How to: set up a Raspberry Pi as a WiFi access point


A Raspberry Pi can afford you a great degree of flexibility – including being able to use this little computer as a wireless access point with its own network. There is, however, a complex setup process to go through before we can utilise this functionality.

The Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry Pi Zero W both come with wireless features built in; however, you can still convert another Raspberry Pi model into a WiFi access point provided that you use a WiFi dongle, like one available from specialist retailer The Pi Hut, with support for access points.

Getting the software right

Firstly, check that access point software, DHCP server software, and an up-to-date Raspbian version – the date on which is no earlier than 2017 – has been installed on the Pi. The Raspbian installation can be updated with the commands “sudo apt-get update” and “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade”, while the other necessary software can be installed via the typing of “sudo apt-get install dnsmasq hostapd”.

The quote marks we have put around these commands should not be included when you are actually typing them; this will also hold true for other commands we specify in this article.

Turn off this new software with two commands cited by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, allowing you to then prepare the configuration files. Assign the IP address to the server and disable the standard interface that handles “wlan0”. After configuring the IP address, the DHCP server can also be configured with your typing of the right details into the dnsmasq configuration file.

The hostapd with the mostest

The hostapd software – the access point host software – also must be configured. After that software has been initially installed, its configuration file can be found at /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf. The Foundation has posted information which you should add to this file. The configuration cites the network name as NameOfNetwork and the password as AardvarkBadgerHedgehog; neither should be surrounded by quote marks in this file.

The command “sudo nano /etc/default/hostapd” can specify the file’s location. Replace the line including “#DAEMON_CONF” with a string of text cited by the Foundation.

Get started with starting up

The other services need to be started up now; you can meet that need through use of the commands “sudo service hostapd start” and “sudo service dnsmasq start”. Then, search for networks through utilising a wireless device like a smartphone or tablet.

The previously-mentioned network name, NameOfNetwork, should appear – and you should be able to use the password to access it. If you can say yes on both counts, this confirms that the Pi is a functional access point. Nonetheless, you should not be too disheartened if you are still experiencing technical issues; Make Tech Easer says that “things can easily go wrong”.

You could try rectifying problems by double checking every configuration file and power cycling the Raspberry Pi, as its USB dongle could have become undefined. Be patient and don’t be afraid to seek advice from tech communities who are thoroughly familiar with the Raspberry Pi.

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