WarWalking With The ESP8266

[Steve] needed a tool to diagnose and fix his friend’s and family’s WiFi. A laptop would do, but WiFi modules and tiny OLED displays are cheap now. His solution was to build a War Walker, a tiny handheld device that would listen in WiFi access points, return the signal strength, and monitor the 2.4GHz environment around him.

The War Walker didn’t appear out of a vacuum. It’s based on the WarCollar Dope Scope, a tiny, portable device consisting of an off-the-shelf Chinese OLED display, an ESP8266 module, and a PCB that can charge batteries, provide a serial port, and ties the whole thing together with jellybean glue. The Dope Scope is a capable device, but it’s marketed towards the 1337 utilikilt-wearing, The Prodigy-blasting pentesters of the world. It is, therefore, a ripoff. [Steve] can build his version for $6 in materials.

The core of the build is an ESP-based carrier board built for NodeMCU. This board is available for $3.77 in quantity one, with free shipping. A $2 SPI OLED display is the user interface, and the rest of the circuit is just some perfboard and a few wires.

The software is based on platformio, and dumps all the WiFi info you could want over the serial port or displays it right on the OLED. It’s a brilliantly simple device for War Walking, and the addition of a small LiPo makes this a much better value than the same circuit with a larger pricetag.

29 thoughts on “WarWalking With The ESP8266

  1. WarCollar – 60 bucks for WiFi scanner without GPS, I don’t know who would buy that crap. For that amount of money you can easily find Android phone or tablet with GPS, WiFi, BT and much better display, install Wigle or something like that and have much more capabilities.
    But considering price, scanner featured in article is pretty nice, addition of GPS and flash memory or SD card would make it much more practical and feature rich, and price would’t be over 30 bucks.

    1. You can get whole complete android smart phones on Amazon for $25-ish. They won’t be the latest and greatest of course, but they’ll be a whole lot better than that– will have a decent processor, 512 to a gig of ram, a USB port, an LCD touchscreen, bluetooth, wifi, micro sd card slot, camera of some sort, probably GPS, and the other usual android-type sensors and a rechargeable battery. It’s pretty hard to beat a deal like that. Plus you could sign it up with one of the el-cheapo cell carriers if you want to do any sort of remote / telemetry data collection.

    1. It’s not even like you need a good one, got an old android with a 600mhz arm and 1.6 on it, runs a wifi spectrum analyser with signal strengths app fine.

      Not sure what utility that it was made the Jornada popular for wardriving back in the day, but have got 2 equivalent WinCe devices I paid $5 and $6 for used, an Ipaq and an Axim, so either of those would probably work too.

      Now if you were gonna do something like mount that screen in a HUD or google glass type headset, have magnetometer and GPS built in so you get bearing from the rotating biquad in your top hat, then I begin to see the point.

  2. If you’re not using Platformio to program ESP8266s, I d*mn well hope you’re using a make file. I threw out the arduino IDE in disgust and never looked back.

    The only issue I’ve run into is trying to uninstall it and reinstall it after a borked upgrade. (mostly my fault)

    1. Really? I’m having big fun with the Arduino port to ESP8266, with all those great libraries to use… but I mainly code ‘Arduino’ using the vMicro plugin for Visual Studio (Community).

  3. WarCollar was contacted by a detective who uses the DopeScope in support of Child Exploitation cases. Just one of many people who have the need for a product like this but not the background to make it themselves. Considering manufacturing costs, packaging, development, and distribution — not to mention the fact that you turn it on and it just works with no further development necessary, the price is fair. If you can make one yourself, then feel free. A lot of people can’t or don’t want to.

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