Friday, October 19, 2018

Comparing Sidekick, Proxim, Comfast and Edimax adapters in Ekahau ESS

My last blogpost compared my Sidekick to my Proxim adapter.  I did this because I used to use a Proxim, and now I use a Sidekick for WLAN surveys.  I have colleagues that use the Edimax and Comfast adapters, so I went out and purchased a few so I could compare.  I did this because a year or so ago, I was comparing my Proxim survey to a colleague’s Comfast survey.  We both did the same building, but at different times, and the results were way off.  They differed so much I though the other machine had a bad WLAN adapter. 
 
So here we go again, comparing the four adapters listed above.  This is of the same facility as last time, however a different part of the building that came online recently.  Same requirements for the WLAN, same guy doing all four surveys.  Same machine, same walking speed, same ballcap and same worn out tennis shoes.  This time I am going to show -60 dBm so I can fit it on the graphic.  There is no other reason for this, so please don’t go using -60 dBm as a survey requirement because you saw it here.  I normally look at -67 dBm for voice surveys if you were wondering.  This is 5 GHz, of course.   I’m also not going to compare every AP, because there’s no point. 
 
Now I’m going to get right to the point.  Here they are:
 
Sidekick -60 dBm
 
 
 
Here is my Proxim’s adapter at -60 dBm.  Very Similar to the Sidekick.  I expected this, since I did a validation a few weeks ago and highlight that in my blogpost.
 
 
Now the Comfast CF-912AC USB network adapter @ -60 dBm:
 
 
Last but not least, the Edimax AC1200 at -60 dBm:
 
 
My only comment is, “hey, nice ears, Edimax.  I would say that the Edimax adapter saw the APs slightly louder than everyone else.  Not by much, though.  Just for kicks, I have knocked 5 decibels off the Edimax view above and it sort of looks like the others.  Maybe that is because the Edimax has the little plastic antenna that folds out.  I’m not going to pry mine apart to find out if it is empty plastic or if it actually has antennas in there.
 
 
I have been slowly adding some WLAN adapters to rssicompared.com, and I have high hopes of adding all my adapters to that site so we can all benefit.  I am also creating my own little spreadsheet that will become a blogpost that compares the network adapters I find in my daily life.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Comparing my Proxim 8494 to my Sidekick

This blogpost is simple.  I used to use a Proxim 8494 for surveys, now I use my Sidekick.  All I wanted to know if how my SK and Proxim 8494 compared.
I recently did a 5 GHz validation survey of a new healthcare facility WLAN with requirements of Cisco Voice and Aeroscout RTLS – only this time I walked it twice.  Once with Sidekick, once with the Proxim.  Here are the results: (I will put Proxim on left, SK on right).  I’m using Primary 5 Ghz signal strength at -65 dBm for your viewing pleasure.  Why only 5 GHz?  Ask Devin Akin…
Here's AP number one.
  
I’m not going to show every AP.  There’s no point, since my goal is to see how they compare, so I know what I am looking at.
I will now skip to another part of the building:
 
And now for another area.  Keep in mind… These surveys were done on the same day, same time (one before the other) with the same machine.  Only thing different was the survey adapter.  Same human, wearing the same ballcap and same tennis shoes.
  
 
Now that I have my results, I can clearly see that my Proxim and my Sidekick are somewhat similar in the way they receive the signals from the WLANs they are surveying/validating.
I know that many of you are like me and might have several Proxim 8494 adapters, and when surveying with them you may have seen different results.  When I discovered this, I started to use only one Proxim for validations – not two or three in a USB hub configuration, since I didn’t “trust” my multiple adapter configuration.  But that’s just me.
 
Again.  The point of this blogpost is simple. I just wanted to see how my “survey adapter” I have been using for way too many years compares to my Sidekick.  I am not trying to say “only use one Proxim for validations”, or “STOP - go buy a Sidekick immediately” (I’m sure Ekahau would like that, however).  What we all hope for is that all Sidekicks are baselined/benchmarked/created-equal.  What I mean by that is that if my Sidekick saw the WLAN at -65 dBm in a certain area, that your Sidekick will see the same thing.  I think we all know that our Proxim 8494 adapters are not exactly created equally.  I am in no way trying to say anything negative about the Proxim adapter.  I am trying to compare apples to apples, however, and I feel that apples from the same orchard/tree/harvest might taste the same.  I have a half dozen Proxim adapters, and they all seem to see the world differently – much like all the humans I know.  And you know who you are.
 
I don’t have two Sidekicks.  If I did, you can bet I would perform this same “experiment” with my SK and anyone that wanted to send me their SK for a few days.  Better put your name on it, though.
Another thing to mention:  You can always “see” how different adapters see the same exact signal – just go do rssicompared.com and take a look for yourself.  I know that all APs and clients are not created equally, and they all seem to see the world differently.  Better yet, add some data of your own!
 
My best advice:  Know your APs, know your WAN requirements, know your client adapters, know your applications.
 
There will be a Rev2 of this post.  The building has another section, and I am going to survey that three times - once with SK, once with my other Proxim, and a third time with another adapter that I have not chosen yet.  When complete, I will compare those results as well.