What is mapping?Mapping is another great way to contribute to the Helium network. Basically it means you are scanning for signals to check the coverage of other hotspots in the network.
You may wonder what the purpose of this is? Well by checking the coverage when can confirm a number of things;
- We can check if hotspots actually exist in the location they say they are
- We can check the strength of the signal a hotspot is emitting
- Therefore we can conclude the coverage of the network and where we can place LoRa sensors and trackers
- And we can improve and fine-tune the setup of a hotspot or review a change of antenna
What do I need to start mapping?Mapping is surprisingly cheap and a pretty fun activity. You will require a LoRaWan mapping device. There are some ready built ones but they are expensive ($200 and up) and hard to come by.
And there are some cheaper alternatives that are basically home-build chip boards that need a bit of tender love and care to get them working. The benefit is they are very affordable.
Where do I buy this mapping device?You can find them on AliExpress. Please ensure to order the 915MHz version.
It does not come with a case but you can either hack one together or use a 3D Printer to make one.
Does it cost to map?On top of the hardware you will require a Helium Console account with some DC tokens in it. DC tokens are basically fragments of HNT and are dirt cheap. Every time your mapper picks up a hotspot it will consume some DC to pay for the service.
The hotspot will receive a small HNT reward for transferring data to the mapper. 1 DC equals US$0.00001. Deposit $10 and you will be mapping for months.
Where can I see the coverage maps?There are two different coverage map systems. The Helium network has its own service at Helium Mappers. This is a pretty useful service as you can see what hotspots can be seen in a certain hex cell.
A secondary coverage map is available at the TTN Coverage Map. This is more of a heatmap service. It has the benefit that you can isolate a single hotspot and check its individual coverage.
How do I use the mapper most efficiently? Do I have to drive?The best way to map is by driving, yes, certainly if you wish to cover some serious ground. However nothing stops you from carrying the mapper on foot, on boats, trains or the likes. Using it in the air is not recommended as it will provide unrealistic results. Mapping should be done from ground level only.
Is there a tutorial how to set up the mapper?Yes there is!
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