Mapping Wi-Fi AP Placements

Mapping Wi-Fi AP Placements

How do you manage mapping AP locations through your lifecycle?

In the checklist, I discussed various aspects of documentation in a Wi-Fi solution:

  • Main Report which can be treated as a HLD but touches on RF Detail Design and may also include a detailed network design:
  • Installation Specification – the instructions on what, how and where to install.
  • Network Detailed Design – If separate from the main proposal.

The documentation will vary depending on the business requirements, size and scope of a project. AP Placement mapping is a supplementary artifact showing the context of the AP placement and will be used from the implementation team to support to facility management workers.

Software Tools go so far in providing this information, but when it comes to knowledge transfer, we hit stumbling blocks around the availability of access and the information needed. There is a constant need for a single source of truth! Project Mangers, Tier 3/4 Support to field engineers can then access this single source.

Many organisations use SharePoint for documentation management, others use a wiki or other online repositories. Regardless of your organisation’s documentation practices and tool set/s we need to establish some common ground.

There have been many ways to allocate AP placements on maps be it “in Application” or “standalone” using Grids, GPS and within device naming conventions! An Access Points location will have many items of telemetry data associated with it (eg location, height, model, and antenna etc), these need consideration when mapping.

Sites and Venues are changing at a faster pace than ever before. With IoT sensors, way-finding, Room Usage and other applications, making a building, a living, breathing phenomenon.

There are many options to consider when mapping Wi-Fi networks. The common approach of Engineers is within the survey application, many allow web-based viewing via an account. This may provide some limitation of access.

Another common application is using Visio. A grid overlay could be used to plot device co-ordinates in the metadata. Thanks, Brett Verney, for this illustration, using shape data which allows you to input parameters. Review/Shape Reports allows an excel export of the metadata. Visio is a source mapping tool, and the data file can be stored in document management systems for retrieval and editing (via change management, if config change needed). If your stakeholder has concern over web hosting, then this is a good option to consider.

MapsPeople can take a floor plan and layer it on a Google Maps format, with detailed positioning, referencing corners to GPS thus providing internal co-ordinates. They currently map way finding and location tracking. This is a good platform for public buildings where an online presence is encouraged. Having building plans in the public domain, may also be of a concern. Organisations need to consider their policies in this regard, and determine what information can be public and private.

The other option explored is BIM. BIM is a module of the Autodesk platform, aka ‘Revit’ Which allows building architects to specify ALL aspects of a building, right down to paint colour and mixtures. It allows the Project owners to accurately budget their projects, knowing exactly what and where each item goes. Revit is able to slice a buildings layers, identifying concealed spaces and the space available behind the outer wall.

There are many ways to approach mapping AP’s. It is very much dependent on the application, context and policies of the project owners. It is hoped that this summary has been informative about some of the options to consider when mapping your AP’s.

This blog article was inspired by a LinkedIn question from Kevin Franzen: “What is the best way to handle AP locations from design to install to support?”

Peter Rixon
CWNE #472

The Wi-Fi Checklist

The Wi-Fi Checklist

When it comes to designing great Wi-Fi, the provider needs to know what the task is. Wireless environments are unique and so any solution needs careful consideration to develop. When we see the phases of a Wireless Solution there may be many actors involved in the project, but fundamentally projects, equipment and environments go through a lifecycle.

The phases of delivery commence with Requirements gathering, this is also known as the Define phase. Little things can easily get overlooked but when we have a thought-out plan to capture that information from the start it can save us (I forgot to ask this q back at the start), when it should have been captured in the first place. You may get into design and realise you may need to revisit the Define phase again.

Issues may arise in any phase and will involve their own process to resolve: Define, Troubleshoot, Tune and Validate.

The Wi-Fi checklist started as a community project with the Wireless LAN Association (WLA)  and is founded on that framework. The Wi-Fi checklist is the practical roadmap of that dream. Inside it is full of useful resources to help focus the journey.

The aim of the checklists is not to tell you how to do something or even frame your workflow. With Wi-Fi, there are many moving parts, all interlocked and dependent on each other. The checklists record what steps have been performed for the project’s duration to ensure completeness on the journey. Hopefully, these parameters can get captured early to provide an easy journey through design and deployment. All the best on your next Wi-Fi project!

Note – The information contained is for technical guidance. Please do your due diligence and seek advice before offering agreements and signing up contracts.

WLANPi Pro – Multi Channel PCAP

WLANPi Pro – Multi Channel PCAP

Sometimes you need to capture roaming events when a client device roams from APa to APb. For this procedure I will be using Wireshark v4.0.1+ and WLANPi Pro.

To start with, identify the area of concern and run a Wi-Fi scan using your preferred tool. In our example case, we have APa on ch108 with 80MHz and APb on ch36 with 20MHz (not ideal as you need a consistent channel plan/width in your service area, this is only to prove the point). This capture was performed on a single LAN segment with the WLANPi’s (Pro) ethernet port and can also be used using tailscale ip addressing for VPN (it works on both methods).

Ensure you have the Wireshark module (SSHdump) installed as selected below, this module is selected on installation.

Select the “WiFi remote capture” and configure the capture device:

Now you can setup the next interface.

Right click and start a new Wireshark session –

Keep the setup with IP and credentials the same, but in the Capture tab the interface is changed to wlan1:

Start the captures on both wireshark sessions to run as long as required to capture the statistics, then stop both. Save each pcap file (use the channel number to differentiate)

Merge current file with other pcapng file

Save as date-time-location.pcapng

Below you can see a brief snap of the merged output.

Wireless LAN Association – Update

Wireless LAN Association – Update

In late August 2023, the WLA disbanded.

As a contributor to the WLA Standards Committee for a few years I learnt many things and contributed to making a Wi-Fi workflow better for the community. The WLA published the WLA Standards Framework and while none of the books were published, the overviews are here for reference (with permission). Read the checklist article which summarises the previous journey to the present.

Peter Rixon
CWNE #472

WLA Introduction

Define

DESIGN

DEPLOY

DIAGNOSE