Detect and monitor wifi networks with Homedale
Homedale is a straightforward portable tool which detects local wireless networks and tells you more about them: name, channel, MAC address, encryption type and so on. It’s great for troubleshooting various wireless conflicts, or just finding out more about what’s going on around you.
The Homedale interface is, well, basic – just a single tabbed dialog box. Click “Access Points” first and you’ll see a table with details on all your network neighbours, including their name, MAC address, vendor, signal strength, encryption, country ID, mode, frequency, band, first and last seen times, supported bitrates, model and adapter.
Conveniently, there’s even a tiny “signal strength history” graph in one of the table columns, so if a particular access point is suffering regular dropouts then you’ll see it at a glance.
You probably won’t need all this information, of course, but the report is easily customised. Table columns may be reordered by dragging and dropping their headers, and you can remove unwanted columns entirely by right-clicking a header and clearing the checkboxes next to their names.
Elsewhere, an “Access Point Signal Graph” page plots signal strength over time. Run Homedale on a laptop and you’ll be able to view connection quality in various locations. Right-clicking the graph displays options to save it as an image, or log the signal strength data to a text file for analysis later.
A “Location” tab uses Google Geolocation and Mozilla Location Service to locate your current position on a map. Not exactly essential, but worth trying once, just to see if it works. (For us: Google did, Mozilla didn’t.)
You also get a few worthwhile configuration options. For example, by default Homedale removes access points once they’ve disappeared for 1 minute, so you’re only ever seeing active networks. Tell the program to never remove them and the report will list every detected network, whether it’s currently active or not; it
Homedale’s presentation could be better, and we’d like better visualisations of the competing networks, perhaps the channels they’re using. The program has more than enough functionality to be useful, though, and if you don’t already have a wifi monitor then we’d give it a try.