Monday, June 25, 2012

So, you want to do an outdoor WLAN site survey with AirMagnet Survey & Microsoft MapPoint software.  You will need to have MapPoint installed on your machine – I installed Microsoft MapPoint North America 2010 for my configuration.

First, you’ll need a GPS receiver.  I found the following GPS devices have been tested to work with AirMagnet Survey:

1. DeLorme Earthmate GPS LT-20
2. DeLorme Earthmate GPS LT-40
3. Garmin eTrex
4. Garmin eTrex Legend
5. Garmin GPS 18 Deluxe (Use with GPSGate conversion software)
6. Magellan eXplorist XL
7. Magellan eXplorist 500
8. Pharos iGPS-180

When I first started out on this project, I did not have a GPS receiver.  I simply browsed eBay and searched the list I provided above.  I wanted a USB flavored receiver, so I chose the DeLorme Earthmate GPS LT-20.  It came with software, which immediately made its way into the recycle bin.  It cost less than 20 bucks with shipping.

I went through the standard installation of any USB device.  I plugged it into my laptop and let it go out and download the drivers and install them.  It shows up here as the USB Human Interface Device:

You’ll also need serial emulator software.  I went online and downloaded the DeLorme Serial Emulator version 1.09, and installed it.  The file I downloaded and installed was named “InstallSerialEmulator.exe”

Next, configure the serial emulation software with the following parameters: 4800, 8/N/1, no flow control.  You should see a little satellite dish icon on the bottom right of your screen.  Right click it, select ports, and as you can see here, I am using Com 2.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you are to select NMEA.  I was, and it did not work.  I finally stumbled into using my Com 2 port, and using the “Raw” setting. 

When you select the port, only use ports 1 – 9.  Don’t use any others!

To test the serial emulation softwarae, I used Tera Term.  I started Tera Term, chose Com 2, and then went to Setup à Serial Port and set it up with the same parameters I used with the serial emulation software.

At first, I did not see any data scrolling by.  Even though when I right click on the serial emulator software and it shows that Auto-Start is checked, I had to click start.

When I clicked OK, I started to see data scroll past me.  Now I know my GPS is working properly.  I will also state that during the making of this document, I went back and forth quite a few times, taking screenshots and I ended up rebooting this machine to get it working.  Your mileage may vary.

Now you are ready to configure AirMagnet Survey Pro and start your survey.

Step 1. Create a new project, name it, select the directory and select the GPS option and click next.

Next you will import the map from MapPoint.  You will have to be connected to the Internet when you set your project up, so do it from somewhere with connectivity.  Iif you are not connected to the Internet, this is the message you will recieve when you choose MapPoint from the Import Outdoor Street/Campus Map:

Choose MapPoint from the Import Outdoor Street/Campus Map (GPS) Image

Microsoft MapPoint will automatically start, and bring up a window for you to zoom in and select the outdoor area you are going to survey.  Zoom in to the area that you want and press OK.

You’ll see the GPS coordinates of the top left and bottom right of the box you selected as your survey area.  Click next.

I’m going to choose an outdoor residential area.  Notice how it sets my propagation assessment to 300 feet.  I set my power to 30 milliwatts since I am guessing that is the output power of most access points in the neighborhood. Click Next, and then click Finish.

Before you can start surveying, you need to configure AirMagnet Survey to that it knows about your GPS receiver.  From Survey mode, select File > Configure > Settings. Check the “Enable GPS port” box.  Then click on the Configure button and configure the Com port – I am using Com 2 for my configuration.  When complete, click OK twice.

You should test to make sure your GPS is configured correctly in AirMagnet Survey.  Select the “Tools” tab from the bottom right portion of the toolbar on the bottom of your survey.  Click on the GPS Information tab, and you should see GPS coordinates.  If you do not see anything, your AirMagnet Survey application is not seeing your GPS receiver.  The first time I used the GPS receiver I did not see anything, and I needed to go back and set up my com ports correctly.

I went outdoors, waited for my GPS receiver to get a fix, and then walked down the street.  I walked down one side of the street, down a little path at the end, and then back on the other side of the street.  I would estimate the survey was accurate most of the time, and when it wasn’t, it was about 20 feet away from where I was really standing.  Pretty good if you ask me.

One thing to note – I did lose my GPS fix when I was under some very large Oak trees.  If you think you might lose reception, keep an eye on your screen.  You may see a message like this:

Overall, I’m pretty happy with AirMagnet’s GPS functionality.  It all went together relatively quickly and painlessly.  Remember to configure your serial emulation properly and you’ll do fine.

For those of you who are wondering what the final product looks like, here it is:

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