Monday 15 March 2021

Day 364 of self-isolation - Setting up a Pi as a Wifi access point, part 1

Setting up a Pi as a Wifi access point

Part 1

First, why am I doing this? The simple answer is, it's fun A better answer is, I can set up a mesh wifi, so that any device can access the wifi without having to choose which access point to use. I can do that by purchasing mesh wifi routers, at a couple of hundred pounds each, or I can use a Pi3 costing £30, and several Pi Zero Ws, costing £10 each. Plus, it's more fun.

You'll need a Raspberry pi. I used a 3B, but I think you can do it with any Pi.

First, download the OpenWrt image from here. I downloaded 19.07.7, because it was the latest one at the time. For a Pi, you want  I had a Pi 3B. I don't know whether to use "Install" or "Upgrade" so I used "Upgrade". I think you're supposed to use "Upgrade" if you upgrade your version, "Install" for a new install.

I gunziped the download. That gave me an image, which I "burned" onto an SD card. I used the smallest card I have, 8gb, because the whole image is way less than that. I use dcfldd for this, which is like dd, but nicer.

I put the SD card into the Pi, and started it up. That worked. But the IP was, and my network is 10.x.x.x. I could either set up a computer that was in the 192.168 range, or ... you'll see. So I set up an old Windows Vista laptop in the 192.168 range, and pointed the browser at, and the OpenWrt  user interface popped up. But whether I used Safari or Internet Explorer, it wouldn't accept as permanent, any changes I made to OpenWrt.

So I went the other way. On the Pi, I did this:

# uci set network.lan.ipaddr=''
# uci set network.lan.netmask=''
# uci set network.lan.proto='static'
# uci commit

# /etc/init.d/network restart

That changed the IP address to be in the 10 range, and that meant I could access the Pi from any of my computers. And then I could, using the OpenWrt configuration interface, give it a DNS server and a gateway, which would thus allow the Pi to access the whole of the internet.

By default, there is no password. So I created one - I don't want strangers to be able to log in to my Wifi router to change the configuration.


  1. I'm waiting to hear more.

    I use a Netgear Orbi at my home (w/ 2 satellites) and my parents (w/ 1 satellite). They've been rock solid and I get 500MB speed on wifi.

    I have 8 Pis running at my home and I'm interested in how this works and how the performance is.

    1. I'm sure that works, but I'm trying to do much the same, at a tenth of the cost :-)

  2. I have no doubt the mesh will work and I'm interested in the performance. What is your speed when connected to the base (Pi 3B) vs satellite (Pi Zero W)? And what is your wired speed when connected to your internet providers "modem"?