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Ekahau Site Survey 5.1

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ekahau site survey 5.1

The working group puts together the draft of the new technology, then creates publishes this draft. For 802.11ax this draft was not fully completed and approved by the working group until February 25, 2019 according the IEEE website ( _Timelines.htm). And from the working group timeline we still will not have ratification until at least September of 2020 with final approvals not coming until November of 2020.

During day 1 of the 3 day course it became apparent this was not going to be a standard class on surveys and wireless. After introductions and housekeeping we jumped right into the content. It was very refreshing to see that we would be covering more processes and workflows than the actual software and how to use it. The curriculum was very timely as well as I am working in my day job to build a team of engineers doing designs and surveys. Workflows and processes are always the hardest thing to deal with and get in place when building a team. As we continued the discussions of how and why certain workflows should occur within a team of engineers and surveyors you could see lights going off in the attendees heads and the discussion began to pick up with lots of ideas, information and thoughts around the subject. Things definitely started clicking for me on how the team should be setup for management and project sharing.

The discussion then moved to how to work in teams with Ekahau files and manage the project files successful. This is not as easy as it sounds if you have teams of engineers and surveyors out on multiple projects that are complicated sites and they split the workload and then need to bring it all together. This is where a majority of teams begin to struggle. We then did an exercise within our lab groups to show how this works and the importance of following the workflows and lifecycle laid out at the beginning of the project. Things can quickly go off the rails as we found out.

The second day of class we began discussing Ekahau Connect and how the tools we have in Ekahau Pro help with teams of multiple users as well as the cool new tools Ekahau has added for the Sidekick, like Packet Capture and Cloud Sync. We began leaning on our wireless skills and knowledge for the labs we did at this point. We did a couple of surveys to capture data then did some analysis for spectrum analysis to get used to the RTFM interface. Once this was complete it was time to really use the RTFM and find hidden interferes in and around the classroom space. This is always a challenge and definitely helped remind me how important it is to go back to your roots in RF.

Finally we discussed and did some labs around attenuation testing and mapping. This is becoming more of an integral part of wireless surveys in many different forms. When used correctly the information gathered from attenuation readings can help to build out an information database for your team as well as cutdown on the time on-site APoS surveys can take, but still provide just as much data.

The class then finished on the final day with discussions around file manipulation, scripting and report templates. These three topics can really help shape how a wireless team uses the data from surveys and can really set the team apart from others. The scripting and manipulation is still new to me so I will not comment too much on it, but the report template aspect within Ekahau is one of the most important items of the software. We have for years written reports with a standard template and then copy and pasted screenshots and data sets from within either AirMagnet or Ekahau for presentation to a customer. Inevitably a reference to a previous customer or project would get lost in the shuffle and lots of late night quick editing would need to occur. With the way Ekahau handles report templates teams can save literal hours and even days in reporting. Beware before starting down the road, the templates are written in JSON either some knowledge is needed or some strong Google-Foo. When starting for the first time it seems overwhelming on the templates but as you get into and understand how things work and use the Ekahau site for reference and examples it comes quickly. Which is needed for the final exam for the course.

After the final, my head was full of ideas, thoughts, questions and excitement which is exactly what a course should do for us. The ECSE Advanced is more than worth the time and cost, especially if you manage or work with a team of multiple engineers and surveyors. The training arm of Ekahau has again scored big with this course in my opinion.

In the wireless field Ekahau has started to become the standard for wireless site surveys and predictive designs. Earlier this year the latest version of their software, Ekahau Site Survey, was released with a cool new facelift, cloud sync functionality, new functions to use with the Sidekick and new branding to Ekahau Pro.

Recently I attended the Ekahau ECSE Advanced course, this will be covered in another post, and got my hands truly dirty in the software and all the other tools Ekahau Pro has brought to us. This helped calm some of my misgivings on issues with the software as well as really helping me to understand some workflows, team concepts and basic awesomeness Ekahau has provided to the industry. After the course I needed to perform an outdoor survey that came out to about 2.8 million square feet, so I figured this would be a great time to really put the iPad App and some of the really great features of the software to the test.

I began by setting up my project as I normally would. I then decided to try out the iPad survey instead of dragging my laptop all over this outdoor survey in the heat. I got my Sidekick all setup on my bag and got the iPad app running. I had to make a decision on getting the project to the iPad. I was on-site to tune the WiFi and really get it working better so I decided to transfer to the Sidekick to move it to the iPad. The cloud sync for me and my team at this point is not feasible as a usable solution as there is no file structure to keep projects separated by customer, survey, etc. With hundreds of surveys with multiple surveyors this begins getting out of hand and unusable very quickly. I am confident Ekahau has a solution they are working on and am excited for it so I can really start using this cool feature.

Having the project on the internal drive of the Sidekick was super useful. This gave me a central drive to use for both the iPad and the laptop as I needed to edit, etc. It also gives me a built-in backup of the project in case I do something stupid, like that would ever happen, and delete the wrong file or have some sort of corruption and lose hours of data that might not be able to replicated. Having the iPad connected to the Sidekick via a USB cable makes transfer very quick of the file and very simple. The connection for the Sidekick to the iPad can be somewhat challenging depending on what generation of iPad you are using. The Sidekick is a Micro USB connection and the iPad can be either a lightning connector or USB-C connection. I have had an issue with finding a Micro USB to Lightning connector cable that works without adapters and the like for the iPad. The ones I purchased did not hold up well in the field during surveying. Now came the fun part surveying.

I then decided to use the Notes function within Ekahau for the installation. This feature has been expanded nicely in Ekahau Pro to allow notes and pictures to all be together along with a running history of notes with each person who added a note and when they added it. This helps when multiple people are using a survey file and the notes are being pulled out into a report after the survey. I was using this feature in particular to capture pictures of the AP installation along with location and serial number and MAC address to output an as-built type table at the end of my report. The feature is very cool with the iPad as you can use the internal camera, then use the pencil to do markups right on the note and then type out any other notes needed for installation or information. The only drawback I had was I was using this during my validation survey and when I wanted to take a photo or place a note, I had to stop the survey and then restart after the note was captured. It was a pain the first few times, but you get used to it quickly and just work with it.

I had one other issue during this survey that was no fault of Ekahau, the iPad began overheating very quickly in the heat of the day. I made it about 30 minutes out of the gate before the iPad totally overheating and shut down for an hour or so to cool-down. Once I began in the evening and early in the morning I had no other issues with the iPad.

All-in-all after delaying using the iPad and Ekahau Pro for a few months, I am very happy I decided to put it through it paces and was very pleased with the final outcome and flow of work. As explained in the ECSE Advanced course, the workflow is the most important part of using the software. The ease of surveying with the iPad was very welcome and the ability to hold the survey file on the Sidekick and move back and forth from the iPad to the laptop for further analysis was very welcome and very exciting. Ekahau has yet again bought us what we have been asking for and is setup very well for the future.


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