Sunday, December 25, 2016

Build your own Ekahau ePerf & server!

One a recent forklift project, we decided to replace our aging 802.11a/g hardware and deploy new 802.11ac WLAN gear.


We designed the building with Ekahau’s ESS - our default WLAN survey and design tool.  After designing the WLAN to meet our healthcare requirement (in this case, Aeroscout tags, Vocera badges, 5GHz Voice and data) we installed the gear and then validated the WLAN.


For this initial 802.11ac deployment, we decided to do both passive and throughput validations.  With throughput surveys, we measure actual data, such as packet loss and jitter.   On a side note - for some time now, we have said to ourselves, “I wish we had a portable Ookla Speedtest server”.   Spoiler alert!


We needed a throughput server that would be both simple to use and portable.  After talking with our Ekahau team, we decided to use the Odroid C2, and configure it for two purposes.  (It turns out that Ekahau has done the homework for us, and a quick web search will unearth most of what we need to know.)  We decided we wanted it to be an iPerf3 server, and a “mini” server. 


Most of the time, we do passive surveys to validate our WLANs – however, every now and then we have the need to do an active survey, which is usually related to a WLAN that is experiencing issues.


I think we have all heard the usual complaints about “the Wi-Fi is horrible”, etc.  Users go to their favorite speed test site on the Internet from their mobile device and immediately blame the Wi-Fi when they don’t get the results they expected.  With our new throughput server, we can plug it into the LAN and have users browse to it and test their throughput, eliminating the Internet connection and all of the other unknowns!  Having a portable speedtest server and seeing the look on their faces is priceless!


Having a portable ePerf/ server is awesome.  You may want to do spot checks to make sure everything is operating properly on your WLAN after setting up new access points and controllers, or your controller-less Wi-Fi gear.


I would like to mention that throughput surveys are not for everyone.  They take a lot of time, and your survey results may not look like what you expected.  If you have never done an active/throughput server, then I encourage you to do a small one and look at the results.  It is a great learning exercise, that’s for sure.


The team at Ekahau has done most of the homework for us, and created a shopping list for us.  Follow this link to see what is available.


I chose the standard build from the document, and with a lot of help, loaded Diet Pi, Fruity WiFi, Ekahau iPerf server and  I will warn you – you should know your way around the Linux command line, or have someone that can help you.  I could never have done it with without a lot of help.


Rumor has it that if you attend WLPC , you can build one yourself while you attend the conference.  That is a great excuse to go!  If you are like me and not a “Linux guy”, definitely go this route.


Here’s what I ended up purchasing:






After building the unit, we plugged it into our wired network.  It boots up, and we connect to it via Wi-Fi and then obtain the wired IP address.  We browse to the wired IP from another wired workstation and test the wired to wired throughput.  In this case, we get over 500 Mb/s.  That’s good enough for me – now I know how fast this can go.  We ignore the slow upload speed, as the Odroid can’t write to the flash that fast.  We’ll just be using download for testing purposes, anyway.


One thing I want to mention is that along the way, I ended up using another micro USB power cable and didn’t notice.  My Odroid was having issues powering up, and I asked around and someone mentioned that I might not be using the power brick that I purchased with the unit.  That was the case!   The next unit I build will have the wall transformer and power plug, so I don’t run into this again.



Here’s what my looks like, wired to wired.  Awesome!





If you have been pondering having your own Ekahau throughput/iperf server, this is the way to go!




1 comment:

  1. "...and seeing the look on their faces is priceless!"

    Haha! I need this for my next project, definitely!
    Thank you for some inspiration to use Odroid C2.