More Wi-Fi Gadgets Needed

More Wi-Fi Gadgets Needed

By CWNP On 12/30/2008 - 9 Comments

Something I've noticed lately is a big lack of Wi-Fi gadgetry.  Most Wi-Fi gadget makers do pretty well.  Some Wi-Fi gadgets have turned into very successful solutions.  Take MetaGeek's Wi-Spy and ZyXEL's AG-225H (which now has clones like Linksys's WUSBF54G) as examples - both have been very successful.  A  security researcher over at AirDefense built a little Linux-based Wi-Fi hacking box about 18 months ago that's one of the coolest things I've seen so far.  Why isn't anyone building more of these things?  Has everyone run out of ideas?  I doubt it.

I've come up with a couple of different items that I think would be way cool.  I don't have the time to build such gadgets, but I'd sure buy one if they existed.  I'm writing about them here just to give you an idea of the types of gadgets I'm talking about.

First, a PoE-powered (802.3at), Linux-based, webUI-configured sensor box.  This box would be small, rectangular, and would have a USB2 hub across the top with at least 6 ports.  The reason for the USB2 ports is for connecting dual-band 802.11n USB2 radios such as Linksys's WUSB600N.  With modularity, you can have as many or as few radios as you want.  With 802.3at power, you have enough juice to run the box and several 802.11n radios.  A clear, lockable polycarbonate (or similar) top would be nice to keep people from stealing your USB adapters. :)   The Ethernet port should be 10/100/1000, and the box should be able to power up at least 2 wireless adapters on 802.3af power.  A thought is that Linksys's open source access point code might be a good starting point for the firmware.  Look at the great work being done by DD-WRT and Tomato as examples of what can be accomplished along these lines.  Such a box could be flexible, powerful, and inexpensive (depending on how many commodity adapters you want to add to each box).  The range wouldn't be overly impressive I'm sure, due to the limited antenna size in each adapter, but they would be cheap and could be put everywhere.  It would be really great to have an optional snap-on battery with gigabit Ethernet passthrough so that a laptop could be hooked directly to the sensor for use in multi-channel capture/analysis.  It would be pretty slick if this platform was kept open-source so that manufacturers could turn it into a sensor for a WIPS platform.

Second, a PoE-powered (802.3af), Linux-based, webUI-configured DHCP server.  This box would be very small, and be capable of a little more than basic DHCP, but nothing overly fancy.  Perhaps up to 5 scopes, and a few common DHCP options.  The webUI interface should be AWESOMELY easy to configure.  There are so many DHCP software packages out there that either don't work very well or have a terrible UI.  The best current replacement for a box like this is a small Cisco router.  Configuring DHCP services in IOS is trivial, and it's highly reliable.  However, buying an expensive router in order to use one small feature is ridiculous.  I'd rather buy a $50-75 hardware appliance that can be plugged into a PoE port on any L2 segment.  This box would be GREAT for lab testing, classroom training, or testing of many kinds.

I'd love to hear your feedback on these ideas as well as your ideas for new Wi-Fi gadgetry.

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