Jetson Nano USB Headless WiFi Setup (Edimax EW-7811Un)

The easiest way to setup a Jetson Nano for headless WiFi is to use a USB adapter. The EdiMax EW-7811Un is popular for use with the Raspberry Pi. It can also be used with a Nano, but requires a command line setting to get it to act reliably. I will show you how to do that below.

Where to buy

You can find the EdiMax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter here (affiliate link):

If outside the US, you may be able to order it from AliExpress:

BTW, just because it says “Nano” in the title is just a coincidence, as far as I know.

Add to a desktop or start totally headless?

These instructions are for adding a WiFi adapter to a new or existing desktop setup. As of Jetpack 4.2.1 you can set things up completely headless (no monitor, keyboard or mouse). If you’d like to do a completely headless setup from scratch, see my article: Jetson Nano Headless WiFi Setup. But if you want to work from a desktop or have an existing desketop setup, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Setup the Jetson Nano for WiFi

  • Plug the EdiMax into one of the USB ports
  • Plug in an HDMI monitor, USB keyboard and mouse
  • Plug in a power adapter
  • If this is the first time booting, create a user, etc.

Once you’ve setup and logged into the desktop with your username and password, proceed to the next step.

Step 2. Open the Desktop Settings menu

  • Click the settings (gear) icon in the upper right corner of the desktop

Step 3. Open the Systems Settings dialog box

  • Click System Settings … in the drop down menu

Step 4. Setup the WiFi connection

  • Click the Network dialog in the dialog box
  • Setup your network connection

Step 5. Turn off power save mode (for stability)

Even though my Nano was sitting right next to my router it kept dropping the connection. I fixed the problem with the command below to turn power save off.

  • Right-click the desktop and select Open Terminal
  • Type in the following command and then press Enter:
    sudo iw dev wlan0 set power_save off
    

Step 6. Reboot

After making changes you should reboot.

Step 7. ssh from another computer

Once the Nano reboots, do the following on another computer that is on the same network:

  • Open up a terminal window or command prompt
  • Type the following in the command line (substituting user and hostname) and press Enter:
    ssh user@hostname.local
    
  • For example, my user name is mitch and my Nano hostname is jet1. So I do the following to connect over WiFi:
    ssh mitch@jet1.local
    
  • If prompted with RSA key fingerprint is … Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? – select Yes
  • Enter your password

Step 8. Shutdown the Nano

Whenever possible, try to avoid just pulling the plug on your Nano. Once you are done.

  • Use the command-line to shut it down like this:
    sudo shutdown -h now
    

Step 9. Disconnect the peripherals

If you want to just use the Nano headless:

  • Shutdown the Nano using the previous step
  • Disconnect the power cord
  • Disconnect the HDMI monitor, keyboard and mouse

Step 10. Start the Nano headless

  • Verify the USB WiFi adapter is still plugged in to the Nano
  • Reconnect the power cord
  • Wait 30 to 90 seconds for the Nano to boot up

Step 11. Login again

Using ssh again, login to the now headless Nano over WiFi.

Step 12. Run some updates

At this point it’s a good idea to run some updates. You can do that by entering the commands below on the Nano.

  • Using your remote ssh login, run the following commands:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
    

Troubleshooting

If you are having issues with a dropped connection, see this thread.

WiFi Command Line Utilities

To view your current setup and debug issues, you may find some of these command line utilities helpful.

  • lsusb - List info on your USB wifi adapter
  • nmcli device wifi list - List info on your wifi signal
  • nmcli connection show - List connections
  • iwconfig - List info your your wifi connections
  • ifconfig wlan0 - List info about the wlan0 wifi connection

References

  • Started with the NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit [1] - has some tips on getting remote desktop working
  • Jetson Nano + Intel Wifi and Bluetooth [2]
  • Jetson Nano - Headless Setup [3] - shows how as of Jetpack 4.2.1 you can set things up completely headless



About the Author

Mitch Allen works for a robotics company in New England.