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Helium mining is surging in popularity as people clamor to get into crypto. A software engineer who bought 100 miners at $350 apiece explains how he set up his system, how much he’s earning, and…

Eric Vladimirsky, Helium miner

  • Eric Vladimirsky has tried mining various altcoins but now prefers to mine Helium, which relies on users setting up hotspots in their homes that provide a secure low-bandwidth wireless signal for IoT devices.
  • He outlines how he set up his mining operation, including a discussion of the devices he uses to earn HNT crypto, which are small, quiet, and require minimal electricity.
  • Mining HNT gives someone the opportunity to trade it for other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or altcoins.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mining cryptocurrencies is often associated with bitcoin and sometimes ether. But one popular trend that has crypto enthusiasts foaming at the mouth is the mining of Helium. The trend, which touts itself as a people-powered network, relies on users setting up hotspots in their homes that provide a secure low-bandwidth wireless signal for IoT devices.

One of these increasingly popular mini-devices retails for about $350, looks like a regular internet router, and is so widely sought-after that the handful of manufacturers currently making them are backed up on orders and have a waitlist.

The concept of mining used by Helium’s blockchain is different from that of traditional proofing. It uses radio waves to validate other hotspots to prove they are providing wireless coverage, relay device data, and validate another device’s location.

Rewards are given as HNTs, a crypto currently trading around $12.88 as of July 30, according to CoinMarketCap.

The point isn’t necessarily to amass as much HNT as possible. Rather, mining it gives someone the opportunity to trade it for other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or altcoins. They may also stake it to yield a high annual percentage rate (APR).

Eric Vladimirsky, a Los Angeles-based senior software developer at Warner Bros., has been earning and trading his HNTs for other altcoins. He previously tried mining bitcoin and other altcoins directly but found the process inefficient.

The Helium device’s minimal power usage and ability to operate silently was appealing to him. What he later realized was that the little device was also quite profitable.

“Working in tech, I can appreciate projects that are well done [or] well-engineered. So, when I look at a project, crypto, or any code project, I can tell the level of effort that is put into it and how serious they are. When it came to Helium, I was a little skeptical,” Vladimirsky told Insider.

He initially started off with two Helium miners in August of 2020 and didn’t have high expectations. A few days into the hotspots being online, Vladimirsky realized he’d get a return on his investment within a few weeks. His miners went online on August 19, when HNT was trading around $1.51.

“As I saw that it works, and you can’t argue with the results. I quickly got into it more,” Vladimirsky said.

He told Insider that in the beginning, a miner would rake in 25 to 35 HNTs a day. In one rare instance, he earned 182 HNTs in a 24-hour period, a feat for which Insider viewed documentation.

Today, even though HNT is trading at a much higher price, the rewards have been reduced substantially. The hotspot at Vladimirsky’s home, which has an upgraded antenna, earned 89.59 HNTs over the past 30 days, according to screenshots viewed by Insider. A combination of 63 miners earned 1,386 HNTs in the past 30 days, according to his wallet. At HNT’s current value, that’s equivalent to $17,861.

He now has 65 operational miners with another 35 on the way. Insider was able to view receipts for 63 Rak miners, two Helium miners, and the 35 Nebra miners that are currently on backorder.

Vladimirsky breaks down the key things to know about getting these hotspots up and running.

Setting up

The suppliers that sell the approved compatible hotspots are listed directly on Helium’s website. There are about nine, and the models will vary based on whether the device will be in North America or Europe.

The initial setup is simple. Once the device is plugged in, it connects to the host’s wireless network and mobile app. This process allows the user to set the ownership and location of the miner.

Vladimirsky noted that each miner’s ability to earn HNT can vary drastically depending on the location, how many other miners are in its vicinity, the antenna, and if there are any blockages that could impact the signal such as mountains or high buildings. If these factors aren’t ideal, a hotspot’s earnings can be as low as a fraction of an HNT.

It’s recommended that hotspots be at least 300 meters apart from each other. For Vladimirsky, this meant recruiting family, friends, and even friends of friends to host his miners at their homes in exchange for a percentage of the profit.

A website called Helium Explorer shows the location of other hotspots and even how much each one is earning. This helps a host determine how much they themselves can bring in, and how many other hotspots they will be proofing.

Even though the device comes with an antenna, Vladimirsky noted that finding an appropriate upgrade can increase its rewards exponentially. He shared two resources for antenna guidance, HNT News and Nebra’s antenna guide page.

Some of the miners he has are barely generating helium due to their location. In these events, he will try and relocate it.

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