Helium Light Hotspot Update 7-14-2022 and How It Affects You

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What changed for the Helium network and hotspots?

On July 14th, Helium made the switch from the previous Erlang based Miner software to their new Rust based gateway-rs Miner. As a result of this change and some other previous changes, hotspots no longer sync the blockchain! The days of syncing gaps are finally over!

The main changes are:

  • Hotspots no longer keep a copy of the blockchain and do not sync any blockchain data. Validators keep track of the blockchain and provide this information to hotspots.
  • Hotspots no longer challenge other hotspots to beacon. Validators now issue the challenges.
  • Hotspots no longer participate in libp2p gossip style communication and now use gRPC for distributed communication, meaning there is no more relayed status and port 44158 no longer needs to be forwarded. The Miner now initiates only outbound traffic to the Validator and most routers allow all outbound traffic by default - there is no longer any need to forward 44158/22/443/80/1680/8080 or any other ports.
    Note: Port 22 should only be forwarded if requested by Bobcat support - for security reasons you should always close port 22 if not in use.

What do I need to be aware of going forward?

These are the main things to keep in mind:

  • Nothing needs to be done to update your hotspots to Light Hotspot software. As long as the hotspot is online, it should process the update automatically. At the time of writing, the majority of hotspots have already updated. If you want to be sure, check the Diagnoser or Web Dashboard - if your OTA Version is 1.0.3.1 or higher, you're already running Light Hotspot software!
  • With the removal of blockchain storage and syncing, data usage will drop dramatically, wear and tear on miner embedded memory and SD card storage will be greatly decreased, and many of the most frequent issues (blockchain corruption, syncing gaps) will no longer affect hotspots.
  • Because there is no more blockchain gap, peer book, need to port forward 44158, etc - these features have been removed from the Diagnoser and Web Dashboard. You will no longer see blockchain gap, port 44158 status, and more in the Diagnoser and Web Dashboard. Resync and Fast Sync have been removed as they no longer serve any purpose.
  • Prior to the changes, "Lone Wolf" hotspots - those without other functioning hotspots nearby within range to exchange beacons/witnesses - were able to earn by issuing challenges as this was done over the internet and not via radio waves. Now due to the fact that Validators handle issuing challenges, Lone Wolf hotspots will no longer be able to perform any PoC activity to earn rewards. If you have a hotspot in this situation, the only solution is to: 1) relocate the hotspot to a placement where other functional hotspots are within LoRa range or 2) install more hotspots near your existing hotspot yourself (keep in mind the minimum distance between hotspots is recommended as 300 meters, too close and your beacons/witnesses will be discarded as invalid for being too close to the source).

Additional Resources

For additional technical information or to keep up with the latest changes, see the following resources!

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