There is tremendous growth in the Helium network. As billions of IoT devices enter our world over the next decade, it’s designed to provide connectivity to them. Your pets will be tracked, the environment will be monitored, and much more thanks to this network.
HNT rewards you for hosting a Helium hotspot, which is one of its best features. Your only requirement is to provide a reliable internet connection and a place to put it. As demand for helium miners increases, supplies are running short. It has been difficult to obtain one in a timely manner due to supply chain problems and strong demand for the product. Despite the numerous Helium miners available, this post focuses on their differences and where they can be purchased. Let’s get started!
Rak Miner v2
The Rak v2 miner is made by Rakwireless. Rak has built and shipped over 150,000 miners. In fact they were the creators of the original first generation Helium miner sold by Helium.
Having shipped the most miners than any other manufacturer, Rak is clearly the leader. With user feedback, they have made improvements to their product in recent months. The Rak v2 has excellent build quality. In fact it’s the only miner with a rugged aluminum enclosure.
- Rugged Aluminum enclosure
- Reliable performance
The SenseCAP miner is a relatively new entrant to the miner ecosystem. Their first batch of shipments were made in the summer of 2021.
The miner ships with a 2.8 dBi antenna in the EU868 band and 2.6 dBi in the US915 band. It’s compact and well designed. The SenseCAP includes a cooling solution with a heatsink and a cooling fan in the aluminum enclosure. This enables automatic temperature management even in harsh environments. This enables long-term and stable operation.
- 64 GB of storage to extend the lifetime of the device
- Includes a cooling fan that keeps the electronics from overheating (useful if you’re placing your miner close to a window in direct sunlight)
- Built-in mechanism for remote diagnosis
The Nebra miner is made by the team at PiSupply. They have a lot of experience with Raspberry Pi accessories. Nebra makes two versions of the miner – outdoor and indoor. In fact Nebra is one of the only Helium vendors that has delivered an outdoor miner to the market.
Nebra Indoor Miner
The Nebra indoor miner is made of plastic and the top can be removed relatively easily without any tools. This was a benefit for the early shipments where some internal hardware came loose and customers could put things right without having to return the miner to the factory.
There are LEDs on the front panel that provide additional diagnostic information. This is very useful. The green light in particular – when it’s off, the hotspot likely needs attention. The Nebra miner connects to the internet using a 10/100 Ethernet or 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. Wherever possible use wired Ethernet.
Nebra Outdoor Miner
With proper placement of an outdoor miner you can maximize your HNT due to two main reasons:
- The antenna is usually on a rooftoop or unobstructed outdoor location and this works very well for signal transmission and reception relative to an indoor location
- The cable between the antenna and hotspot is kept to a minimum which benefits RF performance
Nebra has been very challenged by way of component availability and ramping up production. In fact they have not taken any new orders since last Spring. Instead they’re catching up to the first five batches of shipments.
- Outdoor miner
- Open source design
- Plastic enclosure which might be better for Wi-Fi connectivity
- Yellow and green front panel LEDs for diagnostics
Bobcat has shipped over 150,000 miners to date. They have been successful in ramping up their production to meet demand.
One of the main technology advantages of the Bobcat miner is the built-in 64GB eMMC flash. This provides better data security and larger memory storage relative to other miners on the market either use 32GB flashes or external SD cards. The larger memory allows the miner to perform faster computation. As well this built-in memory allows 3000 write cycles, compared to 500 write cycles allowed by an SD card. As a result it has longer device life expectancy of up to 10 years.
The antenna that ships with the miner has 4 dBi gain. This is larger than the stock antenna that ships with other miners; however it is smaller than other antennas that we recommend for more range.
- uses an industrial-grade single board computer – the Rockchip PX30. This is a high-performance quad-core application processor that was designed for high-end commercial applications
- Built-in larger memory for longer life and faster processing
Linxdot is a relatively new entrant to the Helium mining device community. The first batch of miners started shipping in September 2021. The Linxdot miner is a compact device made with a plastic enclosure. It’s a compact design that consumes 12W of energy.
An instant sync feature is available in the Linxdot miner. Miner mines a fully-synchronized snapshot whenever the hotspot falls behind from 50 blocks to the blockchain. This is an automatic process that doesn’t require human intervention. In addition, there is an array of LEDs on top of the miner, along with clear documentation explaining the status based on how they blink and what color they are.
- Sync with the Helium network within 30 minutes of activating your hotspot. This is significantly faster than sync times with other miners
- 1.5GHz quad-core CPU to keep up with the future demands of IoT LoRaWan devices
- 3 dBi antenna included
- Integrated 32GB eMMC storage
MNTD. Miners are made by Rakwireless the company behind the original Helium miner and the very popular Rak v2 miners.
Lack of miner accessibility and transparency has been among Helium mining’s most frustrating aspects. Vendors of miner equipment have consistently changed delivery schedules, sometimes without notifying owners in advance. Many miners have long backlogs with pre-orders as long as a year or more.
MNTD. plans to change all that with the MNTD. miner. It’s back to basics with a focus on People in what is actually #ThePeoplesNetwork.
Toward this goal, RAKwireless offers great customer support, no pre-orders and no broken promises.
- Use of the newer SX1302 chip from Semtech in the RF concentrator for better radio performance
- Compatibility with the Rak antennas
- Premium customer service to expedite hardware replacement, and premium after sales service via remote tools.
Important informationand FAQ
The Helium Miner: Where can I purchase one?
Helium-approved manufacturers sell miners on their websites, but lead times are quite long at the moment. If you are in a hurry, try eBay.
A couple of important things when purchasing a Helium miner on eBay.
Check the seller‘s return policy carefully before making a purchase. It is unlikely that you would have an issue that cannot be dealt with by a new miner purchased directly from the manufacturer. The manufacturers should be able to assist you in dealing with most common problems. Nevertheless, you should seek the proof of purchase from the seller, as well as any other documentation needed for warranty purposes.
Read listing, take notes Pre-ordered miners are sometimes sold by people who don‘t have them yet in their hands. That means you‘ll have to wait a while before receiving one.
Communication is key. With a used miner you will have to sort out the miner transfer. It’s not plug-and-play. Once the miner is transferred you will also have to assert a new miner location.
Important considerations when you’re buying a miner
Here is a list of some important considerations:
- HNT is earned by mining with radio waves. The EU’s regulations can’t be applied to a miner bought in North America. North America operates at a different frequency than Europe. So pick a miner with the correct frequency coverage option for your region
- Make sure you have a plan for where you are going to install your miner.
- The Helium network is increasing at an exponential pace. It has grown 15x in a very short while. In March 2021 there were only 20,000 miners online. Currently there are over 300,000. This places a very large support burden on small manufacturers. As a result, with the exception of larger manufacturers like Rak, the speed at which you get a response will not be very fast.
- Once you receive your miner be prepared to experiment with it to optimize your HNT earnings. Helium is a new, rapidly growing network. Everything about Helium is new – the devices, networking and RF technology at scale is relatively new.
Mining machines typically connect to the internet using either Wi-Fi or Ethernet. However, Wi-Fi connectivity is very unreliable unless your network router is right next to the miner. This is because miner enclosures contain Wi-Fi antennas. It would have made sense to allow for an external Wi-Fi antenna as that would give better range. Until then, it’s recommended to use wired Ethernet to connect your miner to the internet.
Which miner syncs the fastest?
The Linxdot miner has a fast sync feature that allows you to join the Helium network within 30 minutes of activating your hotspot.
In this post we have reviewed the top Helium miners along with their unique differentiating features. Here’s the list: