I want to run a headless (no monitor and keyboard) Pi 3a in the somewhat fluent environment (at home, in an Artist’s studio, on the attic of an cathedral). The Pi is controlling some Christmas displays via DMX.

I want always be able to connect to the Pi via local WiFi/ssh for administration. I also want the Pi to connect to loco we see when possible.

So my goal book at somethings like:

  1. Run an AP on the with as the Adress. DHCP service for Would be a nice bonus.

  2. Also connect the build-in WiFi as a client to a known AP (if available).

this seems to be unusual combination. Although to me it looks highly desirable in all headless IoT scenarios.

Any suggestions on how to approach this?

  • I understood some chipsets can run at the same time in client and in AP mode. But maybe I was mistaken or the Pi chipset is not one of them. ` iw list` says interface combinations are not supported - so you are right, I will need an additional dongle. interference should be not an big issue when using a different channel.
    – max
    Nov 20, 2020 at 17:55
  • 1
    @goldilocks Your comment is not correct. It is possible to run an AP and a client uplink only on the one available built-in wifi-device using a virtual interface ap0 associated to wlan0 (see my answer).
    – Ingo
    Nov 21, 2020 at 0:01
  • That makes sense; I have not used a virtual interface that way. All apologies (comment deleted).
    – goldilocks
    Nov 21, 2020 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


With the built-in wifi-device of a Raspberry Pi it is possible to create an access point together with an uplink client connection. This can be done with creating a virtual interface ap0 (or what name do you like) from the physical interface wlan0. Because the virtual interface ap0 depends on wlan0 it is a bit sophisticated to manage its initialization in the correct order. But how to do it you can have a look at
Access point as WiFi router/repeater, optional with bridge


This would seem to be much more feasible with a second pi. Perhaps just an additional microcontroller to distribute the tasks that can't adequately be serviced by a single pi.

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