Introduction: A Simple Raspberry Pi Wifi "Bridge"
Have you ever wanted to share your Internet connection from your main home to a second building but found out that the connection in the second location was just too spotty to use? Well, here's a solution that I used to improve that flaky signal that is cost effective, efficient, and best of all; really really easy to do! Hopefully this will solve your irregular connection like it did mine!
I do want to put fourth the disclaimer that you have to at least be able to pick up a signal SOMEWHERE in your secondary building; if you can't do that, then this is not going to help you at all. Also, this is not technically a wireless bridge, nor is it a wireless access point. We will actually be piggybacking off of our primary wireless network to create a secondary WIFI network in a network secondary location, and we're going to be using a Raspberry Pi to do it!
But enough of the boring stuff, let's get into how this works!
Step 1: The Dilemma
The reason that I needed to come up with this solution was as follows; In an addition to my main home, I have a small cabin to which I want to provide an internet connection for any guests who may stay there. I wanted to do this without paying for an extra internet service, and it's not really practical for me to run an ethernet cable from my main house to the cabin.
Step 2: The Original Layout.
In my main house, my wireless router was upstairs in the middle of the house. From that, I was getting a weak signal to the front of the cabin. I tried using a Roku player in the cabin to watch a few YouTube videos and though it was okay sometimes, other times it would stutter, and sometimes drop out completely, so I figured I could do better.
Step 3: This Was Better, But...
I moved my Wi-Fi router to the back of my main house, and though this did help, it was still not exactly ideal.
I found that the connection in the front of the cabin was slightly stronger, and in the back of the cabin there was still no real usable connection.
Step 4: Repeater? No Such Luck. :(
Surveying the cabin, I did find a perfect sweet spot by one of the front windows, and if I set my phone in that window, the connection stayed considerably better there than anywhere else. My first thought was to set up a second router in that window as wireless repeater for the cabin. I have an old cheap Netgear router lying around so it should be pretty simple to set up, right?
Nope. This particular router unfortunately does not support set up as a repeater. So I considered ordering a different router with repeater capability...
Step 5: Waitaminute...This Should Work, Right?
...but then the idea occurred to me to try using internet connection sharing to piggyback off of the wifi signal in my main house, and feed that connection to a secondary router in the cabin. For this, I could use the Netgear router that I already have.
Then I looked into my options with using a Raspberry Pi as a wireless connection point, and as it turns out, it's incredibly easy to set up! The nice thing about doing it this way is not only the simplicity of the setup, but it also acts as a second segregated network and enabled me to have four additional physical ethernet ports in the cabin for cabled devices when necessary!
Step 6: Required Hardware
To set this up, you're going to need a Raspberry Pi and a MicroSD card of at least 8 gigabytes. You will also need a secondary wireless router to which you will feed your internet connection from the Raspberry Pi. Plus, you'll need a mouse and a keyboard for the initial setup.
Step 7: Required Software
As for software, you will need to download Balena Etcher. You can get this at https://www.Balena.io/etcher
You will also need to download the operating system for your Raspberry Pi. I downloaded Lubuntu 16.04, from https://ubuntu-pi-flavour-maker.org/download/.
You will need a torrent application to download the img file. I use uTorrent. You can get that at https://www.utorrent.com/.
It takes a few minutes to download the img file.
Step 8: Burn the IMG File to Your MicroSD Card.
Now use Etcher to burn the Lubuntu image that we downloaded to your MicroSD card.
Once that has finished, remove the MicroSD card, and insert it into the Raspberry Pi.
After the SD card is inserted into the Pi, plug a keyboard, mouse, and monitor into the Raspberry Pi, and power on the PI.
Step 9: Configure the OS.
Now we're going to configure the operating system, and if you did everything right up to this point, this is what you should see. Go through the installer setup; follow the on-screen prompts, and connect to your Wi-Fi network.
Set set a username, password, and name the PI.
I'm going to call mine “bridge” even though it's not technically a bridge. I'm just using this name so that it's easily identifiable on the network. I like to name computers by what they do.
Be sure to set a secure password.
Step 10: Wait. a Long Time.
This part takes fiveever (That's considerably longer than forever).
Just be patient. It will seem like the PI has frozen, but everything is fine. Just wait it out.
I used this time to read The Silmarillion. Twice.
Step 11: OS Installed!
After a VERY Long time of waiting for that initial setup, this is what you're going to see.
(Note: From here on out, it's not going to take that long every time you boot up; that was a one-time thing.)
Make sure that you're connected to Wi-Fi.
Step 12: Configure the Wired Network
Click on the network icon, then click on “Edit connections”.
Then click on “ethernet connection”.
Click on “wired connection one”, then click on edit.
On the ipv4 settings, change the dropdown from “DHCP” to “Shared to other computers”.
Step 13: Configure the WiFi Network
Now click on your Wi-Fi connection.
Click on edit.
Go to the “general” tab and check “All users may connect to this network.” (this will allow the device to connect to the WiFi network without needing to log in.)
Save your settings, and close this window. Make sure you can connect to the internet.
Step 14: Connect the Raspberry Pi to the Secondary WiFi Router
Now run an ethernet cable from the ethernet port on your Raspberry Pi to the internet port on your secondary router.
Note: The ethernet cable in this picture is short just for the purpose of illustration. The cable can actually be up to 100 meters long, allowing you to place the router very far away from the Raspberry PI.
Step 15: Test the Connection to the Secondary Router
Power on your secondary router and test it with a wireless device to see if you can connect to that router's network.
For example, this wireless network is named Netgear04. After you're connected, test your internet connection.
Step 16: Place the Devices
Now you're done configuring everything. You can remove the mouse, keyboard and monitor, because this Raspberry Pi can be run headless. You can place the Raspberry Pi and the router in your secondary building and enjoy this simple internet "bridge".
Step 17: Things to Be Aware Of...
Make sure you DO NOT name your secondary Wi-Fi network the same SSID as your primary Wi-Fi network!
These are completely different networks, and your wireless devices could get confused if they try to automatically connect, and bounce back and forth between the two networks.
Also the Raspberry Pi is something that your guests will have physical access to, so make sure that you have a really secure password on it!
It may be headless, but never underestimate the power of human curiosity to really screw things up...
Maybe only invite good trustworthy guests? Nah. They're no fun!
Step 18: That's All, Folks!
Ok, so that's it! If you're having trouble getting a connection to a secondary location I hope this can help you out in some capacity!
Have fun, see ya next time!