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Labs

Step 1

Installing The Software

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The first thing you wanna do is download the Heatmapper software from the Ekahau website. It is free software, but it does make you sign up before emailing you a download link. As of right now, it’s also Windows only. If you know of any free alternatives for Mac or Linux, please let me know in the comments below!

Once you have it downloaded, just follow the automated installation process to install it. As of the writing of this post, there are no hidden tricks that you should be worried about during its installation.

Step 2

Using The Software

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Whenever you first start the software, the start up screen prompts you to either upload a floor plan or use a grid. The floor plan doesn’t have to be anything precise, it just has to give a general layout of the area you are covering. So in theory, you could do a small scale drawing of your floor plan and just use that as reference.

Once you have a floor plan uploaded, or are using the grid, it will take you to the analyzer interface. On the left hand side of the interface, you will see a list of routers within range. They can be sorted by different parameters, but for the most part, are irrelevant to the mapping process. The right hand side is basically a guide that tells you how to use the software, so you could probably be following that one instead of this post 😉

Now to add that information to your map, you want to left click your current location on the map and start walking, tracing the path with your cursor along the map. Obviously this works best with a laptop, unless you have a desktop on a cart with a really long extension cord. Every once in a while, left click again so that the map can log the Wifi sginals and their strengths at that new location. Continue this process until you’ve mapped out your entire area, and when you’re done, right click your mouse.

Step 3

Analyzing The Results

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The results are really simple to interpret: the greener it is, the better the signal, and the redder it is, the weaker the signal. You’ll also see little images of the routers that are in range. If the image is in the middle of the map, that means it’s a router that is in your building. Routers that appear around the edge of the map are most likely someone else’s routers that are not in your building. You can click on each router and it will show you the heatmap for that specific router. This free version doesn’t have the option of saving the recorded data, but you can save a screenshot of your heatmap for later reference.

So what’s the point of a heatmap? Well, primarily it’s to show you areas of weakness in your location where you might need to increase your signal strength, either by using wifi booster, which you can learn how to make here, or by using homemade signal amplifiers, which I will cover next week on my main channel.