This post is part of [tj]’s blog more in June challenge. You should join us and take part - just make 4 posts in June!

As part of the general move to do more radio / do radio in a field, I’m configuring a raspberry pi to be a permanent companion to my radio.

One challenge of the pi is the lack of any human interface equipment. In the past I’ve used 5" waveshare touchscreens and more fo amateur radio on a pi, but they just don’t cut it.

I was inspired by an idea of OH8STN - instead of carrying a dedicated screen & keyboard, I should use my iPad, VNC and have the pi be a Wireless hotspot.

Initial Pi 3 Setup

I always forget to mount my boot partition & touch ssh, as well as create a wpa_supplicant.conf file -

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev



VNC was the easy first step - sudo apt install realvnc-vnc-server, sudo systemctl enable realvnc, set a password via vncserver and go!

The original screen resolution was a bit funky, so I upped the framebuffer size after an explore in raspi-config

This pair of configs had me able to ssh in to the Pi, set it up and view the desktop over my local network with relative ease.

Auto Hotspot

The real challenge was setting an auto hotspot up - I want the Pi to connect to my home network at home, and if I’m in a field, make its own network I can connect to VNC with.

Luckily - someone else has done all the work for me, over at

It’s a solid guide and I won’t repeat much of what it says, but it essentially boils down to a script that scans for known access points based on /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf and uses hostapd & dnsmasq to pop up a hotspot if nothing matches.

Simple and effective!