WiFi Surveyor -- RF Spectrum Analyzer & 802.11 Network Software
WiFi Surveyor turns data collected from RF Explorer spectrum analyzers into graphical charts and displays in real time, enabling users to more readily visualize the RF environment, monitor RF signals, troubleshoot RF issues, and detect sources of RF interference. In addition to spectrum analysis, integrated in the application software is a full-featured, Wi-Fi scanner -- also known as an 802.11 network discovery tool. The software can be used to monitor wireless devices and RF interference that impact the performance, range and security of wireless networks. When installed on a laptop computer, WiFi Surveyor provides mobile, site survey information that facilitates optimal configuration of wireless networks and proper location of RF devices, and aids in identifying potential sources of interference.
WiFi Surveyor offers a variety of diagnostic views of the data captured by the RF Explorer device. Employing multiple views of the data enhances your ability to gain a better understanding of the local, RF landscape in which your wireless network is operating. WiFi Surveyor includes two software modules integrated into one application — one for RF spectrum analysis and a second for performing 802.11 network discovery (i.e. Wi-Fi scanning). Armed with the information these tools provide allows you to make better decisions setting-up, configuring and maintaining your wireless network. Also, if a wireless network is performing poorly then WiFi Surveyor can aid in troubleshooting the problem and help you determine whether other wireless devices operating in the vicinity are the source of RF interference.
6G Combo, WiFi Combo
NOTE: For evaluation purposes feel free to download the software applications. Without the RF Explorer device the software runs in a fully functional 'Demo mode' using simulated data.
In addition to running as a standalone, handheld device, RF Explorer can be connected to a PC where Windows software (e.g. Touchstone) is used to provide enhanced functionality and data analysis. The connection is made using a mini USB cable. (NOTE: A high quality USB cable should be used in order to limit EMC interference from the PC that could influence your measurements.)
WiFi Surveyor May Be Used For
- Optimally installing and maintaining wireless networks.
- Troubleshooting poor-performing wireless networks by detecting the presence of RF interference.
- As an aid in properly locating wireless devices so as to maximize range and throughput and minimize interference from competing wireless devices.
- As a learning tool to help understand the relationship between access points (BSSIDs), wireless networks (SSIDs), and Wi-Fi RF transmissions.
Documentation for WiFi Surveyor can be found here.
Spectrum Trace View
Continuously scans and samples the signal strength (dBm) of RF transmissions within the specified frequency range.
The 'Waterfall History' view is also known as a "heatmap" graph. It provides a color-based visualization of the RF level and activity over time. As signal levels for specific frequencies or frequency ranges increase and decrease, the waterfall map varies its colors. This feature provides a quick glance back into the sweep history to identify aberrations or fluctuation in frequency levels.
The 'Topographic Map' chart shows accumulated RF energy as a function of frequency. The power of the signal strength in dBm is shown across the frequency span. A signal strength with a relatively low occurrence is 'blueish' in color, whereas increasingly brighter colors are used for signal strengths that occur more frequently. Signal strengths that occur most often are 'redish' in color. Over time, this spectral view will approximate the steady-state RF energy signature of a given environment.
The 'Delta Trace' view can be used to view small (or large) changes in the RF spectrum over time. Here's how it works... When scanning begins the first trace is saved as a 'snapshot'. For all subsequent scans, the snapshot trace is subtracted from the current trace and the difference, i.e. 'delta', is displayed. Plotting the data in this way makes it easy to detect RF changes that occurred since the initial 'snapshot'.
The 'Threshold Trace' view highlights with a yellow box those frequencies whose signal strength exceeds a user-defined threshold. This feature is especially useful for visually emphasizing strong signals (and deemphasizing weak ones), where the user gets to define 'strong' and 'weak' according to where they set the threshold..
Channel Heatmap (Channel-Centric)
A "channel-centric" chart -- similar to the Waterfall History chart above -- the difference being that here we plot channels rather than frequencies.
Channel Spectrogram (Channel-Centric)
A "channel-centric" chart -- displays a three-dimensional plot of channels as a function of time. Each channel is represented by its own set of bar graphs -- the Z-axis is time and the Y-axis is signal strength. As with the Channel Timecourse chart (below), this view makes it easy to visualize how RF interference affects different channels over time.
Channel Density (Channel-Centric)
A "channel-centric" chart -- similar to the Topographic chart above -- the difference being that here we plot channels rather than frequencies. A signal strength that appears with a relatively low occurrence is 'blueish' in color, whereas increasingly brighter colors are used for signal strengths that occur more frequently. Signal strengths that occur most often are 'reddish' in color.
Channel Timecourse (Channel-Centric)
A "channel-centric" chart -- useful for monitoring channels as a function of time. Each channel is represented by a different line -- the X-axis is time and the Y-axis is signal strength. In this way one can clearly follow how RF interference affects different Wi-Fi channels over time.
AP Grid View (Network Discovery)
This grid of local access points (APs) is updated in (semi) realtime.
AP Site Survey (Network Discovery)
Site survey of local access points (APs). The height of each elipse reflects the strength of an AP's beacon and NOT data throughput. The strength of an AP's beacon is an indication of how far away the AP is located from the point of measurement
AP Timecourse (Network Discovery)
Displays the beacon strength of each access point as a function of time.
AP Differential (Network Discovery)
Displays the current beacon strength of each access point compared with an earlier snapshot.
Occupied Channels (Network Discovery)
Combines the access points by channel and displays a summary of channel usage.
Channel Timecourse (Network Discovery)
Combines the access points by channel and displays a summary of channel usage as a function of time.
Channel Heatmap (Network Discovery)
Combines the access points by channel and displays a summary of channel usage as a Heatmap. The Heatmap chart is also known as a "waterfall" graph. It is a 3-dimensional representation of the data, where the X-axis is the channel, the Y-axis is a time scale, and the "Z-axis" is the beacon signal quality that uses a color scale.
Channel Spectrogram (Network Discovery)
A three-dimensional view of channel usage as a function of time. Each channel is represented by its own set of bar graphs -- the X-axis is the channel, the Z-axis is a time scale, and the Y-axis reports the signal strength of beacons as a signal quality (0 - 100%).
'Data Logging' mode allows recording of spectrum trace data (in CSV format) for extended periods. As the logging progresses it is displayed in the form of a waterfall / heatmap that gradually scrolls upward with each scan.
Included in the installation folder is an example of a VBA macro for viewing the CSV data as a heatmap in Microsoft Excel.
NOTE: The heatmap created above by Touchstone-Pro and the one below created by Excel use the same data but different color scales.
RF Explorer spectrum analyzer is a very unique device. When combined with WiFi Surveyor software you now have an RF diagnostic tool unmatched in price and performance. Armed with the ability to monitor RF signals, detect RF interference and view all RF activity that occurs in your environment, solving Wi-Fi problems just got a whole lot easier.