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.

 

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

  1. Hello,
    I am on an infinite loop between steps 5..9 :))
    Is there any option of fleshing the firmware directly on the chip, if I dismantle the camera first ?

    Best regards,
    Dan.

  2. after some extra thought, my girlfriend had a marvelous idea: store the camera and the battery pack in the fridge for a couple of hours. It worked and the first thing I have done was to update the firmware.

    Thanks for the information.

  3. Dan,

    Yeah, I had to try the 5..9 steps maybe 50-100 times, it felt like forever! Just took a lot of tries for the weak memory cell to read correctly (if that’s the issue). I’ve not yet dismantled the camera to see if it can be flashed by hand, I’m sure there’s some JTAG interface or something where it could be done, but that sounds like a lot of work. The idea to chill it to change the response characteristics of the chip is genius, I should have thought of that, as it’s saved my ass in the past! Kudos to your girlfriend, and happy to hear that it’s working for you now!

  4. Thanks to the original post, that made me keep trying to fix my GOPRO Hero2, broken just after warranty expired. But Special thanks to Dan Corneanu, I just put it to the fridge for 2 hours and worked out. came alive again. This happend just now, I managed to upgrade the firmware using Cineform Studio. Now it is not recognising my SD card, probably because the humidity (caondenzation after taken out from the fridge. But the camera looks fine, is charging right now.

    Thanks again

  5. Im stuck in an infinite loop between 5 and 9 as well and the fridge idea didn’t work for me. Is there anything else i can do??

  6. It took me many tries before it worked. I’d suggest throwing on a movie, and trying over and over and over. If it doesn’t do it after a hundred or so tries, good chance you will need to send it back to GoPro. You could try heat also, but not too much – nothing hotter than you can touch for extended periods. Maybe leave it in a sunny place for a few hours, or near a radiator. Keep the battery out of it while heating if you try that. Cold is probably better, but who knows! Best of luck!

  7. This blog post + the refrigerator comment did the trick for me! Just wanted to comment to say thanks all!

  8. This is Genius !! Saved my Hero 2. Gopro tech support couldn’t figure it out. The freezer trick was Key. thank you so much.

  9. I am having the same issue and not real familiar with the firmware update, I’m past warranty and gopro support has no answers. I tried the freezer thing for 30 min and it came on however shut back off. Do I need to do the freezer longer? Also, I guess I’m not 100% understanding the steps, so I freeze it for a couple of hours then proceed through all the steps? Sorry, I’m really new to this tech stuff.

  10. Nick,

    For the freezer trick, stick it in the freezer for at least an hour to make sure it’s good and cold, through and through. However, do NOT put the battery in the freezer, as it won’t have any benefit to this fix, and cold batteries don’t hold charge very well.

    So if you imagine it in terms of the steps listed, let’s put step 4-1/2 between steps 4 and 5, and step 4-1/2 should be “Remove the well-chilled camera from your freezer”

    You wouldn’t want to do it on a very humid day; a very dry day would be best, to prevent condensation inside the camera. And once the fix works, remove the battery and let it warm up for at least 3 or 4 hours before using it, again to avoid condensation.

    Part of the problem that this fix attempts to work around is the camera not consistently booting. So, you may have to try the process (steps 5 through 9) many times before it takes. It took me nearly a hundred, but it worked eventually. Freezing seems to reduce the number of tries needed, or otherwise increases the chance of success.

    It’s good to note that this may not work at all. If the firmware storage chip inside the camera is too badly damaged, then no amount of fiddling around will help, and you’ll need to repair or replace the camera. But definitely give this method a try, and give it a few hundred tries before you give up! Put on some old movie while you work to avoid boredom, but be sure to pay attention to the timing of the steps.

    Best of luck, Nick!

  11. THANK YOU! THANK YOU EVERYONE! (especially Dan’s girlfriend…you’d better marry that girl Dan). I put mine in the fridge and it did take a few goes to get it to start up again after automatically turning off, but we got there 🙂

  12. Absolutely invaluable info here, THANKS so much for the post and everyone’s input.

    I tried this several times with no success. I then tried putting the camera in the fridge, still no success. HOWEVER, after reluctantly putting my camera in the freezer (wasn’t sure about hurting the camera even though others suggested this) for about an hour, it came to life and I was able to update the firmware (did exactly as listed in the steps above) – works perfectly now!

  13. thanks, it has worked for me.
    no fridge. Just between 70 et 80 attemps, pulling out battery and shortcut + & – connectors from gopro to be sure no caps stay charged between attemps.
    firmware flash has gone well.
    Error SD message at first start. I had to format it from camera and everything goes well now… for long i hope.

  14. I had tried everything and found all of the steps over and over in thread after thread. The only thing that made this thread much different (other then the happy people actually getting results) was the freezer trick. It was a last act of desperation but it has worked like a charm. Thank you so much. Saved me a couple hundred bucks!

  15. Hi i think it worked after putting it out from the fridge, it did the update but i don’t know how long should it usually take, coz it still says updating over a couple of minutes. btw i did it with my Gopro hero3, also downloaded the right software update with it.

  16. The freezer trick really worked, thanks for sharing. I did the update through the GoPro software, and it was easy.

  17. Bought a dodgy hd2 from ebay wouldnt switch on popped it in the freezer and followed these instructions, firmware now updated happy as a pig in S##T
    A big THANKYOU

  18. In freezer now. If it does work. Like I mean turn on. Do I have to still need do the firmware flash or can I just do a normal update straight from sd card. The flash bit scares me.

  19. Same result – the firmware chip will be overwritten with updated code. So you are flashing it either way, just two different techniques/tools. Use whatever works for you.

  20. Didn’t work for me and tried the freezer trick three times. Can the repair bAttety inset be done over a period of time ie days? Also it’s a hd hero 3 so may just not work on this.
    I do get the camera logo appear if I plug usb in and turn it on. Then pull the usb before it can go into usb mode. But it still doesn’t boot/turn on. Just a faint flashing on the LCD screen.

  21. Your fix worked, third try was the charm, able to upload software updates and seems good to go, thank you, thank you very much for posting !

  22. I tried the freezer thingy but it didn’t work for me like it is working for everyone else. Could it be possible that it is a battery issue rather than the GoPro. I was just charging it the other day and the red light turned on like it was supposed to but my gopro didn’t. Now the red light won’t come on even when plugged in when i know it isn’t at a 100% charge. After having my gopro hero 2 for a couple years is it possible that it could be a battery issue?

  23. Amazing, the freezing tip worked! The gopro turned on, I did a firmware update with gopro studio and everything went fine. I hope it fix forever. Thanks you girlfriend for her crazy ideia.

  24. Hi,
    Hey Dan, your girlfriend just won another fan ! My Hero2 just came back from the dead after a 15 min passage in the freezer. Updated to 312 and it’s working like a charm !

    Aaron, great blog … saving all of us a lot of money. Kudos to you too.

  25. Froze it for 2.5 hours, removed the batter and reinserted it 100+ times and it still didn’t work. I’m worried that it may be because the battery isn’t charging properly. Sometimes I’ll plug it in and the front red light will turn on, sometimes it won’t.
    Currently I have it plugged in and the red light is on, so I’m hoping it’s charging.

    When the light goes off I’m going to try again. 🙁

  26. So I had the same problem – would not turn on after a few months of not using my Hero2. I read about the freezer trick and though you guys were crazy. I called Go Pro support. They basically said, no its dead you need to buy a new one. With nothing to loose – I put it into the freezer without the battery. And it worked. Holly shit! Cold is typically good for semiconductor speed. Is the cold somehow getting the cpu out of its inoperable state? Or is some how doing something to static memory so it works again? I don’t know but it worked. I sent Go Pro a note. No response. They definitely have an issue. I suppose if they say something then there could be enough backlash to launch a massive recall – probably better to keep their mouth shut. I’ll post again if they respond….

  27. Thanks for the info, but I’d like to point out something important.

    Instead of placing the battery in and then holding the shutter button and mode button, you want to hold the shutter button before inserting the battery, and then press the mode button. The way you describe it didn’t work for me (after about 100 tries throughout the day, after freezer and 2 batteries), but I found this similar way elsewhere and it worked first time. You’ll also want to keep holding the shutter button after it turns on, and then press the mode and it’ll say “press 1, 2, 3”, which will then start the firmware update. 🙂 Cheers!

  28. What rob said worked for me, in the freezer then press the top button with battery out, then put battery in and press front button. then it loaded first time!Its working for now, hope it lasts. Also make sure your battery is charged otherwise it wont have enough juice to install. goodluck

  29. Any ideas for hero3 hd. I just get blinking red light on back and a faint flashing on LCD menu display.

  30. The above steps, including freezing worked for me. My hero 2 was unresponsive. After trying the directions a dozen times I put the camera in a plastic bin and left it in the freezer for an hour. After removing I inserted the SD card with firmware on it and the battery. Power on worked and firmware updated. Let’s hope this fix is permanent. Thank you to the OP and the post with freezing suggestion. I will never buy gopro again. My Sony action cam works great with none of the gopro issues. Mahalo!

  31. I couldn’t even get the thing to charge (no red indicator when plugged in) until I froze it prior to popping in the battery and connecting the cable. The red indicator turned off as I left it to charge overnight. Popped out the battery, threw the camera back in the freezer for 30+ minutes, then commenced Operation Revive GoPro. Within a few minutes, the firmware was updated and the camera now turns on! Thanks so much!

  32. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh thank you so much. it was in the freezer for a couple hours, then, after the firmware screen, it beeped 5 times and it went blank. then i panicked and plugged in the usb charger. the screen came up with a different number, and everything was fine. 🙂 it is charging now, and i hope it can mantain.

  33. I can confirm the simplified version of this approach works as well. Camera in the freezer for two hours (without battery), then booted up with battery back on (worked first attempt), connect to laptop with Gopro studio installed, and followed the firmware update process from there. Easy mode!

  34. Even you can save the ziplock bag. Just put the camera and the battery(dismounted) inside the housing. 2 hours frozen and there it is. It worked to me. Thanks a lot to everyone

  35. Dude! Your a Hero – The freezer trick brought my GoPro back from the dead and then I could update the firmware – Cheers, Jason

  36. Oh my god, you’re my personal hero! Coulnd’t believe that whole thing& literally gave up with my gopro as it just constantly showed the updating-symbol. Works perfectly again!

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