Monday, 17 April 2017 10:56

Raspberry Pi - Auto WiFi Hotspot Switch

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  • Author Type: Individual
  • Country: uk

A script to switch between a WiFi Network or WiFi HotSpot without a reboot. If the Wifi network is lost then the RPi will generate a Wifi hotspot, then reconnect to the Network when it is available again.

I often use my Raspberry Pi's in the garden or away from home. I use a script that generates a wifi hotspot if my home network is not found so I can ssh to the Raspberry Pi via my Tablet, Phone or Laptop. When I am at home it will connect to my Home network as normal. This only happens at reboot but works fine for what it is designed for. If I have a Raspberry Pi in my garden taking photos or using sensors it will be connected to my home network but occasionally looses connection to my router and not reconnect probably due to inteferance. This means I have to go outside and reboot the pi to get the wifi back.

I have now updated my original script so that it can switch the RPI between an access point hotspot or network without a reboot. Using this script along with a timer, if the RPi looses connection with the router it will generate a WiFi Hotspot when the timer is triggered so I can still gain SSH or VNC access without going outside.

This can also be used so the Pi will genarally switch between a hotspot or network as you come home from a trip out without rebooting. Though if you have made a ssh or vnc connection at the point it switches you will loose your connection.

This setup is designed to gain direct access to the pi when it is not in range of a network, as a result it will not be able to connect to the Internet via Ethernet in hotspot mode but is fully functional in Network mode. 

If it is in Hotspot mode and you connect it to a router via an ethernet cable you can ssh from that routers network and use the internet but you cannot get internet if you have made a wifi connection to the hotspot usingthe ip


  • On bootup it will connect to a known network or if not available generate a hotspot
  • Access available via SSH and VNC in both network and hotspot mode
  • using a timer to run the script at set intervals:
    • If the Raspberry Pi looses network connection it will generate a wifi hotspot
    • When the network is available again RPi reconnects to the router

Can be used for:

  • Running a program in the background when you are home, then when you go out of network range you can still access the Rpi to check results or make changes.
  • Raspberry Pi In car entertainment setups. Upload new content at home from the network then access the pi via a hotspot on the move. Could be altered to allow a button to activate Hotspot or Network manually.
  • If you use the RPi in your garden and place it in a wifi dead zone, it is still accessible via ssh or vnc in hotspot mode.



Connection settings already created for any SSID you are using and listed in /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

The "Raspberry Pi 3 Auto WiFi Spot if no Internet" article has been followed except the /usr/bin/autohotspot script.

Initial Setup

This article makes changes to the main script of Raspberry PI 3 Auto WiFi Hotspot if no Internet

For the full setup follow the instructions in the link above but change the script saved as /usr/bin/autohotspot to the one in this article.


Hotspot and Network Switch script

 Once you have setup:

  • Hostapd
  • DnsMasq
  • Made changes to the Interfaces file
  • Set up the systemd autohotspot.service and activated it

Save following script to /usr/bin/autohotspot

(Also available to download from here)

#Script to switch between a wifi network and a No Internet Hotspot without rebooting
#Other setup required find out more at
#Enter one or more ssids that are already setup in the wifi settings
# seperate by a space, ('mySSID1' 'mySSID2')
ssids=('mySSID1' 'mySSID2' 'mySSID3')
    ip link set dev wlan0 down
    ip a add dev wlan0
    ip link set dev wlan0 up
    systemctl start dnsmasq
    systemctl start hostapd
	echo "Shutting Down Hotspot"
	ip link set dev wlan0 down
	systemctl stop hostapd
	systemctl stop dnsmasq
	ip addr flush dev wlan0
	ip link set dev wlan0 up
#ssid in range check
for ssid in "${ssids[@]}"
	if iw dev wlan0 scan ap-force | grep "$ssid" > /dev/null ;then
if [ $ssidChk != "NoSSid" ] 
	if systemctl status hostapd | grep "(running)"
	then #hotspot running and ssid in range
		echo "Hotspot Deactivated, Bringing Wifi Up"
        	wpa_supplicant -B -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf > /dev/null 2>&1
	elif wpa_cli status | grep 'wlan0'
	then #If already connected stop script
		echo "Wifi already connected to network"
	else #ssid exists and no hotspot running connect to wifi network
		echo "Connecting to WiFi Network"
		wpa_supplicant -B -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf > /dev/null 2>&1
        	if wpa_cli status | grep 'wlan0' > /dev/null
			echo "Wifi connection ok"
			echo "Wifi failed to connect, Creating Hotspot instead"
            		wpa_cli terminate
else #ssid not in range
    	if systemctl status hostapd | grep "(running)" > /dev/null 
		echo "Hostspot already active"
	elif wpa_cli status | grep 'wlan0' > /dev/null
		echo "Cleaning wifi files and Activating Hotspot"
		wpa_cli terminate
		ip addr flush wlan0
		ip link set dev wlan0 down
		rm -r /var/run/wpa_supplicant > /dev/null
	else #"No SSID, activating Hotspot"

Change the entries in ssids=('mySSID1' 'mySSID2' 'mySSID3') to your routers SSID you can add or delete ssid entries but make sure there is a space between each entry.

Once saved make the script executable with

sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/autohotspot

Now the script will only work at bootup so we need to setup a timer to run the autohotspot script at set intervals.

For now I have had to do this using a Cron job as systemd timers are not working consistantly with this to be useful.

Using a Cron job, tasks can be set off automatically at certain times, dates or intervals. For my use running the script every 5 minutes is fine but this can be changed to your needs. To setup a cron task enter the command

crontab -e

At the bottom of the file enter the command

*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/autohotspot

There is a space after each entry and * except the first *.

 The first * position is for minutes. If you want it to check every minute just use * instead of */5

If you want to use hours, say every 2 hours enter it as

* */2 * * * /usr/bin/autohotspot

 Save the cron tab with ctrl & o and close it with ctrl & x

The cron job will automatically start straight away.


This process has been tested on a Raspberry Pi 3 and a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

Disable Cron Timer

If you no longer need the timer running edit the cron with

crontab -e

and put a # infront so it is now

#*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/autohotspot

The script will now only work at boot up or if you manually run the autohotspot script with the command

sudo /usr/bin/autohotspot

Script Removal

To disable the complete autohotspot process;

Edit the /etc/network/interfaces file and remove the # from the line

# wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Then disable the startup script with the command

sudo systemctl disable autohotspot

After a reboot your RPi will connect to your router.



Last modified on Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:14
roboberry SuperUser.  Contactable via the site admin e-mail in the Contact Us link.


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