Deploy Dragino LPS8 (DATAONLY) on Helium


The Dragino LPS8, LoRaWAN gateway is a helium ready device you can add to Helium as a Data-Only. It means it does not participate to PoC but earn HNT for transferring traffic.

It’s not a ready-to-go data-only, so you need to register the hotspot in the helium block-chain on your own but it run the gateway-rs software internally.

This device as been designed for Helium, but not only, it can be connected to TTN or another different network, like a private network. The installation with Helium network is not really complicated but you will need to process some command on a terminal and manipulate wallet-cli.

Unboxing & connecting to it

The hotspot is delivered with an indoor antenna and an USB power adapter. The gateway comes with the minimal stuff to make it running, If you want to connect it to a LAN, you need to provide your own cable.

So you just need to screw the antenna and connect it to the power supply. Then leds are blinking and you can start the setup phase.

The Dragino LPS8 is creating a WiFi access point names dragino-xxxx ; if you connect it to a LAN, it will get an IP address on it but you won’t be able to perform your setup from this interface. So you need to connect to the WiFi for continuing the setup. The good news is that if your hotspot is connected to Internet over the LAN, it will route the traffic to access Internet through the Dragino WiFi connection. The password for the WiFi access is dragino+dragino

The administration panel is accessible on you will need to enter the following login & password : root / dragino

The first important steps are

  • change the WiFi password or anyone will be able use your own Internet connection
  • change the admin password
  • update the firmware if you don’t have the last one

To get the last firmware version on dragino website using the lgw–build-xxxx. The procedure requires to select the firmware file, next upload it, then you need to click on preserve settings and proceed. The device will reboot.

Setup Helium

Now we can setup the radio part. The first step is to go to LoRa configuration panel and verify the zone setting is correct. Then it’s better to setup the GPS coordinate as static and update it.

Once done you can go to the LoRaWan menu and Helium IoT configuration panel.

Helium setup panel on Dragino LPS8

On this panel, you need to click on Download gateway-rs then Install gateway-rs, then click on Save & Apply. After this, you should re-enter in the LoRaWan >> Helium IoT panel and you should see the identity of the gateway displayed on this page.

You need to save the gateway key and note the Hotspot key ( this is the public key also the ID if the hotspot you will use later). The animal name is the common (but not uniq) name of the hotspot.

The Dragino setup part is terminated but the hotspot is not yet registered to the chain and can’t be used yet. We now need to register it.

Register Dragino LPS8 on helium blockchain

For the registration, we need to get the registration transaction from the hotspot. For this we need to connect with ssh to the dragino LPS8. You will need a helium wallet, this is the one where the hotspot will be registered. You will replace the xxx above by the wallet address.

[root ~] ssh root@
password: ...
$ cd /etc/init.d
$ helium_gateway add --owner xxx --payer xxx
  "address": "...",
  "fee": 65000,
  "mode": "dataonly",
  "owner": "xxx",
  "payer": "xxx",
  "staking fee": 1000000,
  "txn": "CrMBCiEBUaMX...OMCEPUDo+wM="

From this result we will get the txn value add pass it to the helium wallet in a hotspot addition transaction. So on your computer you need to have the helium_wallet software configured for the xxx wallet. Once you have this, you can pass the registration transaction:

[root ~wallet]./helium-wallet hotspots add {txn} --commit

The transaction will take a couple of minutes, then the new hotspot will appear in your hotspot list. It needs to be assigned to a location to terminate the setup. Replace the {…} by the address given above and the X.XXX by your lat & long position.

[root ~wallet]./helium-wallet hotspots assert --gateway {...} --lat=XX.XXX --lon=X.XXX --mode dataonly --commit

Now the hotspot setup is done. Once the registration of this transaction has been made on the blockchain, I recommend to restart the Dragino to make sure the gateway-rs zone setting are correctly considered.

Remote management

The hotspot can be managed remotely, integrating the service. This is basically allowing to access the administration panel from a public URL even if the device is behind a NAT / firewall. It’s like a VPN but simpler. The installation is quite simple et well documented so I don’t need to go in details.

I initially did not planned to deploy this service on the hotspot but I’ve seen some problem after restarting the hotspot (The helium gateway-rs service was disconnected internally from the Semtech packet forwarder, and I had to “apply” again the Helium setup). The ability to manage it remotely has been interresting for this.


The Dragino LPS8 is a nice hardware, not expensive ($160) allowing to deploy or extend a Helium network. The solution as really been made for indoor usage and the antenna is really basic but it’s easy to change it to improve the hotspot coverage capability.

It’s really good to have it presets for Helium and makes it supporting gateway-rs, the configuration is a bit more complex than for the Sensecap M2 in my point of view but common and really accessible if you are used to manage command line. If you deploy fleets of data-only, you will manage this quickly. It would have been great to generate & display the transaction {txn} directly from the web UI.

The first tests have indicated a high sensibility to noise around the gateway. My installation has a Power Line Network to provide network access to the hotspot and the minimal RSSI I’ve got when mapping has been -80dBm. This is indicating a high level of noise perceived by the hotspot. The PWN may be the main reason.

Now I need to test it on the field to give you more feedback. Stay tuned !

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