How to use your Helium Alpha Key to add your DIY hotspot

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The final step in the process of creating a DIY helium hotspot is to add it to the network using your alpha key.

If you don't already have a key, you're currently out of luck, but remember the beta will be launched shortly.

We're going to have to spin up a new VPS to store a wallet associated with the DIY hotspot, We then link this wallet to the existing wallet you created when setting up your first hotspot in the app using the 12 seed words you were told to store when setting it up.

Spin up a new droplet with DigitalOcean. one note here when I tried to use the smaller size droplet, this all failed, so I used the $10 2gb1cpu size which worked perfectly.

Select Ubuntu and choose the closest region to you. Select password under authentication and enter a password. I also recommend enabling backups.

Once created, make note of the public IP, we'll need this to connect to the server via SSH.

To login to the droplet on windows via SSH, I recommend putty.

Open the putty app, enter your servers IP and click open. You will be prompted to enter a username which is root.

Enter your password previously chosen but a note here, the field will not show any input when you're entering it, so enter your password and press enter to submit it.

You are now in the main command line for the droplet and can begin the installation process for the helium miner software.

Update the package list

apt update

Install some essential packages, press y when prompted and hit enter.

apt install pkg-config libssl-dev build-essential

Install rust

curl --proto '=https' --tlsv1.2 -sSf | sh

once this has completed it will tell you to run the following code

source $HOME/.cargo/env

Now we need to create a new user, add it to sudo so it has permissions and swap over to it. Make sure to use this new user when logging into SSH in the future.

useradd wallet

You will be prompted for a password, and user information, on the user information section feel free to press enter to skip through.

Add the user to the sudo group

usermod -aG sudo wallet

Swap over to the new user

su wallet

Go to your user directory

cd ~/

Clone the helium wallet repo:

git clone

And build it using cargo - note this will take a long time:

cd helium-wallet-rs
cargo build --release

Why not take this chance to have a break, relax, check in with the world for about half hour.

When it's done go into the release folder

cd target/release/

We're now ready to link this new wallet to your existing wallet using the 12 seed words

./helium-wallet create basic --seed

Enter your 12 seed words and set a new password.

Copy the wallet address it outputs you'll need this for future steps.

Backing up your Swarm key

It's important you back this key up, if you have a system loss, or need to move it in any way, this is important!

cp swarm_key ~/swarm_key.backup

This gives us a local backup on the server, but we're going to download it as a second backup.

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8000

Visit your servers IP eg http://SERVER_IP:8000 in the browser to have a directory listing, select the swarm_key and download it.

Once done, press ctrl + x in ssh to close the web server, we don't want to leave this open.

Adding the hotspot to the network

We're going to need to open up an SSH connection to your miner, if you haven't set one up yet, follow our guide here on how to run a DIY helium miner with DigitalOcean, and the next step, how to set up a DIY helium hotspot with a Rasberry Pi.

One your SSH connection is open on your miner we're going to add the miner as a gateway to the helium network. In following command replace YOUR_WALLET with your wallet code from the previous step.

docker exec miner miner txn add_gateway owner=YOUR_WALLET

Copy the output and go back to the wallet SSH session and run the following replacing ADD_GATEWAY_OUTPUT with the output of the previous step and replacing ALPHA_KEY with your alpha key

./helium-wallet --format json onboard ADD_GATEWAY_OUTPUT --onboarding ALPHA_KEY --commit

Now back to the miner to assert the location of the hotspot. Replace YOUR_WALLET with your wallet ID and LAT,LON with the latitude and longitude of where you will be running the hotspot. You can get this by visiting Google maps and dropping a pin, right-click and it will show the LAT,LON in a window at the bottom.

Remember hotspots have to be at least 300m apart to participate in proof of coverage with each other. I recommend after finishing this article to disconnect the DIY hotspot and set it up at the location you plan to host it from.

docker exec miner miner txn assert_location owner=YOUR_WALLET location=LAT,LON --payer 14fzfjFcHpDR1rTH8BNPvSi5dKBbgxaDnmsVPbCjuq9ENjpZbxh

Copy the output of the assert location command and go back over finally to the helium wallet to onboard the hotspot. Replace ASSERT_OUTPUT with the output from the previous step, and ALPHA_KEY with your alpha key.

./helium-wallet --format json onboard ASSERT_OUTPUT --onboarding ALPHA_KEY --commit

And that's it, your hotspot has now been added to the network and you can view its status by replacing YOUR_WALLET with your wallet id in the following URL:

The hotspot will now show up in your app and you can see its usage.

Congrats on adding your new DIY helium hotspot to the Helium Network!


Neil Skoglund
Avid WordPress fan and founder of WPOwl - home of the best managed WordPress hosting. Neil has 3 passions in life,  coding, guitars & family.

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