Use Wi Fi To Play Access Point Games
This excerpt from the ExtremeTech book, Wi-Fi Toys, explains how you can get more from your Wi-Fi by playing access point games.
Traditionally, an access point, or AP, is thought of as a type of networking hardware that is used solely to provide wireless access to a network. Although this may be so for the average wireless user, a subset of dedicated wireless fanatics have found several ways to transform your typical access point into a source of entertainment and hours of delight. This article outlines several types of exciting access point games and details on how to play them.
These games come in many forms, such as a "fox and hounds" game, capture the flag, or a treasure hunt. However, they are all based on the nature of an access point to "give itself away"—that is, broadcast the configured service set identifier (SSID) to all willing listeners.
In order to truly enjoy playing access point games, you must first remember a few key details about access points and their functionality. An access point is a radio transmitter and receiver. When a laptop client requests basic information from an access point, such as SSID, manufacturer, channel number, WEP status, and other networking information, the access point will respond with that information. This broadcast/request pattern is the key to playing AP games.
Tip: Playing access point games implies that the access point should be "discoverable." That is, SSID broadcasting is enabled. When discoverable, regular wireless clients and war driving tools would be able to discover the access point. Of course, hard-core AP gamers could bump up the difficulty by turning off SSID broadcast so only passive war driving tools (such as Kismet Wireless) would discover the access point. The choice is yours!
To play most of the games covered in the article, you will need only standard wireless equipment properly configured, similar to that required for war driving. Items you will need include: Laptop computer Wireless adapter Wireless access point GPS receiver Kismet, NetStumbler, or other war driving software External antenna (optional) Although this is simply a "bare-bones" list of what you need to get started with the games outlined in this article, there are several optional items which could significantly increase the impact of your game.
Some optional equipment includes: Mobile battery power DC-to-AC inverter A varied selection of external antennas Mapping software or other in-car navigation Access point enclosure Paper map for offline reference
Here are some of the basic items:
Note: An external antenna can be attached to many different wireless adapters and will significantly increase range. Omnidirectional antennas are preferred for 360-degree sweeping coverage, while a unidirectional antenna can be used for focused, directional coverage. Continued...
The idea of access point gaming is that you are out to find and log wireless access points. These access points can be placed beforehand as with a treasure hunt, placed to seed a playing field as with a traditional AP hunt, or set up in specific locales to create a real-world social networking environment.
The game coordinator will design the rules, layout, and boundaries of the game being played. Briefly, the games described in this article are: Foxhunt—Find the hidden access point AP-Hunt—Discover the most access points in a set amount of time Treasure Hunt—Step through a planned route where each new discovery gives you a clue to the next destination Capture the Flag—Find all the "enemy" access points and return to base with your booty, a log file showing their locations Virtual Real-Space Tours—Bridge the digital and the real with location-aware content fed to visitors within a matrix of access points. (Not quite a game, but very entertaining!)
In order to be successful while playing the games covered in this article, you will be constantly refining your skills in pinpointing the location of access points. Pinpointing access points can be achieved by using two standard methods: Drive-by detection Triangulation
Both methods are valuable in different circumstances, and you may even employ both methods during the same game.
Detecting an Access Point on a Drive-By This is the traditional war driving scenario. As you travel past an access point, the war driving software detects the access point and logs its position. As you drive around, the signal level will grow stronger or weaker—usually indicating that you are closer or further from the access point.
The access point is in a building and different signal levels help to betray its approximate location. As your detection computer comes within close proximity of the access point, the signal strength gets higher.
Caution: Always play AP games with at least one passenger (the more the merrier). The task of driving safely while managing the computer in an AP game may well be impossible. As the driver, it's your job to assign the task of detection and navigation to the passenger(s) and stay safe. Continued...
Triangulation may be the oldest radio-wave positioning method known. Triangulation is a method of taking a directional sample of a radio source, moving some distance and taking another directional sample. If all went well, the two directions you sampled should end up pointing to a single third location, making a triangle.
Directional antennas are the easiest way to detect an access point by triangulation. The cantenna, a panel antenna, or a Yagi antenna is usually sufficiently directional to aid in pinning down an access point.
When you're discovering access points by triangulation, you can get a misreading due to the nature of wireless reflections and the concept of multipath signals. It's possible to receive a stronger signal bouncing off of, say, a building than when you point directly at the access point. Keep this in mind and perhaps add more points to your "triangle." Continued...
Foxhunt is a challenging and exciting access point game that requires the setup of a remote access point (The Fox) in a location unknown to the participants of the game. After general boundaries are set, the participants set out with the objective of pinpointing the exact location of the hidden access point. The first participant or group to pinpoint the access point wins.
This AP game is quite simple, and probably the easiest to coordinate and start playing. Get a fox Send the fox out running Wait some amount of time Chase the fox
The Fox The heart of this game is based around an access point, The Fox, and the components that enable its operation. Although the placement and setup of The Fox is ultimately your choice, a modular setup is preferable. Being able to place it in a variety of locations will enhance gaming immensely.
Notice careful attention paid to the organization of the access point, battery pack, and power inverter, as well as the cleanly run wiring. This attention to detail helps prevent unforeseen outages during the game. This game does not necessarily employ a special SSID. But a unique, pre-determined SSID will help the hunters easily identify the target.
Tip: An SSID of "Fox" is too simple and you may easily come across it in the wild. Try an SSID of "LA-FoxHunt-Aug2004" or some sort of named and date-stamped SSID. You may find it amusing to later discover The Fox listed on an online war driving database!
A standard modular access point setup includes: Access Point—A standard 802.11b access point is the heart of The Fox. 12-volt Battery Pack—A 12-volt battery pack supplies the power to the unit. The battery is the key to the modularity of The Fox. Power Inverter—A power inverter is used to convert the voltage of the battery to that of the access point. Canvas Duffle Bag—A canvas duffle bag will serve as the platform to house all of the equipment required in one simple package and allow The Fox to be moved from one location to another quickly and easily.
Tip: A tip about batteries: A 7.0 ampere-hour (Ah) battery will run for one hour at 7 A, or 7 hours at 1 A. In tests, a broadcasting access point connected to an inverter while running on battery power was pulling 900 mA or 0.9 A, and ran for over 9 hours on a single 7.0-Ah battery. This came out to about 8.1 Ah, somewhat better than the 7.0 Ah rating. Continued...