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Not Sniffing, but… Fluke Networks LinkSprinter

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It’s time to switch things up a bit.  WiFi sniffing is a fascinating topic and all, but good ol’ Yours Truly wants to try something new.  

This will be the first in the “Not Sniffing, but…” series on the Sniff WiFi blog.  I come across interesting topics outside of sniffing all the time, so I want to add short blog posts on some of these topics.

Several months ago WLAN bon vivant Keith Parsons posted a blurb on his WLANPros.com blog about the Fluke Networks LinkSprinter.  I contacted someone from Fluke Networks to ask about the LinkSprinter, and they were gracious enough to send me one to test.

LinkSprinter is a wired testing tool.  It’s more for people who install APs than for people who, like me, primarily do frame captures.  Still, we both do troubleshooting.  The LinkSprinter is definitely for troubleshooting.

The tool is pretty simple.  You plug in an Ethernet cable, and you press the lone button to start the test.  You’ll immediately get an indication of whether PoE is present.  The tool then proceeds on an up-the-OSI-layers network connection test.  First it’s physical connectivity to a switch.  Then it’s a DHCP check.  Then it pings the default gateway.  Finally it tries to reach the Internet.  Every step is confirmed (or not confirmed) by a simple green light.

When yours truly used LinkSprinter, the network was working.  That’s great, but it also meant that I didn’t really test the tool out.  The value in a troubleshooting tool isn’t to tell me that’s it’s working.  It’s to help me find out what’s going on when things aren’t working.

According to my contacts from Fluke Networks, the LinkSprinter records information that can help identify why a cable isn’t working.  PoE voltage levels, VLAN and default gateway information are all recorded by LinkSprinter.  the information can be accessed in one of two ways.  Both models of LinkSprinter — the “100” w/o WiFi and the “200” w/ WiFi — have their information automatically uploaded to a cloud service.  (I have yet to try the cloud service, but I know that it is accessed via LinkSprinter.com and I know that my Fluke contact told me that it will be free for life.)  The WiFi model also turns into an access point to allow nearby devices to access the connection information via a web browser.  The WiFi model costs an extra hundred bucks ($300 instead of $200), but I would think that having a local GUI would be worth it.

Would the author buy a LinkSprinter?  My initial reaction was, “No”.  My thinking was, “I don’t install APs for a living, so I don’t need to test cables when installing APs”.  Then I thought about it some more.  I do sometimes deal with downed APs.  In the past that has always been Someone Else’s Job, but it would be nice to be able to stick a LinkSprinter on the end of that cable and see it there’s PoE.  Or if there’s an IP address.  And if I have a Link Sprinter 200 w/ WiFi, which IP address in which VLAN.  Because even when something is Someone Else’s Job, it’s still good to help them out.

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Written by sniffwifi

October 14, 2014 at 12:56 am