Most Helium Miners ship with a stock antenna that connects directly to the Input connector.
One way to improve the performance of your miner is to use a higher gain antenna mounted externally on your roof or balcony.
An Antenna Cable is used to connect this antenna to your miner. There are many different RF cables available online and the cable you use matters (a lot). It directly impacts Helium earnings.
In this post we discuss how the different cables available on the market can affect miner performance. What’s the difference in performance between LMR200 and LMR600? Should you pick LMR400 or RG58? What’s the best RF cable for your miner antenna?
To answer these questions, we’ve created an Antenna Cable Insertion Loss Calculator. This handy tool can help you determine the impact of cable selection on Helium mining performance.
Now without further ado, let’s get into the details.
Table of Contents
What are the different RF cable options for Helium?
Helium networks operate at frequencies below 1 GHz. At these frequencies, LMR series and RG series RF cables are very popular. However with so many different variants (LMR200, LMR400, RG58, etc.) which one to pick?
Two Important Considerations for RF cables
An RF or antenna cable is required to connect a high gain, outdoor-ready antenna to your miner.
There are two main considerations for RF cables:
- As the length of antenna cable increases, the amount of attenuation or signal loss increases.
- Signal loss also increases with frequency. A fixed length of cable will have more loss for US915 frequencies relative to EU868 frequencies.
The impact of this loss (also called insertion loss) is a reduction in sensitivity or performance of the miner.
The higher the cable insertion loss, the fewer the number of witnesses and therefore lower HNT earnings
For best miner performance, antenna cable insertion loss should be minimized
How to Calculate Helium Antenna Cable Loss
Use this tool to calculate the insertion loss for different cables. You will need to enter
- Length of the cable
- Frequency of operation (for Helium, it’s either 433 MHz, 868 MHz or 915 MHz)
Pick the cable you want to analyze and the tool will tell you the insertion loss
Insertion loss reduces the signal into the Helium miner and it should be as low as possible. The lower the dB value the better.
When you’re looking to maximize witness count, every dB matters
Which cable to pick?
From the tool, you will be able to see that for short runs of cable (10 feet for example), it doesn’t matter if you pick LMR400 with 0.4 dB loss or LMR240 with 0.8 dB loss.
However as the length of cable increases, the difference begins to increase and the losses add up to a significant number.
For instance at 100 feet, the loss for LMR400 is 4 dB, while LMR240 is 7.6 dB. That results in a loss of half the power which translates to a significant loss of range and witnesses.
What are the different cables for Helium Mining?
This is a list of Helium antenna cables with links to where they can be purchased. The highest quality cables are listed at the top.
KMR400 vs LMR400 – what’s the difference?
There’s a cable type called KMR400 on Amazon. According to the manufacturer’s data sheet the specifications appear to be better than LMR400.
What connectors do I need?
The input connector to Helium Miners is RP-SMA-F.
The cable has to therefore be RP-SMA-Male. As well it has to mate with the antenna which is typically a N-female connector as shown in the picture
The Hexaboost antenna kit also includes a lightning arrester. When connected to the antenna, it also presents a N-type connector for connection to an antenna cable.
In order to mate with either the antenna or the arrester, the cable has to be N-type male.
In this post we have discussed the different RF cables for Helium. With an increase in cable length, insertion losses between different cable types increase as well. In general it’s best to pick a low loss cable like LMR600 for long cable runs. For moderate cable lengths, LMR400 is a good option.