Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oh, the rigs I've rigged..

I used to travel with this raggedy carry on suitcase for the site survey gear, until I invested in a proper suitcase that can hold the survey kit on one side and a week's worth of my clothes on the other side..

Old Raggedy Suitcase 

New Suitcase Hotness

This is my suitcase when it is fully loaded with 2 Tessco battery packs, all necessary mounting equipment and a Cisco 1142 access point.

Over the years I've had to come up with all kinds of site survey mounting solutions for the Cisco 1240, 1130 and 1140 access points.  Luckily the 1130 and 1140 have similar mounting fixtures, and what has worked for the 1130 easily works for the 1140.

For my first survey with a 1240, the customer wanted to ceiling mount the ap and use the AIR-ANT4941 dipole antennas, so I rigged up a wire harness to the back of the 1240 using phone wire.  I used the suspended ceiling clips that come with the 1240 to rig up a hook to hang the ap from the suspended ceiling grid while I was surveying.  Luckily the customer had some heavy duty wire, pliers and duct tape that I could use/borrow.  Flying to a customer site leaves you pretty unprepared to rig something up since you can't carry any tools with you.

This is a rig I made for the 1240 ap out of a couple of coat hangers and some clear tape.

This rig allows me to hang the 1240 off of a Wooster Wide Boy attachment (found at Lowe's) at the top of a Mr. Longarm (found at Home Depot) painters pole.  From there the external antennas can be duct taped to the arms of the Wooster.

I don't have a picture of the survey cart all setup with a 1240 survey rig attached, but it looks something like this when it is all assembled.

Coming up with a mounting solution for the 1130/1140 was a bit trickier since the ap is installed horizontally.  I got the idea from a friend who works for Cisco Advanced Services.  He uses a PVC floor scrubber attachment with the bristles removed, and the edges ground down to allow the attachment of the 1140 mounting bracket.

I don't have a dremel to grind the PVC, so I opted for a wooden drywall tool attachment with the bristles removed for my survey rig.  The two angled adapters are used to put the 1130/1140 at the right angle for surveying.

Using items found at any Home Depot make traveling to the survey location much easier.  The only tools I need to get before arriving at the customer location is the Mr. Longarm and a  fairly sturdy dowel rod.  I use the dowel rod to apply the ap number sticker to the suspended ceiling grid (with the help of a little tape).  I don't need a ladder if I have the dowel rod.

As long as I can use some sort of rolling cart at the customer site, the painter's pole survey rig will work.  Most recently I used a furniture trolley as a survey cart.  Once when a cart wasn't available, I've even had to use a waiting room chair as a support for the painter's pole.

Of course, the most insane thing I've done is climb a 20 foot ladder that was being stabilized by an enormous PVC elbow attached to the top of the ladder.  Never again.

If you had to come up with a unique rig job so you can keep working, I'd love to hear about it.. let's not all reinvent the wheel eh?


  1. Thanks for posting your tricks. Nice new red suit case ! Recently acquired a Tessco battery pack, thanks for suggesting.


  2. Thanks Steve - I invested in a proper suitcase shortly after becoming a full time consultant.. and my suitcase isn't as shiny as it used to be when I first bought it (2008).. :)

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    Could you please advise, which kind of power supply do you use during your active surveys?

  4. This is the TerraWave battery pack I use. The one I have is an older model & this is the new & improved one:

  5. I've been using something I rigged up years ago. As I started doing more surveys I found myself swamped with antennas so I purchased one of those big plastic Craftsman boxes that I could pull around. Then I bolted to the end two shelf holders and made a small extension box that my battery pack could set on. This was great as it counter weighted the box bringing the center of gravity closer to the wheels. Then I bought an extension poll and mounted a block next to the battery box so I could use an extension poll. What I did was I just got a paint roller and attached it to an 1130 backing plate (this was a while ago). I have since swapped it for an 1140/3500/3600 plate. The cool thing about the roller handle is that it is cheap, and my access point sits right at ceiling height. My box is lot emptier now as we don't have as many directional antennas anymore, but I still use the box. It gives me a place to sit between scans and I can put my laptop in it during lunch and lock it up.

    Interesting I have brought my pole on several flights. That $5 poll (was in a discount bin) has now cost my customers several hundred dollars in checked bag fees. I usually don't have time to scrounge for stuff on arrival at a customer site, and a lot of times I'm in big cities were finding a Home Depot is difficult. One of my favorite setups was when I used my folding bag cart for the base. Worked great, but it was more top heavy than I would recommend for daily use.

  6. Hi Jennifer, We're a group of IT professionals who have been conducting wireless site surveys for the past 6 years now. Your article on site survey rigs really hit home with us as we were having similar issues resulting in our own innovations. Using anything from ladders, chairs and even hockey bags to conduct surveys.

    We have spent the last few years developing a kit. The kit includes everything need to conduct a survey (9ft pole, 21hr battery) in a small, compact even air line carry on friendly case.

    We'd appreciate your thoughts and input if you could visit our website at

    Thank you for your time!