This is a typical LongFi Antenna installation.
The benefit of the technology is in its low cost, low power requirements, and small form factor. There is very little building modification or infrastructure needed to make a site functional.
There are a hundred different ways to install a node. Every location poses different scenarios.
- Is it a commercial property or a home?
- Is it a ground installation or a roof?
- Is it a flat roof, or angled?
- Is there Internet access or will it be a wireless configuration?
- Does the terrain or vegetation require different antenna configurations?
- Are there height limitations?
The list of things to evaluate and plan for is fairly long. There are two principles I apply to every installation.
- Do no harm. I want to be as unintrusive to the property as possible. There will be coordination and planning, but I try to make the least number of permanent changes to a site as possible.
- Assume as much risk as I can. In order to grow the network and increase the adoption of the technology, I need the cooperation of other business owners. I want to make it a simple equation that doesn’t include a lot of risk with a fair amount of benefit.
LongFi Antenna Components
For most installations, there are 5 main components to the equipment.
- Antenna Base
- Antenna Mast Pole w/Guy Wires
- Helium Node w/Antenna
- Internet Cable
- Grounding System
I use a non-penetrating base for commercial, flat roof installations. They are usually around 3′ x 3′ and use cement blocks as ballast to keep it in place.
The antenna mast can vary between 1.5″ to 2″ in diameter. The average height is 15′ on a rooftop. Guy wires are always used to provide additional stability and security against shifting or falling over.
The default node configuration I use is a 10″ x 10″ weather-sealed box that houses the Helium node components. This box has the antenna attached and is securely placed at the top of the antenna mast for mounting.
The only connection the Helium node needs is an Internet port to a router inside the building. This provides system management communication for the device and I piggyback the little amount of power it needs through something called Power over Ethernet (PoE).
The Helium node only uses 5 Watts of power! That’s a little more than a big-screen TV uses when it’s in standby mode. Because the power need is so low I can use one single Internet cable to give it everything it needs to work.
Every single installation uses two electrical safety components, a lightning arrestor, and a ground wire. The lightning arrestor is like a fuse. It protects the system and the building in the event of an electrical event. The ground wire reduces static charge buildup and provides a route for electricity if there is a strike on the antenna itself.
Easy in and very low risk
As you can see, there is not a lot to the installation of a node. The impact to a building is minimal, while the potential of some residual income can be an added bonus for letting my company do all the work.
I do the planning, installation, testing, and configuration of the node to optimize its performance for that site. In most cases, the only thing I need for support from the building owner is access and an Internet connection.