Question Scanning for 2.4/5ghz bands in Windows 10 ?

May 15, 2021
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Hello,

At the office, we have a Bluetooth speaker towards one end of the room. It generally works fine, though recently it's been crackling at times which we consider to be intermittent interference - someone uses a phone, microwave, etc.

I've looked at spectrum analyzers and the upshot I could figure was that you need a wireless dongle in order to scan/watch the 2.4 and 5ghz bands. We'd like to be able to monitor the area and see when the interference spikes, and ideally determine the direction.

I've looked at a number of tools and they basically only scan for actual devices - Bluetooth devices, AP routers, etc. We need something that would not only show those devices, but also extraneous signals from microwaves, phones, etc.

Is this possible with a standard laptop WiFi card (Centrino 6250) and Windows 10? Or would I need to buy a dongle ? (they get pricey!)

Thank you,

Hans
 
You need a spectrum analyses which as you have found can be expensive. The vast majority of the cheap ones are not spectrum analyzers they are no better than the app you can run on a phone that detects wifi signals. They have no ability to detect anything other than the becon messages being sent by a wifi router.

The one exception and I am not 100% this is still true is ubiquiti wifi bridge devices have a feature I think is called airview. I know all their older stuff had this feature but I have not read their site in detail in years so you would have to check. These are directional bridge devices so you can see the signal levels in the direction you are pointing them. I know the one I got only cost about $50. It was a device used for point to point bridge connections but at that time all the radios supported that feature.

Now there are some other devices that also support this. In most cases you must run linux because microsoft thinks they can prevent hackers by not supporting feature that some hardware supports. I have also not stayed current on this, what is key is finding a wifi USB dongle that support this feature. It is not common and it seems the more modern the device is the less likely it is to support this.

The easiest I suspect is to look at ubiquiti and if nothing else buy the older stuff, I think the unit I had was their older airgrid but that is really old.
 
May 15, 2021
2
0
10
0
Hi Bill,
You need a spectrum analyses which as you have found can be expensive. The vast majority of the cheap ones are not spectrum analyzers they are no better than the app you can run on a phone that detects wifi signals. They have no ability to detect anything other than the becon messages being sent by a wifi router.
Yeah, that's what I've seen. They only show actual devices and have little info on anything.

The one exception and I am not 100% this is still true is ubiquiti wifi bridge devices have a feature I think is called airview. I know all their older stuff had this feature but I have not read their site in detail in years so you would have to check. These are directional bridge devices so you can see the signal levels in the direction you are pointing them. I know the one I got only cost about $50. It was a device used for point to point bridge connections but at that time all the radios supported that feature.

Now there are some other devices that also support this. In most cases you must run linux because microsoft thinks they can prevent hackers by not supporting feature that some hardware supports. I have also not stayed current on this, what is key is finding a wifi USB dongle that support this feature. It is not common and it seems the more modern the device is the less likely it is to support this.
I've looked for USB dongles (within a reasonable price range) but as you say they're not easy to find. You happen to have any model numbers or brands that would lend themselves best to this? :)

Also, using Linux is no problem. I've looked around at some options there, but from what I can tell it's always about the hardware.

The easiest I suspect is to look at ubiquiti and if nothing else buy the older stuff, I think the unit I had was their older airgrid but that is really old.
I checked out Ubiquiti but it seems a bit high end. I'll keep on the hunt for the right hardware - then of course the problem will be the software :)

Any pointers on the terminology I should use when checking specs of NICs? Promiscuous mode or...?

Thanks Bill, all,

Hans
 
I have not looked in years. The whole concept of wifi sniffing has been dead for a long while since everyone encrypts wifi and even if it is not everyone uses encrypted https web browsers.

I am not sure what makes the difference between a device that can only detect wifi beason message and device that can actually detect say a microwave oven. I know the ubiquiti stuff can see microwave ovens...well kinda it is just a blurry line on the display.
 

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