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Hi Jason, Not sure why you don't have a sysctl.conf file, are you using Raspbian Jessie or Stretch? Just check you have a /etc/sysctl.d folder. you can create a new /etc/sysctl.conf file and just add net.ipv4.ip_forward=1 and it should work. In the manual it lists other locations the conf file can be found, enter man sysctl.conf

Could you let me know what the wifi icon is doing if it is not the double arrows and what does it say when the mouse is put on it.
Is the network mode working ok and connecting to your router?
While attempting hotspot mode check the status of dnsmasq and hostapd with
sudo systemctl status dnsmasq and sudo systemctl status hostapd and check for any errors.
Also what does the autohotspotN script report when it is run manually?

The timer is not required and won't cause any issues.

Let me know what results you get and I will look into this further