Obligatory Gear List
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Every Wi-Fi engineer has a blog page listing his or her favorite gear, this is mine.
This is the best tool for wireless engineers period. Get your hands on one and see what I am talking about. This is guaranteed to save time in your workflow.
Super fast 802.11 scanning on two separate radios, Uber fast, & high def RF scanning, Packet capture, Storage for Ekahau files, All day battery. Just WOW!
If you are a wireless engineer, you should be using a Mac (Unless you are @HeyEddie he should really not). I know this is a bold statement, but the Mac makes life easy on us, with the Unix OS core and direct access to the WLAN NIC you can do a ton from the command line and there are some great apps available.
UPDATE - I got the brand new MacBook Pro with M1 processor (1TB SSD &16G RAM)
Speed and battery life are a huge improvement. It is very early for the M1 and not a lot of apps have been ported to use the new processor. No Windows on VM or bootcamp. Only 1 external monitor. Until more apps are set to run on the M1 natively, Rosetta 2 translation software will allow most apps to run. It isn't always the right thing to do being on the bleeding edge, I had to jump on this new processor to see where things are going. Its going to be a ride.
UPDATE 2.0 - Wireless engineers may want to hold on the M1 for now. The M1 does not capture packets accurately. Currently on ver 11.2 and no joy. Capturing using the Sidekick certainly works but using the onboard wireless NIC is a bust. Eddie Forero (@HeyEddie) has been spearheading the efforts with Apple Support, let's hope it gets sorted soon.
Ekahau is using Augmented Reality to assist with wireless surveying on the newer iOS hardware. This is amazing!
Netscout > NetAlly AirCheck G2
If you want to find 90% of wireless issues in the first 5 minutes onsite, get yourself one of these. And I am drooling over this one... NetAlly EtherScope nXG
An aptly named accessory to the AirCheck G2 - its a bit pricey and the WLAN PI can do everything but the LED LAN test.
Fluke > Netscout > NetAlly - LinkSprinter
Handy tool, checks the ETH connection for PoE, Link, DHCP, DNS, Gateway, Internet access with one click. Sends report to web account, or access via internal web server. Because sometimes it isn't the Wi-Fi.
This thing is great!! It is a tiny (less than 1.5 cu in.) linux computer preloaded with a bunch of Wi-Fi testing applications. The open source community is really embracing this little guy, I am excited to see where this goes.
Fluke 424D Laser Distance Meter
Calibrate your survey before you start walking. Calibrate, calibrate, calibrate!! Any old LDM will work, however there are a few extra functions that might be useful during a survey. Ability to measure longer distances, triangulation, ability to measure height and volume, bluetooth connectivity, helps when you aren't provided with floor plans.
Wireless network Design / Survey / RF Analysis / Packet capture / Save survey files in the Cloud and onboard the Sidekick / Perform surveys using Laptop, iPad, and iPhone.
Everything from Adrian Granados
WiFi Explorer - Airtool - WiFi Signal - Transfer (Mac only)
Packet analysis software, get this, learn this, live this.
LAN scanner, find that IP that your device picked up from DHCP if you don't have access to the DHCP server. Also does some neat man in the middle stuff if you are interested in that sort of thing.
Test throughput on WLAN and LAN. Think of speedtest.net or fast.com except you aren't testing against a server outside your gateway. This software works as both the client and server. Devices like the WLAN PI, NetAlly Test Accessory, and LinkSprinter can act as the target server and your laptop, phone, AirCheck G2 can act as client to see what the actual TCP or UDP throughput is. Remember that a throughput test is here and now, don't assume that once you get a number, it will always be the same.
Some hardware required (see below). All the pro tools these guys make are great. Eye-Pa helps visualize packet capture. InSSIDer has come a long way. It is a great tool to run right away at a site. It will show the entire wireless "lay of the land" on one screen. AP's SSID's Client details, RF Analyzer. All in one. If you can only get one tool and you are on a budget. Get this one.
Use to point out exactly where you want installers to hang your AP's. 5Mw Green is my preference, good visibility in daylight. You can go nuts here but don't.
Good lightweight LED flashlight
Crazy options here
Super clean look for APOS surveys
For point-to-point site surveys
Predecessor to the AirCheck G2
MetaGeek Chanalyzer with Wi-Spy 2.4 & DBx USB dongles
MetaGeek EyePA with AirPcap Nx USB dongle
Packet Capture and Analysis
MetaGeek Device Finder
Directional 2.4 GHz antenna
AirPcap USB dongle
Proxim 8494 USB dongle
Air Magnet Survey
Ekahau Survey dongle Pre-Sidekick
Cognio PCMCIA card
RF Analysis Pre-Sidekick
Air Magnet Survey Pro
Survey / Design software I used pre Ekahau
There is a strong Wi-Fi community on Twitter. Follow your favorite engineers, manufacturers, bloggers, etc. and stay in the loop.
Wireless LAN Professionals @wirelesslanpros @KeithRParsons #WLPC
Keith Parsons has an excellent website full of Wi-Fi knowledge. Keith's company also hosts the best WLAN conference there is, WLPC. Check out the videos from past conferences. This is my favorite conference of the year.
Tons of in depth Wi-Fi technical information. You will find papers from these guys throughout the Wi-Fi world. Full disclosure, I used to work here. Great guys.
Eddie Forero @HeyEddie
Lots of good Wi-Fi info - Eddie runs the BadFi page, where people submit photos of less than ideal access point installation techniques. Check out his video on capturing and communicating client association here
RSSI Compared @blakekrone
Blake Krone has created a repository of crowdsourced Wi-Fi client RSSI measurements. When you hear that every client is different, here is the proof.
Mike Albano @mike_albano
A great list of client device Wi-Fi capabilities as captured from the device itself, not a manufacturers data sheet. You need this information!
Lee Badman @wirednot
Lee tells it like it is in his blog. Great insight on mostly Wi-Fi stuff here.
Sam Clements @samuel_clements
Nigel Bowden @wifinigel
Andrew von Nagy @revolutionwifi
Jim Palmer @wirelessjimp
Nick Turner @nickjvturner
Vendor agnostic Wi-Fi certification. This is a great place to start your Wi-Fi training
Online interactive wave model.