phasenoise (phasenoise) wrote,

Warwalking WiFi networks with ESP8266 IoT Module

The term wardriving generally covers the practice of discovering and mapping the wireless networks available in a particular area. Useful statistics are gathered from this activity, including statistics on the encryption used in discovered networks. Wardriving does not include the unethical activity of unauthorised connection to wifi networks (encrypted or unencrypted).

Warwalking, or warjogging, is similar to wardriving, but is done on foot rather than from a moving vehicle. Today you could just use Wardriving Apps on your smartphone.  But using inexpensive ESP8266-based modules you can make yourself a much smaller device that fits in the palm of your hand thanks to Ray Burnette.

The ESP8266 is a low-cost Wi-Fi chip with full TCP/IP stack and microcontroller capability produced by Shanghai-based Chinese manufacturer, Espressif Systems. The chip first came to the attention of western makers in 2014 when Espressif released a SDK that allowed the chip to be programmed, removing the need for a separate microcontroller. Thanks to the Arduino-compatible firmware for the ESP8266 which makes accessing the WiFi functionality easy - along with controlling inexpensive OLED displays. The combination of the two and a power supply rounds the device off which will scan for open networks and display their SSID, for example:

Furthermore Ray has also documented a basic framework for Arduino-compatible WiFi projects using the ESP8266 which will prove useful for further experimenting. So to get started, head over to the Warwalking project on And if you're interested in making your own version here is your shopping list:
Ray took this project a step further and put it all into a small 2x AA plastic battery case that has a little switch. To make room for the ESP8266, he is using a 3.3V LiFePO4 "AA" rechargeable cell. That leaves 50% of the interior space.

Originally ray's code "latched" onto the open access point and requested an IP address just to prove the WiFi was truly open; but various laws govern connecting anonymously to private WiFi networks, so the project was changed to simply identify their presence. Galvanizado!
Tags: esp8266, openwrt, wifi
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