Tools for good wifi. Ekahau Pro and others

    If you are building medium and large Wi-Fi networks , where the smallest number of access points is a few dozen, and at large objects it can be hundreds or thousands, you need tools to plan such an impressive network. Wi-Fi operation over the life cycle of the network will depend on the results of planning / designing, and this, for our country, sometimes about 10 years.

    If you make a mistake and lay fewer access points, then the load on the network increased after 3 years will make people nervous, because the environment will cease to be transparent to them, voice calls will begin to gurgle, video will fall apart, and data will go much slower. With a kind word you will not be remembered.

    If you make a mistake (or play it safe) and lay down more access points, the customer will greatly overpay and probably get the problems immediately from excessive interference (CCI and ACI) created by his own points, because the engineer decided to entrust network settings to automation (RRM) on the NDP ) and did not check the radio survey how this automation worked. Will you hand over the network at all in this case?

    As in all aspects of our lives, in Wi-Fi networks you need to strive for a middle ground . Access points should be exactly enough to provide a solution to the task posed in the TOR (after all, were you not too lazy to write a good TK?). At the same time, a good engineer has a vision that allows you to objectively assess the prospects of network life and lay an adequate margin of safety.

    In this article I will share my experience in building Wi-Fi networks and talk in detail about the tool number 1 that has long been helping me solve the most difficult tasks. This tool is Ekahau Pro 10, formerly known as Ekahau Site Survey Pro . If you are interested in the theme of Wi-Fi and in general, welcome to cut!

    This article will be useful both to integrator engineers who build Wi-Fi networks, and to wireless service engineers or IT directors who order the construction of a network of which Wi-Fi is a part. The times when you could just “estimate” the number of dots per square meter or quickly roll out a “project” of a Wi-Fi network in a vendor's scheduler, in my opinion, are long gone, although the echoes of that era are still heard.

    What is the best way to introduce software that helps me make good Wi-Fi? Just describe its benefits? Sounds like dumb marketing. Subjectively compare it with others? This is already more interesting. Tell about your life path, so that the reader can understand why I spend 20 hours a month at Ekahau Pro? I hope you enjoy the story!

    This picture is from my RescueTime last month, March 2019. I think there is no need to comment. When work is going on with Wi-Fi, and especially the NDP, something like this happens.

    Part of my story in the context of Wi-Fi, which will smoothly come to the topic

    If you want to immediately read about Ekahau Pro, scroll to the next page.

    Back in 2007, I was a young network engineer who only graduated from the Radio Facility of the UPI only a year ago with a degree in Mobile Communications. I was lucky to get a job in the production department of a fairly large integrator called Mikrotest. There were 3 radio engineers in the department with me, one of whom was more concerned with Tetra, the other was an adult uncle than just not involved. Projects with Wi-Fi at my request sent me.

    One of the first such projects was Wi-Fi in the Tyumen Technopark. At that time, there was only CCNA and a couple of read Design Guide on the topic, one of which spoke about the need for Site Survey. I told the RP that it would be nice to make this very server, but he took it and agreed, because he still had to go to Tyumen. A little googling how to do it, this server, I took a couple of Cisco 1131AG points and an existing PC Card Wi-Fi adapter of the same company, because the Aironet Site Survey Utility allowed me to display the signal level well at reception. The fact that there are programs that allow you to take measurements and draw coverage maps myself, I did not know then.

    The technique was simple. They hung a point where it can be adequately hung later, and I took measurements of the signal level. The values ​​I noted on the drawing, in pencil. After these measurements, the following figure appeared:

    Is it possible to do examinations now? In principle, yes, but the accuracy of the result will be poor, and the time spent is too large.

    Having gained the experience of the first radio survey, I thought, maybe there is software that does this?After a conversation with a colleague, it turned out that there was a boxed version of AirMagnet Laptop Analyzer in the department. I installed it right there. The tool turned out to be cool, but for another task. But Google suggested that there is a product called AirMagnet Survey. Having looked at the price of this software, I sighed and went to the boss. The boss handed over my request to his Moscow boss, and alas, they didn’t buy the software. What should an engineer do if his superiors do not buy software? You know.

    The first combat use of this program was in 2008, when I designed Wi-Fi for the UMMC-Health medical center. The task was simple - to provide coverage. Nobody thought about some serious load on the network that could arise after a few years, including me. We hung the Cisco 1242 test point in the intended location, and I took measurements. It was more convenient to analyze the results with the program. Here's what happened:

    It was decided that 3 access points per floor would be enough. About the fact that it would be nice to add at least one more to the center of the building so that Wi-Fi phones would be “softer" roaming, I did not know then, because I had not even started CCNA Wireless yet. The main focus was on the CCNP course, that year I passed the 642-901 BSCI exam and I was more interested in routing protocols than 802.11.

    Time passed, I did 1-2 Wi-Fi projects a year , the rest of the time I worked on wired networks. I did the design or calculation of the number of access points in either AirMagnet or Cisco WCS / Planning mode (this thing has long been known as Prime). Sometimes used Aruba's VisualRF Plan. Some serious Wi-Fi checks were not in fashion then. From time to time, to satisfy my curiosity, I did radio surveys with AirMagnet. Once a year I reminded my superiors that it would be nice to buy software, but I received the standard answer “there will be a big project, we will put in it the purchase of software”. When such a project came, Moscow again answered, “Oh, we can’t buy,” to which I said “Oh, I can’t design, I'm sorry” and the software was purchased.

    In 2014, he successfully passed CCNA Wireless and, in the process of preparation, began to realize that "I know that I know almost nothing." A year later, in 2015, I faced an interesting task. It was necessary to provide Wi-Fi coverage of a fairly large street area. About 500 thousand square meters. Moreover, it was necessary to place points in some places at a height of about 10-15 m, and tilt the antennas down, by 20-30 degrees. Here AirMagnet said alas, such a function is not provided! It would seem trite, you need to tilt the antenna down! Well, the Extreme WS-AO-DX10055 antenna pattern was known, the FSPL formulas were driven into excel, I got enough to decide on the height and angle of the antennas.

    As a result, there was such a picture as covering the territory at 5 GHz with 26 points with a working power of 19 dBm.

    In parallel with this project, I was the GUI for building the Wi-Fi network of the local medical university (USMU), and the project itself was done by an engineer of a subcontracting organization. Imagine my surprise when he (thanks, Alexey!) Showed me the Ekahau Site Survey! This happened literally shortly after I completed the calculations with my hands!

    I saw a drawing that was very different from my usual AirMagnet.

    Now, I see some terrible red crab in this figure, and I do not use red color in visualizations. But these lines between decibels they conquered me!

    The engineer showed me how you can change the visualization parameters to make it more clear.
    With trepidation, I asked my urgent question, is it possible to tilt the antenna? Yes, easy, he answered.

    In the database of the latest version of the software, the antenna I needed was not found, apparently it was a very new product. Having noticed that the antenna base is in xml format, and the file structure is very understandable, using a radiation pattern, I made such an Extreme Networks WS-AO-DX10055 5GHz 6dBi.xml file. The file helped me instead of such a picture.

    To get this one, more visual, in which I can move the borders and set the distance between the lines in dB. The most important thing was that I could change the antenna tilt.

    But this instrument is still able to measure! On the same day I fell in love with Ekahau.
    By the way, in the new 10th version, chart data is stored in json, also editable.

    Around the same time, the integrator, where I worked for almost 9 years, was gone. Not that it was sudden, the process of dying went on for about a year. At the end of summer, the process was completed, I got a work book, 2 salaries and invaluable life experience. By that time, I had already realized that Wi-Fi is what I want to delve into. The area that I'm really interested in. There was a reserve of funds for about six months, a pregnant wife and an apartment in the property, for which a year ago he had paid all the debts. Good start!

    Having met people I knew, I received several job offers in integrators, but I was not promised anywhere to do Wi-Fi mainly. At this time, it was finally decided to do it yourself. At first, I just wanted to open an IP, but it turned out an LLC, which was called GetMAXIMUM. This is a separate story, immediately its continuation, about Wi-Fi.

    The main idea was what to do humanly

    Being even a leading engineer, I could not influence the timing, decision-making on the choice of equipment, methods of work. I could only express my opinion, but did they listen to it? At that time I had experience in designing, building Wi-Fi networks, as well as auditing “built-in and somehow” built networks. There was a great desire to put this experience into practice.

    The first task appeared in October 2015. It was a large building where someone designed more than 200 access points, laid a couple of WISMs, PI, ISE, CMX, and all this had to be well configured. Ekahau Site Survey Unleashes Its Potential

    In This Projectand the hours of the radio survey made it possible to see that even on the latest software, RRM automation quite strangely puts channels, in some places they had to be corrected. The same goes for capacities. In some places, the installers were not worn out and dotted bluntly according to the drawing, not considering that the metal structures greatly interfered with the propagation of the radio signal. The installers are excusable, but the engineer cannot allow such situations.

    This was the project that approved the idea that the design of a Wi-Fi network in which there are more than 100 access points, or even a smaller number, but the conditions are not standard, should be treated with great attention.After completing the project in 2016, I bought a CWNA textbook and began to study it in order to systematize and refresh the accumulated knowledge. Even before that, my former colleague from whom I learned a lot (this is Roman Podoynitsyn, the first CWNE in Russia [# 92]) advised me on the CWNP course, as the most understandable and practical. Since 2016, I recommend this course to everyone. It is really the most practical of all available and there are textbooks available at a price on it.

    Next came the task of designing the Wi-Fi network of the clinic under construction, where many systems, including telephony, were tied to Wi-Fi. When I made a model of this network, I was surprised myself. In the existing clinic, in 2008, I myself laid 3 access points per floor, then they added one more each. Immediately, in 2016, it turned out 50. On the floor. Yes, the floor is bigger, but it's 50 points! It was about excellent coverage at -65dBm at 5GHz in all rooms without channel crossings and a “2nd strongest” level of -70dBm. The walls are brick, which is rather good, since for dense networks the walls are our friends. The problem was that these walls did not exist yet, there were only drawings. Fortunately, I knew what kind of attenuation a plastered wall gives in a half-brick, and Ekahau allowed me to flexibly change this parameter.

    I felt all the charmsEkahau 8.0. He understood dwg!Layers with walls immediately transferred to the walls on the model! Hours of stupid wall painting gone into oblivion! I pledged a small margin in case the plaster is more serious. Showed this model to the customer. He was shocked: “Max, in 2008 there were 3 points per floor, now 50 !? I trust you, the tasks are changing, but how will I explain to the management? ” I knew there would be such a question, so I discussed my project in advance with a familiar engineer at Cisco (they have been using Ekahau for a long time) and he approved it. Where stable voice communication is needed for a large number of users, the number of points cannot be small. At 2.4 GHz, we could deliver less, but the capacity of such a network would not be enough for anything. I showed the customer the Ekahau model at a general meeting, explained everything in detail, and then sent a clear report on the simulation. It convinced everyone. We agreed to conduct a clarification measurement, when the frame of the building will be built and partitions will be erected on at least one floor. So they did. The calculations were confirmed.

    Subsequently, the laptop with the exact model in Ekahau helped me many times convince customers that they needed exactly so many access points to solve their specific problems.

    The reader may ask, how accurate are the Wi-Fi networks created by Ekahau? If your approach is engineering, the models are accurate. This approach can also be called “Thoughtful Wi-Fi”. The experience of modeling, designing and subsequent implementation of various Wi-Fi networks has shown the accuracy of the models. Whether it’s a university network, a large office building or factory floors, the time spent on planning leads to an excellent result.

    The story begins to flow smoothly towards Ekahau Pro

    Life hack for a correct understanding of the walls: save dwg in 2013 format (not 2018) and, if something is in layer 0, remove it in another layer.

    In 2017, version 8.7 introduced the amazing copy & paste feature for all elements. Since Wi-Fi is sometimes built on old objects, where the drawings in the AutoCAD are tight, you have to manually draw walls. If there are no drawings, a photo of the evacuation plan is made. In life, this was 1 time, at the Russian Post in Ekb. Usually there are some drawings, and they have typical elements. For example, columns. You draw a neat square one column (if you wish, you can also draw a circle, but a square is always enough) and copy it according to the drawing. It saves time. It is important that the drawings you have been given are true. This is best checked, but usually the local admin is in the know.

    About Sidekick

    In September 2017, Sidekick was announced, the first all-in-one universal measuring device, and in 2018 it began to appear with all serious engineers.

    Twitter dazzled (and continues) with enthusiastic reviews of the tough guys who switched to it. Then I started to think about buying it, but the price was biting for a small company like mine, and I already had a set of adapters and a couple of Wi-Spy DBx that seemed to work well. Gradually, a decision was made. You can compare Sidekick and Wi-Spy DBx datasheets . In short, the difference in speed and detail. Sidekick scans both ranges 2.4GHz + 5GHz for 50ms, the old DBx makes it through 5GHz channels for 3470ms, and 2.4GHz bypasses for 507ms. Do you understand the difference? Now you can see and record the spectrum in real time during a radio survey! The second important factor is the resolution bandwidth. For Sidekick, this is 39kHz, which allows you to see even 802.11ax subcarriers (78.125kHz). For DBx, this default parameter is 464.286 kHz.

    Here is the spectrum with Sidekick:

    Here is the spectrum of the same signal with Wi-Spy DBx: Is

    there a difference? How do you like OFDM?
    You can look in more detail here, I shot a small video Sidekick vs DBx .

    The most beautiful thing to watch is yourself! A good example is this video.Ekahau Sidekick spectrum analysis , where various non-Wi-Fi devices include.

    Why do we need such detail?
    To accurately identify and classify interference sources and place them on a card.
    To better understand how data is transmitted.
    To accurately determine the channel load.

    So what happens. In one box:

    • A pair of calibrated Wi-Fi adapters in passive mode to listen to both ranges, which 802.11ax also understands.
    • One fast and accurate dual-band spectrum analyzer.
    • SSD on 120Gb, the functionality of which is not yet fully disclosed. You can store esx projects.
    • A processor for processing data from a spectrum analyzer in order not to load the percentage of the laptop in survey mode (in realtime mode, viewing the spectrum, the percent is loaded well).
    • Battery at 70W / h for 8 hours of battery life all of the above.

    Here's a photo of Sidekick next to the Cisco 1702 and Aruba 205 for size comparison.

    Sidekick is now with many powerful Wi-Fi engineers and the measurement results can be objectively compared, discussed. There are not many in Russia yet, I know 4 people who have them, including me. 2 pieces of them in Cisco. I think that once Fluke devices became the de facto standard for testing wired networks, so Sidekick will become so in Wi-Fi networks .

    What else to add?

    He does not eat a laptop battery, he has his own. Thanks to this, we can walk longer without recharging. Actual if you have Surface. Ekahau Pro 10 announced support for the iPad. That is, now you can put Ekahau on the iPad (minimum iOS 12) and dance!Or when the daughter grows up, it will be possible to entrust her with a radio survey.

    Yes, the software for the iPad is simplified, but for survey it is enough. The data will be collected the same that you would have collected by going with a laptop.

    Oh yes, now pcap can also be collected!

    This whole joy (software for iPad, Capture, Cloud, Training Vidyashki, annual support (and Ekahau updates) for those who already have Ekahau and Sidekick costs about the amount that you spend on getting from Ekaterinburg to Moscow a day In Russia, this should cost comparable money, because since December 2018, Marvel took up distribution of Ekahau. If earlier in the Russian Federation Ekahau could be bought for a wild price, now the price will be comparable with the rest of the world. I hope so. The kit is called Ekahau Connect.

    Are there any downsides?

    Having bought Surface Pro last year, I was hoping that the weight of my backpack would drop by 1 kg, compared to the ThinkPad X230 combat friend. Sidekick weighs 1kg. It is compact but heavy!

    You will no longer be like a ghost hunter and security at the objects will now more often come up to you with the question what are you doing here? In my experience, security doesn’t really like to approach a guy who has 5 antennas sticking out of his laptop, but it would be necessary.

    But the accounting staff of the surveyed object will no longer be scared of your jokes on the topic "I am taking measurements of the radiation background, what do you have here ... Oooo!" so this can be written as a plus.

    Well and the third, tangible minus for me, Sidekick, it shows spectrum utilization in a different way. You need to get used to it. Perhaps the data that you collected earlier on DBx is not entirely relevant.

    And another plus that I remembered. At the airport control, the security service sometimes asks to show the contents of the backpack. And I’m starting to show it with pleasure, this is spectrum analyzers, this is a signal generator, for testing Wi-Fi networks, this is a set of antennas for these devices ... When I flew last time, there was a woman behind me, whose eyes were getting wider and wider, as how I got the contents of the backpack!
    - Where are you flying to? She asked,
    “To Yekaterinburg,” I answered.
    - Fuf, thank God I'm in another city!

    With Sidekick and Surfaсe or iPad, you will no longer scare women!

    Are there any cheaper products? What are the alternatives? I will tell at the end.

    Now about Ekahau Pro

    The history of Ekahau Site Survey began in 2002, and in 2003 ESS 1 was published.

    I found this picture on the Ekahau blog . There is also a photo of the young engineer Jussi Kiviniemi , with whose name this software is very closely connected. It is curious that initially they did not plan to use software for Wi-Fi, but it soon became clear that this product was very useful in Wi-Fi.

    It was also fun to read a 2004 article about Ekahau Site Survey 2.0 on a Ukrainian news site that carefully stores old articles.

    Over 16 years of development, there were 10 releases, the development of 5 of which is described in the change log on the Ekahau website. Having inserted this into Word, I got 61 pages of text. How many lines of code were written, probably no one knows. The presentation of Ekahau Pro 10 said about 200,000 lines of new code in 10k.

    Ekahau are distinguished from the rest by their care.

    The Ekahau team is open to communicating with the engineering community. Moreover, they are one of those who unite this community. Thanks in part to the excellent webinars, take a look at what has already been discussed. They invite experienced engineers and they share their experience live. Most interesting, you can ask your questions! For example, the next webinar on Wi-Fi in warehouses and manufacturing will be April 25th.

    The easiest way to interact with them is via twitter. An engineer writes something like this: Come on @ekahau @EkahauSupport! This behavior has been in ESS forever now. Please fix it. #ESSrequest gives a description of the problem, and immediately receives feedback. In each new release, significant wishes are taken into account and software is becoming more and more convenient for engineers!

    On April 9, 2019, a few hours before Ekahau Pro 10 was presented to the happy owners of version 9.2 with support, an update became available.

    Whoever has not ventured to upgrade, you can do it safely, because just in case, the “old” 9.2.6 will remain an independent work program. After a week of testing, I did not see the point of staying at 9.2. 10ka works great!

    I will describe the features from Change Log to the new Ekahau Pro 10, which he himself noted

    Complete map view overhaul: Working with maps is now 486% more fun + Visualization legend 2.0 + Complete visualization engine overhaul: Faster and better heatmaps!
    Now everything is written in JavaFX and works very smartly. Much faster than before. It needs to be tried. At the same time, it became more beautiful and of course, what I love Ekahau for a long time has been preserved - visibility. All cards can be flexibly configured. For example, I usually put 3dB between the colors and two cutoffs 10dB down and 20dB up from the calculated signal level.

    802.11ax support - for both surveys and planning
    The database has 11ax points of all serious vendors. With Survey, adapters understand the corresponding information element in 11ax beacons. I think that already this year projects will begin with 11ax and Ekahau will help to make them as competently as possible. On the topic of servers with Sidekick 802.11ax networks, guys from Ekahau gave a webinar in February. Who cares about this issue, I advise you to look.
    Interference detection & Interferers visualization
    This is a merit of Sidekick. Now, after the examination, the new “Interferers” map will show the places where the devices are located, which greatly interfere with your Wi-Fi! I have spent a couple of small test servers so far and have not found any.

    Previously, you had to arrange a “fox hunt” by screwing Yagi or a patch to your DBx to understand where the fox is hiding, which kills your 60th channel with a signal from the “pseudo-radar” that you see in the log from the controller and through Cisco Spectrum Expert in the form of two narrow bands:

    Now, a full-time passage through the object is enough, and there is a good chance that the source of interference will be shown directly on the map! By the way, in the spectrogram above, the source of the problem was the dead Sokol-2 security announcer combined. If your dot suddenly informed you about the radarRadar detected: cf = 5292 bw = 4 evt = 'DFS Radar Detection Chan = 60 although the nearest airport is several tens of kilometers, that is, an occasion to walk around the facility with a spectrum analyzer, and Sidekick will help a lot here.

    Ekahau Cloud and Sidekick File Storage
    For reliability, as well as for working with large projects, a cloud has appeared that can be shared by the team. Previously, I either used my cloud on Synology, or just regularly made a backup to a USB flash drive, because in the event of a disk failure on the laptop, a week's work on examining a large object can go on the spot. Make a backup. Now the possibilities are even greater. Ekahau Cloud, in my opinion, for really big distributed tasks .

    If suddenly someone from Auchan’s IT team reads this my post, here’s the idea of ​​successfully upgrading your Wi-Fi networkwhich you have not built in the best way: buy Ekahau Pro, hire a team of engineers with the same Ekahau Pro and the same Sidekick, do a pilot detailed survey, analyze it in detail with a team and only then move on! You will need 1 competent radio engineer in the state, who will not read reports, “according to GOST”, but look and analyze more esx files. Then there will be success and get Wi-Fi, which everyone will be proud of. And if anyone gets to you on AirMagnet, and put it in your wonderful guest report, oh, what will happen.

    New multi-note system

    I used to insert photos of access points in an esx project and wrote small comments, more for myself, for the future. Now you can take notes anywhere on the map and discuss controversial issues, working as a team on one project! I hope that soon it will be possible to appreciate the delights of such a work. Example: there is a controversial place, we take a photo - insert it into esx - send it to the cloud, consult with colleagues. I’ll be glad when they add support for 360 photos, because I’ve been shooting objects on Xiaomi Mi Sphere for more than a year now, it’s much more clear at times than just a flat photo.

    Ability to set the noise level.
    Signal / noise has always been a controversial visualization for my understanding.

    Any Wi-Fi adapters can only indirectly determine the level of background noise. Only a spectrum analyzer will show the real level. If you walked around an object with a spectrum analyzer on a preliminary examination, you know the real level of background noise. It remains to insert this level into the Noise Floor fields and get the exact SNR map! That was not enough for me!
    What is noise, what is a signal and what is Energy, I advise you to recall reading a short article by the respected David Coleman on this topic.

    The following amenities appeared in 9.1 and 9.2 versions, but in 10 it is in all its glory.
    I will describe them further.

    Adapter-specific visualization

    The guys from Tamosoft boast that their Tamograph can conduct Survey from many types of client devices, and this has a sound link. We do not build Wi-Fi networks in order to work in them with a reference adapter. Thousands of different real devices work in networks! In my opinion, it is better to have an excellent reference measuring adapter, which quickly scans all channels and the ability to effectively “normalize” the results obtained by it for a real device. Ekahau Pro has a super convenient feature “View as” that allows you to set the offset or difference in the device profile that you set yourself.

    If the real device is Win or MacOS laptop, I run Ekahau on it and compare the reception levels in the near, middle and far field, on several channels. Then I take a certain average value and make the device profile. If it is an Android TSD and there is no built-in utility showing RSSI, then a free utility is installed that shows it. Of all I like Aruba Utilities. It remains only to press Ctrl on the legend and select the device to see how it, for example, Panasonic FZ-G1, sees the network.

    If there are a lot of devices in the fleet, or BYOD is active, then the engineer’s task is to understand which device has the least sensitivity and make visualizations about this device. Sometimes, wishes to make radio coverage at the level of -65dBm are broken up on real devices with a difference of 14-15dB relative to the measuring adapter. In this case, either we correct the TK and put there -70 or -75, or specify that -67 for such and such devices, and for Casio IT-G400 -71dBm.

    If you need some kind of “average device”, then do an offset of -10dB relative to the measuring adapter, more often this is close to the truth.

    Visualization from a different height
    For those who build Wi-Fi at industrial facilities, it is important that the coverage is not only on the ground, for people, but also at altitude, for devices on cranes or cranes. I have experience building factory and port Wi-Fi. With the advent of the option “Visualization Height” it became very convenient to set the height from where we look. A loader or crane at a height of 20m with the access point installed on it in client mode hears the network differently than the person with Honeywell below, when the access points hang at a height of 20m and serve both levels. See how anyone hears is now very convenient! Do not forget to return the height back to the main level.

    Chart for any parameters

    Clicking on the button with the chart gives an excellent calculation of the percentage, which quickly helps to assess the situation, and if you need a “before-after” comparison, then this is a great tool.

    BLE coating

    Useful functionality, given that at many points there are built-in BLE radios and this also needs to be somehow designed. Here, for example, is the picture we filled with Aruba-515 dots. This fantastically beautiful point contains Bluetooth 5 radio, which can be used, for example, for tracking devices, because Wi-Fi location itself is not an exact and very inert thing, and it also requires strict adherence to a number of conditions. At Ekahau, we can adequately design the cover so that at each point 3 beacons are heard, for example.

    By the way, now that you have placed one access point on the card, set the power, height, and begin to cover Wi-Fi the entire area using copy-paste, the point number, for example 5-19, automatically switches to the next, 5-20. Previously, you had to edit your hands.

    I can describe the various useful parameters of Ekahau Pro for a long time, but it seems that the article is already quite large, I will focus on this. Just a list of what is and what really used:

    • Import / Export from Cisco Prime so that PI shows more honest cards.
    • Merge or merge several projects into one when a large building is surveyed by several engineers.
    • Very flexible customizable display of what is shown on the map. How to explain it easier ... You can remove / show walls, point names, channel numbers, areas, notes, Bluetooth beacons ... in general, leave on the picture only what is really needed and it will be very clear!
    • Statistics how many kilometers you traveled. Inspires.
    • Отчеты. Есть много готовых шаблонов, и теоретически можно делать очень интересные отчеты в два клика. Но, может по привычке, может потому, что люблю писать по каждому объекту что-то уникальное и показывать ситуацию с разных сторон, я автоотчетами не пользуюсь. В планах есть командой инженеров запилить хороший шаблон на русском языке, для базовых параметров, которым будет не стыдно поделиться с коллегами.

    Теперь же я кратко расскажу про другие программы

    So that you better understand whether you need Ekahau Pro , or for your tasks it is cheaper to buy something else, I will list all the programs and talk about each of those that I know and / or tried. This is AirMagnet Survey Pro that I worked on for more than 5 years, until 2015. I tested Tamograph Site Survey in detail last year to understand what Ekahau's worthy competitors might be. NetSpot as a cheap product for Survey (but it does not model) and iBwave , a very niche, but in its own way cool product for stadium design. That, in fact, is all. There are a couple of products, but they are not of interest.I do not pretend to be absolute in my knowledge, if I missed a valuable tool, write about it in the comments, I will try it and add to this article. And, of course, there is paper and compasses for those who are used to working the old fashioned way. It should be noted that in rare cases this is the most adequate tool.

    Wikipedia has a very ancient table comparing these softwares and the data in it is not relevant, although the order of prices can be viewed. Now, for Pro versions, prices are higher for everyone.

    Here is the relevant information to show your superiors as an argument in buying the right software for the job :


    Once upon a time, large dinosaurs lived on earth, but they have died out long ago, because the conditions have changed. Some engineers in the museum have a dinosaur skeleton (AirMagnet) and they even use it to take measurements, because the authorities firmly believe that it is still relevant, their dear dinosaur. To everyone’s surprise, dinosaur skeletons are still for sale, and at a very high price, because by inertia, some people apparently buy them. What for? I do not understand. The other day I asked colleagues who else is sitting on AirMagnet, maybe what has changed in the latest software releases? Almost nothing. Colleagues, over 10 years Wi-Fi has changed a lot. If software has not changed in 10 years, it is a corpse. My personal opinion: you can continue to work on dinosaurs, but if you want to build Wi-Fi in a human way, you need Ekahau Pro .


    It allows you to simulate and measure, and also supports a pair of Wi-Spy DBx like the old Ekahau releases, but, in my opinion, using it is not so convenient. There are many different cars in the world. If you used to drive idle and then ride (or even travel for a month) in a decent car, then most likely you will not want to go back. Of course, the most part is to drive through the forests in the field or in the UAZ, but in most cases another car is needed to work in the city.

    The most critical thing that was not in the Tamograph at the end of 2018 is the Channel Overlap or, as it is now called, Channel Interference. The intersection of the channels. If it’s rough, then this is the number of APs on one frequency channel, audible at a certain level (usually this is Signal Detect level or + 5dB from the noise level). If you have 2 points on the channel, you know the network capacity is divided in half, in the area of ​​their intersection. If 3, by three, and even a little worse. I met places where there were 14 points on the channel in 2.4 GHz, and even about 20.

    When I design and take measurements of a real network, this parameter is for me in 2nd place after Signal Strength! And here he is not. Alas. I wish them to make such a visualization.

    Ekahau correctly determines the location of points. If you came to an audit of a large network that you did not build, but points beyond the ceiling, then it is very important for you that the software shows the most accurate locations. Tamograph doesn’t have such a flexible color palette with dividing lines. Although it is much better than AirMagnet. In my test survey, where I first walked through the big workshop with Ekahau, and then with Tamorgaph, on the same adapters, I noticed a noticeable difference in the signal level readings. Why, it’s not clear.

    My personal opinion: if you occasionally do Wi-Fi and have a limited budget, then you can quite go to Tamorgaph, but not so comfortable and not at that speed. By the way, if you take the complete set, with a couple of old DBx, then there will not be such a big difference in the price of Ekahau Pro + Sidekick. And you, I think, understood the difference between Sidekick and DBx by reading this article first.

    From the advantages of Tamograph, it models reflections. I don’t know how accurate. In my opinion, in complex objects you always need a preliminary radio survey, including an active one, in order to see these reflections too. This is not modeled adequately.


    This is a fundamentally different modeling product in the first place. They work with 3D models. They are futuristic and the price of their products is the highest on the market. I advise you to watch the video The Future of WiFi Design, Imagined | Kelly Burroughs | WLPC Phoenix 2019 in which Kelly talks about AR technology. You can download the free Viewer and gasp by spinning their model. In my opinion, when BIM models go to the masses for designing an all-on-one-3D model, then the iBwave hour will come if Ekahau does not adhere in this direction, and they guys are very smart. So if you need to run stadiums, think towards iBwave. On Ekahau and others, in principle, you can also do this, but you need skill.I do not know any engineer in Russia who would have iBwave.

    Yes, their Viewer is what all other programs need! For it would be much more convenient to transfer the original file for analysis along with the report to customers who do not have software.

    NetSpot and related

    In the free version, NetSpot only shows the current situation on the air, like many other programs. By the way, if I am asked to advise a free program for this task, then the Wi-Fi Scanner from Lizards is exactly what Windows needs. For the Mac, there’s WiFi Explorer from Adrian Granados from which foreign engineers are enthusiastic, but it’s already a bit paid. Netspot, which makes Survey worth 149 bucks. However, he does not model, you know? My personal opinion: if you make Wi-Fi for apartments or small cottages, then NetSpot is your tool, in other cases it will not work.

    Brief conclusion

    If you are seriously engaged in the design and construction of medium and large Wi-Fi networks, Ekahau Pro is better for this now there is nothing . This is my personal engineering opinion after 12 years of experience in this field. If the integrator thinks to develop in this direction, his engineers should have Ekahau Pro. If the integrator does not have a CWNA level engineer, it is probably better for him not to take up Wi-Fi networks, even with Ekahau.

    Success requires tools and knowledge on how to use them.


    Ekahau conducts excellent courses on the Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer (ECSE) program, where in a few days a cool engineer tells the basics of wireless and conducts many laboratory tasks using Ekahau and Sidekick. There were no such courses in Russia before. My friend, a colleague, flew to Europe. Now the topic begins in Russia. In my opinion, before any such training you need to buy CWNA on Amazonand read it yourself. If your knowledge allows you to ask reasonable questions, then I will always be happy to answer them, you can write to info on the site If you want to take a look at Ekahau Pro and Sidekick with your own eyes, then in Yekaterinburg it is very simple to do this, you need to arrange a meeting with me in the center in advance. Sometimes I visit Moscow, sometimes in other cities, as there are projects all over Russia. A couple of times a year, I read the author’s course on PMWSPD based on CWNA with a large number of labs at Ekahau in Yekaterinburg. Maybe in one Moscow training center this year there will be a course, it is not clear yet.

    Cool! Who should carry the money?

    The official distributor of Marvel , as I wrote above. If you are an integrator, you buy from Marvel. If you are not an integrator, then buy from a familiar integrator. Which of them is selling now, I don’t know, ask. They will also tell you the price. I also wondered if I should start selling Ekahau, because I myself am delighted with it. So, if you don’t know who to buy from, you can ask me by letter (or in any other way, because it’s easy to find me, Google will tell you according to “Maxim Getman Wi-Fi”).

    And if you need to make excellent Wi-Fi, there are no engineers of your own, or they are busy, what should I do?

    Contact. We have 3 engineers on this topic and the right set of software and hardware. Sidekick so far 1. Hopefully there will be more. We work with integrators and automators to solve difficult problems on a Wi-Fi topic, because this is our hobby. When everyone is busy with their own business - the result is maximum!


    To cook deliciously, a cook needs three components: knowledge and talent; excellent quality products; a set of good tools. To be successful in engineering, you also need good tools, wisely using which, you can build good Wi-Fi on any serious vendor. I hope this article has clarified one important aspect of building Wi-Fi in a human way.

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    I do serious Wi-Fi projects and

    • 33.3%уже давно пользуюсь Ekahau, они крутые6
    • 16.6%у нас еще динозавры живые, AirMagnet3
    • 16.6%мне хватает Tamograph3
    • 5.5%я футурист, использую iBwave1
    • 11.1%я сторонник классического подхода, линейка, циркуль и формулы FSPL2
    • 16.6%вдохновился купить Ekahau Pro3

    Я заказчик, человек, принимающий решения по Wi-Fi проектам и

    • 50%хочу, чтобы мне построили Wi-Fi по-человечески2
    • 0%мне все-равно как мне построят Wi-Fi0
    • 25%мне уже построили Wi-Fi и я не доволен его работой1
    • 25% have already built Wi-Fi and it works great and solves all my problems 1

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