Bricked WRT54G with Blinking Power Light. Hard reset? TFTP? Nope – New Power Adapter. 11

WRT54GLike many owners of the ubiquitous Linksys WRT54G wireless router, I like to run aftermarket firmware on my device to unlock more of this router’s potential. I use one as my primary wireless router in my house, but I also use some as wireless Ethernet client bridges and wireless repeaters. So when I saw a WRT54G v3 for sale near me for $40 on Craiglist, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab another one. I offered $30 and the seller accepted.

When I picked up the unit, the first thing I noticed was that the previous owner had upgraded the antenna to the +7db versions. Score! My $30 outlay was looking like a better deal by the minute. I also noticed that the power supply was not Linksys branded, and the output rating on the adapter was 9V 300mA. Once I got home, I plugged it in to test, and the unit lit up. But then the power light started flashing… and then kept flashing. I pulled the plug, did a hard reset, and tried again. Suck! Was this thing bricked already?

I tried all the standard tricks to unbrick this router, including everything on Recover from a Bad Flash on the DD-WRT website and the article I’d used successfully in the past: Bricked! Or, How to Resurrect a Dead Linksys WRT54G on WiFi Planet.

I was able to get my router to ping, using a combination of a 30/30/30 reset. I was also able to get a TFTP upload to complete successfully, using the original Linksys firmware, but I still couldn’t get the unit to boot or display the GUI. I also used TFTP to upload DD-WRT mini and Tomato, but still had the same results. I hate to admit that I even tried jumping pins 15 and 16. But even that didn’t work.

I was about to toss the unit in the trash (keeping the upgraded antenna, of course), but then remembered that the power supply wasn’t stock. There’s some discussion as to what the correct power settings are for these units, as they were designed to accept a range of adapters. I’ve heard anywhere from 5V to 12V will work. So I figured since I was going to toss the router anyway, messing with the power couldn’t do much damage. So I hit The Shack and purchased an adjustable wall wart that was capable of anywhere from 3-12V and 1000mA (otherwise known as 1 amp). I brought it home, plugged it in, and…

Everything worked. I had spent hours on resets, ping attempts, firmware upload attempts, taking it apart and putting it back together, all in vain. Power was the culprit. The unit must have been getting enough juice to turn on, and even ping, but eventually it would reset, flash all the lights, and attempt to boot up again – over, and over, and over. Giving it 12V and allowing it to draw up to 1 amp was the key. I uploaded the latest Tomato firmware, and now the unit runs like a champ!

So if your router is WRT54G is acting bricked, but nothing else seems to be working, maybe you should try the easy solution first: just swap out the power supply!

  • Tomasz

    hi Steve,
    I had same issue with blinking power light etc. After reading few posts, I found your blog and BINGO ! Thank you very much for posting your experience, I had same issue caused by broken power adapter. Thanks to you blog I saved a lot of time, just replaced faulty power adapter… All the best.

  • Redion

    Same issue here. Although I did have an original linksys PSU but after theral testing I found out that it could not hold the load. Thanks!

  • tad

    Like you I bought a used linksys.Got it from the sally ann thrift store for $3 with intentions of experimenting with cascading routers. Also like you, it did not have the original psu. Spent couple hrs combing the interwebs for this flashing light syndrome. Was just about to d/l the firmware,TFTP etc when I came across this blog. Dug through a few boxes and found a psu from a pc speaker set and BINGO!!! No more flashing light :)
    How much you want for those stylin’ antennae? 😀

  • Sri

    Thanks for your suggestion, it worked for me too.

  • Allan MacDonald

    Thanks. I thought all was lost when I bricked a wrt54GL trying to dumb it down to Kamakazi from Backfire. No ping but a connected wifi planet hint talked about using the reset during the DMZ light and that got me access to the command line while it was flashing. A OpenWrt troubleshooting page got me to a proper cleanup and reboot by command line and Voila! It’s alive!

  • Andy

    My old but reliable wrt54g router with a range you will not find in any of the less than really expensive new Cisco routers, started blinking a week ago. Tried everything from resetting to upgrading firmware etc. When I tried unplugging and replugging I also noticed that the routers power supply was getting really hot. Nothing helped howewer and I went to the shop and bought a new router. On the way home I stopped by my parents and did some research online at their house on the best way to install and getting maximum range. Still hurting form the 200 bucks I had just forked over I couldn’t help but searching for the blinking power light problem again and stumbled on to your page. My father miraculously had an almost new 12v 1250mA adapter lying around. Went home and before getting the shrink wrap of the new router I just bought I tried the new power supply with my old wrt54g and voila: has been running smooth again ever since. Returned the new router the next day and happily received my 200 bucks back! Thanks for this super tip!

  • Justin

    Thanks for you article. Exact same problems. I hooked up another power 5v power adapter and works just fine now. I have been messing with this thing all day.

  • Waldo

    THANKS!!! A lot of time searching, reset, etc, change the power source, and all leds OK again!!!

  • http://gravatar.com/juanjosepablos juanjosepablos

    Thanks!!!!! I was going to trash it!!

  • Yotekomo Elkokito

    Hi Steve: just great! It was easier than I could imagine! thanks a lot! Luis

    • http://stevejenkins.com/ Steve Jenkins

      Glad it worked for you!