Why is it that some days a Hotspot will perform well, and other days not perform at all? Is it a problem with this specific Hotspot? Just this brand of Hotspot? Maybe even the whole network? In this article, we will unpack all these variables related to inconsistent Helium rewards in layman’s terms.
Each Hotspot is eligible to construct a beacon about 3 times a day, or every six hours. This is the first potential culprit of your inconsistent Helium rewards. If the validators are behind, it will take longer to beacon, and thus fewer rewards on your end. This is more common than everyone would like at the moment, but when the light hotspot update comes out (very soon) this problem should be largely mitigated.
Beacons are Random
This is incredibly important to understand, and most often is the culprit for inconsistent Helium rewards.
The algorithm that decides where to send a beacon is not consistent – one day it could send out a bunch of beacons to your area and you receive higher than normal earings, another day it could send none to your area and you might get next to no rewards. This is the biggest variable in your earings, and it’s not something you can control.
Next, there could be an update for your specific brand of Hotspot that is causing it to experience fewer rewards. This is not as common but it definitely happens from time to time and it’s not something you can control. Most Hotspots push updates OTA (over the air) and require no manual intervention. Some Hotspots, like Bobcat, will require you to install the update manually so we’d recommend verifying this for your Hotspots and consulting the discord servers before doing anything drastic with your set-up.
Beyond those two examples, if you are still experiencing inconsistent Helium rewards it could be a problem that you can fix.
This should get taken care of in the new update, but some internet providers/modems/routers have strict firewalls that will block any communications from other countries (such as beacons), it is possible to port forward, place your miner in a DMZ, or even remove the firewall if you can get to the internet settings. We would recommend everyone to do a deep dive into your internet setting to make sure all the beacons are coming through. Another issue with the internet that can cause a decrease in rewards is your internet speed and ping (how long it takes *in milliseconds* for your device to receive data from the internet). Helium is not all that demanding, but if you are on dial-up or some other slow internet service, you certainly aren’t doing yourself any favors.
If you are monitoring the earings of the Hotspots around you, staying up to date with the discord, and still confused about why your earnings are lower than you think they should be, it could be a hardware issue.
We’d recommend diagnosis by trial and error, replacing every piece of hardware, and testing for a few days to try and find the culprit.
It could be something as trivial as a loose connection, or as serious as a faulty component in your Hotspot. We’d recommend trying a new antenna, replacing your SD card (no longer needed after the light Hotspot update), replacing your power supply, and replacing your ethernet cable before trying to open up your Hotspot. Once you open the Hotspot it is no longer covered by warranty, so we don’t recommend doing that unless you are 100% willing and able to fix whatever might be wrong. Sometimes the small internal antenna cable can come loose and it’s an easy fix, but it could be much more serious.
Keep in mind, big cities are less likely to experience inconsistent Helium rewards associated with random beacons due to the overall number of possible beaconing hotspots.
We always recommend checking out the trend of your rewards compared to surrounding Hotspots to get an idea of whether or not it’s a network problem (unavoidable) or a problem with your Hotspot in particular.
If you are new to Helium, consider checking out our Master Guide to Mining Helium.
Or, start from the beginning via our Explanation to Proof of Coverage article.