Managing WiFi on your ClearNode

IMPORTANT TO KEEP IN MIND

Your ClearNode mobile app can only manage and make changes to your ClearNode device when BOTH are connected to the Internet. You must make changes to your ClearNode’s WiFi configuration BEFORE it loses connection to the Internet. For example – if you’re going mobile and intend to use your hotspot – switch to the hotspot BEFORE you leave the house or your ClearNode will lose connectivity and become unmanageable.

REMEMBER: If your ClearNode loses it’s connection to the Internet – plug it into your WiFi router with an ethernet cable and power cycle the node – have an ethernet cable in your “go bag”.

Introduction

There are 2 methods of managing your ClearNode’s WiFi configuration – which you choose depends on your specific use case – start with Method 1 – you are less likely to end up with your ClearNode disconnected and unusable. If you want more deterministic control because you have many WiFi networks within range – experiment with Method 2.

Method 1:  List all your WiFi network credentials in the ClearNode’s configuration file

In this mode your ClearNode will connect to which ever WiFi network it sees first.  In the Manage WiFi Networks screen select “ALL” for “Save to node”. Use the “+” icon in the top right corner to add new networks. Repeat this for each WiFi network you might use.  When you are done tap the “Save” icon to send the configuration to your ClearNode – it will reboot.

This lists ALL the networks in the ClearNode’s wpa_supplicant configuration file.  The caveat here is that you cannot determine which WiFi the node will connect to when you boot up your ClearNode, if it sees more than one in the list.

Method 2: Keep the list of WiFi credentials in the ClearNode mobile app only

In this method we manage the WiFi networks in the mobile app and push them individually and singularly to the ClearNode.  In the “Manage WiFi Credentials” section, add in each of the WiFi Networks you wish to manage including their SSID/Name and Password/PSK.  Select “ACTIVE ONLY” for “Save to node”.

When you want to switch to an alternate WiFi, tap into it’s record, turn on “Active”, then tap “Save” in the top right corner and then tap “Save and Reboot ClearNode” in the popup dialog.

Note that with this method, you can only do this when the ClearNode is online and controllable from the mobile app – be sure to make changes BEFORE you loose your connection to the current WiFi the ClearNode is using.

This method has the advantage of being more deterministic – only ONE set of WiFi credentials is ever in the ClearNode’s wpa_supplicant configuration file – so ClearNode can only connect to the network you select.

2.4 Ghz versus 5 Ghz WiFi Networks

The first iteration of the ClearNode hardware was based on the Raspberry Pi 3B – it’s WiFi hardware only supported 2.4 Ghz networks. Subsequently we began shipping the Raspberry Pi 3B+ – this version supports both 2.4 and 5 Ghz Wifi. With the current problems with Semiconductor supply, since mid-October 2021 we began shipping the Pi 3B again. ClearZero does not support 5 Ghz WiFi – only 2.4 Ghz

Managing iPhone Hotspot Connections

Getting your ClearNode connected to your iPhone hotspot can be a little tricky. In an earlier version of Apple iOS, Apple made some big changes to the hotspot functionality to enhance security. In particular, non-Apple devices are treated rather differently than your typical MacBook or iPad. Your iPhone hotspot is not discoverable by non-Apple devices, including ClearNode, except in specific circumstances. Below is an image of an iPhone hotspot screen (Settings > Personal Hotspot).

Note that “Allow Others to Join” is turned on – this is NOT the default – make sure it is turned on. When you’re configuring ClearNode with the requisite credentials – above see “1 Choose ‘MyiPhone’ – the name in quotes is the Name/SSID you must configure. Also see “Wi-Fi Password” under “Allow Others to Join” – this is the Password/PSK you must configure.

Also note the setting “Maximize Compatibility” – which above is turned on. This setting determines if your hotspot advertises on the 2.4 Ghz WiFi network – if you have a version of ClearNode that has the Raspberry Pi 3B (versus the 3B+), or you have the ClearZero, you MUST turn this setting on or your ClearNode will not see your iPhone Personal Hotspot and cannot connect to it.

IMPORTANT: Your ClearNode can only discover and connect to your iPhone hotspot when your iPhone is unlocked and displaying the above page – don’t let your iPhone go to sleep or your ClearNode will not be able to start up it’s connection to the hotspot.

BEWARE THE APOSTROPHE IN THE SSID ! The default naming convention for new iPhone installations is to use names like “Gerry’s iPhone” – that device name also becomes the personal hotspot SSID. The devil is in the details – that apostrophe is not a standard ASCII character – it is an Unicode Special Character – look closely and you will see that it is slightly canted to the right. The low level WiFi configuration scripts in ClearNode cannot interpret that character properly and will fail ! Remove it ! (Settings > General > About > Name)

One more thing to check – that your ClearNode mobile app has access to cellular data when you are away from your home or office WiFi – Settings > Cellular > (Scroll down to find ClearNode) > Turn On.