Upgrade your Helium Hotspot antenna for a greater range in the UK with a MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi Omni Antenna

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Update – With the MikroTik out of stock there are two options on Amazon by Paradar which have an 8.5dbi Antenna or a 4.5dbi antenna. I have also written another post about the best antenna selection for the Helium Hotspot.

I was a little sceptical when I was first offered the Helium Hotspot to review; it just sounded like an expensive piece of tech that wouldn’t take off.

I have been mostly proved wrong, I still stand by my reservations and would still advise that you only buy it knowing that it may not earn your money back. However, it has proven to be more profitable than I had imagined.

I have been lucky in that Blackpool appear to have one of the highest numbers of hotspots in the country, and the actual density of hotspots seems to rival London.

Anyway, most users will be aware that you need to try and optimise the position of your hotspot to increase its range and maximise earnings.

A lot of people on Reddit upgrade their aerials. When I looked into this, finding an appropriate antenna in the UK didn’t seem that easy.

There is the Fiber Glass Antenna Kit for Helium Hotspot sold by RAC, who also make the RAK hotspot miner. I have sure when I first checked this site I couldn’t buy it, but it now looks like you can order it shipped to the UK for $65.00.

I ended up trying to be cheap and buying a generic outdoor 4G antenna from Amazon. I later learned that not all antennas work quite the same. Than antenna did seem to improve things a little, at the very least it allowed me to place it outside my window.

A little bigger than the original antenna

More recently, I tried to find an alternative solution and came across the MikroTik 824-960MHz 6.5dBi Omni Antenna, which is available via msdist.co.uk for a bit over £50 after shipping, alternatively, there is the Glass Fiber LoRa Antenna Peak Gain (5.8dbi) for £40 from Pi Supply.

This comes with just enough cable to run outside my window, but you may need to extend this further.

This covers the frequencies of 824 – 960 MHz which is compatible with the EU Helium Hotspot.

It has a higher gain than the option sold by RAK, but I think theirs is specific to the region so could potentially offer better performance.

With the MikroTik you will have to buy an adaptor, I ended up going for this 15-piece pack which guaranteed I had the right adaptor.

Previously I was connecting to just 4 hotspots, all within a few streets of me, since installing this antenna, this has increased to 15 hotspots with some around 2.5 miles away as the crow flies.

Recently my earnings appear to have slumped a little, but with the new antenna, it looks like things have shot up considerably. I have only had it two days, so I will give it a week and see how much the graph shape changes and report back.

[Update 27/01/2021] MikroTik Antenna pays for itself in days

Apologies for not updating this sooner. The results have been excellent though. As you can see in the above screenshots I was earning around 10 HNT per week, with the graph starting to get steeper when I installed this. Hotspots went up from 4 to 15.

With the new antenna, I now earn around 80 HNT per week and the number of hotspots has increased to around 25.

So the investment paid itself off within a week and I would regard it as an essential purchase for anyone running a Helium Hotspot.

Pi Supply also sell LoRa hardware including an outdoors miner and antennas. Most of it is out of stock or pre-order but the links are:

SMA Antenna Connections

As a few people keep asking, this image shows the SMA designs which might make it easier to identify what you need for your cable.

Last update on 2021-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

39 thoughts on “Upgrade your Helium Hotspot antenna for a greater range in the UK with a MikroTik LoRa 6.5dBi Omni Antenna”

    • Apologies, been a nightmare keeping on top of things recently.

      I have updated the post, but it is well worth the investment, massively increased the number of hotspots I connect to and earnings have around 8 fold. Though, where I live has an unusually large number of hotspots, so your mileage may vary.

      Reply
  1. Do the further hotspots that become available once the improved aerial is installed boost your mining even if they are owned by other people?

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Yeah, the lighting arrestor is probably advisable in the US, the UK has approximately 0.46 lightning strikes per square km each year so very low risk. People should still assess their risks and installations on a very tall building should certainly consider it.

      Reply
  2. Hi

    Thanks for all the valuable info. Since I am ordering 20 of the MikroTik 824-960MHz 6.5dBi Omni Antenna, I do not want to order 20 of the 15 adaptor packs, can you help me identify which adaptor it is I require for the MikroTik.

    Also ordered 10 of the Glass Fiber LoRa Antenna Peak Gain (5.8dbi), did you get quick delivery and do you need an adapator for these?

    Thanks
    Much appreciated

    Reply
    • You Require an RP SMA MALE (Helium hotspot side) to an SMA Male (Antenna side)

      I ended up replacing the entire cable so I could mount the antenna higher. You can get cables off Amazon but I got a custom made one via McGill Microwave Systems on eBay (https://mghty.uk/mcgillmicrowavesystems) – I bought some of the LMR-400 cable which is very thick but offers very low signal loss – I think it was this cable but then messaged them asking for the RP SMA MALE & SMA Male cable ends.

      Reply
    • At the moment, the furthest hotspot is 4km/2.5miles away. With the antenna, I am on now I have had roughly 7.5 km (4.6 mi) previously. At one time, I was experimenting with a 12dbi antenna, and I had a connection at 22.34 km (13.88 mi) I am not sure how that was achieved though, maybe they have a super powerful antenna too, or perhaps it was a glitch in the system.

      Reply
  3. Hello, can the antenna be situated in my loft with good results or does it have to be attached to a chimney / pole?

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it.

      A lot of people have had success in the window, and when I first got this antenna, I mounted it on a plastic drainpipe outside my bedroom window with some zip ties. It worked pretty well, and my results haven’t improved a massive amount since relocating it higher up on my roof.

      Reply
  4. Hi James – awesome info. Wonder if you could help me. I have a Bobcat 300 on order and if I get a MikroTik for outdoor use, I’ll need a decent length of cable. What connectors are needed on either end of the SMA cable to connect the MikroTik to the Bobcat – is it one male and one female? Cheers!

    Reply
    • I think it is reverse polarity male SMA on the Bobcat end and then it is SMA Male (Antenna side). I have uploaded a picture at the end of the blog post which shows the different SMA designs, so you should be able to work it out yourself.

      Reply
  5. Hi James,

    I’m looking at getting either an 8dbi or a 12dbi. Did you have less success with the 12dbi antenna? I’m also planning to install in my loft space, so exspect some signal loss because of it. Wondering what your experince was and whether to get the 12dbi antenna?

    Reply
    • Yes, I had less success, I believe you need a flat clear view to make the most of 12dbi. As another commenter has just mentioned, these high gain antennas are quite likely breaking Ofcom regulations too. Whether or not your care, is another question, but unless there is a significant benefit to 12dbi, I’d suggest it is not worth it.

      Reply
  6. James, is that 6.5 Dbi anthena legal with the hotspot?
    Tx power ( legal limit ) in uk is 14 Dbm, anthena has 6.5 so that leaves 7.5 rak hotspot, which according to stats has TX power up to 27 DBM, but dont know how is it set up.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Good question, I am not 100% sure and I am absolutely not qualified to provide legal advice. I am led to believe the hotspot will use the appropriate power for the region, like most Wi-Fi routers.

      It seems to be a grey area, for sure. I doubt Ofcom will do much about it, as long as you are not abusing things too much. It is one of the reasons why I ditched the 12dbi antenna I had.

      Reply
  7. Hi James,

    Would this work if i put it in my attic aiming it straight out of a velux window? The antenna has just turned up. I have plugged the antenna in with the wire that come with it (no additional connectors needed right?) and am just awaiting the additional connectors for the bobcat

    Reply
  8. Hi all, a question I have is can you use the antenna that comes with the bobcat 300 miner outside say upon a chimney, or is it internal only, cheers

    Lee

    Reply
  9. Hey James, i don’t know if you are still looking at comments, but i recently bought a Bobcat 300 miner, now the antenna cable is short, my house is like 3m high from the ground to the top window. Now I’m trying to put the antenna up on the roof. Which extension cable and antenna is required, I’m a noob at this and really appreciate your help and support. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I did an August update for my Helium Hotspot Review which includes current HNT rewards. As you might have expected, they have dropped off considerably, I am no longer making over $1k per month off it.
      My hotspot underperforms compared to some near me and I get around 15HNT per month which is about $330 – which is not bad considering it is just sat there requiring no work from me.

      Reply
  10. Hi James,

    I Have purchased an RAK 8dbi antenna to add to my HNT miner. All the videos I see from the US include grounding them.
    Im guessing this is something we don’t need to do ?

    Reply
    • Technically you should, but the UK is at a much lower risk of lightning strikes than the US. I guess it depends how/where it is mounted, if you are going to the effort to mount it high on a chimney then it may be worth the effort as lightning will take the path of least resistance.
      I’m pretty sure most antenna installers don’t even install grounding on TV antennas

      Reply
      • Thank you James for all your comments.

        That is indeed true as I called several TV antenna installers and when I mentioned lightening protections they say we don’t do that.

        So do you think the best option for a flat area to use 6.5dbi or 8dbi?

        Mcgill Microwaves they do tuned antennas but they are more expensive than the ones you can get from Rakwireless and the vswr is much less. What do you recommend?

        Thanks again

        Reply
  11. The latest PoC v11 is coming with some new changes (fixes)to counter spoofing. Any antenna greater than 4 dbi in Europe will result in Invalid witness, hence less HNT rewards. The maximum is 4 dbi in Europe and 9 dbi in the US.

    Reply

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