within the app, start the process to add a hotspot and let it scan.
- Antennas are attached
- Power off device
- Switch it on
- Once you see the green LED flashing, you’ll want to initiate a rescan in the app
- When your device shows up, tap on it and follow the wizard to do the set up
Now, the wizard will hang several times, almost like every step of the way. If you don’t see progress, just return to step 2, power off. Interestingly, you’ll get to resume the progress in the wizard. Eventually, you’ll get to specify the height of the antenna and location of the hotspot.
- Height of the antenna – just an estimate of the elevation off ground level. Doesn’t have to be very accurate.
- Location – you should, and I encourage you to specify the location accurately. This is to do the right thing by the network. There are those who fake their location to get a better Transmit Scale, but don’t do it. It does not affect your earning, but the earning of others who witness your hotspot’s beacon. If you are caught for it, your hotspot will be put on a blacklist, and it’s game over. So, since it doesn’t really hurt your earnings, there’s no point in doing it.
What’s next after the wizard
At this point, nothing much else to do. As of writing this post, your device should have been shipped with an older firmware, in the pre light-hotspot era. Your device will still be syncing to the Helium blockchain. I will expect it to go through a few firmware updates, and when it syncs till the block that switches it to the light hotspot mode, then mining will begin.
Light hotspot was activated on 11th May 2022, that was a major update for the entire Helium network. It was an amazing feat that the Helium team pulled off. I didn’t expect it to be 100% smooth, and indeed it wasn’t. There was some trial and errors on the change, but I am grateful the team was prepared to deal with most of the hiccups, and we never had to roll back.
The nice thing with Helium hotspots is that you should almost never need to do much management. Even more so now with light hotspots. Firmware updates are automatically done over the air by the hotspot manufacturers. You just need to make sure the device is powered, sitting in a good location and wait for it to make you some passive income.
There are some tools you can get in to, but there is no need to sign up for anything paid. If you have a big fleet and want something to aid management, please go ahead and get a paid service. That’s a post for another time.
So for now, I’d say just monitor the sync progress of your hotspot. Just figure out the IP address your hotspot has, and navigate to it using your browser. There is a field that says the block chain sync progress. Eventually, the block chain will be turned off for hotspots. Until then, you’ll want the first sync to complete, as it is the first stage to know it should have transitioned to light hotspot mode.