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Tips for Performing an AP on a Stick Survey

February 05, 2021

AP on a Stick Site SurveyAn AP on a Stick (APoS) survey is a method of temporarily staging APs at deployment height utilizing a tripod or other mounting options in order to validate your predictive design before a full site deployment.

Start by powering up the AP and placing it at a pre-planned location or a corner of the building. Perform a passive survey to determine how far the signal propagates, in addition an active survey can be performed to measure the performance. Once the optimal location has been determined, freeze the AP then physically move the AP to the next location and rinse and repeat.
The goal is to avoid costly mistakes and design a better Wi-Fi network by validating and improving the predictive model by ensure the right number of APs are being deployed in optimal locations.

APoS surveys can done as a passive only survey, as well as active and hybrid surveying technique. This article will mainly focus on passive APoS and not the other various surveying techniques.

How to do an AP on a stick survey?

To perform the AP on a stick survey in ESS, use the 'Freeze selected Access Point' function. Freezing the AP allows that single AP to be placed in multiple locations and still be treated as a new, different AP each time. Each of these individual APs can be then further visualized and analyzed.
    • First create a predictive design to determine where to perform your first APoS measurement.
    • Turn on the access point and make sure you can see it in the RTFM view.
    • Manually specify the SSID of the APoS AP you are surveying in the live requirements,
    • If you want to see the live requirements for 5 GHz only, you’ll need to create separate SSID’s for each radio on the APoS AP
    • Ex. SSID: Survey_5 / Survey_2.4
    • Perform a survey and monitor your live requirements to measure to the edge of cell at the desired signal level
    • Stop your survey
    • From the user interface, select the access point (and only that access point) and select Actions àFreeze Selected Access Points
    • Move the access point to the next location
    • Repeat steps 4-7 until all the necessary AP locations have been surveyed
    • After surveying all locations, use the Channel Planner to determine the optimal channel plan based on the surveyed data.

 Find out more about our Wi-Fi Survey Case for AP on a Stick


6 Tips for Performing an AP on a Stick Survey

1. Plan for 1-Hour / AP

APoS work can be cumbersome, expect to spend at least one-hour minimum for surveying each AP location. Having the right tools, like Ekahau Connect, will provide accurate data and help speed up your survey.

2. Get a Second Pair of Hands

A second person can significantly increase speed and efficiency. Have one person stage the next AP while a second surveys the active AP.

3. Use External Battery Packs

Using an external battery to power your APs can save you countless time. Make sure to charge the battery pack to ensure the AP is adequately powered during your survey.

4. Take Safety Seriously

Add some small cones, visibility tape, or small flashing LED lights to surround your staged AP. The added visibility will ensure both you and your equipment are safe during your survey.

5. Verify the Signal Before your Freeze

While surveying one location and freezing the AP, verify the performance is what you predicted before moving on to the next AP location.

6. Consider Industry-Specific Needs

Every vertical is different and has different needs. Here are a few best practices for different verticals when performing an AP on a Stick Survey:

Industrial, Manufacturing and Warehouse Environments
These types of environments present very unique challenges. Not only are there safety considerations (forklifts and large aisles of shelving), but also ceiling heights and mounting options that may go beyond a typical tripod APoS. It’s critical to get the AP in the appropriate placement so that you can ensure RF reaches where the devices are being utilized. In addition, understanding the inventory the warehouse is stocking (if applicable), and what quantity or level of inventory the warehouse is stocking can significantly impact RF attenuation and design considerations.

Enterprise and Office Environments
Enterprise and office environments have some compounding complexities due to BYOD requirements, security, open collaboration spaces, and aesthetic requirements. In addition, interferers such as wireless cameras, cordless phones, or other wireless devices can wreak havoc on your network. AP on a Sick Surveys allow you to identify potential interferers of your network.

Healthcare
The term “mission-critical” takes on a whole new meaning when dealing with life-critical mobile devices. Healthcare is a dynamic environment so understanding your network requirements is critical when designing your network. Validating your network can require a ticket to be submitted to ensure no plenum space is broken, so make sure you have coordinated with facilities and security for access to locations to perform your survey.

Large Public Venues (LPV)
Temporary high capacity is critical in many Large Public Venues, resulting in a challenge to validating your predictive survey. In order to gain real-time insight into your network performance, you can survey during live events or hire a pool of extras to assist in your survey during the venue’s downtime.

Government
Municipalities and government facilities present their own challenges. Oftentimes the challenge is trying to create a “standard” network for a variety of environments. In addition, historical buildings present unique challenges. Lead windows, renovated wings, and the challenge of not being able to alter aesthetics in historical buildings can require significant design adaptation. Sometimes APoS in historical buildings is to determine onsite where the AP can be placed.

Education
In Higher Education and K-12, not only do you have multiple environments, but you will also have to design for high capacity requirements for multiple devices per student. From lecture halls to student centers and outdoor common areas, additional aesthetic requirements are a significant component in designing networks for education.

What are the best practices?

While surveying one location and freezing the AP, verify if you see the desired signal strength and SNR, before freezing and moving on to the next AP mounting location.

Choose the best locations for the APs to be placed before you survey. Look around for any objects or places where you think the AP performance will be affected, and don't place APs there.

Run the Channel Planner after you do the APoS. Because the AP will be set to one particular channel so moving the AP to different location and freezing it will still keep the channels same. So run the channel planner after the surveying is done.

Move APs to their actual locations, if needed. In order for the APs to show up at their accurate locations, make sure you survey as much area as possible. If you are surveying inside of rooms, try to go all the way to the corners of the rooms.

Set the Tx power of the AP to match the Tx power in your predictive design. To ensure a good balanced link, be certain your AP’s Tx power does not exceed the max Tx power of the least capable client you are designing for.

Create separate SSID’s for 2.4 and 5 GHz this will allow you to specify which band you are surveying.

Do's and don'ts while performing the AP on a stick survey

Do not forget to Freeze APs. If you don't freeze the AP at location A after surveying the area around it, and then place the AP at a new location B and survey, but freeze now, you will only see one AP being placed on the map, i.e. the AP at location B.

Do be careful when freezing APs. Once an AP is frozen, you cannot unfreeze it.

Conclusion

AP on a stick surveys will help you validate your predictive design. Whether you take the time to survey and validate the design before you implement, or you rely on the real-world devices to validate the design after you have deployed the infrastructure, one way or another it’s going to be tested. Make sure you document everything. Documentation will be your friend whether reporting to your own CIO or CEO, or to a customer to help them understand the performance of your predictive design. Your biggest priority, and the key reason for performing an APoS, is to validate that your design will perform as predicted.

Source Ekahau Blog




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