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Thread: Chanalyzer Pro User Guide

  1. #1

    Default Chanalyzer Pro User Guide

    Chanalyzer Pro
    Spectrum Analysis Software


    Enjoy the satisfaction of a nearly perfect WLAN implementation.



    Chanalyzer turns data collected from a Wi-Spy into highly interactive charts and graphs, allowing users to visualize their wireless landscape. Chanalyzer, combined with a wireless network card, can also display available access points as they appear in the spectrum, giving quick insight into whether interference is Wi-Fi or non-Wi-Fi related.
    Together, Wi-Spy and Chanalyzer enable both enterprise, small business and hobbyist users to visualize, troubleshoot, and optimize WLANs. MetaGeek products are affordably priced to allow everyone, from individuals to large teams, access to professional-grade wireless spectrum analysis hardware and software.

    What is a Wi-Spy?
    A Wi-Spy is a portable USB spectrum analyzer, similar to a cable tester, but for wireless. It displays all radio energy in a frequency range, such as the 915 MHz, 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz public spectrum. Unlike a Wi-Fi card, the Wi-Spy is a fine-tuned piece of hardware that shows non-Wi-Fi activity emanating from devices like microwave ovens, automation systems, bluetooth, cordless phones, wireless security cameras, or anything else operating wirelessly in those frequencies. It also helps users determine a viable channel for network communications.

    What is Chanalyzer?
    Chanalyzer turns data collected from a Wi-Spy (and a wireless network interface card) into charts and graphs that will help users determine if they are experiencing interference. With a Wi-Spy, its' data can be found in the Density, Waterfall and Channels Table views. With a wireless network card, Chanalyzer displays available access points and can be found in the Networks Table and Networks Graph. If you are running Chanalyzer in a virtual machine, like VMWare, you will need to connect an additional USB Wi-Fi adapter to see specific network information.

    System Requirements


    • Wi-Spy 2.4x, Wi-Spy DBx, or Wi-Spy 900x hardware
    • Built-In Wi-Fi card (for Wi-Fi features only)
    • Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, or XP SP3
    • .Net 3.5 framework
    • USB Port


    Installation

    1) Download Chanalyzer Pro Software from MetaGeek.

    1. Open the downloaded file and double-click the installer.
    2. Follow the installer prompts.

    2) Run Chanalyzer

    Click Start > All Programs > MetaGeek.

    Select Chanalyzer Pro to launch the software.


    3) Plug in a Wi-Spy

    Chanalyzer requires a Wi-Spy 2.4x, Wi-Spy DBx, or Wi-Spy 900x USB Spectrum Analyzer. You can remove a Wi-Spy from a USB port at any time without ejecting.



    Choose a Wireless Network Interface Card (NIC)
    Select a built-in or connected wireless network card in the main menu to access additional WLAN information about SSIDs, RSSI, MAC address and data rate. Click Wi-Fi in the menu bar, and then your wireless network card to collect Wi-Fi data in conjunction with the spectrum data. Wireless scanning is optional - Chanalyzer will continue to function if a wireless NIC is unavailable.


    *Wi-Spy is a spectrum analyzer. It is not capable of reading at the Wi-Fi packet layer. Therefore Wi-Spy will not appear in the Wi-Fi card drop-down list.



    Occasionally a wireless network card will actively perform probe requests on all Wi-Fi channels, creating noise across the entire band with power levels above -40dBm. This background activity can often skew results of a spectrum analysis site survey. If you notice this behavior with your wireless network card and don't want the additional noise in your recording, we recommend that you select No Wi-Fi Scanning.


    See Wi-Fi Channels label on the Density View

    In the main menu select View > Wi-Fi Channels. This will change the x-axis to display the Wi-Fi channels instead of the corresponding spectrum frequencies.

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    Navigation Pane

    The Navigation pane provides controls for browsing Wi-Spy / Wi-Fi capture sessions or recordings. Within the Navigation Pane, you'll find:


    Device Selector
    Chanalyzer Pro continuously logs data from multiple sources when connected to your computer. To toggle between different Wi-Spy spectrum analyzers, click the Sessions button to the right of the Waterfall view.



    Session Navigator
    Each time a user selects a new frequency range in the Wi-Spy menu the previous data is saved as a session in a Wi-Spy Recording. Active sessions are indicated with a red record icon meaning there is currently data being added to the session. The session currently being displayed in chanalyzer, whether it is active or not, will have a green box around it. With two Wi-Spy devices, Chanalyzer can simultaneously log the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.


    Cloning a Session
    Sometimes a user may wish to segment a capture into multiple sessions. For example it may make sense to designate sessions to rooms or floors in a building. To do this click the “Clone Active Session.” This will duplicate the session and resume capturing with the exact frequency as the previous session.

    Renaming a Session
    Sessions can be renamed to represent various points in a recording. This feature is primarily used to identify locations however it can also be used to identify smaller frequency ranges.


    Timespan Controls
    The Timespan controls adjust the length of time users see in the Overview and Details panes. Timespan adjustments allow users to narrow-in on anomalies and moments in time when WLAN performance suffered. The playback buttons are used to Play, Pause, Rewind, and Fast Forward while viewing a capture. The playback controls can also aid in selecting smaller time spans in the waterfall navigation.


    Waterfall Navigation
    Waterfall Navigation colorfully displays all data in the current Wi-Spy session to show the section of time detailed in the Overview and Details panes.
    To move to a specific position within the session, double-click a point within the waterfall. You can also click-and-drag the head and tail of the highlight slider region to easily adjust the timespan in the Waterfall Navigation.


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    Overview Pane
    This pane, located at the top-right of the Navigation pane, contains the Waterfall and Density views.



    The Density View displays how often a signal is detected at a specific amplitude. After a short time of gathering data, patterns begin to emerge in the Density View.
    A density map view enables the user to quickly identify packet-based and analog patterns that may be interfering with your network.

    Display Options

    The Density View has several view options. All of the display options can be toggled on and off as needed. Users can employ combinations of these options to troubleshoot more efficiently.


    Current

    The current display option represents the received values at the most recent reading in the time span. By default this will be real-time unless the user has changed the time span settings to previously captured data.



    Average

    The average display option represents the average of the received spectrum activity in the selected time span. For example, if the time span is 1 minute, the average will be calculated in the rolling 1 minute.



    Max

    The maximum display option represents the maximum values received from the Wi-Spy across the band in the selected time span.




    Color by Amplitude

    Chanalyzer creates a density map of the most used frequency amplitude points in the selected time span. The less trafficked frequency points appear more transparent, while high-use frequencies appear more bright or intense.

    Chanalyzer uses color to represent amplitude height. Reds indicate higher amplitude and dark blues represent lower amplitudes.




    Color by Density

    The more often a signal is detected at a specific amplitude and frequency, the brighter the point on the graph becomes. High density signals are represented by red, and low density signals are represented by dark blue.



    Color by Utilization

    This view emphasizes how constant noise is across the spectrum. At any given point, Chanalyzer assigns a color based on how much of the energy in a range of time is above that point. If 50% of all the activity is above an amplitude point, Chanalyzer colors it red. This display option is especially useful in understanding how constant interference is within a given range of time.


    Networks

    By selecting SSIDs in the Networks Table Chanalyzer will draw overlays in the density view to help the user interpret which may be experiencing the most congestion.



    Transmitters

    Chanalyzer Pro will attempt to automatically identify transmitters. This display option will toggle on the drawing of detected transmitters within the threshold settings.




    Outline

    This represents the line Chanalyzer Pro attempts to match patterns too. This is most often used in creating a classifier.




    Inspector

    This creates a hovering box above the cursor that displays specific numbers regarding a particular frequency amplitude point.


    Waterfall View

    This view graphs amplitude over time for each frequency in the selected ISM band. The Waterfall View uses a color scale to represent amplitude levels – low are dark blue while high amplitudes are bright red. This emphasizes instances where wireless devices like cordless phones or microwaves may have changed the spectrum. For example, when a microwave is started or a cordless phone changes channels, it is very noticeable in the Waterfall View.


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    Details Pane
    The details pane contains a number of tabs with more in-depth information about Wi-Fi networks and their channels. You can quickly alternate between tabs by pressing CTRL + TAB.



    Networks Table

    The Networks Table is a list of all the Wi-Fi access points that are within range of your computer’s Wi-Fi cards current location.
    The names (or SSIDs) of access points (APs) are displayed, along with signal strength (RSSI), channel, MAC address and other identifiers. This table provides a snapshot of Wi-Fi networks in the area, and helps correlate RF activity in the spectrum views to known Wi-Fi networks.
    To see a network drawn in the Density View or Networks Graph, click the check box next to its name.


    Networks Table Filters

    The Networks Table filters allow you to exclude or include SSIDs that meet your filter criteria. You can filter by SSID, vendor, channels, network type, and security. This can be very useful if you are in an area with dozens of AP’s and you only want to view certain networks, for example, networks centered on channel 6. The filters can be stacked to meet a variety of criteria.




    The SSID or Vendor filter begins with a “+” or “-” option. This will determine whether the include or exclude the following text entered. For example, if you do not want to see any wireless networks named “MetaGeek”, select the - radio button and enter “MetaGeek” in the SSID or Vendor field. Press enter to apply the filter. Chanalyzer will then show every network that doesn’t have “MetaGeek” in the SSID or hardware field.




    To filter by channels click the arrow on the drop-down menu which will allow you to choose between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. 2.4 GHz channels range from 1-14 and 5 GHz channels from 36-165. “-” will filter the channels from a to b. For example, typing (1-6) will show channels 1 through 6. Using a “,” will allow you to enter multiple single channels to view. Typing (1, 4, 6, 9) will show only those channels. You can also use a combination of the two operators as follows: (2-5, 7-10).



    The remaining filter options will show either AdHoc or Infrastructure networks or exclude certain security settings of SSIDs.



    To remove filters click the x next to the box below.


    Sort by RSSI to find the strongest or weakest nearby network.

    Within Chanalyzer, you can sort by RSSI by clicking the “RSSI” table header. This will sort detected wireless networks by ascending/descending order showing which have the strongest or weakest signal as compared to where you are at that moment. We recommend viewing networks with an RSSI value above -85dBm.



    Networks Graph

    Click the Networks Graph to show signal strength over time, drawing the rows selected in the Networks Table. Drops in signal strength indicate poor signal coverage and can be referenced against the Waterfall and Density views to determine if interference is to blame.

    Please note, this data comes from the wireless network card and not the Wi-Spy.



    Device Finder


    This view shows signal strength over time graph similar to the Networks Graph, but also shows the signal strength of a selected frequency range. Device Finder will enable you to actively seek out transmitters so you can know exactly what is happening in your networks.
    Amplify the results of the built-in device finder feature with our Device Finder Directional Antenna, allowing you to track down offending devices quicker than with a Wi-Spy alone. Don't let mystery devices stay a mystery.
    Click and drag across the density pane to highlight a continuous interferer. A contextual menu will appear. Select Device Finder.




    Chanalyzer Pro will now track the amplitude levels over time of the frequency selection made in the density pane. As the user gets closer to the source the line graph will trend upwards.



    Utilization


    Utilization (also called Duty Cycle in some applications) is a relative score that helps determine how usable a channel is. It measures the percentage of time a signal was at or above the Utilization Threshold. This threshold can be adjusted in the top left corner of the Utilization tab. The selected time span in the waterfall navigation is used in the Utilization calculation.



    Channels Table


    Current – The current represents an average of the most recent amplitude readings within the channel range.


    Grade
    – This calculation uses the entire 20 Mhz width of a Wi-Fi channel. Higher power levels near the center of the channel will affect the grade more negatively. A high grade of 90 or above can be interpreted as an “A” while 80 or above is a “B.” Anything below 70 is not recommended for Wi-Fi deployment.

    Average - For each channel range (for example, Wi-Fi Channel 1, 2401 - 2423 MHz), Chanalyzer calculates the average power within that channel frequency range.

    Max - This is the highest amplitude point within the Wi-Fi channel frequency range.


    Utilization
    – The percentage of all noise above a defined amplitude threshold. The default amplitude is -85dBm.


    Networks
    – Once network scanning is initialized Chanalyzer will count list the amount of networks detected.






  5. #5

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    Report Builder

    With the Report Builder, users can highlight and visually explain how bad interference was when it occurred in an easy, professional manner.
    Simply follow the steps below to create your own reports.



    1) Open Report Builder


    Click View from the top menu and select
    Report Builder (or Ctrl+.R)



    2) Start a New or Open an Existing Report Project


    Chanalyzer can start with a previously built report project (.wsxr file) or build a new one.

    3) Add a Block to the Report

    At the top of the Report Builder interface, select Add Graph and choose the type of graph you would like to add. Each of these menu items will add a different graph block from Chanalyzer Pro to your report.




    When a block is added, it will take a snapshot of one of the panes exactly as it is currently displayed in the application. Make sure the correct networks are selected at the time the snapshot is taken so it will be entered in the report correctly. Use the display options to choose the correct method of coloring as well.
    There are several block types like graph, table, text or image. Each of these can be added by clicking an image in the top of the report builder.

    Refresh a Block


    If you are not satisfied with the captured image or table results, you can easily update it. Move the time span in the navigation pane and adjust any display options you would like. Then click the refresh button at the top of the block. The block will update to the current graph or table as displayed in Chanalyzer Pro.


    Edit Block Details

    Change the title and description of the report block by clicking the pencil icon in the top right of the block. This is where you can change the block title or content, allowing you to create a better and more personalized presentation of your findings.


    Creating Custom Report Builder Blocks

    After editing a block's text, click Save to replace the default text with the current paragraph.
    The revert button will return all modifications to the original default settings.


    To save a default set of blocks for quick addition in reports build the set of blocks and select the Save button at the bottom of the report builder. This will export all of the blocks as a .wsxr file.
    To merge your current report with a previously created one, click the down arrow next to the save button to “append” a .wsxr file with the current report. This will add all of the blocks to the bottom of the report generator.

    Rearranging Blocks

    The order of blocks can be set by dragging and dropping
    blocks. Grab the block by the gray title section to drag
    them up and down the list to rearrange.

  6. #6

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    Identifying Interference
    Most modern spectrum analyzer solutions offer some form of automatic device classification, although many are rudimentary and can produce false positives. You can train yourself to identify interfering devices much faster and more accurately than any automatic tool simply by familiarizing yourself with transmitter modulation patterns. Here are a few items to test with a spectrum analyzer:

    • Neighboring APs occupying an overlapping channel
    • Cordless Phones
    • Microwave Ovens
    • Wireless Audio transmitters
    • Video Transmitters (Security Cameras, IP cameras)
    • PIR motion detectors
    • WLAN download
    • WLAN upload


    Common Shapes: Wi-Fi - 802.11b


    This is the most common shape you are likely to see when troubleshooting Wi-Fi in the 2.4 GHz band. APs tend to transmit beacons at the lowest common rate of all Wi-Fi devices, or the most basic modulation, BPSK. This image shows APs on channels 1, 6, and 11.



    Common Shapes: Wi-Fi 802.11g ERP-OFDM

    Identify 802.11g ERP-OFDM by looking for a flat top. The flat top of OFDM signatures are under 20 MHz wide. This is the same signature for 802.11a OFDM.


    Common Shapes: Wi-Fi - 802.11n 2.4 GHz 40-MHz ERP-OFDM

    802.11n OFDM APs with data rates of 300mbps use channel bonding, which appears as two 802.11g ERP-OFDM signatures bonded together.

    The width of an 802.11n AP transmitter will not always be 40 MHz. In most cases, 40 MHz transmissions appear in bursts when an AP’s throughput exceeds the capabilities of 802.11g ERP-OFDM.

    You can see the bursts in the waterfall view very easily. 802.11a/g/n typically shows abrupt edges, due to the dBm drop on each side of the signatures.




    Common Shapes: Adjacent Channel Interference

    Your Wi-Fi may be on the same channel as other wireless APs. There are 11 channels in 2.4 GHz, but only three that don’t overlap (1, 6 and 11 in the U.S.). When APs are placed on overlapping channels they must wait for neighboring APs to stop transmitting before they can.



    Common Shapes: Microwave Ovens

    Microwave Ovens operate in the 2.4 GHz range, typically creating a shape similar to a mountain slope in the Density View. Since microwaves are usually used from 1-5 minutes, it helps to adjust the timespan to about two minutes.



    Interference occurs when the microwave oven transmits on the same frequencies as the Wi-Fi channel. In this image, you can see how the mountain-shaped microwave oven covers the curvature of the Wi-Fi on channel 11.



    Microwave amplitude levels vary depending on their distance from the spectrum analyzer. Experiment with a microwave oven and varying locations.

    You can also use the Waterfall View to help you identify microwave interference, because it shows how long a device is active, and will often show a distinctive “comma” shape when a microwave is used.

    Common Shapes: Motion Sensors

    Motion sensors tend to transmit within very narrow frequency ranges. Sometimes a building will have motion sensors in each room. If this is the case, verify that they are not in the 2.4 GHz range by walking close to each sensor and watching the corresponding amplitude levels in the Waterfall View.



    Common Shapes: Audio Video Transmitter

    Wireless security cameras generally create three spikes in a 20-30 MHz wide frequency range. They constantly transmit and rarely change channels. Look for three adjacent vertical lines in the Waterfall View.



    Common Shapes: Cordless Phones

    Not all cordless phones create the same pattern; some are very narrow and use the 2.4 GHz frequency band, while others scan for the clearest channel and vary in the frequencies used.


    One of the easiest ways to identify cordless phone interference is by using the Waterfall View to search for a unique series of vertical lines. When a cordless phone changes channels, it will appear as a break in the waterfall.

    Some cordless phones may hop across the entire spectrum similar to Bluetooth.

    Common Shapes: Bluetooth

    Bluetooth hops across the 2.4 GHz 1,600 times a second, which is a form of frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) modulation.

    Because frequency-hopping transmitters broadcast across large frequency ranges, they may cause WLAN degradation, though it is unlikely that Bluetooth will cause severe interference.

  7. #7

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    Automatic Classification
    Chanalyzer Pro will automatically identify a transmission once a signature has been created. Devices with separate center frequencies will need separate classifiers created. Chanalyzer uses the outline view to match classifier patterns in a spectrum recording. When a classifier matches the shape in the outline by a large percentage it will draw it in the density view if the transmitter display option is enabled.


    Threshold Settings


    There are two sliders that act as threshold settings to adjust the rate at which Chanalyzer Pro identifies transmitters in the Density View. By lowering the threshold, Chanalyzer Pro will identify more often with lower confidence levels. Confidence levels can be adjusted individually or as a group.



    Master Confidence Slider

    The master confidence threshold slider changes how frequent the classifier will be drawn in the density view.



    Individual Confidence Threshold Slider

    Each classifier has its own threshold settings. The confidence level of each classifier is listed next to the slider. Due to the different nature of transmitters, classifiers should have different confidence levels. Each classifier can be adjusted under the master threshold slider.



    Disabling Classification

    Classification can be turned off as a display option above the density view. Click the transmitters button. Individually each device in the signature tab can also be checked, enabling or disabling it as a possible device to be classified.


    Deleting a Classifier

    To permanently remove a classifier from the signatures tab, click the garbage can icon in the top right of the classifier.



    Creating a New Classifier

    1. Turn on the outline view.
    2. Disable the current, average, max, density, networks and transmitter views.
    3. Highlight the frequency range of the device you wish to create a classifier for.
    4. Adjust the time frame to find shape that represents the device the most.
    5. Click Create Classifier in the contextual menu.
    6. Assign a Category to the classifier and give it a name.
    7. Please click Submit to Classifier Library. This Library is managed by MetaGeek and will be made available to all other Chanalyzer users.


    Adding a Frequency Range to a Classifier

    1. Follow steps 1-5 from "How to create a Classifier" to add a new frequency range.
    2. Select the same Category of the existing classifier you would like to add a new channel or range.
    3. Type the same name. Chanalyzer will auto-complete the Name field.
    4. Select Add to Existing Classifier and check "Use existing outline"
    5. Click OK

    Using the Silhouette for Identification


    Click on the classifier in the Signatures tab and then hover the mouse over the Density View. Turn off the silhouette by clicking the box again in the Signatures tab.


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    Wi-Spy Configuration Settings
    The Chanalyzer software operates similar to a DVR. It will automatically save all of the Wi-Spy data it has seen since the program was initialized. If the user changes frequency range, the old data will be stored into a session within the Wi-Spy capture. The user can then navigate between captured sessions by selecting the Sessions navigator above the waterfall navigation in Chanalyzer Pro.

    There are two methods to change the start and stop frequencies displayed in Chanalyzer. Click and drag the mouse across the frequency range you would like to view in high resolution or use the pre-defined Wi-Spy configurations in the main menu under Wi-Spy.

    Click-and-Drag Wi-Spy Configuration

    To view a higher resolution of a smaller frequency range, click and hold down the mouse button to highlight range you would like to view. Upon releasing the mouse button a contextual menu will appear. Click Zoom. Chanalyzer will then store the previous data in a session. You can view it at any time by clicking on the session navigator.



    Wi-Spy Configuration Presets

    Chanalyzer includes pre-defined zoom settings that have been optimized for speed and resolution. Access these shortcuts in the top main menu under Configuration. Choose the Wi-Fi channel range you would like to monitor.


    View a Previous Capture


    Since Chanalyzer continuously logs all spectrum data, previous configurations and settings are stored in a unique session and can be viewed at any time during the capture. Viewing a previous capture will not interrupt the current live capture session.



    Return to Previous Wi-Spy Settings


    Chanalyzer saves the most recently used Wi-Spy configurations in the main-menu. To return to a previous setting use the main menu Configuration option to return the previous setting.




    Finding Interfering Transmitters
    The standard antenna in most spectrum analyzers and Wi-Fi receivers is omni-directional. Omni-directional antennas receive signals in all directions, whereas a directional antenna is more like a flashlight – point it in any given direction to gain visibility in that specific area.

    When performing site surveys, directional antennas minimize the guesswork associated with determining where interferers are transmitting from. Instead of going into each room to see if amplitude increases or decreases, Wi-Spy users with a Device Finder directional antenna can simply rotate the Wi-Spy and Device Finder to find higher amplitude levels and walk in the direction until the transmitter is located.

    Users can highlight frequency ranges of a transmitter’s peak signal and track it using a directional antenna.

    This feature only works during live captures, and is very useful because it gives exact amplitude levels over time – freeing the user from interpreting color ranges. As the amplitude level falls, you know you are getting "cold" and as the amplitude level increases, you know you are getting "warm".

    Highlight a transmitter by clicking and dragging across the Density View. Then click on the Device Finder tab. A new tab appears with an amplitude over time graph to track down interfering transmitters. With Device Finder, users can track down any device, no matter if the software identifies the interfering device or not. This method is perfect for transmitters that emit a constant signal, like cordless phones or AV transmitters. While using the Device Finder graph, continually monitor the Density View to identify the pattern of the device.





    Learn More

    You can learn more about Chanalyzer Pro at our website
    http://www.metageek.net/products/chanalyzer-pro

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