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The fun of installing custom router firmware (tomato, dd-wrt) - an introduction

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I managed to brick my router :)

On a side note, it looks like I've got a chance of debricking if I can manage a serial hook-up.  One way forward seems to be to get some header pins attached to the router's PCB, but it's been decades since my first soldering activity.  Anyone have recommendations regarding learning how to solder?  (I looked for press-fit / solderless header pins but haven't managed to find any locally so far.)

It's good you can smile about it  :tellme:
can you unbrick it?

from my personal experience, TP-Link is a poor choice when it comes to custom FW. i too had bricked one due to same differences as ewemoa encountered.

IIUC, the goof I made had to do with restoring to the manufacturer's firmware -- wrote the file starting at the wrong location (or put differently, didn't tell the command line utility to skip an appropriate number of bytes from the file before starting to write) [1].  From the logs and memory I believe this luckily "missed" the bootloader.  If this is correct, then the bootloader may still be functional -- if it can just be connected to and communicated with, then additional attempts to restore may be possible.  Am interested in building appropriate "firmware" for this model anyway, so having serial access sounds like it'd help there too.

FWIW, I specifically chose this model because it was 1) available locally, 2) wasn't too expensive, and 3) there had been one report of compatibility with DD-WRT and OpenWRT (unfortunately, this was for V1.x, not the 2.X I got though).  This makes it much less stressful to experiment!

[1] Another point to be wary of -- file size of "firmware" :)

I managed to brick my router :)
-ewemoa (April 16, 2014, 08:06 PM)
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Awesome! You now have the opportunity to experience one of the best learning opportunities possible - fixing a mistake.

Been there in case you haven't guessed already. My mistake was not following the instruction which said to install the basic version of the replacement firmware first before attempting to install the tricked-out super-duper version. Got all the way through very nicely and then bricked on reboot.  "RTFM" strikes again! ;D)

Anyone have recommendations regarding learning how to solder?
-ewemoa (April 16, 2014, 08:06 PM)
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There's several good ones on YouTube.

An informal but very comprehensive series of soldering videos can be found here. (The rest of this guy's stuff is pretty good too.)


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