TamoGraph Site Survey
As it just so happens I’ve been doing a LOT of Wifi work lately. I’m doing both high density(HD) and standard user access. I’ve found several tools and techniques lately that really help in design/testing/deployment. A tool that I’ve recently been using that I have NO idea how I got along without is TamoGraph Site Survey.
If you think about it, Wifi is this moving, living creature…that you can’t see. How do you tame this invisible beast?!?! You need some good site survey kit. So there are really only a handful of competitors out there. You have Fluke’s AirMagnet, Ekahau, and TamoGraph. I’ll go ahead and admit that I’ve not used AirMagnet or Ekahau. From all the research I’ve seen they are all very good pieces of software; perfectly adequate in most instances…although TamoGraph is up to 25% the cost of the others! Price isn’t everything, and I don’t mind paying more for the right product. Often price is the difference between getting the product or not, but in this instance, you have tremendous functionality/features and for a quarter the price!
So what is a site survey? A SS is basically creating a map that shows different information corresponding to the environment where you will/have installed wireless equipment. This information often includes: signal level, signal to noise ratio, signal to interference ratio, and expect physical rates.
When you do these surveys using TamoGraph you can do it in one of a few ways: Predictive, Passive, or Active.
Predictive allows you to make a best guess to see what the environment will look like before you install equipment. I LOVE this feature of TamoGraph. It allows you to load in a floor plan, then quickly add walls and doors of varying materials and thicknesses. You can then place APs on the map and watch the software predict what the signals will look like. If you aren’t getting the coverage you want, you can click and drag the AP and instantly see the results of the adjustment. These obviously aren’t going to be perfect, but it is a great way to create a good working model.
Passive surveys are done with a supported wireless NIC. I used an Proxim ORiNOCO 8494. The software is run, you load a floor plan image, set the scale of the image, then click start. It is as easy as clicking on the map where you are, walking, clicking when you turn, then clicking stop once you are done. At this point it will list all of the found APs on the left. You can choose which ones you want to actively see.
Active surveys are done by loading software on a server somewhere in your network. The client application will connect and run quality tests to the server while you walk around. This will show you real world utilization information.
Here’s my quick video using the software!
Once you are done collecting all of this information and are ready to present it, a couple of clicks will generate quality PDF reports suitable for delivery to a client or management.
This summer I’ll be doing a MASSIVE high density deployment, and no less than 7 school design/deployments. Even if you don’t have the sheer volume of deployments at a single time, there really is no other way to visualize RF. This gives you a tangible look at the invisible, and it does it with pretty reports too 🙂
What have you guys used/like?