Apple developed a diagnostics profile that allows you to monitor and troubleshoot Wi-Fi connectivity. Unfortunately, it is only available for 7 days after installation. After that, it get automatically removed. If you are a Wi-Fi professional, that means that you need to reinstall it every few days. Yes, it always disables when you are on site and need it the most :)
Manual installation of the profile – the hard way
Normally, I would google something along the lines of “Apple Wi-Fi diagnostics profile”, eventually I find the right link, log in, search for the iOS Wi-Fi profile on the Apple Developer website, download the profile, go to Settings > General > Profiles section, and I install it from there.
What if there was a little tool that did most of the above for you?
The easy way
I put together a quick “Wi-Fi Profile” Apple Shortcut that removes some of these steps. Install the shortcut on your phone and it will guide you through the diagnostics profile installation every time you need it. It downloads the profile to your iPhone, lets you approve the installation and voilà, you open Wi-Fi settings and get RSSI measurements, channel details, BSSID and other useful info.
Access point conversion from Catalyst/DNA mode (managed by Catalyst 9800 controller) to Meraki mode allows you to add a Catalyst Wireless AP to Cisco Meraki Dashboard, and fully monitor, and fully manage it from there.
Catalyst Wireless CW9162I, CW9164I, CW9166I, CW9166D1, or CW9163E access point joined to a Catalyst 9800 series controller (hardware appliance, cloud instance, or virtual machine)
Cisco Meraki MR access point license
Let’s start the conversion
1. Make sure the access points you want to convert have successfully joined the Catalyst 9800 controller. Head over to Configuration > Wireless > Migrate to Meraki Management Mode.
2. Select one or more APs you wish to convert and click the Migrate to Meraki Management Mode button.
3. Wait for validation to complete. Click Next.
4. Tick Agree and continue and click Yes.
5. Conversion has now finished. Note that each AP has a Cisco Serial Number and Meraki Serial Number. Copy the Meraki Serial Number.
6. While you are doing that, the AP rebooted and started the Meraki image.
During the boot process, the AP logs a message about the mode change.
And you will no longer have access to its Console port. If you connect a console cable, <Meraki> output will appear with no option to type any commands.
7. Copy the Meraki Serial Number and log in to Cisco Meraki Dashboard. Open Organization > Configure > Inventory. Click Add devices, and paste the Meraki Serial Number of the AP.
8. From now on, the AP now behaves like any other Meraki cloud-managed access point. All monitoring and management features of the Dashboards are available. If you ever change your mind, and wish to convert it back to Catalyst/DNA mode, here is my step-by-step guide.
If you have not used WiFi Explorer before, get yourself a copy of the Pro version here. It is absolutely worth it and extremely useful tool if you have anything to do with Wi-Fi.
The Pro version (the Lite doesn’t) supports Filters. They allow you to filter scan results and get exactly the scan results you are interested in.
Find rogue access points
Let’s say you want to find APs that use other SSIDs than yours. This filter does just that. It shows all SSIDs other than CiscoLive or CiscoLive-WPA3. Simply paste this string into the Filters text field in the top right-hand corner.
dot11.net.ssid !~ "CiscoLive" AND dot11.net.ssid !~ "CiscoLive-WPA3"
Find APs using low minimum mandatory data rate
Other times you might want to look for access points that have minimum mandatory data rate configured to low – by mistake or by choice. In this example, I am interested in APs broadcasting these 2 SSIDs and using minimum mandatory rate of 6 or lower.
dot11.net.min_basic_rate <= 6 AND dot11.net.ssid ~~ "CiscoLive" OR dot11.net.ssid ~~ "CiscoLive-WPA3"
Download the cheat sheet
We have only scratched the surface. You can do so much more with filters.
Intuitibits, the makers of WiFi Explorer, published a great one-pager documenting the syntax. Get yourself a copy.
The latest generation of Wi-Fi 6E Catalyst Wireless access points (CW9162, CW9164, CW9166 series) gives you the option to either cloud-manage them using Cisco Meraki Dashboard, or manage the APs by Cisco Catalyst 9800 series Wireless LAN Controller (WLC).
They are the exact same hardware and they ship pre-loaded with the Catalyst/DNA and Meraki software image. Depending on the mode setting, they either boot one image or the other.
What do we need
Catalyst Wireless CW9162I, CW9164I, CW9166I, CW9166D1, CW9163E access point in Meraki mode
Cisco Meraki MR access point license to perform the conversion
Cisco DNA Essentials or DNA Advantage access point license if you want to use join and manage the AP by a Catalyst 9800 controller
Choose AP mode before ordering
You will have the best experience when you order your access points in the right mode.
If you prefer, order the Meraki mode access point, connect it to the internet, and claim it in the Dashboard. Meraki APs use a single “-MR” SKU globally.
Conversion from MR to Catalyst/DNA mode
If you ordered a Meraki access point and your requirements have changed, you can convert the AP to DNA mode.
1. Make sure you have an active Meraki MR license. Why? We need the license to connect the AP to Dashboard, and to open a conversion request with Meraki technical support team.
2. Provide power and internet connectivity to the access point.
3. Log in to Dashboard. Navigate to Organization > Configure > Inventory and add the access point using its Meraki S/N.
4. Add your MR license to Dashboard under Organization > Configure > License Info.
5. Wait for the AP to connect to Dashboard and change its LED to solid green or solid blue. Perfect, the AP is now online.
6. Complete this checklist first. Disable Meshing feature and make sure your Catalyst 9800 is ready for the AP to connect after conversion has completed.
7. Open a new support case by clicking the (?) question mark in the top right hand corner > Cases > New Case.
8. Include all these details to speed up the conversion process. Find your Customer Number by clicking the person icon in the top right hand corner. To get your Daily Support Code, click the same person icon, then open My profile.
Please convert my CW*****-MR AP with Meraki SN ****-****-**** to DNA mode. I do have an existing DNA license. I disabled Meshing in the Dashboard.
I have completed this checklist:
I am aware that the AP will not join Dashboard after the conversion, unless I convert it back to MR mode.
Please go ahead and start the mode change immediately.
My customer number: ****-****
My support passcode for today: ****
Have a great day!
9. If this conversion is urgent, call into Meraki support. No, don’t e-mail the support team, call them. Have the case number by hand. Find the best phone number here.
10. After the support engineer starts the conversion, your AP will reboot. It is now in the Catalyst mode. You can verify that by keeping an eye on the Console port output during its boot. Just to remind you (and myself): The new Console port baud rate is 115200 from 17.12.1 release onwards.
12. Our DHCP server assigned an IP address to the AP, which has automatically discovered and joined the WLC located in the same IP subnet.
To enable SSH and Console access, create a username, password and enable password in the Catalyst 9800 controller’s AP Join Profile > Management > User section. SSH protocol is disabled by default. You can enable it in the AP Join Profile.
Many of us walk into buildings and we immediately start looking for access points 🙃 Often times, the access points are not visibly installed. But how can you tell what vendor is your favourite coffee shop using, or what APs did your customer deploy?
Now, would it be cool if you could use your iPhone or iPad to find out what vendor is your customer, public venue, favourite football club, or train provider using?
Wi-Fi Vendor iOS Shortcut
I created a Shortcut for iOS, which does exactly that.
Simply connect to a Wi-Fi network and open the shortcut. We will automatically populate the input field with the BSSID of the AP you are currently connected to:
If you don’t want to connect to an AP, use Airport Utility to get the BSSID (aka the “wireless MAC address” of the AP) of the access points around you, and let Wi-Fi Vendor shortcut do its magic:
Or you can even use the good old Copy & Paste method. Let’s say you saved the OUI to your Notes app. Copy it to clipboard and paste into Wi-Fi Vendor:
Benefits of this solution
iPhone or iPad is all you need. No need to open your laptop or other professional Wi-Fi tool.
All data stays on your iPhone and iPad. No data, not even the BSSID, is sent to a cloud service.
Our OUI <-> Vendor database is Wi-Fi centric, open to additions of the new records by Wi-Fi professionals, it has extra entries from vendor documentation, and BSSIDs captured in the field
It is community-driven and customisable. Contribute new OUIs, or fork our repository and create your own tool.
For Cisco Meraki APs, I use an active detection method – more about this below
Cisco Meraki active vendor detection method
When there is no match based on the access point’s OUI, Wi-Fi Vendor shortcut performs an active check. Make sure you are connected to the AP, then open Wi-Fi Vendor. It will attempt to browse to the Local Status Page of the AP and if it find Cisco Meraki logo in the source code, that’s a match.
Supported iOS releases
I’ve tested Wi-Fi Vendor on these devices. Use iOS 17 or newer for the best results and all features.
iPad Air 2, iOS 15.7.7 – no Cisco Meraki active check, doesn’t detect BSSID you are currently connected to
iPhone SE 2nd gen, iOS 16.6 – no Cisco Meraki active check, doesn’t detect BSSID you are currently connected to
iPhone SE 2nd generation, iOS 17.0 – all features are supported
iPhone SE 3rd generation, iOS 17.0 – all features are supported
This tool is provided as is. If you spot anything that needs to be fixed, let us know, or even better submit a Pull Request including the fix. Blame Jiri for anything that needs to be fixed, not Cisco 😉
Cisco’s Catalyst 9130AXE access point (the external antenna model) doesn’t have any antennas built-in by design. It uses a DART connector with 8 RF lines and 16 digital lines. They carry the RF signals and allow communication between the AP and antenna.
All new C-ANT9101, C-ANT9102 and C-ANT9103 antennas connect natively using their directly-attached DART connector to the Catalyst 9130AXE access point. It significantly simplifies the deployment process, allows the AP to automatically detect the antenna model, type and gain, and it doesn’t allow any room for installation errors like loose RP-TNC connectors or swapped antenna RF ports.
Here is an example of the new bell antenna C-ANT9102 with directly-attached DART connector.
And here is one connected to the C9130AXE-E access point.
Now, if your scenario requires the antenna to be installed further away from the access point (inside of a freezer for example) there is a 3-feet DART extension cable for that sold by Cisco.
The part number is AIR-CAB003-D8-D8=.
It has 90-degree 8-port plug on one side and straight 8-port jack on the other.
Orientation of Wi-Fi access point with external antenna(s) on Cisco DNA Center maps is represented by 2 key attributes.
Azimuth tells us how many degrees we rotated the antenna around its vertical axis. It ranges from 0 to 360.
Elevation represents downtilt of the main lobe relative to horizon. It ranges from -90 to 90. Horizon equals to Elevation 0. If the antenna’s downtilt is 30° down, Elevation is -30. The minus sign tells us that the antenna is pointed downwards.
Antenna shooting above the horizon, which is not very common, would have positive (larger than 0) Elevation value.
We are going to focus exclusively on access points with external antennas in this post. If you are deploying internal antenna AP or AP with dipole antennas, here are the correct settings for you.
Everything in this post applies to all Cisco’s directional antennas. To name a few, C-ANT9103, C-ANT9104, AIR-ANT2566D4M-R, AIR-ANT2566P4W-R, AIR-ANT2513P4M-N.
Enough theory. Pictures are worth a thousand of words.
We are going to use use Cisco’s AIR-ANT2566P4W-R, which has a nicely squished pattern and changes to its orientation are very visual.
Wall-mounted external antenna
By default DNA Center sets APs with external antennas to Azimuth 0 and Elevation 0. Elevation 0 means that the antenna is wall-mounted (downtilt 0°) and its main lobe shoots parallel to horizon.
Let’s assume perfectly wall-mounted antennas with no downtilt at all in the examples below. That way we don’t need to touch the Elevation setting at all. All we need to do is to adjust the Azimuth angle depending on which wall the antenna is mounted on.
Wall-mounted antenna shooting towards the right
Azimuth 0 and Elevation 0 is the default setting for external antennas. It represents a perfectly wall-mounted antenna (that’s what Elevation 0 means) shooting in the right hand direction (that’s what Azimuth 0 does). The main lobe travels parallel to the floor.
On the floor plan, it is mounted on the ‘left wall’ of the room, shooting towards the right.
Wall-mounted antenna shooting towards the bottom of the map
Now, what if you installed the antenna on a wall, but it points towards the bottom of the map (I avoid the south as it is not true south) this time?
We rotated the antenna clockwise around it vertical axis by 90 degrees. There is Azimuth for that, so we will increase Azimuth by 90. The final setting is Azimuth 90 and Elevation 0.
The antenna appears as mounted on the ‘top wall’ of the room shooting towards the bottom of our floor plan.
Wall-mounted antenna shooting towards the left
We have now rotated the antenna by another 90 degrees clockwise. That results in Azimuth 180 and Elevation 0.
It is installed on the right wall pointed towards the left of our floor plan.
Wall-mounted antenna shooting towards the top of the map
Finally, if the antenna is mounted on the ‘bottom wall’ and it points towards the top of our floor plan, that is another 90-degree increment, and results in Azimuth 270 and Elevation 0.
Hopefully, there are no surprises there?
If your antenna uses a different orientation, simply drag the blue Azimuth arrow and point it wherever the antenna’s main lobe is shooting towards.
Ceiling-mounted antenna shooting towards the floor
Antenna mounted to the ceiling shooting towards the floor has downtilt of 90°. We simply set Elevation to -90. Don’t miss the minus sign.
This is how Azimuth 0 (antenna cables on the left, top side of the antenna on the right) and Elevation -90 looks like.
The irregular ‘oval-ish’ pattern of this patch antenna is very obvious on the map. It kisses the top and the bottom of the floor plan.
My antenna is ceiling-mounted but it is rotated?!
To rotate the antenna on the ceiling by 90° clockwise, we just need to increment Azimuth.
Azimuth 90, Elevation -90
This time the coverage area stretches from left to right, because we rotated the antenna by 90 degrees.
Azimuth 180, Elevation -90
Azimuth 270, Elevation -90
Antenna cables point towards the bottom of the map, which is yet another 90-degree increment. It is still perfectly ceiling-mounted (that’s Elevation -90).
Now, let’s apply the theory.
What Azimuth and Elevation would you configure on C-ANT9103 antenna connected to Catalyst 9130 AP mounted using AP-BRACKET-9 bracket on the ‘top wall’ (don’t let the perspective of the photo confuse you) of the floor plan with 30-degree downtilt?
The antenna is mounted on the top wall shooting to the bottom of the map. That translates to Azimuth 90. It is wall-mounted, which normally means Elevation 0, but it is tilted 30° down. So, we subtract 30 from Elevation. And here we go, that’s Elevation -30.
There are many online services that allow you to create a Wi-Fi QR code for free. The problem is that you are giving your SSID and your password (passphrase) in plain text to a random company on the internet. What happens if they sell or leak these?
There is a better way
You can easily create a QR code from your Terminal. The tool will guide you through the process.