Getting Schooled on the BVS Yellowjacket 802.11b/g WLAN Tool

By Mike Houghton

October 28, 2004

We picked this popular WLAN analysis device for use in our own wired/wireless LAN integration project, and we needed to get up to speed fast. Here's what we learned.

Last month we had the opportunity to attend the Berkeley Varitronics Systems Yellowjacket training course. The time had come; my company was looking for a useful (and proven) site survey tool to help us integrate a WLAN into an existing wired LAN—and to help with ongoing management of the WLAN as well. We considered several tools including the AirMagnet Laptop and Handheld platforms, the Fluke Networks OptiView Series II Integrated Network Analyzer and WildPackets AiroPeek. These are all very useful tools, however we decided on the Yellowjacket because of, among other things, its versatility and ease of use.

Back in June of 2002, Wi-Fi unveiled BVS's release of the Yellowjacket site survey tool. We figured that with a couple of years of proven use under its belt, all the positive information and feedback from nonbiased users and readers of the WiFiPlanet forum, and BVS's ability to work with us, plus a few other factors, all added to our decision to invest in the Yellow Jacket. In this article, I have a chance to pass on to our readers some insight into what you get when you purchase the training.

The Training
Several weeks prior to scheduling the training we purchased the Yellowjacket 802.11 b/g system. This gave us the opportunity to tinker around with the device prior to actually attending the class. It also gave us the time we needed to develop an understanding of the tool's buttons and options and to develop specific questions for our instructor.

The class consisted of a full day from 8 AM (minus traffic and poor directions for our instructor) until sometime after 5 PM. The conversation and knowledge sharing could have gone on for several more hours, had it not been a Friday night. We may be WiFi geeks, but we all had other plans, including our instructor Carmine Caferra, who incidentally, still had a two hour drive back to New Jersey.

The class began like any other onsite technically oriented instructional product demonstration—with the usual introductions around the room, tons of handouts, lots of coffee, and plenty of war stories to share.

When we set the class up with BVS, we had the options of either attending the training at their facility or having them come to our location. For us, it made sense to do the session at our location for a variety of reasons. If you have adequate facilities to host it (as we do), it promotes a pleasantly casual classroom atmosphere for instructor and students alike, it's less costly, and, most important, it allowed us to show our instructor the actual environment in which we intended to use the Yellowjacket. This really gave Carmine the opportunity to customize the session specifically to our needs.

Training began with an introduction to the components of the Yellowjacket. Carmine brought his own Yellowjacket—along with several other really neat toys in his arsenal of training gear. Since most of us already had a few weeks of hands-on experience with the device we fast-forwarded that segment.

That allowed us to dig right into some of the tips and tricks of the tool's practical uses. The instructional manuals provided a colorful presentation of the iPAQ's screen shots.

TIP: We were able to rig up the Yellowjacket's iPAQ screen to display on our big screen via the deluxe overhead projector. We did this by laying the iPAQ on a digital document scanner. This gave us a greatly enlarged view of the screen.

Next, we dug right in to the Yellowjacket's Spectrum Analysis feature, where we discussed how to do both a full and single spectrum scan. Carmine then demonstrated the ease of creating an access point list.

Since WLAN security is a big issue for us, we talked a lot about finding rogue APs and WiFi routers throughout our campus, recognizing a hack attack and using the Geiger Mode, to pinpoint the would be hacker.

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