How to Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

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The Raspberry pie is a truly versatile technology. With a Pi, we can learn to code, build robots, work with complex sensor data, and even transform an old printer in a web-enabled device. If you have an old Raspberry Pi that’s gathering dust, we’ve got a quick and easy project to add extra Wi-Fi connectivity at no extra cost.

The latest version of the Raspberry Pi operating system saw a beta release of Network Manager, a new tool for the Raspberry Pi that replaces dhcpcd as the way to manage networking on the Pi. This new tool provides us with an easy, GUI-based way to configure a Raspberry Spare Pi as a wireless access point. If you need to extend a network setup, add Wi-Fi to those hard to reach places, then this is for you.

We will follow the steps necessary to configure a Raspberry Pi as a wireless access point and have the access point start up each time the Pi is started. Even better, this project will work with Raspberry Pi 3B, 3B+ and the latest Raspberry Pi 4.

Configuring Network Manager for the Wi-Fi access point

The Network Manager app is a new addition to Raspberry Pi OS, at the time of writing it is still in beta, requiring a few extra steps to upgrade from the old dhcpcd app to Network Manager.

In this section, we detail the steps required to configure your Pi to use the new networking tool.

1. Configure a Raspberry Pi if you don’t already have one. See our guide on how to set up a raspberry pi.

2. Connect your Raspberry Pi to an Ethernet connection. Our Pi will become a wireless access point, but our connection to a router will be via Ethernet. This provides the strongest connection and ensures the highest possible speed.

3. Open a terminal window on the Pi or an SSH connection to the Raspberry Pi.

4. Make sure your Raspberry Pi is up to date, by running the latest update commands. This is not strictly necessary, as the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS will already be fairly up to date. Consider this a best practice.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y

5. Use raspi-config to modify the configuration of your Raspberry Pi. The network manager option is currently only available through raspi-config, not through the GUI editor.

sudo raspi-config

6. Using the cursor keys, navigate to Advanced Options and press Enter.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

seven. Go to Network Config and press Enter.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

8. Select Network Manager, then click OK.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

9. Click OK.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

ten. Click Finish.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

11. Select Yes to restart.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Configuring the access point on Raspberry Pi

Our access point will provide Wi-Fi access using the Raspberry Pi’s built-in Wi-Fi chip. In this section, we will configure the access point name and security. Note that our Raspberry Pi will need to be connected to our home internet connection via Ethernet. This gives us the best possible connection.

1. Left-click the Network icon, select Advanced Options, then Create Wireless Access Point.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

2. Set the access point’s network name, Wi-Fi security to WPA2, and then set the password for the access point. Click on create save.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Restart the Raspberry Pi.

4. Click on the Network icon to verify that the access point is active.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Configuring the Raspberry Pi Access Point to Start on Boot

We want to turn this project into a device, a device that will simply turn on and work. For this we need to modify the settings of the access point so that it starts when our Raspberry Pi turns on. Fortunately, it only takes a few steps.

1. Click on the Network icon and click Advanced Options >> Edit Connections. This will allow us to make changes to the configuration of the access point.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

2, Select the wireless access point name, and click the settings cog to make changes.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Under the General tab, check the box “Connect automatically with priority” and set the priority to 0. Click save to make the change. This will configure our access point to start every time the Pi boots.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Connecting to Raspberry Pi Access Point

The access point works like any other Wi-Fi router/access point.

1. Connect your computer/mobile device to the new access point. It will appear under the name we gave it.

2. Alternatively, on the Raspberry Pi, click the Network icon and select Advanced Options >> Connection Information.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Using a compatible device, scan the QR code to automatically connect to the hotspot. The information dialog contains all the necessary information for our access point.

Turn a Raspberry Pi into a Wi-Fi hotspot

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)
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