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Wireless Reviews

The Pitch and Product

Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter

Canary Wireless Digital Hotspotter
Summary First 802.11b/g access point finder that reports SSID, channel and encryption status in addition to signal strength
Update None
Pros • Shows SSID, signal strength and encryption status
• Detection range consistent with PC card clients
Cons • Makes a real bulge in your pocket
• Display is not backlit

The Digital Hotspotter from Canary Wireless has caused quite a stir in the WLAN detector market since it's the first product to provide more than just raw signal detection. A push of its single button activates a scrolling display that shows the SSID, signal strength, encryption status and channel number of in-range 802.11b or g access points and wireless routers (Figure 1).

Digital HotSpotter: Displayed information

Figure 1: Displayed information

Figure 2 gives you an idea of the size of the Hotspotter, which I found to be on the large-ish side. I suppose those who wear cargo pants wouldn't have a problem using it as a keychain fob, but carrying it in normal slacks or jeans pockets is likely to elicit a variation of the old "... or are you happy to see me?" line.

Digital HotSpotter: Sizing it up

Figure 2: Sizing it up
(click image for a larger view)

The Hotspotter is powered by two AAA cells (included), which is a plus for their wider availability over button-type cells, but a minus in that they contribute to the product's heft.

Figures 3 and 4 show views of the board, which uses a Microchip PIC16F74 8-bit microcontroller. The other large device in Figure 3 is an Atmel ATF1504ATV PLD (programmable logic device).

Digital HotSpotter: Board top

Figure 3: Board top
(click image for a larger view)

The side of the board shown in Figure 4 contains the antenna (left side of picture) and the RF components making up the receiver.

Digital HotSpotter: Board bottom

Figure 4: Board bottom
(click image for a larger view)

By the way, the Hotspotter appears to have been designed by Delta Mobile Software. But when I asked them to confirm this, I never received a reply.

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