GoPro HD Hero2 Won’t Turn On – Firmware Flash Fix

Update January 12, 2016: This seems to be very popular, and fixing a LOT of GoPro cameras! I’m going to re-visit this soon, and update it. I hope it can continue helping everyone save GoPros from the trash bin!

If you try this fix, remember to post a comment and let everyone know how it worked out!

Just recently, I had a problem where my GoPro HD Hero2 would not turn on, with battery or USB connection for power. Reading up on it a bit, I found that many others have had this issue, and aside from the few voodoo “fixes” which involved insert-remove-power-button-blah sequences, the only real fix was to re-flash the firmware. This seems to me to be a symptom of bit-rot in the firmware flash chip, with a weak cell or block, that would read out properly once in every 50 attempts to boot.

GoPro’s instructions for updating firmware involve downloading their CineForm software that has a magic flasher integrated somewhere. I don’t like big bloated software downloads to do little things, so I found a way to do it without it, on YouTube by user WellingtonBikeCam01. So, here is the fix, with much credit given to that video (which is marked CC-BY-NC, so here’s a modified version of the instructions with my own experience mixed in). Try this at your own risk. If your camera is under warranty, and you are not experienced with firmware flashing, just send it back to GoPro instead.

UPDATE: Check Dan’s comment below – and try putting the thing in the fridge for a few hours first! It’s worked for me on jinky hard drives, too.

For those who are curious about the fridge thing: Cold spray (in a can!) is commonly used as a diagnostic tool for electronics, because it does two things: first, it alters the physical dimensions of the device, which can cause micro-cracks to open or close or otherwise make themselves known; second, it alters the electrical characteristics of the device, possibly pushing it just into or just outside of a tolerance limit. This lets you identify broken parts, and (in our case) possibly coax something into working when it is otherwise not doing so. I suspect the flash memory chip, since they can fail by having their data fade away. Pushing the tolerance of “data won’t read” into “data just barely does read” by making it cold is possibly why this works for us here.

  1. Read all instructions and understand that if there’s a problem, it’s your problem, not mine. Make sure the camera battery is fully charged.
  2. Optional, for difficult cases: Put camera in fridge/freezer, inside a ziplock bag. See comments below for info.
  3. Download the latest firmware from GoPro here: http://software.gopro.com/Firmware/HD2/HD2-firmware.bin (“wget” and “fetch” also work, for those who prefer CLI)
  4. Copy the firmware file to an SD card.
  5. Optional: Remove camera from fridge/freezer.
  6. Insert the SD card into the camera.
  7. (Retry from here, see below) Remove and re-insert the battery.
  8. Place the camera on a solid table surface.
  9. Hold down the top “shutter” button while turning the camera on with the front “power” button.
  10. Release the shutter button only after the camera display appears.
  11. If the display doesn’t turn on within a few seconds, this boot attempt failed (yay bad flash chip). Go to the remove/insert battery step above where it says “Retry from here”, and do it over and over until it actually boots. It may take many tries!
  12. Press and release the power button, you need to do it quickly after the camera turns on and you release the shutter button (so I have read).
  13. A prompt will appear that says “press 1” – Press and release the power button. A prompt will appear that says “press 2” – Press and release the power button again.
  14. The camera will install the first update and turn itself off. The red light will blink, and it will show an updating icon on the screen. Don’t touch the camera at all! If the power is interrupted by a jinky battery connection during the flash, you may brick the camera! Don’t even wiggle the table. Just wait. My display said it was installing version 77 (bootloader maybe?).
  15. (v198 only, says the original YouTube instructions. Not sure if that’s the case?) Power the camera on, and the update will continue for about a minute, installing the next part of the firmware, and the camera will turn itself off. My display said it was installing version 222 (operating software maybe?).
  16. Delete the “HD2-firmware.bin” file from the SD card.
  17. After formatting the SD card in the camera, there will be a “version.txt” file in the “MISC” folder of the SD card. It will contain the long version of the firmware number, so instead of “v70” or whatever you had, you’ll see this: “firmware version”:”HD2.08.12.222.WIFI.R56.00″ (or whatever you put on)

Notes:

  • It’s recommended to delete all files from the SD card and format it freshly before doing a firmware upgrade.
  • All camera settings will revert to defaults after the upgrade. If you have any special settings, write them down first.
  • You may have to reformat your SD cards in the camera for them to be recognized. It’s always best to format cards using the device they are used in, instead of on a computer.
  • It’s a good idea to verify the hash of the new file before installing it.

SHA1 hashes:
v222 – 15a3858dec60467439fafd7804ea7d649b487634
v198 – 5031a90ce730591e207ddf3d6ae4546e22037eb8
v124 – a923d64ed486054244997863972c6aedd3ea197e
v70 – 47c8de1e88e6709f53de98462037e3dcb1e44758
v58 – 7468e67f62560eee40acbfa3f7cadd9e5ce0eb05
v50 – 328d97d4bde572fe83ccefb7a5f7f28fc209c539

I found in the process that there’s this thing called ProTune, which activates new framerates and resolutions that are useful for professional film shoots. It also applies a more neutral color curve to the recorded image, leaving greater latitude for color correction in post-production. Very handy!

I hope this helps someone else out there un-brick their GoPro. Great little cameras! And GoPro, use some better-spec flash chips, will ya? Thanks =)

And, finally, in the spirit of the YouTube author that made my day, this post is CC-BY-NC-SA.

UPDATE: After flashing, my camera was booting up just fine, but being jinky. It would stop recording after a few seconds, or randomly lock up, or otherwise behave badly. Did the usual routine of formatting the SD card in the device, etc. The first try of re-flashing died after a few seconds – I panicked, thinking I had bricked it. But, the bootloader/flasher was intact, and I was able to flash it again. It’s working better, but still locks up when flipping through menus, etc. Think I might be sending it back for replacement. Sigh!

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Two update? This is obviously too much of a hassle. During recording, it *appeared* to be locked for a few seconds, red lights stuck on, time counter at 00:08, nothing happening. Five seconds later, it counted up to 00:14 really fast, and kept going. I wonder if my SD card has bad blocks it’s controller is sparing out? Going to do a full zero-overwrite on it and see if it helps.

If you try this fix, remember to leave a comment and let everyone know how it went!

And if it doesn’t work, and your GoPro has finally given up the ghost, I can recommend the new GoPro Session cameras – they are a bit smaller, and less expensive than the full-size GoPro Hero 5 cams. I’ve gotta say, the Hero 5 looks pretty attractive for making pro-quality video in a tiny package…

 

Aaron K.

Aaron Kondziela is a technologist and serial entrepreneur living in New York City.

 

136 thoughts on “GoPro HD Hero2 Won’t Turn On – Firmware Flash Fix

  1. Boot load problem is the likely issue. It would load once in 10 or 20 times depending on its mood. I just gave up on it a year ago. I downloaded the latest firmware from the GoPro website, (https://gopro.com/support/articles/hd-hero2-manual-firmware-update-instructions), put it on the GoPro formatted SD card, tried booting it many times unsuccessfully and kept taking out the battery to reset it until it happened, it booted up. I was following the sequence for the firmware update all along by holding the shutter button while powering it on and it updated as stated. Thanks for the help, GoPro should pay you to have so many of these devices working again. Much appreciated mate

  2. This worked for me and saved my GP2!! Exact symptoms, freezer for 1hr, followed steps exactly and it works. Thanks for your effort!!!

  3. Tried it without the freezer with no luck. Tried again with the freezer and it came on after two or three tries! Firmware update went smoothly (my number was higher, 312, I think)

    It got a lot of condensation on it during the process so it’s drying out in a bag of rice right now.

    Thanks!!

  4. I have a Hero2 HD that I have had for some time. It had not been used in several years. When I went to turn it on it would not turn on. I tried all of the remedies listed but nothing worked. I finally put the camera without battery or SD card into the freezer. The first time for 2 hours. When I removed and installed the battery it turned on. Great! When I turned it off it would not turn on again. Back to the freezer for 4 hours. It turned on but when I turned it off same result. Down loaded the latest firm ware to SD card via computer. Froze camera overnight. When I turned it on I pressed both buttons. Firm ware installed as noted and now It works fine so far. Thank you so much for the great notes and help.

  5. Did this fix. I manage to power up my camera a couple of times however, it just won’t upgrade. I got stuck up until # 12. Anymore bright ideas guys

  6. Just keep trying, I remember when I did it the timing of the button pushing was touchy. Try a little faster, a little slower, etc.

  7. My Hero 2 had this problem where it wouldn’t turn on when it had been on for a while, or maybe when it was hot, or maybe something else. If it had been sitting it behaved perfectly, but if I had to change the battery, or turned it off between recordings to save battery, it mostly (but not always) wouldn’t turn back on again until it cooled off or some capacitor discharged or… something. Putting it in the cooler (inside its waterproof case, of course) sometimes worked, but sometimes didn’t. Taking the battery out for a while sometimes worked (but mostly didn’t)

    I was baffled by this problem, how does a device that works fine for several years suddenly have problems that are fixed with a firmware update? That’s bizarre!

    But it worked. My GoPro 2 works like it did when I got it.

  8. aMine wouldn’t power on with the original battery so hey easy fix buy a new battery which i did and they came with a new charger.I charged a new battery and installed and nada nothing tried all the tricks i could find nothing.aI charged the original battery with the new charger and hey it springs to life! short lived however after i cut it off would not come back on dam!I came across this page and thought why not so in a bag and into the freezer for three hours with no battery or card in it.Take it and install the battery boom springs to life! short lived again after cutting off it will not come back on shit!Put it in the freezer once again and just took it out popped in the battery and it comes right on I recorded till the disk was full and it seems fine until cut it off again.I have 2 gopro standard definition units i have had for 10 years without an issue.

  9. If it continues to give you trouble, do the freezer thing to get it running, and do the firmware flash. My working theory is that the data in the firmware chip starts to fade over time, freezing it alters the electrical properties just enough to make it boot up, and re-flashing new firmware overwrites the weak parts and refreshes the whole thing. Hope they give you years more good service!!

  10. I thought for a minute you wanted to see how many people you could get to freeze their GoPros. The freezer thing was the only way I could get mine working. I only put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. It works perfect now, thank you. Been trying to get this thing working for 2 weeks and ran across this web page.

  11. Thanks so much! This seems to have fixed my Hero 2 that was working fine before it went into storage for 4 months during my move to Texas, but was somehow bricked when I went to use it today.

  12. You will own GoPro. Thanks man.
    You don’t know how many time I spent with #GoPro Customer Service, forum, video and lots of bullshit.
    Finally I got back my Hero2. Amazing. GoPro Sucks!!!!!

  13. Tried the freezer trick and couldn’t believe it actually worked! Couldn’t get the firmware to update but thought I’d plug it into my pc but now it wont turn on again. Been in the freezer a few times but still nothing. Think I’all leave it to heat up and try again later.

  14. Keep trying until you can get the firmware to update, it took me many many tries. If the problem is in fact weak memory cells, the update will re-write it and it’ll be fresh and new. Otherwise, it may continue giving troubles. Good luck!

  15. Nicks comment is very interesting, I’ve tried the freezer trick (about 3 hours) and still doesn’t boot up, screen is either blank or full block of pixels (alternates completely randomly, depending on how the gopro is emotionally feeling at the time)

    “patience young grasshopper”……-confusious

    It’s going back in overnight…

    I find it strange gopro havnt come to the party on this one, if they truly fully designed these units and stood behind them with some true integrity, they would offer a fix for this issue, I know the freezer works but that’s just shear luck that Terence the technitian took the time to work it out.

    All Terence was saving was his camera,
    why havnt gopro made the same effort to save the reputation of their company???

  16. Worked for me as well – Thank you, Aaron!

    Put in the freezer – at least 40 battery in/out and trying – again to freezer overnight – no success.

    Gentle warmup-cooldown treatment w/ heatgun and cold-spray. And then USB power – battery power – USB to PC and suddenly it started in USB mode but then shut off! That was first time it was showing some signs of life.

    Again back to freezer and suddenly after 10 tryouts started in firmware update mode. It took so may attempts I don’t even remember how long did I pushed the power button this time.

    First firmware update didn’t work as it shut down and didn’t power up itself to continue – manual power-up also didn’t work. So whole freezer process all over again.

    POINT: do not give up! It might take many more attempts that you might think of!

    ADVICE: keep battery in full charge – I also kept USB charger connected while fw update was running. Also be sure that SD card is properly formatted and firmware file sits in the root. Othervise hard reset works after 500th power-up but firmware doesn’t load due to SD card problems.

  17. bought a second hand go pro…did not power on… frustrated. came across here… put the camera in the freezer for ~3 minutes. put the card in with the updated version. TADAAAA. IT WORKED

  18. Put it in the freezer for 2-3hours and tried this….nothing. Thinking of trying it again. Gopro2s……

  19. Fantastic advice. had given up on my hero2 and purchased a hero5. decided to try and revive the old one cause why not. freezer for 2 hours. updated just fine and is now working like new. will post again if this changes. thanks a million for this thread. you need to be paid by gopro for this. better support then they even offer. hats off to you good sir!!!!!!

  20. I will give this a try on my GoPro Hero 4 Black. This is my last resort or I flush my gopro for good. I’ve done everything on youtube for the last 3 months but to no avail. I am about to give up on this shit. I will update soon. Thanks for this.

  21. No idea, but it’s worth a try and can’t hurt anything. It’s based on fundamental physical principles that apply to any kind of similar device. If it is failing in a similar way, the fix will fix it similarly well.

  22. Still hasn’t worked on my hero 4 black. Did it for so many times. More than 5 times it has been on the freezer and did the instructions but still nothing. Sad life.

  23. Thanks, hadn’t used my camera in a while, and when I picked it up it was dead and two different batteries (both original) didn’t charge.

    I finally figured out that connecting the camera to the USB charger without battery and having the red light blinking, I could put in the battery and a solid red light would show and the battery charged. I was however disappointed that the camera didn’t start with full battery either (same issue with both batteries). Due to a travel I left the camera without batteries for a couple of days, and when I came back I actually managed to start the camera when it was connected to the charger and I did record video for more than an hour, but when I turned it off it went dead again.

    The freezer trick did it all for me, after that I was able to start the camera and eventually upload the new firmware.
    My camera is a Hero 2 camera.

    Once again; thanks for this tip page!

  24. It worked! Put the GoPro in the freezer for approx 10-15 mins and it switched straight on..while it was on I plugged it into my laptop, went onto the gopro website, downloaded the lastest software and updated the firmware.. works perfect now!

  25. Followed the steps (five times) and I now have a HD2-14 working again. I tried different lengths of times in the freezer. I could only get to step 12. The overnight in the freezer try was the one that worked for me. Thanks!

  26. doing this but after the camera turns on it freezes. what can i do to fix?

  27. WOW!!! IT WORKS AFTER A 2 HOURS STAY IN THE COOLER WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS PROVIDED!
    INCREDIBLE… THANKS!!!
    SO APPRECIATED.

  28. I tried everything without the freezer technique, no luck at all, even replaced the old battery with a brand new one.

    I did the freezer technique for 1H before powering it on and it de-bricked it !!

    Thanks a lot

  29. It worked!
    My Hero2 has been a brick for more than 2 years. I put it in the freezer for a night then it started charging. But could not do these steps to update FW because it didn’t boot after charging. I repeated putting it in freezer and step 9 several times. Then it started updating FW. I didn’t have to manually turn it on in the middle. You better see the YouTube to get the idea. After the FW is updated, it boots up like before.

  30. After 2 or 3 years in the shed, my hero 2 was bricked. It would turn on but was stuck with the video camera icon. Freezing the camera for about an hour worked for me. Removed it from the freezer and inserted the battery and SD card (with the latest firmware on the SD card). Finally got the firmware to install, but had to manually turn on the camera during firmware installation. Works perfectly now! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *