How-To: Debrick a WRT54G Router

How-To: Debrick a WRT54G Router

This is a personal account of my de-bricking experience. Thanks to this forum post by Toxic.

I have this wireless router lying lazily in my work area for some 3 months now. I hate to admit it was all MY fault that it broke. It happened as I was about to configure it for deployment. I can’t remember the previous config, so i opted for reset. That’s when i can no longer access nor ping the device no matter how many resets i do. Well to be fair to me, this device has undergone two flashings (if such a word exists) though – an OpenWrt which almost bricked it and a DD-WRT which was stable – so that probably counts as probable cause for the bricking, right? *winks*

Before today, i tried other de-bricking options that doesn’t require me opening up the device. But to do them, the device should first-and-foremost be pingable (again if there’s such a word, heh!), even for a quarter of a second at least. For anyone interested, the steps are quite easy.

  1. Ping the router ip (192.168.1.1). Make sure you are on the same network.
  2. TFTP to the device.
  3. On Linux/Unix
    tftp 192.168.1.1
    tftp> put wrt54gvx.bin

    On Windows:
    tftp -i 192.168.1.1 PUT wrt54gvx.bin

Since mine does not meet the requirement, i had to put it out until (1) i have time to do it or (2) i wake up one day all eager to do it regardless of my sked. And that is today – which actually falls on the latter category.

Google, being my best search bud, pointed me to the Revival Guide linked above. Tip #1 didn’t work for me as i previously tried that. So i gave Tip #2 a go.

For the record, the steps for Tip#2 are simply:

0. Prepare your computer/laptop. Set to an ip address on the same network as your wrt54g, so basically that’s 192.168.1.x/24.

0.1. Open the command line for Windows, or Terminal for Linux.

0.2. Ping your device continuously.
For Windows: ping -t 192.168.1.1
For Linux: ping 192.168.1.1

  1. Locate the Intel Flash chipset. Don’t worry, it’s so easy to find. As per my observation, it normally comes with a paper stick-on with the version. Mine is also the chip nearest the LEDs.
  2. Notice at the upper right corner of the chip is the number “1”, upper left is the number “24”, lower left is the number “25”, lower right is the number “48” (all upside down in my pictures). Between the number 1 and 24 you will see a row of 24 silver pins. On the board above the pins there is a little white line every 5 pins that should help you count.

    *I tried searching for the chip’s pin-outs to understand this more, but sorry me can’t find any.

  3. Using a small screwdriver, stick on the point between pins 15 and 16. Don’t remove until the last step. [Note: try pins 16 & 17 for wrt54gv2]
  4. Power on.
  5. Observe your ping results. It should start receiving reply in a few seconds (give a few seconds for the boot-up). Ping should continue even if you remove the screwdriver at this point.

Frustratingly, this didn’t work for me either. I wasn’t very willing to do Tip #3, knowing that it’s just like #2, but with proper grounding. One minute left to raise the white flag (err, no time pressure but i was just about to give up), i said to give it a final go. And yay, it finally worked!

The steps that worked for me:

  1. Find a wire. Good thing i have one i bought at Alexan yesterday, for my PoE experiment.
  2. Stick one end to pin 16, while the other end to the right antenna. I used masking tape to keep it in place.
  3. Do the ping test again then observe.
  4. If it works, proceed with flashing a new “compatible” firmware. I decided to flash a Linksys firmware first, not any third-party, just to avoid any other factor to blame if it suddenly doesn’t work.

I was just so happy i finally made it work again now! Weee! Here’s a proof that i can access the web interface from a browser.

  • Hi, thanks for the HowTo. It worked fine for me, except I had to place the screwdriver between pins 16 & 17. The router’s main board said it was a “WRT54G V2”, if this helps.

  • Hi edward, thanks for the heads up. I updated the post to reflect your case. Also glad it helped you somehow.

  • A great guide.

    Every so often I brick one of my wrt54gs and keep having to look up the details. Instead I’ve bookmarked this page now.

    Love the wrt54g routers. I’ve set them up for family, friends and business clients in the UK. Great boxes.

  • Wonderful tutorial. I had find this for a while, thanks!

  • Tim

    This worked for my linksys wrt54gl,its better than using the 30/30/30 test.Thanks alot!

  • luxor1971

    WOW…I bricked my router (v1.1) a while back and almost gave up because I couldn;t ping it. I found your guide, but shorted pins 15 & 16 and it worked. I was able to flash it. THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • mishamosherg

    Such a simple way of recovering!!! I was in troubles with a WRT54G v2, used pins 16 and 17 of the Intel flash chip and all went smoothly. Thanks, a LOT!!!

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