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Cellular APPS for «site survey» (predicting WiFi coverage)

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WiFi Solver FDTD
WiFi HeatMap

Site Survey consists of planning the number and / or location of WiFi access points in a place, based on their wave propagation, in order to achieve optimal coverage. There are several programs for this task, such as Airmagnet Planner (Netally), Ekahau , Tamograph , Xirrus or Airmagnet WiFi Analyzer (Fluke Networks). Cisco offers a "WiFi planning" tool on its Cisco Prime service . There are even specific devices for this task, such as Aircheck from Netally itself..

The downside to this professional software and devices is that they can cost a fortune. Although you could simply use a free WiFi analyzer, of the many on Google Play (one of the most interesting is WiFi AR ), and adjust the position of your router until you get at least -70dBm in all the places you want (minimum power required for a reliable connection), you can also do site survey on your Android cell phone. There are some Android apps accessible for this task that do a basic site survey, that is, they will allow you to simulate your WiFi network to know how the router coverage is in your home or how far the signal is reaching.

If you have trouble achieving good coverage in all parts of the house despite having improved the position of your router, try increasing the power of the router or adding another ..

WiFi Solver FDTD

image

Wifi Solver simulates how electromagnetic waves from a Wifi router propagate in a given environment. It is a 2D simulator that uses the FDTD (Finite Difference Time Domain) method, a numerical analysis technique used to model the behavior of physical phenomena such as wave propagation. There is a whole science behind this application, despite its limitations. It is not exact, but an application of this type is convenient to have an approximate idea of ​​the most convenient position of the Wifi router within a house or room.

Once inside the app, touch the «Run» button to see the simulation of the WiFi coverage in the example plane. Its use is that simple, however, the creation of the plan is the most tedious part..

image

Like any other site survey tool, including the professional programs mentioned at the beginning, the first step is that you must create the plan of your house with the parameters established by the app, that is, use the respective colors depending on the materials (ex: open spaces in black), scale 1 pixel per centimeter and save the image in PNG format.

Once you have the image ready, load it into the application with the "Open" button, adjust the position of the router on the map (the red dot) and tap on "Run" to run the simulation. Use the "Save" button to save an image of the simulation or the "R" to make a recording.

The configurable parameters should be left at their default values ​​(iterations: 100 or 1000, plot every: 1 or 10, colourmap limit: 1).

Keep in mind that the frequency of the router is  2.4 GHz and there is no way to vary this frequency. The antenna offers "out-of-plane" polarization, concrete walls are considered, and open spaces have a refractive index of 1, according to the developer.

Although it is not a professional application, it is interesting to be able to use it despite its cost of 82 cents. What the programmer recommends is not to exceed 500 x 500 pixels in the plane (that is, a plane of 5 x 5 meters). For higher measurements it will be better to have a mid-range or high-end phone.

WiFi HeatMap

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This is a better-rated app in the Play Store and the main reason is that it incorporates a plan creator, so you can design your plan right there in the app, without the need to resort to an additional app or program. It also allows you to determine the scale of the plane easily. They are two of the most tedious things about WiFi Solver, which in this application we will not have too many complications. However, the simulation process is not so clear and there is no technical information on how it performs the simulation of wave propagation.

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