Mine HNT Tokens with Crypto Hardware RAKwireless MNTD built for Helium IoT Network

2 min read

A new Helium hotspot and miner has been launched by RAKwireless, maker of IoT gateways and hotspots for Helium’s IoT network under the CalChip brand. The device is called MNTD, and it costs $400. Helium fans will appreciate that the miner/hotspot will ship two weeks after it is ordered, and that orders will only be accepted when inventory is available. The launch of this new consumer-focused miner for the Helium network follows last week’s launch of a window-mounted mining device called Finestra. It is a recognition of the growth of the Helium LoRaWAN network and business model.

The Helium network is building a peer-to-peer distributed low-power wide-area network for the Internet of Things using a cryptocurrency to reward people for hosting hotspots on their Wi-Fi networks. The LoRa mesh network is created by each miner sitting on a Wi-Fi network (using the consumer’s Wi-Fi for backhaul to the internet). LoRa offers long-distance coverage of a few miles for very small data bits. Helium miners mint Helium Network Tokens (HNTs) in exchange for using home Wi-Fi. HNTs are used by companies that want to buy data credits for their devices on the Helium LoRa network. HNT’s price should reflect demand for the network.

The new Minted Miners resemble the original Helium miner packaging. Image courtesy of RAKwireless.

Here’s where I should tell you that I own and Helium hotspot and have unwittingly mined thousands worth of HNTs. This is not an encouragement to purchase the devices. In the last few months, the number of HNTs mined by my hotspot (which is one of the original Helium branded hotspots manufactured by RAK) has gone from mining several HNTs a week to mining one or even less. This is a function of changes to the network and a nearby neighbor setting up their own hotspot.

Miners awaiting shipping. Image courtesy of RAK Wireless.

I don’t mind, as I plugged the device in because I want to see a low-cost LPWAN available for IoT devices such as trackers, open close sensors, weather stations, and more. But casual consumers hearing tales of Helium riches should check out the coverage maps and expect much less if they buy the MNTD device today.

The new devices are RAK’s answer to the high demand for Helium miners as the price of the Helium Network Tokens rise and chip shortages make it impossible get fulfill orders in a timely manner. For example, my colleague Kevin ordered Helium miner back in March, which he is still waiting for. Jose Marcelino, a solutions architect with RAK, says that the company has doubled the number of miners it has made, but demand from companies that buy miners in bulk means consumers are stuck waiting for a long time.

The component storage has also caused problems. Helium routers use Raspberry Pis as the computer inside, and Marcelino says that it can be hard to get those boards quickly, so plans to allow more computers to run the HNT algorithms would help speed up the ability to provide miners. Other component shortages or price hikes, such as the rise in copper prices, have caused problems in making antennas. So while MNTD devices will have the same constraints in manufacturing as other Helium hotspots, the company will only allow people to buy five miners at a time and will offer live tracking, so people know when they buy the miner they will get it within two weeks.

The goal with MNTD is to spread the Helium network out across many homes and many people, making it more resilient and providing better coverage. As a big believer in LoRa networks, I’m all in favor of this goal.

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Chris Munch

Chris Munch is a professional cryptocurrency and blockchain writer with a background in software businesses, and has been involved in marketing within the cryptocurrency space. With a passion for innovation, Chris brings a unique and insightful perspective to the world of crypto and blockchain. Chris has a deep understanding of the economic, psychological, marketing and financial forces that drive the crypto market, and has made a number of accurate calls of major shifts in market trends. He is constantly researching and studying the latest trends and technologies, ensuring that he is always up-to-date on the latest developments in the industry. Chris’ writing is characterized by his ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner, making it accessible to a wide audience of readers.