Dirt Cheap Wardriving Rig

The gear needed for wardriving

20 posts • Page 1 of 2

Postby bigstape » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:57 pm

What is the minimum one can spend on a useful wardriving rig?

Having someone give you the components for free or dumpster diving for parts is left as an exercise for the diligent reader.

I myself recently used the following method:

Basically, you need a computer with wifi and GPS capabilities that can access wigle.net. Many used smartphones of recent manufacture fit these requirements. I favor android because linux and wigle's own wardriving app. Used LG Vortex VS660 Verizon Cell Phones are currently available on Amazon for under $40. You may be able to aquire them for less on ebay. Finding another suitable phone for less money is left as an exercise for the diligent reader.

Once your Vortex arrives in the mail you are presented with the following problem: when you first turn it on, the phone is setup to sign you up for Verizon voice and data service with no obvious way to access the Android OS. Now, one may very well want to have voice and data service, but it costs money and the point of this exercise is to be a cheap bastard. How to bypass this screen? My friend Google gave me the answer:

From the language selection screen (the first screen when you boot up the factory reset phone):
Press “Volume Up.”
Press “Volume Down.”
Press the “Back” button.
Press the “Search” button.

You can now access the android OS. Get yourself some wifi access and install the wigle wardriving app from Google Play. Go wardriving. Enjoy!

A quick test reveiled that the Vortex's wifi detection capabilities holds up well against my more expensive droid razr. On the same run, the vortex detected 1044 APs while the razr detected 1080. I was rather chagrined to discover that the cheaper vortex gets a more accurate GPS fix.

The only obvious downside to this method is that you need wifi access to upload your results instead of being able to upload anywhere you have mobile data service.
Last edited by bigstape on Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby bigstape » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:07 pm

PS: Battery life on the Vortex is not bad either. I had it on about 9.5 hours running wigle the whole time and still had 20% power left at the end...and the battery is replaceable.
Image

I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby Legodude » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:35 pm

Browsing eBay now :) I got a bid on one already.
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Postby dotosx » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:01 pm

Based solely off of bigstape's recommendation, I bought a new one on ebay for $55 (no microSD card though). I'm very happy with it.

The only minor thing is that the street map doesn't show up.

Postby bigstape » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:42 am

Yeah, street map won't show up without a data connection.
Image

I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby dotosx » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:46 pm

By data connection, do you mean phone service, or wifi, or either one?

I don't plan on activating the phone, so I'll try it with my wifi but the range won't be too far from the AP. In any case it's not a big deal.

Postby bigstape » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:33 pm

You should also be able to get the maps via wifi, but this is kind of impractical while wardriving.
Image

I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby dotosx » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:55 pm

I have found a partial workaround:

1. Connect to wifi at home
2. Start bing and browse the map of the area you'll be in
3. Start wardriving

The map is cached and visible while you are away from wifi.

Postby pejacoby » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:28 am

I picked up a cheap Vortex just for fun, and it is a nice compact stumbling rig. As a replacement for my aging iPod Touch 3G with WiFiFoFum, I am very happy so far!

The GPS doesn't train up very quickly, but I am used to my Holux GPSlim-236 which trains in 15-20 seconds most days. It would be nice to offload the Verizon crapware, but that's another adventure to pursue ;-)
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Postby AZ_WD'er » Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:01 am

Thanks for the great idea.

My brother wardrives for me out in the wilds of Northwestern New Mexico and has wanted a 911 only cellphone in his car. This will give hum both, and will make iy much easier for him to upload his data once he is home, not to mention safer if he comes upon an accident (all to common out there).

Roy

Postby AZ_WD'er » Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:17 am

I received the Vortex and tyhe unlock worked fine. I am however having trouble getting the unit to communicate with any secure sites and the google market, no google play. I was able to get WigleWiFi to run, and it appears to be as sensitive as both my Galaxy S and my new Galaxy S III.

I will figure it out I'm sure, but if anyone has any hints I would appreciate them. :D

Postby bigstape » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:56 am

Are you getting any wifi access at all? How did you load wigle without google play?
Image

I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby AZ_WD'er » Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:57 am

Are you getting any wifi access at all? How did you load wigle without google play?
I'm getting lots of hits. What I did was to email the .apk files for witless and the current google play to the phone and installed them. I can now scan and download most times, but connecting to wick is hit or miss sometimes on my ap's.

Postby bigstape » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:41 am

That is odd.

So it can detect wifi reliably, but wont allow you to sign in to your own password-protected wifi? Or does it let you sign in to your own network, but gives you a poor connection?

Perhaps you just got a bad unit.
Image

I've been outside the box. There's a bigger box.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and eventually you will run out of fish.

Postby AZ_WD'er » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:25 am

It is strange, both the Vortex and my now retired Galaxy S have the same issues uploading via wifi on several access points /i have between home and work. I can usually get them to upload if I reboot them. The Galaxy never had that issue when it was activated.

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