I'm building a Raspberry PI system for my boat based around OpenPlotter (using Raspbian). Part of it is looking for ways to conserve power. I have a Wi-Fi AP enable that allows my to use the RPi headless. However I don't use this too much so I would like to be able to turn it off and on to save power.

Could one someone help me work out how to use a momentary push button to toggle the WiFi on and off (keeping the AP settings).

Equally how would I go about programming an led to be on when the WiFi is turned on, and off when the WiFi is turned off.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • There's a neat little library here that helps to provide this functionality.
    – Elliot
    Jun 25, 2019 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


I've done this some time ago, so this might be of help here. I'm using a Pimoroni Button shim instead of a separate button and LED freely wired to the GPIO pin (but you may have different needs). The button shim already comes with buttons and an RGB LED, but is wired up to I²C. But you should easily do the same using GPIO Zero. My example code below is using the GPIO Zero library however, as this should be what you may want to use in your project. Also note that it's Python3.

Let's first understand what you need to switch off wifi; I'm assuming that you run the ISC DHCP server on wlan0, replace with the DHCP service you use (maybe dnsmasq? I don't know):

sudo systemctl stop isc-dhcp-server
sudo systemctl stop hostap
sudo ifdown wlan0
sudo rfkill block 0

You may leave stopping the DHCP Server out, but you'll try to experiment. In my setup, I'm stopping the server to be sure.

To (re)start wifi, we do the same steps in reverse order, bringing up the individual pieces step by step:

sudo rfkill unblock 0
sudo ifup wlan0
sudo systemctl start hostap
sudo systemctl start isc-dhcp-server

When using the Pimoroni Button that gives me five buttons and an RGB status LED. I'm simply using a Python script that uses buttonshim.on_hold(buttonshim.BUTTON_A, wifionoff, hold_time=2) so I need to press and hold button A for two seconds. I don't know whether GPIO zero has something similar, so the example below simply triggers on a button press. (Side node: don't know if GPIO zero has debouncing and whether that's necessary at all.)

In my wifionoff() I call the command systemctl -q is-active hostap to find out whether the AP is on our off. The command returns status 0 if the AP is on, then run the commands above to switch it and wifi off.

If the commands returns a status code other than zero, the AP is off, so run the second set of commands to start wifi, AP, and the DHCP server.

And now all this in Python 3:

import subprocess
from gpiozero import LED, Button
from signal import pause

led = LED(17)
button = Button(3)

def wifionoff():
  retcode = subprocess.call([`sudo`, `systemctl`, `-q`, `is-active`, `hostap`])
  if retcode == 0:
    # switch LED off
    # switch wifi off
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `systemctl`, `stop`, `isc-dhcp-server`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `systemctl`, `stop`, `hostap`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `ifdown`, `wlan0`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `rfkill`, `block`, `0`])
    # switch wifi on
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `rfkill`, `unblock`, `0`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `ifup`, `wlan0`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `systemctl`, `start`, `hostap`])
    subprocess.call([`sudo`, `systemctl`, `start`, `isc-dhcp-server`])
    # switch LED on

button.when_pressed = wifionoff

With the button shim I use, the LED is addressed as this: buttonshim.set_pixel(0, 0, 255) for blue on, and buttonshim.set_pixel(0, 0, 0) for off. With GPIO Zero, create a LED object and call led.on() and led.off() instead (see example above). Make sure to adapt the LED and Button pin assignments to the ones you use in your project.

  • Thank you so much, I will give that a try tomorrow and let you know how it goes :)
    – Jonny
    Aug 18, 2017 at 17:01

I found a library to manage wifi or bluetooth function. you could software block or hardware block by PyRIC in python. Github page has also samples.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.