AP Location finder

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Nov 28th, 2007
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Our company recently installed 40 plus access points for a client covering two buildings. The technician did not record the serial number or Mac address of the AP's when installed. I know need to map them in the WCS. I am wondering if the Cisco 2700 locator will locate them so I can accomplish this.

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ericgarnel Thu, 11/29/2007 - 05:51
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No it will not. The location appliance is for locating clients, tags, etc based on feedback it gets from the access points & controllers.

What you can do however, is to walk the mac-address-table of the switches in those locations and do a show cdp neighbor for a better idea of where the APs may be located. You will then have to manually determine the AP location based on where the other end of the cable goes. Or better yet, get the technician who installed them do it.

There are methods of using the AP indicator lights to identify the AP, but that is only useful if the AP is visible.

Once you have this information, you can then position the APs within the maps on WCS.

There are actually two similar ways to work around this without having to take down APs, or trace out wiring:

This assumes that you at least know where the APs were supposed to be installed and that you have a "Unified" (aka: Controller-based) installation which would be likely if you need to populate a WCS floor plan - right?

If you use a Cisco card (with all the latest Cisco driver / config utility / ACU / etc.) or if you have a tool such as AirMagnet or Ekahau, you can walk under each AP location and note the *strongest* AP signal. Ideally, the Cisco client should roam to the strongest AP.

Each of the following methods is based upon the fact that Cisco APs send their NAME out as part of their RF signal. Also, all APs transmit their RF radio MAC address. Both the radio MAC and the AP name are unique.

The Cisco ACU (client software) enables you to see the AP name of the AP to which your Cisco NIC is associated. Also, newer versions of AirMagnet software is supposed to be able to view the AP name of the Cisco AP. If you have an older version of AirMagnet (that does not read AP names from the RF) or are using Ekahau, or even certain NIC drivers, you should be able to view the radio MAC address.


Create an *BROADCASTED* SSID only for your laptop and that requires credentials that only your laptop has.

Temporarily disable all the other SSIDs (temporarily locking out all other users except your laptop), you will be able to confirm which AP that you have roamed to (assuming it is under the ceiling) by looking at the APs indicator LED(s). For example, the ring on an 1131 will turn light blue when you roam to it.

Admittedly, the above step is optional, but it will give you ABSOLUTE confirmation as to which AP you are connected to. If you

Depending upon the equipment you have (i.e.: a Cisco NIC and driver software/ACU, or AirMagnet, Intel or other NIC utility, etc.) you will need to use one of the two options below:



If you use a Cisco NIC/driver, clicking on the ACU icon in your laptop's system tray will tell you which AP name you have roamed to (the automatic default AP name given is APmmmm.mmmm.mmmm where "mmmm.mmmm.mmmm" is the wired MAC address of the AP. Note: if you have named the APs, then you will see the AP name you gave them.

If you write down the AP name shown on the screen of your laptop, you will know where that AP is.

You can then add those APs to the map by AP Name.



If you use Ekahau or AirMagnet, they will show you the radio mac address(es) of the access point.

In this case, make a note of the MAC address of the radio(s).

NOTE: When you have more than one SSID, the radio mac address are incremented for each SSID. Therefore, you may find that the last digit of the radio MAC address will not exactly match. This is OK. Ignore the last digit and match the other digits to identify the AP.

As in option 1, mark up a floor plan as you go along, writing down, in this case, the RF MAC address(es) of each AP.

Now, using your marked up floor plan, go back to the WCS and look up the detail screen for each AP one by one. Look at the "Base Radio MAC" on the detail screen for that AP.

Find this radio MAC address on your map (remembering that the last digit will probably not match exactly) and you now know where that AP is. Write down the AP NAME on your map and repeat for each AP.

You can then go to the floor plan map and add your APs.

Hope this helps,

- John

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A third method is to perform a post-installation site survey using a site survey tool such as Ekahau Site Survey https://www.ekahau.com or AirMagnet's Survey tool https://www.airmagnet.com .

Either of these site survey tools will be able to note with a fair degree of accuracy the location of each access point on a bitmap floorplan you load into the tool ahead of time.

Once the post-installation survey has been performed, you can go to the WCS (Monitor->Access Points - making sure that you have included the "Radio MAC" column in the display using "Edit View"), and lookup the location of each access point shown on the WCS using the AirMagnet Survey or Ekahau Site Survey tool which can be used to determine the location of an individual access point.

I hope that this is helpful,

- John

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