Packet Potato

The Packet Potato is a Wi-Fi packet analyzer! Or... is it a spectrum analyzer? Well, nobody really knows, but either way, it's the worst one of those two things, ever.

The Packet Potato uses an ESP8266 that listens for 802.11 frames on a specific channel. The channel is configurable by pressing the "+" and "-" buttons, and displayed on the 14-segment display. As it receives a frame, it blinks the appropriate LED's to indicate some things about the 802.11 frame that it heard.

Build Instructions

The Packet Potato is designed to be easy-to-solder, with all through-hole components. You can find the build instructions here:

Packet Potato Assembly Instructions


Firmware is currently available on GitHub in uncompiled form. You can find the latest firmware on Github.


You can keep track of what's going on with the Packet Potato by keeping an eye on #PacketPotato on Twitter.

Soldering Equipment

A few people have asked me what soldering equipment I recommend, so here's a list! All of these are Amazon Associates links, which means I get a lil' kickback if you use these.

  • Hakko FX888D Digital Soldering Station, $99 - This is what I personally use. It heats up very fast, and does a great job of flowing solder even on larger parts. The tips are replaceable, and I like that it includes a whole station in one package. The only downside is that it is 110v only.
  • Pinecil Mini Soldering Iron, $25-40 - If you want an iron that is more compact and can run off USB-C, take a look at the Pinecil! They're $25 direct from Pine, but can take 14-45 days to deliver (I'm still waiting on mine). I don't think this will replace my Hakko for everything, but I expect it to make a great portable backup.
  • Hakko Flush Cutters, $7 - One of my most-used tools. These somehow are fast, cheap, and good, all at the same time.
  • Hakko Tweezers, $7 - Another essential tool. These are great for manipulating small, surface-mount parts.
  • Hakko Wire Strippers, $15
  • Aven Circuit Board Holder, $11 - This one is critical. It holds your PCB's while you solder, but also allows you to quickly flip the board over to work on the other side. I bought one of these and immediately thought, "Why didn't I get one sooner?!"
  • Solder, $10
  • Solder Sucker, $25 - A solder sucker is essential for removing old parts (like bad capacitors). You can find ones that are cheaper than this, but they won't last as long. This one has been super reliable over the long haul (just remember to clean it out every now and then).
  • USB Microscope, $40 - This is really just a glorified webcam, but the magnification is great for checking our work or soldering fine-pitch parts. To view it, I just open Camera on Windows or QuickTime on macOS. The included stand is awful, so I use a cheap microphone boom and printed parts to hold it.
  • Fluke 101 Multimeter, $40 - Simple, solid multimeter. I'm sure there are cheaper ones that do more... but this one is a legit Fluke!
  • KOTTO LED Light Helping Hands, $50 - I call this one a "nice to have", especially if you're soldering lots of wires. The base is heavy so it stays put, and it has a nice USB-powered light/magnifying glass in addition for four helping hands. I don't personally have this one, but I've bought it for students in soldering classes and it was a hit.