RaspberryPi as your 3G WiFi router

Sun Jun 30 2013 01:00:00 GMT+0100 (BST) ( RaspberryPi 3G WiFi )

Largely as part of another project, but partially for fun I decided to hook up my RaspberryPi to a 3G stick, a WiFi stick and make it share the 3G connectivity to my phones and laptop. Perhaps it isn't likely you will have all 3 of them but not an actual MiFi or any better connectivity option, but hey!

My setup was therefore:

WiFi stick was working out of the box as a client, but there was some hassle with 3G...

Basic configuration of the RaspberryPi

Before starting, I adjusted some of the default RaspberryPi settings:

Setting up Huawei E173 on RaspberryPi

usb_modeswitch to turn the modem on

The main problem with the 3G stick is that it starts in storage mode when plugged in by default. It might be a nice feature for Windows machines, but Linux drivers are not there anyway. The general rule is therefore to use usb_modeswitch to change the mode, but I still had to spend some time trying to find the right configuration for my device. In the end the solution that worked was based on a RaspberryPi forum post

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Find the current device product and vendor ID. My Huawei E173 was reporting 12d1:1c0b - ID of E173S according to other posts.

    lsusb | grep Huawei

  2. Copy configuration file from usb_modeswitch configs (/usr/share/usb_modeswitch/configPack.tar.gz) for the device to /etc/usb_modeswitch.d/. For reference, the config that worked for me was:

     DefaultVendor= 0x12d1
     DefaultProduct= 0x1c0b
     TargetVendor= 0x12d1
     TargetProduct= "1c05,1c07,1c08,1c10"
     MessageContent= "55534243123456780000000000000011062000000100000000000000000000"
  3. Check that udev rules (/lib/udev/rules.d/40-usb_modeswitch.rules) contain the following line:

    ATTRS{idVendor}=="12d1", ATTRS{idProduct}=="1c0b", RUN+="usb_modeswitch '%b/%k'"
  4. Run usb_modeswitch:

    sudo usb_modeswitch -I -c /etc/usb_modeswitch.d/12d1\:1c0b -v 12d1 -p 1c0b
  5. usb_modeswitch should tell you whether it succeeded in switching modes, but check lsusb just in case.

wvdial to set up the connection

Check if device mode has been switched in lsusb. If yes (modem on), configure wvdial to connect to the network:

sudo wvdialconf

Edit the configuration file with network settings (lines up to Init3 are generated automatically by wvdialconf):

[Dial Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2
Modem Type = Analog Modem
Baud = 9600
New PPPD = yes
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
ISND = 0
Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1, "IP", "APN"
Phone = *99***1#
Password = 
Username = 
Auto DNS = 1
Dial Command = ATDT
Carrier Check = yes

Only 3 fields here are really configuration specific: APN, username and password. However the dial command can also be different for different devices.

is essentially a legacy method, but I will cover the other one in a later post. The exact configuration I used for giffgaff network in UK was:

[Dial Defaults]
Init1 = ATZ
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2
Modem Type = Analog Modem
Baud = 9600
New PPPD = yes
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
ISND = 0
Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1, "IP", "giffgaff.com"
Phone = *99***1#
Password = password
Username = giffgaff
Auto DNS = 1
Dial Command = ATDT
Carrier Check = yes

Almost done, start the connection:

sudo wvdial

You should now see a ppp0 network interface configured and have network connectivity.

Configure WiFi AP

Now, configure the WiFi stick to work in host mode. Very nice and concise instructions are here, I just took them here ad adapted for completenes.

Install packages:

apt-get install rfkill zd1211-firmware hostapd hostap-utils iw dnsmasq

Configure the daemons:


iface wlan0 inet static




# Never forward plain names (without a dot or domain part)
# Only listen for DHCP on wlan0
# create a domain if you want, comment it out otherwise
# domain=
# Create a dhcp range on your /24 wlan0 network with 12 hour lease time
# Send an empty WPAD option. This may be REQUIRED to get windows 7 to behave.

And a sequence of commands to bring the whole thing together:

ifdown wlan0; ifup wlan0
service dnsmasq restart
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -j MASQUERADE
hostapd -B /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

A brief explanation about what the commands do. The first two lines restart the interface and dnsmasq daemon. The 3rd and 4th lines set up forwarding between interfaces (we want a router, not just an AP!). Finally, the hostapd is started and the router is up and running.