Tag Archives: helium

Is it alright that my Helium Hotspot is taking forever to sync?

So, you’ve got your Helium hotspot set up and it has started to sync, then you find that it is taking days to weeks to sync. You’ll likely question if it is normal to take this long?

Short answer is, likely ok. But let’s not assume and figure out how to be certain about it.

Why sync? What is it syncing?

If you are not interested in the inner workings, you can skip to the next section.

When Helium started, the network is primarily made up of hotspots. Each device will participate in the blockchain, and so needs to have its own local copy of the blockchain. That sync, is basically what the hotspot is doing, downloading the blockchain and then start to keep up with the progress of the blockchain.

At the point of writing this post, hotspots have transitioned to light hotspots. However we are still in the transition period and all hotspots are still syncing the blockchain. It is the plan to eventually remove the blockchain from all hotspots.

As a result of this time of transition, there are hotspots which are being shipped from manufacturers and are with the firmware that is unaware of the light hotspot operations. So, initial set up will still need the blockchain sync to happen, until it catches up to block 1,350,664. That block is when the variable was set to flick hotspots to light hotspots.

Eventually, when the blockchain is removed from the light hotspots, they will no longer need to sync, and their daily data consumption will also reduce significantly.

The true source of truth on sync status

Almost all of us rely on the Helium Explorer, and rightfully so. However, it was notoriously terrible in being up to date about a hotspot’s status. For example, a hotspot may be in “syncing” state for many weeks, even though it could have completed within a few hours of coming online. This leads to many unnecessary questions on how to speed up the sync, when it is not required.

Having personal experience of setting up and observing several hotspots, I can be certain to say that even when a hotspot is “syncing”, it will already start to participate in PoC and getting some rewards. So, being fully “sync” isn’t a critical factor. Furthermore, with light hotspots, being in sync is no longer a requirement, so much so that even the Explorer is no longer showing sync status.

Now, you are here, perhaps you are new owner and is doing some due diligence to make sure things are healthy. I have experience with Kerlink and Nebra models, and they have something in common. Both have status/diagnostic pages to look up, so you can at least get some fundamental details about the status of each and every hotspot.

Kerlink has it on their onboarding page, which is exactly the same place where you initially set up the miner.

Nebra has it on the device itself.

Below is a screenshot from my Nebra hotspot. The part that is essential for you to look at is the Height Status. Both Kerlink and Nebra represents them differently, and I’m sure the other makers have their own uniqueness too. However, the same key metrics are there, the current height your miner has sync up to, and the actual height the entire blockchain is at. You won’t always see the numbers to be the same, and more oftehn the current height is typically trailing behind by a few blocks.

Since we are not in light hotspot mode, the only number you’ll really want to pay attention to is that the miner’s height to be equal or bigger than 1,350,664. Beyond that number, the miner should be operating as light hotspot, and blockchain on the hotspot becomes irrelevant.

Wrapping up….

thank you for reading this far, and if you have recently started your journey on Helium, welcome to the community!

I will wrap up this post with one little tidbit. With my experience with Kerlink and Nebra, the nice thing is that you’ll should never really need to do any firmware updates yourself. The hotspot makers will be pushing the firmware over-the-air to your devices. If there is anything you want to keep watch on, is just the Firmware version. You’ll normally see new versions announced on the Helium discord, and in typical fashion, within a few days to a week, your hotspot will be running on the newer version.

With this, I with you good luck, lots of witnessing and HNT to the moon!

Alternate way to setup a Nebra Rock Pi Helium Miner

[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.

  1. Antennas are attached
  2. Power off device
  3. Switch it on
  4. Once you see the green LED flashing, you’ll want to initiate a rescan in the app
  5. 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.

Wrapping up….

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.

The rise of Helium

It is Apr 2021 as I write this, and like many other folks, I got interested with Crypto in 2020. Needless to say, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A couple of days ago, two of the crypto Youtubers (Red Panda Mining & VoskCoin) whom I follow shared about mining with Helium. It is of a very interesting concept, using Proof of Coverage (PoC) method to earn mining rewards. Link to both videos are below. VoskCoin shared his setup of two Helium miners making a total of US$50 a day. That’s really good, with relatively low barrier of entry, and good rate of return. Of course, the earnings will vary.

  • Red Panda Mining’s video on Helium – here
  • VoskCoin’s video on Helium – here

Unlike Bitcoin and Etherum mining (which use Proof of Work) and are heavy with power consumptions, mining Helium (helium.com) is far less demanding in terms of hardware and electricity.

I quickly jumped on and ordered my first Helium HotSpot produced by Nebra. It is one of two models which have support for Asian frequencies. Specifically for Singapore, you want the AS923 model. Due to the large demand, delivery is currently estimated to be at June 2021. Please use my referral link here and above if you are keen to order a Nebra Hotspot.

So, how does Helium work? I haven’t had a thorough read yet, but this is my quick summary of it. Start by watching the short video by Helium.

So we are essentially participating in The People’s Network by deploying hotspots. Though the miner is a HotSpot, it is not providing WIFI service like your home network. It provides LoRaWAN wireless service, so it’s not a replacement for your home wifi. What I plan to do is to simply find a spot near the window of my apartment, set it up and leave it to mine HNT coins. Very much fire and forget.

For better earnings, you would want other hotspots to be near your area. So the hotspots can validate for each other. Hence, spread the word, get your neighbours interested, and start The People’s Network up in Singapore.

There is also a Discord server setup for SG Helium enthusiasts, the link is https://discord.gg/KKSsMMNHgb

Of course, Helium has it’s own official discord https://discord.gg/helium

I’m looking forward to starting with HNT mining. Will write another post as I receive my unit in a few months.

Disclaimer: I’m sharing information to the best of my knowledge, and it’s not intended to be investment advise. Do your own research and be responsible for your own actions. As with all investments, only use money you can afford to lose. Hope for the best but always prepared for the worst. Good luck, have fun!!