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Okay, so I have lost my tablet somewhere in my flat and have been searching for hours already. It is an Android device, which seems to have wifi enabled (responds to pings), but doesn't seem to react to cloud-based messages. Furthermore, I have Cerberus installed on it, but cannot connect to it.

Is there a way of physically finding the device by measuring the signal strength from different locations in my flat?

I know it is theoretically also possible to triangulate a wifi signal, and even though I have four Linux based wifi receivers I do not know any non-commercial software that is capable of doing so.

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I know you can get the signal reception using airodump-ng (part of the aircrack-ng tool suite) if you have a compatible Wifi card and a Linux distro up and running. You'll see something like this with the signal reception listed as PWR (in decibels). If you keep pinging the device throughout this, you should see the airodump-ng screen update much quicker with the MAC address of the device. You should then be able to move around with your laptop, trying to increase the PWR until you find the device. – Breakthrough May 28 '13 at 20:16
(Of course, the other option is to clean up your flat. You know you've been meaning to do that for about 2 years now.) – Daniel R Hicks May 28 '13 at 20:42
Not a direct answer to your question, but Plan B is specifically for situations where you've lost track of your Android device and didn't have any sort of "finder" app on it. – Al E. May 29 '13 at 13:03
Plan B is mentioned before, but doesn't work on Android 3.1+ anymore (as they disallowed apps to register BroadcastReceivers before being manually opened by the user), otherwise I would have written my own app for that... – Force May 29 '13 at 16:44
Mandatory Bash reference: – abstrask May 31 '13 at 16:14
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can always use a Network Monitoring Software Tool like MoocherHunter to triagulate the geolocation of your wifi enabled device.

Actually the mentioned tool is used to triangulate the wifi moochers, but can do the trick for you,given that,the android device is conected to your LAN.

Your router's administrative console can help you find out more about your wireless network activity.It should provide a list of IP addresses, MAC addresses, and device names that it is connected to.with the help of these details this tool will help you locate the device down within 2 meters.(as per developers)

MoocherHunter has been used for law enforcement organizations in Asia to track Wi-Fi moochers.

The software description says it can geo-locate the wireless hacker from the traffic they send across the network, down to 2 meters accuracy. The software doesn't run as an executable in Windows,rather it needs to be burned to a CD, then used to boot the computer. The idea is, with your laptop (and the directional antenna on your wireless card), you'd walk around to triangulate the physical location of the Wi-Fi moocher.

you can find more about MoocherHunter via this link

this way you can locate the device with your laptop

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Something that may work:

Go to the hardware store and buy some brass mesh and build a cone. You'll probably need to layer the mesh, then hold your phone in the middle of the cone. The brass mesh should block all radio signals, so if you get a signal, its coming from the direction of the open area of the cone. In theory, you can use this to home in on the device.

FYI, the brass mesh is one component in building a SCIF.

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Aluminum screen would work just as well and be much cheaper. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 10 '13 at 11:51
(In fact, an aluminum baking sheet held behind the phone would probably work fairly well, though it wouldn't be highly directional.) – Daniel R Hicks Aug 11 '13 at 14:37

Some wifi routers have a signal strength measurement on them. I know DD-WRT has this. If yours does, then you can do something like this:

  • Get a long Ethernet cord
  • Plug one end into the router and one into your cable modem/internet connection etc
  • Move the router around your apartment and see where you get the strongest signal

Keep in mind, water pipes/metal studs etc can all distort wifi signals

Another option would be to make your own directional antenna, kind of like this.

You could also check out this page for some useful command line linux wifi commands.

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even if you cannot measure signal strength, you can (if you have a really LONG cable) move the wifi router until the device disconnects. If you get lots of interference from the neighborhood, it might not even be that far. – Mindwin Aug 9 '13 at 21:54

One-story flat? You can sort-of triangulate using signal strength alone. You have to assume that signal strength is proportional to distance from the transmitter, which isn't very accurate, but it could be accurate enough to help narrow down the search space.

  • Measure signal strength from 3 points in your flat.
  • On floor plan of the flat, mark your 3 points, and with a drawing compass, swing an arc across the flat with a radius proportional to the signal strength so that the arcs enclose a fairly small space within the flat.
  • If the assumption we made were true (and your measurements and drawing were accurate), your tablet should be within the space between the arcs. It's not quite true but hopefully not too far off either.
  • Start your search near that space. Hopefully its location will remind you of where you actually left the tablet. If not, search out from there, possibly repeating the above steps at a shorter distance from this location.

Multi-story flat? Same idea, only now you've got a 3rd dimension. Repeat the above on each floor. With luck, the signal strength will make it obvious which floor it's on. If not, at least you've narrowed your search space to a part of the house, even if you have to look on both (or several) floors in that part.

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Open Android Device Manager via this link. Hit "Ring".

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although i believe cleaning up your house is a better idea. – user218473 Aug 15 '13 at 16:16
He specified that his device doesn't answer to cloud-based messages. – Chaos_99 Aug 15 '13 at 21:15
as long as it is running android, and have network connections, it should ring, regardless what u have set, unless you root it and specifically turn it off. – user218473 Aug 20 '13 at 13:31
network connection does not necessarily mean internet connection – Chaos_99 Aug 21 '13 at 9:06

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