Recovering from a "Bad Flash" on most recent NetGear devices

I’ve let the site fall to the wayside, because I’ve been trying to get my life back together, and I’ve finally realized this is probably as good as it will be until I can make my way forward.

One of the things that I do to try to keep myself “somewhat current” is by repairing and rebuilding hardware for charity. I’ve got a batch of lower-end laptops that I’ve got rebuilt to donate to the local Veterans’ Family Assistance program, and now, a wireless router.

I took a chance on a WNDR4300 router that would turn on, but just wouldn’t work. After ensuring they hadn’t undervolted it by using the wrong power supply (which happens quite often), I connected via Ethernet, and was able to see the ethernet switch, so I knew that was usable. I did the infamous 30-30-30 reset to try to get it back to life.

The power button began flickering when it finally came up, but it refused to take anything from TFTP. Could it be dead?

Upon opening the case and tracking down the 4 TTL pins (common for a full-fledged serial device over three pins, and power), I connected my PL303HX based USB serial adapter, loaded up Minicom, and- we’re off to the races!

It went from Uboot straight into a kernel panic. That’s not a great thing. I tried TFTP again, and it absolutely refused, even with a signed image.

The Uboot build on this device is rather featureful, offering to accept files sent via YModem and Kermit. So, I tracked down some code for the YModem protocol, hacked it up a little, and sent off the binary.

The next morning (it was nearly 10MB, and being sent at 15200 baud. That isn’t all tha tfast these days), I had it boot from the RAM image, and I got a functioning TFTP service! I sent the LEDE 17.01.3 (freshly brewed this morning) image to it, and it’s now working!

Was it worth that much time? I guess that depends on what you value- this was a great learning experience for me, seeing just how much I am learning, and am capable of doing just a few years after my life-altering incident (even if it is with a bit of liberal Google use).