Breathe new life into your old home router

Un-Bricking a Router

When we started reflashing and reconfiguring our router for these projects, we made lots of mistakes. We locked up or "bricked" our routers about a dozen times.

If you've made a simple mistake, often all you need to do is reset your router and then connect directly to a LAN port to redo your configuration. If this fails, check the OpenWRT blog for any recommendations for your specific router model. There are some excellent custom solutions such as nmrpflash [6] for Netgear routers, which offers an almost 100 percent guaranteed un-bricking solution.

If resetting the router doesn't work and there are no custom solutions, then the next step is the 30-30-30 Hard Reset rule. The following will work for almost all routers:

  • Press the reset button for 30 seconds
  • While pressing the reset button, unplug the router for another 30 seconds
  • Plug the router back in while still holding the reset button for a final 30 seconds
  • Release the reset button, and try to reconfigure

Unfortunately, there are cases where even the 30-30-30 Hard Reset rule won't un-brick a router. This happened to us when we loaded an incorrect firmware version.


In our tasks for these projects, we found that using shell scripting in Ash rather than Bash wasn't an issue. However if you are moving code between OpenWRT and Raspbian, you'll need to toggle between #!/bin/ash and #!/bin/bash.

If you would rather use MQTT instead of TCP to pass data, the Mosquitto sub/pub command-line tools can be installed on the router using opkg.

Overall, we would recommend repurposing an old home router. It offers a lot of interesting projects with a small price tag.

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