Netools of the trade

In discussion with a colleague around the tools we use for debugging and diagnosing issues with local area networks and internet access – I happened to mention a tool I had just come access. The is a hardware device which they describe as a Network Engineering Tool.

The best way to think of this is as a diagnostic tool that you attach to a network cable to help identify what is connected to it and how it might be configured. Focusing on the very simple use of the device we can take the example of cable and port identification.

Imagine you are standing at a wiring cabinet and you have a number of loose cables. After installing the app (comes as IOS/ANDROID/Windows beta/ Mac beta) and turning on the netool via the button on the device – you can connect to the SSID it broadcasts.

If you connect a cable to it – it senses the connection being made and runs a range of checks. If a network connection is detected a green led on the device is lit and you can observe the details it finds in the application.

An example is shown here

I’ll return in more detail to the results of the testing in additional articles

An alternative function of this Mars Bar sized device is to flash the led on a switch repeatedly to help you locate the port you have identified with the test above. It does take a little practice to recognise the pattern you are looking for but very quickly you can find the flashing port quicker.

There are more functional and expensive versions of tools that do what this does but for the cost (£200 approx at the time of posting) – this tool could pay for itself in documenting and uncovering networking issues very quickly.