Heatmapper, Visualize Wireless Coverage Of Wi-Fi Networks
Have you ever asked yourself why you can go online with your laptop in one room but not in another?
Or why you get disconnects and a bad signal strength in one room of the house, your apartment or the garden? The reason usually comes down to the wireless coverage of the Wi-Fi network.
Coverage is strongest obviously close to the wireless access point and it gets weaker based on distance but also other parameters such as walls, floors, or certain items that may interfere with the signal.
Tip: Check out Wlandscape, another free program for Windows that you may use to display wireless Lan coverage in an area.
Heatmapper is a free software for Windows that visualizes the coverage of detected networks in the vicinity.
That's helpful to determine the best locations to go online but also to find out if your wireless network extends to neighbors of if their network covers your home instead.
It should be clear that you need to run Heatmapper on a device with wireless network capabilities to use Heatmapper.
The application displays the coverage on a grid or, if available, a map of the neighborhood. The application supports various image formats that can be loaded so that the coverage is displayed directly on the map which improves identification a lot.
The application itself detects Wi-Fi networks automatically and displays them on the map or grid. It is possible to list the networks based on signal, channel, SSID, Mac address or security settings.
It is important to walk around and enter any room or location to survey the coverage in any room or location you need wireless connectivity in.
It goes without saying that this is easily done with a laptop or mobile computer. Desktop owners on the other hand usually do not need the additional information unless they are looking for a good spot to place their computer desk and computer on.
The program supports a number of extra features that you may find useful. It can detect security settings automatically and locates all access points automatically that the wireless adapter picks up.
Heatmapper is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows. Note that Windows 10 is not listed as a compatible operating system but that the program runs fine on Windows 10 devices.
The program can only be downloaded after filling our a registry form on the developer website.
Closing Words and Verdict
HeatMapper is a useful free program to map the wireless signal strength of any location. The program runs fine and displays the information in a heatmap that you may place a building or location plan underneath to better understand coverage.
While the program cannot boost signal strength or coverage, it may point at issues that may reduce or limit coverage. It may be enough to switch to a different channel to avoid interference, or place the wireless router or access point in a different location.
If nothing helps, you may need to buy a wireless repeater to extend or improve coverage.
How does Heatmapper determine location? Is this done via a GPS device connected by USB? Do you have to click the map to tell Heatmapper where you are?
Heatmap doesn’t determine your location, you do. Repeatedly.
The author recommends to import a floor plan image (supported image types are png, bmp, jpeg, and gif) of your house (office, neighborhood). The coverage maps will be displayed on this map.
Then you walk around your house (office, neighborhood) and input your location frequently by clicking it on the map.
See for yourself at http://www.ekahau.com/products/heatmapper/how-to-use.html
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