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.

 

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

  1. It worked thank-you so much!!!

    I was having the hardest time getting my camera to work. It started doing this to me about 8 months ago. I tried everything in the book except for this and nothing worked. To everybody else who is having troubles, trust me putting the camera in the freezer really helps.other than removing the battery before i put it in the freezer I followed these steps exactly and it worked for me.

  2. That looks bad… If it’s a corrupt firmware, which is possible, you may be able to fix it using the re-flash and freezer trick and steps that are on this page. Although, it could be something completely different broken internally. If the freezer trick doesn’t help, you’ll probably need to replace the camera. Good luck!

  3. Got a brand new Go Pro 2 for my son for X-mas, and right out of the box it wouldn’t turn on – After 2 days of trying, the freezer trick worked and it turned on, so thanks for the advice. I couldn’t get the firmware to download following the instructions above but did eventually manage it after making sure I had the latest version of GoPro Studio so that when I connected to the computer, it automatically did it. Wouldnt have even got the thing turned on without the advice above so Thanks

  4. I had the same issues (not powering up with my gopro) – it had not been used for years so it was hardly surprising that there would be an issue with it….. followed the instructions without the freezer part and it did not work. So gave the freezer option a skeptical try – it WORKED!
    Thanks for posting this – I would NEVER$ have been able to resolve this without your help!

  5. Freezer option REALLY worked!
    Thank you for posting this – I would NEVER have known how to fix this bug!

  6. I just tried it on my dead Gopro 2 and it works!! Followed the instruction and now I am a happy man again! Thank you so much!

  7. So every time I put the camera in the freezer for 1 hour it turns on but then it says “sd Error” and when I turn it off it wont turn back on… What are my options?

  8. After a lot of unsuccessful try, i was close to give up.
    Thanks a lot, your instructions are clear and this bring to live my gopro hero 2.
    The freezer trick was just brillant.

  9. Hello Aaron,

    We are at summer in Brazil, then i let my GoPro Hero 2 for three hours on freezer, and it turns on again.

    The firmware was updated e it’s running very well again.

    Thanks and Congratulations for your precise tutorial.

    Flavio Braz

  10. This works for me. However it seems that when i get my HERO2 going.. If there is any rattle or impact, It completely bricks the camera again. Tried aftermarket batteries and the original battery(which now has a hard time closing the back). Tried 2 different SD cards also. Any ideas?

  11. That sounds pretty bad. Repairing it would involve stripping the whole thing down to bare boards, removing anything that wouldn’t survive the temperature, and put it through a solder reflow process. (If you don’t already know what that is, this is not the thing to learn it on!) Basically you would heat it to re-melt the solder and fix any janky joints. No guarantees it would work, but there’s a slim chance. Although, it could simply be defective and need replacement.

  12. So I did the update after the fridge and it started up and recorded and performed greatly! So I shut it off and tried to power on and boom… no luck. What is going on?!

    Stephen

  13. The freezer trick definately works – however I was unable to get the camera to up date the software using the memory card as suggested above – so opted for connecting to gopro studio via usb after the camera had come to life after its time in the freezer.

    The camera is now working fine.

  14. My GoPro2 was dead for over a year. I followed the steps exactly and used the freezer trick and much to my amazement – it WORKS!

    Thanks for the great article, you saved me buying a new GoPRO.

    Marcel

  15. It worked for me. But I put in the freezer for 10 minutes. I reinstalled the firmware but after 2 days it was blocked again with no response.

    I call Gopro support but they don’t know anything. Surprised? my warranty expired 2 months ago.

    I will try to put in the freezer for 2 hours to see what will be the result.

    Thanks.

  16. So after 2 years of using my GoPro Hero2 I decided to download the GoPro studio app on my mac. When I plugged the camera in I was given an information – YOU SHOULD UPGRADE YOUR FRIMWARE.
    So I did it.
    And then the GoPro went dead. It is useless. I tried a few ways of fixing it that I found on the internet but nothing happens. It doesn;t turn on.
    This is ridiculous. NEVER EVER will buy any shit of this company.

  17. Ah! Thank you very much. I was able to unbrick my GoPro Hero 2 thanks to your post. The freezer thing did the trick, and I only left it in for about 30 minutes.

    This was my first time using the camera in about two years, so I was afraid it was something to do with the internal clock battery or something. I was about to open the thing. Glad I didn’t.

    Thanks again!

  18. Mate, you have NO IDEA how grateful I am for this. To my absolute surprise, it worked!!!! Thank you so very much. It installed v312 on my Gopro. I must say, although Gopro was engaging in my correspondence with them, their resolution of the issue was very poor for a company of such stature. Thanks again for your help.

  19. Thank you for this post. You just saved my camera! I thought it was dead and was about to trash it when I came across this. Thanks again!!!

  20. Hi guys, yesterday i bought on a flea market a Gopro 2 that don’t power on (the seller told me that if i had any issues i could return it to him next weekend). The camera at first charged, the red spot light dim, but the camera never turn on. Now, when i connect the usb cable, nothing happened with the red light. I check the battery with a tester and it’s fully charged, the tester give me a meassure of 4.08 Volt, so, now i have the camera on the fridge without the SD card and the battery, only the camera, I hope it works.

    Sorry for the bad english 🙁

  21. After 2 hours in the refrigerator and about 50 attempts, the camera turned on, but the SD card was not recognized, so I connected the camera to the PC and was detected by the GoPro Studio software told me that there was an update available. After the upgrade, I had to turn off and turn on the camera to complete the firmware update, but now the camera refuses to start again. I will try to deal again with the refrigerator.

  22. After two days on holiday playing with the camera I havent any more ideas how to make the damn thing working again. FREEZER? Wouldnt believe that….but it WORKS. Thanks a lot.

  23. I’m impressed! Thanks for sharing these instructions – I almost gave this camera to the ecostation!

  24. This method solver power-up problem. Thanks!
    Tried without fridge trick – camera was still unable to power-up. Fridge trick allowed camera to power-up and solve problem.

  25. You beauty Aaron! My HD Hero2 was going straight in the bin, it appeared to be completely dead. Dead as Dillinger, dead as a doornail. Then i found your frosty guide and after a 60 min cool down it powered up first time. I flashed it with the files linked above and now it works perfectly again.
    Hooray!
    Thanks!

  26. Amazing!
    Managed to charge the battery enough to power the camera and then froze it and was able to flash the new version.
    Thank you

  27. Hi, thanks for the instructions, willing to give this a go.

    Do you have to take out the battery and SD Card before you put it in the freezer?

    Thanks in advance!

  28. Well, you would want to remove the battery, since batteries will stop working when they get too cold. (actually that’s a good tip in general in the winter, keep the batteries for your camera in an inside coat pocket until you are ready to use em!). The SD card wouldn’t much matter. Hope this works for you!

  29. THANK YOU AARON!!! The freezer treatment totally worked!

    I left my camera (without battery and SD card) in freezer for 7 hours (forgot about it). Followed your instructions, it powered up right away I then connected it to my laptop and ran the update from GoPro Studio. Followed prompts. Verified update. Test video successful. Works like a charm 🙂

  30. After days of frustration I gave the freezer trick a try as a last resort cause I thought the camera was dead but to my amazement I was able to power it back up and updated the firmware .now it works like a charm.im really thankful as I was about to call it junk.

  31. Hey… thanx for all the work, but i’m stuck in one of the first steps: when i go to the link in order to get the “firmware”, i found there a bunch of files … which ones are the ones that i need to copy to the SD card?
    Thank you for your help!

  32. Already pronounced my GoPro 2 dead when it wouldn’t do anything but show the loading led… Freezer for an hour worked like a charm – Thank you guys so much.

  33. The link in step 3 goes directly to a single file, which should work as far as I know. I don’t see a link that leads to a bunch of files, so I’m not sure what you are referring to?

  34. Aaron, ur a star
    My HD 2 now works again, I think the bit-fade theory is likely, maybe a long period of discharged battery exhausts an internal battery or something but who cares, it works now.
    Great instructions and as an added bonus, the old battery which I had written off seems fine now so happy days, a working GoPro and two batteries
    Thanks again
    Dean

  35. Had not used my Hero 2 for about 18 months, tried to turn it on , and like everyone else nothing. Spent many hours searching YouTube for an answer and nothing worked.

    Until today that is . . .Thank you so much Aaron !!! . . . without your help it surely was destined for the waste bin, all i can say is, i don’t understand why Freezing for an hour can make any difference but it does, and thanks to you i have a fully working Hero 2 camera again BRILLIANT !!!

  36. It worked!

    I bought a used Hero2 from an REI scratch and dent sale for $16. When I took it home, it would not turn on. I had to place the gopro in the freezer a total of five times, leaving it in the freezer for an hour each time, before the LCD on the front would properly display and the camera would turn on.

    Initially the LCD would not work at all and there was no beep. After two hours in the freezer it had a weird looking screen (like what Eamon showed from December 24, 2014 at 22:43). After hour three in the freezer it showed a solid black LCD screen. Finally after hour five in the freezer the red lights flashed and the buzzer beeped and I was able to reflash the firmware off the SD card.

    Thanks again!

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