Mac OSX Wireless Networks

Last update : September 17, 2015

AdHoc Wi-Fi Networks

Sometimes it’s useful to create a WLAN (wireless network) between two or more Wi-Fi-enabled computers without using an Wi-Fi router. These computer-to-computer networks are usually referred to as AdHoc wireless networks.


Create an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network on Mac OSX

On a Mac OSX (Yosemite 10.10.5) it’s easy to set up such a network. Choose Create Network from the Wi-Fi status icon in the menu bar. Enter a name (in my case : radiologic-open) for the new network and select the channel (default channel = 11). You will notice that there is no password protection to secure the network. A WEP (Wired Equivalent Encryption) algorithm was however available in previous versions of the OSX system. WEP was Wi-Fi’s first encryption standard and was almost intentionally designed to be weak due to issues related to the US export policies about encryption. WEP was deprecated in 2003 and replaced by WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

In Yosemite, Apple killed WEP once for all, without replacing it by another protection method in AdHoc mode.


Chose name and channel for the AdHoc network

If the icon isn’t in the menu bar, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Network (réseau). Click Wi-Fi and select the Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar checkbox.


Mac OSX System Preferences

The Wi-Fi status menu shows the established connection with the radiologic-open network. The menu allows an easy logout and reconnection to another Wi-Fi network. An automatic logout occurs when the Mac screen is powered off.


Wi-Fi status menu shows the AdHoc network active

Infrastructure Wi-Fi networks

There exist a second possibility to set up a Wi-Fi network on Mac OSX. The computer is configured as a software Wi-Fi base station. This allows to share an Internet connection and offers a password protection, but it has another inconvenience. You need a working wired Ethernet connection between your Mac and a hub, even if the hub is not connected to the Internet. The next picture shows my test setup: my MacBookAir is connected via a Ethernet-Thunderbolt interface to an ancient 10 Mbit/s Ethernet hub.


MacBookAir connected with Thunderbolt-Ethernet interface to hub

First you need to configure the Ethernet-Thunderbold interface. Go to Network in System Preferences and select the automatic configuration. The interface gets a self-assigned IP address in the range 169.254.x.x.


Ethernet-Thunderbolt automatic configuration

In the next step go to the Sharing Preference Pane in the System Preferences. Select Ethernet-Thunderbold as source port and Wi-Fi as destination port. Select Wi-Fi options to enter a name (in my case : radiologic-secure) of the network, to select a channel and to define a password (minimum 8 characters; numbers are not recognized on BlackBerry and Android).

Internet Sharing Wi-Fi network configuration

Internet Sharing Wi-Fi network configuration

Finally check the Internet sharing checkbox and confirm the settings to activate the connection.


Activate the Internet sharing

The resulting pane is shown below.


Activated Internet sharing pane

The Wi-Fi status is updated automatically. To log out, desactivate the Wi-Fi connection in the corresponding menu. An automatic logout occurs when the Mac screen is powered off.


Wi-Fi status menu showing Internet sharing

The following table shows which of my devices are capable to connect to the Mac OSX AdHoc and Infrastructure networks.

Device Wi-Fi AdHoc Wi-Fi infrastructure
iPad OK OK
iPhone OK OK
BlackBerry  network not shown network joined, but
no access to host
Samsung Tablet (Android 4.2.2) network not in range network joined, but
no access to host
Laptop Vista no connection network joined, but
no access to host
Desktop Windows 8.1 network not shown OK
Laptop Debian no connection OK

Wi-Fi Diagnostic

To detect the reasons why some devices don’t connect to the Mac OSX Wi-Fi AdHoc or Infrastructure networks, you can use a WLAN analyser. Mac OS X Yosemite has an in-built Wi-Fi scanner to help you find the best Wi-Fi channel. When you hold down the option key ⌥ (next to the CTRL key) and select the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar, a secret dropdown menu opens.


Secret Wi-Fi dropdown menu in Mac OSX Yosemite

Open Wireless Diagnostics and click it. After you have gotten to the page and have opened up the Wireless Diagnostics window, go to the top left of your menu bar and click on Window where you find several options: Informations, history, scan, performance, detection, …  Some results are shown below.

Mac OSX Wi-Fi Analyser

Mac OSX Wi-Fi Analyser

Another WLAN tool is available on Windows computers. When you enter the command

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

in the command window, you will get the following results :


Microsoft Wi-Fi Analyser

A third WLAN tool is integrated in my Wi-Fi router FritzBox 7390. Various wireless networks in my neighborhood are shown, but nor the channels used by the Mac OSX nor the names of these networks are listed. I don’t know why ?


Wi-Fi channels used in proximity of the Fritzbox

There are also several external software tools for Wi-Fi-analysis available, for example Acrylic Wi-Fi Free or Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional. The main window (Access points,  Signal strength) of Acrylic is shown hereafter :

Acrlylic Wi-Fi Analyser

Acrlylic Wi-Fi Analyser

Some additional windows (stations, packet viewer, 2,4 GHz APs channels, detailed info) are shown below :

Various Acrylic results

Various Acrylic results

Wi-Fi Assessment

Several methodologies are available dealing with safety aspects of wireless networks, for example :


The following list shows links to websites providing additional informations about Wi-Fi networks, related to Mac OSX.

Mobile data offloading with WiFi and Femtocells

Mobile data offloading is the use of complementary network technologies for delivering data originally targeted for cellular networks. For mobile operators the main purpose for the offloading is to prevent congestion of the cellular networks.

The main complementary network technologies used for the mobile data offloading are WiFi and Femtocells. Wi-Fi offloading is an emerging business domain with multiple companies entering to the market with proprietary solutions. Depending on the services to be offloaded and the business model there may be a need for interworking between WiFi and mobile cellular networks. Three solutions have been analyzed so far :

  • Enhanced Generic Access Network (EGAN), a tight coupling architecture, specified by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project)
  • Interworking Wireless LAN (IWLAN), a loose coupling architecture, specified by 3GPP
  • Direct connection to the public Internet, the most straightforward way to offload data to the WiFi networks

There are three main initiation schemes of offloading procedures: WLAN scanning by ANDS (Access network discovery and selection function), user initiation or remotely-managed initiation.

Mobile data offloading for 3G/4G network using Femtocell technology is promoted by the industry Small Cell Forum.


Logo de Wi-Fi Alliance

La norme IEEE 802.11 (ISO/IEC 8802-11) est un standard international décrivant les caractéristiques d’un réseau local sans fil (WLAN), appelé encore Wi-Fi ou WiFi, comme contraction de Wireless Fidelity.

Pour remédier aux problèmes de confidentialité des échanges sur les réseaux sans fils, le standard 802.11 intègre un mécanisme simple de chiffrement des données, il s’agit du WEP (wired equivalent privacy).

Le WEP est un protocole chargé du chiffrement des trames 802.11 utilisant l’algorithme symétrique RC4 avec des clés d’une longueur de 64 bits ou 128 bits.

Comme le WEP n’est pas suffisant pour garantir une réelle confidentialité des données, il convient d’utiliser le cryptage WPA ou WPA2 pour obtenir un niveau de sécurité supérieur.

WPA (WiFi protected Access) est une solution de sécurisation de réseau WiFi proposé par la WiFi Alliance, afin de combler les lacunes du WEP. Le WPA est une version « allégée » du protocole 802.11i, reposant sur des protocoles d’authentification et un algorithme de cryptage robuste : TKIP (Temporary Key Integrity Protocol). Le protocole TKIP permet la génération aléatoire de clés et offre la possibilité de modifier la clé de chiffrement plusieurs fois par secondes, pour plus de sécurité.

Le fonctionnement de WPA repose sur la mise en oeuvre d’un serveur d’authentification permettant d’identifier les utilisateurs sur le réseau et de définir leurs droits d’accès. Pour les petits réseaux, une version restreinte appelée WPA-PSK (Pre-shared Key), est mis en oeuvre déployant une même clé de chiffrement pour l’ensemble des équipements.

La Wi-Fi Alliance a créé en 2004 une nouvelle certification, baptisée WPA2, pour les matériels supportant le standard 802.11i. Contrairement au WPA, le WPA2 permet de sécuriser aussi bien les réseaux sans fil en mode infrastructure que les réseaux en mode ad hoc. Il s’appuie sur l’algorithme de chiffrement TKIP, comme le WPA, mais supporte également l’AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), beaucoup plus sûr.

ROVIO : mobile webcam by Wowwee

Last update : May 21, 2013

Rovio Dashboard

Rovio is a WiFi-enabled mobile web cam developed by Wowwee that lets you see, speak and hear from anywhere in the world, as if you were right there in the room. Rovio is equipped with a TrueTrack™ Navigation System that allows you to use the Rovio interface to store waypoints – with one click Rovio will automatically navigate itself to the chosen point. Rovio’s built-in LED headlight will help you guide it even in dimly lit locations, so you’ll always know what is going on at home or at the office. No need to worry about Rovio running low on power while you’re away – the self-docking function allows you to send Rovio back to the charging dock to recharge, with the click of a button on your browser. Rovio has 3 omni-directional wheels to move in all directions. With additional TrueTrack Room Beacons, Rovio can navigate or self-dock across multiple rooms.

Rovio prototypes and final version

Rovio prototypes and final version

In September 2010, I upgraded the Rovio to firmware version 5.0 and tried to install it on a new WiFi network in an artgallery. The setup with a Vista (Service Pack 1) computer didn’t work, the USB connection always failed.

One year later, the setup was succesful. Two years later, In May 2013, I upgraded the Rovio to firmware v5.03 (stable). The current installed software versions on my Rovio are Base 5.3503, TrueTrack 5.13.201.

The Rovio user interface is entirely browser-based, which means you can access Rovio via the Internet using web-enabled devices. The following documents, tutorials and programs are available to control the Rovio robot :



Robodance 5 (Robonote), by Android Technologies, Inc.
version, updated September 23, 2012
uses Skype’s video call service

Robodance 5

Robodance 5

RovioCommander II, by Jesse Mcculley
version 1.909b, updated May 20, 2013

Rovio Commander II

Rovio Commander II

RovioDirect, by E.W.E Software
version 1.2, updated February 9, 2010

Rovio Direct

Rovio Direct

RovioWrap (Rovio Controller), by Scott Settembre
alpha version, updated February 16, 2009
with Microsoft speech recognition

Wowwee Rovio DirectShow Filter
licensed to Wowwee by WebcamXP
version, 2008

Rovio Direct Show Filter

Rovio Direct Show Filter

RoboRealm, by RoboRealm
version 2.50.22, updated May 18, 2013
application for use in computer vision, image analysis, and robotic vision systems

Rovio Control for RoboRealm

Rovio Control for RoboRealm

Rovio Web Plugin for AbelCam WebCam Server, by Stefan Seiz
Release October 17, 2011

Rovio Plugin for AbelCam WebCam Server

Rovio Plugin for AbelCam WebCam Server

Jrovio (Java Rovio), by Marco Andreacchio
version 2.2, updated June 21, 2010

iPhone / iPad

Rovio Control, by Tommy Kammerer
version 1.4, updated January 25, 2013

Rovio Control for iPhone

Rovio Control for iPhone

Rovio Control HD for iPad (Retina), by Tommy Kammerer
version 1.5, updated January 31, 2013

Rovio Control HD for iPad

Rovio Control HD for iPad

ES Pad for Rovio, by (es) Corporation
version 1.0.3, updated July 8, 2011


ES PAD for Rovio

Rovio Driver, by Bertrand Leroy
version 1.5, updated December 11, 2009

Rovio Driver

Rovio Driver

Rovio Chat, by Chi Kong Simon Chan
version 1.1, updated May 11, 2013
supports Rovio’s 2-way audio
needs Rovio Custom Firmware v5.03s Build 3711

Rovio Chat

Rovio Chat


Rovio Blackberry Client, by bbrovio
version 0.11, updated February 17, 2009

Rovio controller for Blackberry

Rovio controller for Blackberry


AndRovio, by Poignont Projects
version 1.2.1
updated March 1, 2011
does not support audio



Windows Mobile

Pocket Rovio, by Carmelo Millian
version 2.1.1, updated January 14, 2010

Pocket Rovio for Windows Mobile

Pocket Rovio for Windows Mobile

Using Rovio

The Rovio has a LED power indicator, the color signals the following states :

  • Blinking : low battery
  • Green : network connection is functioning properly
  • Red : Rovio is being accessed
  • Orange : Rovio is booting and/or trying to connect to a network

The battery pack is charged when Rovio is docked. The blue LED indicators will pulse quickly to indicate that it has begun charging. During charging, the LED indicators will pulse slowly; a single charge takes approximately 4.5 hours for about 1.5 hours of use. When Rovio has finished charging the LED indicators will remain lit. It is safe to leave Rovio on its charging dock after the charge has completed.

To access Rovio from the Internet, port forwarding to Rovio ports 80 and 554 must be set up in the gateway router.

Additional informations about Rovio are available at the following links :