The Raspberry Pi can do a lot, especially now that the new Raspberry Pi comes with wireless capabilities already on board. It can take the place of a ton of different (and more expensive) devices – including a router! If you turn your Raspberry Pi into a wireless access point, you can make it act as a router. It’s not the most powerful thing in the world, but it does work, and the project is a lot of fun.
How to use your Raspberry Pi as a wireless access point
We’re going to get into the command line a bit here, but this project isn’t really all that difficult. All we’re really doing is using Raspbian and installing a couple packages that give the Pi the ability to do router-like things like assign IP addresses to devices that connect to it.
Step 1: Install and update Raspbian
Check out our complete guide to installing Raspbian for the details on this one. Then plug everything in and hop into the terminal and check for updates and ugrades:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
If you get an upgrade, It’s a good idea to reboot with sudo reboot.
Step 2: Install hostapd and dnsmasq
These are the two programs we’re going to use to make your Raspberry Pi into a wireless access point. To get them, just type these lines into the terminal:
sudo apt-get install hostapd sudo apt-get install dnsmasq
Both times, you’ll have to hit y to continue. hostapd is the package that lets us create a wireless hotspot using a Raspberry Pi, and dnsmasq is an easy-to-use DHCP and DNS server.
We’re going to edit the programs’ configuration files in a moment, so let’s turn the programs off
before we start tinkering:
sudo systemctl stop hostapd sudo systemctl stop dnsmasq
Step 3: Configure a static IP for the wlan0 interface
For our purposes here, I’m assuming that we’re using the standard home network IP addresses, like 192.168.###.###. Given that assumption, let’s assign the IP address 192.168.0.10 to the wlan0
interface by editing the dhcpcd configuration file. Start editing with this command:
sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf
Now that you’re in the file, add the following lines at the end:
interface wlan0 static ip_address=192.168.0.10/24 denyinterfaces eth0 denyinterfaces wlan0
(The last two lines are needed in order to make our bridge work –- but more on that in
After that, press Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter to save the file and exit the editor.
Step 4: Configure the DHCP server (dnsmasq)
We’re going to use dnsmasq as our DHCP server. The idea of a DHCP server is to
dynamically distribute network configuration parameters, such as IP addresses, for
interfaces and services.
dnsmasq’s default configuration file contains a lot of unnecessary information, so
it’s easier for us to start from scratch. Let’s rename the default configuration file and
write a new one:
sudo mv /etc/dnsmasq.conf /etc/dnsmasq.conf.orig sudo nano /etc/dnsmasq.conf
You’ll be editing a new file now, and with the old one renamed, this is the config file that dnsmasq will use. Type these lines into your new configuration file:
The lines we added mean that we’re going to provide IP addresses between 192.168.0.11 and 192.168.0.30 for the wlan0 interface.
Step 5: Configure the access point host software (hostapd)
Another config file! This time, we’re messing with the hostapd config file. Open ‘er up:
sudo nano /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf
This should create a brand new file. Type in this:
interface=wlan0 bridge=br0 hw_mode=g channel=7 wmm_enabled=0 macaddr_acl=0 auth_algs=1 ignore_broadcast_ssid=0 wpa=2 wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK wpa_pairwise=TKIP rsn_pairwise=CCMP ssid=NETWORK wpa_passphrase=PASSWORD
Note that where I have “NETWORK” and “PASSWORD,” you should come up with your own names. This is how you’ll join the Pi’s network from other devices.
We still have to show the system the location of the configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/default/hostapd
In this file, track down the line that says #DAEMON_CONF=”” – delete that # and put the path to our config file in the quotes, so that it looks like this:
The # keeps the line from being read as code, so you’re basically bringing this line to life here while giving it the right path to our config file.
Step 6: Set up traffic forwarding
The idea here is that when you connect to your Pi, it will forward the traffic over your Ethernet cable. So we’re going to have wlan0 forward via Ethernet cable to your modem. This involves editing yet another config file:
sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf
Now find this line:
…and delete the “#” – leaving the rest, so it just reads:
Step 7: Add a new iptables rule
Next, we’re going to add IP masquerading for outbound traffic on eth0 using iptables:
sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
…and save the new iptables rule:
sudo sh -c "iptables-save > /etc/iptables.ipv4.nat"
To load the rule on boot, we need to edit the file /etc/rc.local and add the following
line just above the line exit 0:
iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.ipv4.nat
Step 8: Enable internet connection
Now the Raspberry Pi is acting as an access point to which other devices can connect. However, those devices can’t use the Pi to access the internet just yet. To make the possible, we need to build a bridge that will pass all traffic between the wlan0 and eth0 interfaces.
To build the bridge, let’s install one more package:
sudo apt-get install bridge-utils
We’re ready to add a new bridge (called br0):
sudo brctl addbr br0
Next, we’ll connect the eth0 interface to our bridge:
sudo brctl addif br0 eth0
Finally, let’s edit the interfaces file:
sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces
…and add the following lines at the end of the file:
auto br0 iface br0 inet manual bridge_ports eth0 wlan0
Step 9: Reboot
Now that we’re ready, let’s reboot with sudo reboot.
Now your Pi should be working as a wireless access point. Try it out by hopping on another device and looking for the network name you used back in step 5.