Newbie question: how can I broadcast Master SSID if Client SSID not associated?

Hello,
I have been using OpenWRT for a while on my single-port HooToo TM06. My use case is as a portable wireless AND wired router, using the wireless CLIENT as WWAN (internet connection) and wired ethernet as "WAN" (no internet), both routed through the second wireless MASTER SSID that I connect my laptop to. This works great, until I forget to disable the wireless CLIENT before leaving a site, and then am unable to reconnect to OpenWRT because the MASTER SSID isn't broadcast unless the CLIENT SSID is connected.

This always necessitates a reload of the firmware, as the reset button on my TM06 doesn't enter OpenWRT recovery mode (at least I haven't been able to get it to work).

For a while I settled on a separate USB wireless radio that broadcasts another MASTER SSID at all times, since it doesn't have a CLIENT to connect to, but if I forget to remove the USB radio, it drains the battery on the router, (USB port is powered as a power-bank even if router is off). This is very frustrating.

Is there a way to ensure the MASTER SSID is always broadcast, even if the CLIENT SSID is not associated? Or maybe just a way to disable the CLIENT SSID if it doesn't connect after some time, so that the MASTER SSID can then begin to broadcast?

When you say that master ssid isn't broadcasted, do you mean the it is hidden or completely disabled?
You can connect to hidden ssids without issues.
If it is disabled, then how about faking the ethernet wan connection with your laptop and letting ssh from wan to be able to connect to the router and fix the issue?
For more automated solution I can think of a script running in cron every 5 minutes or so, checking for wwan association and disabling if none is present.

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Since the master channel is dependent on the client association, it's not possible to raise the master until the client has associated with its AP - and hence knows what channel to use for the master AP on the OpenWrt.

You would have to use a separate USB for the client association to raise your master WiFi without it.

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there's got to be a way to script disabling the client ssid if it isn't found in x time?

Travelmate should fulfill your needs, see here

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Add a tagged vlan to the wired interface and have ssh listen there, when you need to admin set your laptop to join the tagged vlan and connect to ssh via wired

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