Introduction: Maximizing Your WiFi for Home and Office Using Free Software
This project is for everyone who owns their own WiFi. You don’t need to be a computer guru to maximize your wireless internet at home or business. However, you will need a basic understanding of computers because we will be downloading, installing and accessing our routers in this project. Our instructions will guide you through two simple programs: Heatmapper and InSSIDer. Heatmapper will generate a visual representation of WiFi signals in your area. This allows you to see your WiFi coverage. We will give you tips on how to fix any deficiencies. With InSSIDer you will get to see a list of WiFi in your area as well as their configurations. With the details from InSSIDer, we will instruct you on how to configure your router on the most optimized channel.
Note: Steps 1-14 is about Heatmapper. Steps 15-24 is about InSSIDer.
Before you begin, make sure you have what is listed:
What you will need:
· Laptop (Windows OS)
· Heatmapper Software : http://www.ekahau.com/wifidesign/ekahau-heatmapper
· InSSIDer Software http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5936-inssider.html
· Router with administrative rights (know the username and password to access it)
· Image file of the floor plan you wish to evaluate the WiFi.
Step 1: Install Heatmapper
Run the setup file you downloaded and the setup wizard will open.
Note: You may change the installation/destination directory if you wish or you can leave it default like we did in the second picture.
Step 2: Running Heatmapper
Note: There are two options available in the program:
1. “I have a map image”
2. “I don’t have a map image”
Step 3: Choose Our Set Up.
Click the image of the floor plan marked "I have a map image."
Note: We will only be working with Option 1 in this Instructable.
If you do not have an image of your floor plan you may draw and scan it to your computer on your own.
Step 4: Find Your Floor Plan
Navigate to where you have the image of your floor plan saved by using the file explorer that pops up.
Note: I have mine under Documents. It’s named “fourth_floor.jpg"
Heatmapper will load image files that are (bmp, jpg, wbmp, jpeg, png, gif, svg).
Step 5: Decide Your Route
Decide where you wish to start on your floor plan.
Note: The tabs circled in red can be expanded or collapsed. In the picture above, the left tab is expanded and it shows ACCESS POINTS around you. The right tab is collapsed and it shows the HELP tab when expanded.
Warning: Keep the left tab open because we will use it.
Step 6: Stage Yourself
Move to your your starting point with your laptop ready to use like I am in the picture.
Step 7: Set Up Your Starting Point (1/2)
Hover your cursor over the point in the map in respect to your location.
Step 8: Set Up Your Starting Point (2/2)
Left click that point to set your first point.
Note: You’ve set your first point, and it is marked by a GREEN DOT. In the above picture, the red arrow is pointing at my first point.
Note: From now on left clicking a specific spot on your map tells HeatMapper you are at that location and it will survey there.
Caution: There is no undo button. Be patient and deliberate when you click.
Caution: If you wish to restart for any reason, left click “Undo Survey” button located on the top left area of the left tab.
Step 9: Move to Your Next Location
Take four steps toward your route.
Warning: If you are unfamiliar with the area, pay extra attention or you might trip, hit a wall or fall.
Step 10: Mark Your New Location
Left click the location you moved to on your floor plan.
Note: We recommend marking your location every 3 to 4 steps because the more points the more accurate the information will be.
Note: Above pictured: I’ve walked down the left wing hall and marked approximately 11 points.
Step 11: Finish Your Data Collection
Right click the map plan to stop data collection.
Note: This step can be alternatively used as a pause in progress. When you are ready to continue, start as you did in step 6. Your new starting point does not need to be where you left off. However, we discourage you from skipping any areas.
Note: Right clicking your map will stop data collection and generate a heat map.
Step 12: Save Your Data (1/2)
Left click ‘Take Screeenshot’ located on the top left corner of HeatMapper to have the save option pop up.
Step 13: Save Your Data (2/2)
Save your file with a new name.
Note: You may navigate to any folder you wish to save this image.
Note: I’ve named mine, ‘fourth_floor_mapped’ and I chose to save it in the Documents folder.
Step 14: Interpreting Your Data
Open the newly created image you just saved.
You should see your floor plan with different shades of colors. The possible colors are Dark Green, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red. The Wi-Fi’s signal strength corresponds to those colors from best to worst respectively.
What do the colors mean?
If an area is dark green or green then you are well covered, but if there is any yellow, orange or red covering an area then that means the signal is poor or worst.
What are those routers/access points on my map?
Those are routers or access points that Heatmapper pin pointed. If it is around the edge of your map, then it means you are detecting distant routers and access points.
Some areas in my room are poor what can I do?
If you are dissatisfied with the results, move your wireless router or access point to a different area that may cover a more optimized radius, and run HeatMapper again! Do this until you are satisfied with the coverage.
The coverage is still bad after I moved my router. Why?
Here are some physical obstructions you may need to consider.
• Cabinets or drawers
• Mirrors, Glasses
• Metal Objects
• Thick walls and ceilings
What else can I do to improve my signal strength?
If your wireless router or modem isn’t covering a large enough area, consider buying an access point.
An access point is device that supplements your router or modem. It is primarily used to extend and expand the range of your wireless network so you may have a router in one location and have an access point in another. This results in two possible areas where your Wi-Fi can deliver from.
Step 15: InSSIDer Instructions
Welcome to the second half of the instruction with using inSSIDer. This application will be used to determine which network is best for wi-fi use and configuring wireless setting.
Note: In these instructions, I will be using a Netgear Router for configuration. IP addresses vary by router manufacturer so before proceeding through the instructions find out what your IP address is for your specific router.
Step 16: Installing InSSIDer
Read Terms and Conditions before continuing with the program installation.
Once satisfied, then click agree and install inSSIDer.
Step 17: Running InSIDDer
Look above to view the first screen you will see upon loading the software for tips and hints about your wireless networks.
Note: You may close the help option whenever you are ready to view your wi-fi setup.
Step 18: Finding the Best Wireless Channel
Look at the section circled to find out how many the channels that each network has.
The table details the signal quality of each network and will be to used to gauge the power ratio in decibels(dB) of the measured power reference to one milliwatt(mW).
Note: When choosing the best wireless channel; stick to channels 1, 6, 11 because they are the least congested.
Step 19: Changing Your Wireless Channel
Determine which channel had less of a busy WiFi area that can be used by looking at the channel each network is using.
Now, you just need to configure your router to operate on that channel.
Step 20: Changing Your Wireless Channel
Plug one end of the ethernet cord into any of the yellow ports on the back of router and then into your desktop.
Note: I will be using a Netgear Router for this part of the instructions, so make sure that you connect your computer to your router with the ethernet cable that came along with the packaging.
Step 21: Configuring Your Router
Open your internet browser and type into the address bar: 192.168.0.1.
The pop-up box will now appear asking you for a Username and Password.
Default Details are:
Step 22: Adjusting Wireless Settings(1/2)
Click on the “Wireless Settings” option which is annotated above.
Step 23: Adjusting Wireless Settings(2/2)
Click on Channel/Frequency Option and change it to the Wireless Channel you noted earlier.
Step 24: Final Touches
Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Apply button once you've inputted the information for the channel.
Remove the Yellow Ethernet Cable from your computer and after a short delay it will reacquire your new and improved wireless network!
8 years ago on Introduction
Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing!
5 years ago
very useful knowledge...thanks alot
6 years ago
We are also doing a project on "How to find the optimum place for the router in a WLAN". I guess the software "Ekahau" will be really useful in the rest of our project. By the way you have any idea on how interference is inccoperated in the software ?
8 years ago on Introduction
I helped set up the wireless in a new clinic building this summer. We did all the surveys and put the access points in the places that needed a boost. Anyway when they opened and the staff started using it regularly we got complaints about the signal dropping out in places. We went back and started testing again and everything looked fine but then someone took the elevator to the upper floor and while we were watching the signal died. It turns out the elevator cage was acting to block the main access point when it moved up to the upper floor. We put in a new access point on the other side of the elevator and solved the problem but it was a reminder to me how just little things like that can mess everything up. Who would have thought that the elevator would be a problem?
8 years ago
Always wanted to find a way of testing WiFi in a more accurate way then using android tablets with a sig strength meter. Great instructable!