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Robust Wi-Fi Connections

A solid and robust Wi-Fi® link forms the backbone of safe and high-performing Web, MQTT, SSH, SSL/TLS, and other Internet Protocol sessions.

The Wi-Fi article describes how to automatically start the Wi-Fi service at boot time. Once you have that initial connection, we provide here some hints on restoring it when needed.

Knowing When to Retry

The "remote" Arduino sketch from our ARTIK Cloud Actions tutorial uses the following code to reconnect if the Wi-Fi connection is lost.

  if (!mqttClient.connected()) {
    if (mqttClient.connected()) {
      retryCount = 0;
    } else retryCount = retryCount + 1;
    if (retryCount > 10)

The key requirements are:

  • Put the connect() command and connected() test in the main loop code.
  • If not connected, try a new connect to see if the system can reconnect on its own.
  • If still not connected after several retries, force a disconnect and then try connecting again.
  • Remember to re-subscribe to MQTT topics after a new connection is made.

The "master" sketch does not have this reconnect mechanism, but if you choose to put it in, just follow the "remote" code as a guide.

Keeping a Closer Watch

The mqttClient.connected() test may take a long time (maybe even minutes) to return a false status after a loss of connection. If you need something more timely, you may want to experiment with this command:

iw wlan0 link

It tells you the current link status. You can use runShellCommand to call it from your sketch as in the previous tutorial, and use grep and awk (like we did in the runShellCommand here) to isolate key words you need to decide whether the link is up.

Connecting to the Right Server

In our ARTIK Cloud Actions tutorial, we put in some code for the ARTIK remote client to automatically locate the MQTT server on the network. Our code was simple and assumed that we would only find a single MQTT server on our local network.

What we would like to do is take this code out of the sketch and make it a script that runs right after boot. Moreover, we would like to assign its findings to the /etc/hosts file so that any sketch we bring up will be able to call for the MQTT server port by name. We'll do this with a shell script.

ip neigh | grep 'lladdr' |  grep -F '.' | awk '{ print $1 }' > ipneighbors
echo "Trying:"
cat ipneighbors | \
while read IPADDR; do
  echo $IPADDR
  curl -vs --connect-timeout 2 $CURLCMD 2>&1 | grep 'Connected'
  if [ $? = 0 ]; then
    echo "mqttserver assigned as " $IPADDR
    echo $IPADDR   "marks-iot-srvr" >> /etc/hosts

How It Works

The ip neigh command works as it did when the code was in the ARTIK Remote sketch, compiling a list of all devices on the local Wi-Fi network. Likewise, curl attempts a connection as in that sketch, but this time looks only for secure SSL/TLS connections (note the https:// prefix and :8883 suffix).

If a match is found, the code associates the IP address with a Common Name, which you decide on to be the one shared between the MQTT broker and clients. Here we're using marks-iot-srvr as an example of a Common Name. In our simple demonstration script, we are just appending the IP address and its Common Name to the /etc/hosts file:    marks-iot-srvr

but in yours, you will probably want to search and replace any existing instance of the IP address or Common Name (using sed, for example).

Note that our script code associates the first IP address it comes across that is both MQTT and SSL/TLS-secured. What if the association is a mistake? Perhaps there is a second MQTT broker using this same Wi-Fi network. Is security compromised?

Remember that to achieve an SSL/TLS-secured connection, the transmitted server certificate must:

  • Have a Common Name that matches an entry in the client /etc/hosts file

  • Be signed by the CA certificate already stored on the client.

If another MQTT server on the network is not one authorized by you, then its certificate will not meet the above requirements, and no insecure connection can take place.

You could make this script more robust by using an openssl command to verify the Common Name on the server certificate. You may also want to put in a test that will recover gracefully when no broker is found at all (for example, when the Wi-Fi router is unplugged).

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