Having friends is all well and good, until one of the freeloaders decides it’s not enough to eat my food and drink my drinks – they also want access to my Wi-Fi. Now comes the awkward moment when you have to verbally explain the niche reference in your Wi-Fi username and your equally complicated passwords. No, that’s the number 2, not also the word. No, not “two” or “the number two”. You know what, maybe just let me do that for you. It’s almost as hard as explaining what Wi-Fi actually stands for (opens in new tab).
The smartest among us have already dealt with this issue. It’s not unusual to write down a password for people to copy, but the real tech enemies use QR codes. These can be set up to automatically join a network based only on the data in the code, eliminating the need for manual input to be completed.
Instead, with one of these bad bois printed out on your coffee table, guests can simply scan and get instant Wi-Fi access. There’s no guilt in asking, or frustration in giving: just fast internet access in seconds.
This is all well and good, but maybe hold off on painting that QR code wall in your living room. Good security practices dictate that passwords should be changed on a regular basis. For a Wi-Fi family, this may not be a problem for you, but either way, changing your settings may render this code useless. This is exactly why Predrag Mijatovic’s Pi Pico project (opens in new tab) (via Hackaday (opens in new tab)), while a bit clunky, offers a pretty interesting solution.
Mijatovic uses a Raspberry Pi Pico connected to an OLED display to act as an ever-changing Wi-Fi QR code, and it does a little more than just let guests on your network. With the custom scripts, Mijatovic has encrypted this device to automatically set up a new encrypted guest network on your Wi-Fi. This totally unique data is then shared on screen via a QR code, so the guest can still get that seamless login experience.
Before you get out your craft kits, keep in mind that this project may not be for everyone. It is based on a MikroTik router made in Latvia, which you may not have at home. This router can be configured via Secure Shell or SSH, an enhanced security encryption algorithm. Other routers may let you do it and here is a list of the best routers for gaming, (opens in new tab) but you’ll want to check first, and you’ll probably have to fiddle with the settings quite a bit.
You can get into the details by watching Mijatovic’s video at the top of this article and then downloading the project on Github (opens in new tab). While even Mijatovic explains in a disclaimer that there are probably better ways to achieve this or a similar solution, it’s definitely a great place to get the mind working.
A fully-fledged solution would be great for hostels and hotels, where guests can have their own secure Wi-Fi login with a simple scan. The same goes for coworking spaces, airports, and anyone who just wants to be a little awesome with their Wi-Fi security.