Getting Acquainted with Helium Console
Helium provides coverage to an innumerable array of different nodes, sensors, trackers, and more. These can be used for environmental monitoring, or industrial applications, logistical asset tracking and more. Hotspot owners can benefit from the increase in network usage in more ways than one. Rewards for data transfer will continue to increase, and you'll have the capability to monitor or control your hardware anywhere around the world thanks to Helium's ubiquity. A great starting point for those interested in getting their feet wet using the network is a simple temperature/humidity sensor. We’ll walk through the process for the very beginner. We’ll be providing more advanced sensor walkthroughs as well, if this doesn’t slow you down at all!
We sell a RAK Helium Developer Kit that comes with all you need to build your own Helium Mapper and environmental sensor. It’s an excellent place to start, but is a bit advanced, more on the maker/developer side than on the beginner Helium enthusiast one. Ready-to-deploy sensors like RAKs TrackIt for example, are also available, which once you receive, you only need to enter the corresponding information to Helium Console to get started so the device is onboarded on the Helium Network (no assembly or coding required). Regardless of the sensor you’d like to set up, the process on the Console side will be the same.
Begin by navigating to Helium Console and set up an account. Helium generously gifts new users with a whole bunch of DC (tokens you need to exchange for data transfer) so you can dive into setting up sensors without having to make an initial transfer of funds.
If you take a look at the menu bar to the left, you’ll see your Flows, Nodes, Configs, and Admin.
The Flows page will be where you set up your Helium devices, we’ll get to that section last.
The Nodes section contains your Devices, Functions, and Integrations.
- Devices - These are the end nodes themselves, setup to monitor environmental data, or otherwise. Helium has integrated a multitude of templates that streamline the process of adding new devices, and allows you to keep them organized with labels. Add new devices here.
- Functions - Here you’ll set up your decoder functions that take the raw data from your device and parse it out into language your Helium console can decipher. Different sensors use different decoders (JS is used), some of which are generated for you by your integrations, and many of which are available on Github.
- Integrations - Dashboards, applications, and other software that record the decoded data and present clear sensor history to the user, allowing user-friendly interaction with the devices. This is where you'll connect your sensors and integration dashboards that you will use to monitor your devices and history.
The Configs section contains Alerts, Profiles, and Packets.
- Alerts - Here you can set up notifications to stay on top of important in-console events, as well as notifications from your integrations as well. i.e. Low Bat., etc.
- Profiles - Assigning profiles to your nodes allows you to set up similar nodes in the future much more quickly. Take note these are related to the LoRaWAN specifications of the devices and you need to consult with their documentation first.
- Packets - You’ll need to assign packet configurations for sensors like Mappers, for example, which will need permission to send multiple packets at once.
The Admin Section houses menus Coverage, Organizations, Data Credits, and Users.
- Coverage - View Helium coverage maps, search and follow hotspots, wallet addresses, view data usage, and more.
- Organizations - Add and manage your various organizations to keep your nodes organized.
- Data Credits - View and purchase data credits.
- Users- Add user accounts to your organization profiles.
The Flows board allows users to seamlessly establish connections between end nodes, decoders and integrations. Above, you will see Labels added to devices indicated by the blue tabs. The purple decoder in the middle is deciphering data from the mapper before integrating it. The green indications on the right are end points where the data is organized, collected, and presented in a user-friendly way.
Setting Up Your Sensor
Lora® sensors come with a series of numbers that identify your node. You may have a Device EUI, an AP EUI, App Key, etc. These numbers will be asked for as you set up your device, so be sure you have this information before you proceed. Click (+) to “Add New Device.”
You’ll be prompted to add your DEV/APP Keys and EUIs, simply add the information that is included with your sensor.
You may notice some of the fields were auto-filled for you, if you are provided those you may overwrite them. They’re automatically generated in the instance a device is being reprogrammed by the user, which allows the end node to be programmed to the specifications of the data on Helium Console, greatly simplifying the process. Give your device a clear label to help setup your Flows later.
There is a pending period after adding your device that may take around a half hour. You will not see any Uplinks or Downlinks during this time (the device will not be able to joint either). Once your node has been added to Helium Console, you'll be able to view your activity under your event history.
Helium Console Event History
Once your device is active, you can establish your integrations in order to view the information being collected. Datacake is a very popular user friendly interface which, similar to Helium Console, has many prebuilt templates for existing sensors as well as generic templates which makes configuring your node munch easier. The following details the process of adding a device to Datacake, but the steps will be similar for most integrations. You'll add the device and then pair the integration via web-hooks or Endpoint URLs.
Then select your device from the available templates, or enter your own device manually.
Select "Helium" from the available Networks.
Then add your Device EUI from Helium Console and give your node a name.
Navigate to your User Profile on Datacake by clicking your username/email in the upper left hand corner and select "Edit Profile."
Select "API" from the menu.
Click "Show" and copy your Datacake API token to your clipboard.
Navigate back over to your Helium Console and to your integrations page, and select "Add New Integration."
Click + Add Integration
Enter your Datacake API token into "Endpoint Details," give your integration a name, and hit save.
Getting into the Flow
Now for the exciting part, navigate over to your Flows board. It should look like this:
Click the plus button by NODES to add a node, and drag and drop the label associated with your sensor onto the board, repeating the process for the integration. Click and drag to connect the two. When data is flowing, the line will be dotted.
In this example, we're using the WisBlock platform to integrate a Base Board, a Core Module (RAK4631), combined it with an Environmental Sensor and a Datacake integration, in order to create our Weather monitoring node.
Those steps will be similar for any node and any integration, most developers provide adequate documentation to get users all setup. If you do run into any trouble, find your way to our Discord servers where the community will be happy to help, or you can open a tech support ticket and well help get you set up!
Here's what a dashboard could look like, if it has been fully set up.
Datacake Dashboard Example
Here is an example of a 1 week history of Voltage input Data collected from a Dragino LT-22222-L organized on a Datacake Dashboard. This device can be used to power cycle 2 devices and monitor battery voltage, a great resource for off-grid hotspots. View a full tutorial here!
Becoming acquainted with using the Helium network will give you a broader understanding of the network you’re helping build. As the network grows, data usage will continue to increase and hotspot owners will eventually be rewarded a greater portion of the $HNT for transferring data than by proving their coverage. Introducing friends, family, and local businesses to the variety of sensors available can help grow the network as well.
There are countless industry specific sensors available from bee keeping, agricultural, and educational applications, to automotive utilities, and even extreme sports. What exciting use cases have you developed? Show us your creations on Discord or Twitter. We may even ask you if we can share it!