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Need a spectrum analyser for testing


MrWilde
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Hello All,

Not sure how I missed it but only just started to an interest into WiFi pineapple and it is AWESOME! Caut the new Let's Code and really stoked seeing the dev in my favourite languages PHP and AngularJS. Have added the Pineapple to my cool list and will getting the Nano ASAP.

Have a question I have had for a while, looking for a spectrum analyser for testing a client's house/office. Was looking at WiSpy but $1159 is bit steep for something I might only need a once or twice a year. Any suggestions recommendations ? I have WiFi analyser on my Android, which is great for simple channel testing (to a point) but I really need to check the spectrum and look for interference and signal strength in key areas.

Thanks, happy to be hear :)

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How about an analyzer that does 2.4 and 5.0?

For 5ghz you'd probably need the hackRF, with that you could use most of the regular SDR software to check out the spectrum (like gqrx or sdr#)

(edit: hackRF will do from 1Mhz to 6Ghz so you wouldn't need this and the ubertooth one really)

Edited by bored369
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I've not seen an easy way to use a hackrf as a spectrum analyzer though. If you're going to need one for both, I'd pony up for the wi-spy. Their software and hardware is better tuned for this.

-> Hak5 1711

it's def much more simplistic an output than even the spectools (just simple spectrum view and waterfall), but you can view it realtime on your phone, the portapack (i imagine i'll actually test it out when mine comes in today) or the sdr software from a laptop or such.

I'll admit it's not as nice and fancy as some of the other stuff out there made for this, but it's normally a lot cheaper (that rfexplorer you linked does seem extremely cheap in price, but it does look nice on feature set...wonder how it actually holds up in usage)

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-> Hak5 1711

it's def much more simplistic an output than even the spectools (just simple spectrum view and waterfall), but you can view it realtime on your phone, the portapack (i imagine i'll actually test it out when mine comes in today) or the sdr software from a laptop or such.

I'll admit it's not as nice and fancy as some of the other stuff out there made for this, but it's normally a lot cheaper (that rfexplorer you linked does seem extremely cheap in price, but it does look nice on feature set...wonder how it actually holds up in usage)

Yea, I've seen a crap ton for am/fm radio, but not for the wifi spectrum.

The one I linked to is in use by lots of model aircraft pilots to check for interference at events. Pretty sure they're pretty rugged.

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Well I checked the portapack and it would work as a spec analyzer, but you'd be able to see more and more clearly doing it from a laptop sdr software i think. (note i only briefly checked and without a tuned antenna, directional might be pretty nice on the portapack for this case or even when using a laptop or something)

For that one you linked it does kinda concern me that I don't see that handheld starting for $119 on this page they link to and if it's $270 for the wifi combo it'd be worth the extra investment for the hackRF and just use the free sdr software to check out the spectrum. Especially if you are only going to use it for that case scenario a couple times a year, you could use the hackRF for a bunch more scenarios otherwise. Just my opinion and how I would look at it though. The RF Explorer would look a little more professional and is made to suit that stuff, but the hackRF would look like you know more about the technical (like movie hacker style) and you could use it for a bunch of other stuff with it possibly generating business in other areas (like pentesting their wireless devices or something)

side note: i did see in another similar post it looks like you (barry99705) do this stuff for a living, and considering i'm just a hobbyist & just getting into this sdr realm, so your opinion should hold more weight on the matter and any suggestions.

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From my experience, clients like to see polished off the shelf testers and networking gear. They don't like seeing a mess of wires and cables that they don't understand. I have a really hard time selling clients pfsense firewalls. Sure it's a Dell desktop(no, the secretary can't use it as a backup office machine), but it makes a great firewall. They'd rather spend 4X the amount on a sonicwall, that when lightning hits the tower down the street we have to do a warranty repair that may get the replacement here tomorrow. The pfsense box usually just needs the cable modem facing network card replaced, we usually have a dozen intel pcie cards in stock at our office at any given time for that very reason. They want to see a box that they can poke and prod a gui and fix(fuck it up) it themselves. I actually have a wi-spy, the first one. I modified it to have an external antenna, that used to get looks from clients as well. Don't know why... :lol:

IMG_20160203_190928.jpg

I still say one of the best devices I ever used for this kind of this was this wi-spy, and a sharp zaurus running debian.

IMG_2370.JPG

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I modified it to have an external antenna, that used to get looks from clients as well. Don't know why... :lol:

I still say one of the best devices I ever used for this kind of this was this wi-spy, and a sharp zaurus running debian.

lol, yea no idea why you would get looks with that one

the second one does look super sweet (but also very expensive)

All very true about the client impression stuff, which is unfortunate they won't listen to sound tech advise over pricing/looks. That's a main reason why not to undercharge your services because clients can see it as sub-par services But that's a whole different topic for a different thread probably. (side note: i have convinced a client to drop their fortigate for an untangle server before. I did used to do that stuff for a living, just never got into the spec analysis as we just normally recommended more hots pots at the time)

So for the OP it really comes down to if you want to drop ~$300 on a device you'll use once or twice a year and look really nice and impressive or if for those client's (which the rfExplorer linked is nice looking and would probably do this job well). Or if you want to drop it on something you can use for fun on your own outside of that and risk the slight unprofessionalism look (which to be fair the hackRF one is packaged pretty nice you just have to have your laptop or something else attached to it to use it), either way both options are a better deal than the $1k plus you were looking into for it.

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It's like buying a Rolex. You're not spending all that money just to tell the time. And in case of a firewall, where the person buying it isn't even capable of 'telling the time' (to stick with the analogy) the other factors better be damned impressive.

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