Airmagnet Planning Software vs. Traditional Survey with AP

Answered Question
Feb 3rd, 2012

Greetings all - would like someone to share their experiences; Our company is considering some new purchases with regards to survey kits.  It has been suggested that we do not need a Survey AP for our kits, since Airmagnet planning software should tell us everything we need to know. Needless today, I am skeptical about depending soley on a predictive software to determine this.   Anyone have any thoughts or experiences they wish to share?  Thanks in advance   (note, we will be using this for both 802.11a for voice, as well as 802.11b/g surveying)

I have this problem too.
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Correct Answer by blakekrone about 2 years 2 months ago

Regardless of whether you use AirMagnet Planner or Ekahau they are not replacements for site surveying. The planners will give you an idea of what you should do, but do not replace a physical survey by any means. ANY time I see the word VOICE you HAVE to do a physical survey, and a proper one at that.

A bunch of us seasoned wireless engineers discuss this on a podcast episode over at the NSA Show.

http://nostringsattachedshow.com/2012/01/04/e01-rf-whisperer/

While I've used the planning tools a lot and can have it almost exact, you need to do a survey.

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Correct Answer
blakekrone Fri, 02/03/2012 - 08:00

Regardless of whether you use AirMagnet Planner or Ekahau they are not replacements for site surveying. The planners will give you an idea of what you should do, but do not replace a physical survey by any means. ANY time I see the word VOICE you HAVE to do a physical survey, and a proper one at that.

A bunch of us seasoned wireless engineers discuss this on a podcast episode over at the NSA Show.

http://nostringsattachedshow.com/2012/01/04/e01-rf-whisperer/

While I've used the planning tools a lot and can have it almost exact, you need to do a survey.

kobayashimaru08 Fri, 02/03/2012 - 08:18

Thanks and THANK YOU FOR THE LINK! I did not know about that site... and worth a big check out.  I would still like to hear from others though, just so I have a variety of responses that I can present to folks here.  Thank you again!

Leo Laohoo Fri, 02/03/2012 - 14:07

When I started rolling out wireless back in 2009, the phrase "wireless site survey" was met with scepticism and disgust.  Now, it's a must.

Airmagnet is, in my humble opinion, is THE premier site survey tool.  I haven't had the chance or opportunity to use Ekihau.  The only downside with Airmagnet is that the application crashes alot.  Even though the client is freshly image and the application is running the latest version, it still crashes.  Doesn't matter if you are using your own client or you "incorporate" the Airmagnet planner to the Fluke Optiview tablet. 

Leo Laohoo Tue, 02/14/2012 - 14:59

Feedback to my last post:

Someone from Fluke/Airmagnet was watching.  They got a Senior TAC Engineer to contact me and I'll be (happily) testing a work-around/engineering build for them.

Another thing:  When I say "crash", what I meant to say was that my Passive would stop refreshing or collecting data and iPerf would just flatline.  

Thanks for Fluke/Airmagnet for keeping an eye out.

George Stefanick Tue, 02/14/2012 - 17:56

Oh Leo ... You're such a vendor HOG. Call it like you see it man...

AirMagnet crashes A LOT. and you KNOW IT, I've been working in WiFi since 1999 and was one of the first early adopters of AirMagnet. I am fed up with the blue screens. I can name 5 engineers and even point to a video *cough* where everyone who uses AM stated it crashes often and frequent. Also their lack of support when you have license issue only got worse when Fluke bought them.

I am becoming less and less a fan of AM. Have you done a GPS survey with AM recently ? I spent 3 hours getting it to work! And I am far from a NOOB.

I am testing Ekihau for the first time and I have to say what a night an day difference. Also beta testing their Andiod tablet software. Not trying to bash AM, they have issue and they ignore the fact their customers are having problems.

After my testing is complete and if all is well I will be moving all my survey gear to Ekihau. So far, I like what I see. It has yet to blue screen, WITHOUT a WORKAROUND.

Leo Laohoo Tue, 02/14/2012 - 18:33
Oh Leo ... You're such a vendor HOG. Call it like you see it man...

LOL!

blakekrone Tue, 02/14/2012 - 18:52

You all thought I was crazy on the podcast being the only Ekahau advocate and look how you've turned now!

excellent

kobayashimaru08 Tue, 02/14/2012 - 19:14

My oh my, how one little question caused all this stir LOL!  Well, I have forwarded comments on to project mangers and managers to make them aware of this... before someone writes the proverbial check.  I do not think it will sway them away from Air Magnet per se' as we need something 'yesterday' before yet another one of our kits falls apart. But at least this gives them foreknowledge to chat with our reps about.    Thank you very much for all this input... as always, a learning experience! 

George Stefanick Tue, 02/14/2012 - 19:18

Hey Patrice -- I didnt know this was you.. You did the WCS write up a few months back, right?

michaeldodd98 Thu, 03/29/2012 - 05:48

We have used AM for a few years.  I cannot recommend it.  It blue screens too many times during a survey.  We survey Nuclear Powerplants around the world, and its a huge waste of time when it crashes.  We've got Union guys who just want to go home standing around while we reboot the machine for the third time in a day.  Its very unprofessional and everyone will begin to question your results. 

Unfortunatley we have spent $12,000 on it, not counting the new machine, (also freshly imaged, nothing else on it) so we're stuck with it.  Try something else, anything else.  AM is unstable.

Leo Laohoo Thu, 03/29/2012 - 14:21

Hi Michael,

Fluke/AirMagnet is watching the Cisco Forum.  My previous post about AM crashing got a PM from their TAC team in the US.  They worked with me and created a TAC case which resulted in an "engineering release".

Let me know if Fluke/AirMagnet does not contact you by Monday. 

Leo Laohoo Thu, 03/29/2012 - 14:47
Leo gets a kick back every time he mentiones  AM love ...

LOL!

You should try it sometimes George.

Unlike some product, you don't need to stand in the middle of a pentagram drawn in blood chanting "I summon thee, I summon thee, I summon thee".

George Stefanick Thu, 03/29/2012 - 14:51

So they give you a special code release to fix blue screens that has been a problem for a LONG LONG time .. hummmmm...

How is that new code working for you ? I bet you have no problems now ..? BTW, they lost one of their bets guy (AM that is). He went to Aerohive .. I also hear rumor that a few of the orginal AM folks are leaving too.

Im not trying to beat up AM. I like AM, but fed up with the issues myself.

Leo Laohoo Thu, 03/29/2012 - 15:03

My sincerest apologies George.  Wasn't trying to stir you up. 

blakekrone Thu, 03/29/2012 - 19:47

had a ton of issues the other week while surveying with it, I really hope they can fix their issues otherwise I really see them starting to fall apart. I know a lot of people are looking at ekahau and I'm glad. The only time I have had issues with ekahau survey lately is trying to get their drivers and am drivers to play nice on the same machine.

Sent from Cisco Technical Support iPad App

Leo Laohoo Thu, 03/29/2012 - 15:02
You called me Leo?

LOL!

Besides Steve you know where to find us. 

goatnetworking Fri, 03/30/2012 - 04:13

I have both Air Magnet and Ekahau. My biggest complaint about Ekahau is that I have to start a survey to see the AP names in the area that I am in. Air Magnet allows me to stand in one spot and view the visible AP's by name, Ekahau is only by MAC address. The Adroid version of the Ekahau only displays AP's by MAC. When there are 150 AP's in the building, I have no idea what AP the software is seeing.

Due to Ekahau only showing me MAC addresses, Unless I'm doing a survey, I find the software to be extremely difficult to be usefull. When looking for a single AP, I have to go lookup the MAC address before I can figure out the signle strength, I hat this. I do like the USB card.

The problem I have with Air Magnet is that the special card does not fit in my new laptop. I'm stuck with lugging around some old laptop just to use Air Magnet. I do have the option to spend more money to buy different cards.

You have to put a real AP up to do the survey. If you don't, you will be back onsite moving them when people complain of coverage issues.

Scape

michaeldodd98 Fri, 03/30/2012 - 06:33

Does this special engineering release work any better than the latest version on the MyAirMagnet website?

AirMagnet in our enviorment is actually dangerous to our health.  When the AM crashes it causes us to stand in one place for up to 10 minutes while it reboots and reloads everything.  The entire time we are raising our radiation exposure.  Our electronic dosimeters only allow for a set number of millrems per hour and even in low dose waiting areas time is ticking. 

kobayashimaru08 Mon, 04/02/2012 - 07:08

Well I really appreciate all the feed back on this... I was just informed that discussions where I will be brought in, about Wireless survey kits... and you can bet Leo's pentagram I am going to have a few questions for our AM folks because, after all the pulling and jumping hoops to finally get kits, the last thing we need are application issues with the product. 

michaeldodd98 Tue, 04/03/2012 - 11:06

UPDATE:  Now that I am back at the office and able to do proper troubleshooting, I examined my BSOD Dump files.  I saw out of the 15 blue screens I had on last week's survey, 12 of them referred to files from Symantec EndPoint Protection, and antivirus/anti-malware/firewall suite. 

I recall at one point AirMagnet warning about this conflict.  So I will take 75% of the BSOD blame off AirMagnet's shoulders.  BUT there were still 3 BSOD events caused by Atheros wireless drivers in the DMP files. 

I have a case open with AM support and they suggest a clean reinstall of the drivers.  Will have final results in a month when we return to do an active survey but thought I would update everyone.

I have since taken our corporate antivirus program from Symantec EndPoint Protection off this computer.  Makes me wonder what other issues SEP has as our Corporate IT announced they are transitioning from Symantec to McAffee...

Leo Laohoo Tue, 04/03/2012 - 15:06
and you can bet Leo's pentagram I am going to have a few questions for our AM folks because,

Hi Patrice,

If you want a pentagram drawn in blood, let me know.  They come in multiple sizes:  large, medium and beam-me-up-Scotty.

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Posted February 3, 2012 at 7:57 AM
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