Validators are a new entity on the Helium Blockchain that will perform the work of the consensus group including verifying transactions and adding new blocks to the blockchain.
Before you start, there are a few items to review...
Expectations for Running a Validator on Testnet
As Validators will play an important role in the expansion, stability and success of the Helium network moving forward, it's important to set expectations for running a Validator, especially during the Testnet process.
In participating in Testnet, the expectations are that you will:
- Join the Helium Discord server to take part in the real-time Validator development. Participate in the
#validatorchannel, but more importantly subscribe to alerts in
#validators-announcementswill provide you with important, timely information for upgrades and feedback during this process.
- Be attentive to upgrade the Validator software when requested through
#validators-announcements. This may include tasks that will require you to delete & re-stake your Validator instance, or perform other tasks that will assist the team in bringing the best product to the network.
- Be proficient in command-line driven linux-based operating systems, comfortable working with cloud based service providers (AWS, Azure, Linode, DigitalOcean, or GCP, etc.), comfortable with working with firewall rules / NAT and other basic networking components, and experienced in working with docker images and controls.
The Helium team as well as the greater Helium community is continually attemping to make this process as clear and easy to understand as possible. However, during this time you can expect much change.
We understand that not everyone will be able to meet these expectations. It may be better to wait for the public availability of validators. There will be future announcements on the availability of staking your own validator on mainnet.
Testnet Overview and Design
As stated above, we are currently running the Testnet. As such, a few things are slightly modified from what will eventually be Mainnet. Specifically:
- Developers need Testnet Network Tokens (TNT) to stake test validator nodes. You can get them via the Faucet but, before you do that, read the Validator Deployment Guide so you know how to use them.
- The Testnet Consensus Group will be sized dynamically based on the number of active testnet participants.
- Testnet block production and epochs are accelerated. They are 10 second blocks and 10 minute epochs (mainnet targets 60 second blocks and 30 minute epochs).
- The cooldown period - defined as the number of blocks after unstaking when the validator node doesn't earn rewards, and the stake is returned to the owner's wallet - is shortened to 360 blocks (or approximately 60 minutes). On mainnet this period will be closer to 200,000 blocks (or approximately 5 months).
Resources for Deploy and Managing a Validator
- Technical Requirements - Information on the hardware, software, and network recommendations on hosting a validator.
- Complete Validator Deployment Guide - How to get up and running with your Testnet validator. Including staking, running, updating, and monitoring.
- Configuring Helium Wallets for Validators - Additional wallet commands for use with validators.
- Scores and Penalties - Overview of validator scores and penalties.
- Troubleshooting - Troubleshooting help and additional resources.
- Test Cases - Test cases and areas of focus for the Testnet.
- Validator Explorer - There is a new Explorer being developed by Helium and the community.
- Resources and FAQs - Videos, FAQS, and details on commercial staking providers active in the community.
Ready to deploy a Validator to the Testnet? Get started with the Complete Validator Deployment Guide will walk you through the entire process.