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RT-AC86U Bootloop - Unable to Restore via Asus Tool

Discussion in 'ASUS AC Routers & Adapters' started by Eidolon86, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    Hello all. I've lurked here a while, but this is my first post. Perhaps someone might have some insight into an issue I am having.

    I recently purchased an Asus RT-AC86U router from Amazon. I immediately flashed the newest Merlin Firmware: 384.8_2, setup the router with OpenVPN, and then had no issues for about two days. The router seemed to work well via Wifi and Ethernet.

    This morning I noticed the Wifi was down, and the router was stuck in a bootloop. I am of course unable to access the web GUI, but I am able to boot the device in rescue mode by holding the reset button while powering the device on - at least I assume so since the power light blinks slowly and regularly. Using the Asus Firmware Restoration software while connected to the router with an Ethernet cable, it seems unable to find or recognize that the router is connected after pressing the upload button, and so times out with the message that the device is not in recovery mode.

    I have tried this with my computer IP set to 192.168.1.10 as instructed by Asus, and also to 192.168.50.10, since the router's IP was 192.168.50.1 by default. I have also tried automatic IP. If I power off the router and do not power it on again in recovery mode, it re-enters a state of constant bootlooping.

    I'd appreciate any help or insight that anyone might have. Thanks.
     
  2. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    After setting the IP address statically on your PC to 192.168.50.10 (or 192.168.1.10) try starting a continuous ping to the router. For example;
    Code:
    ping -t 192.168.50.1
    or
    ping -t 192.168.1.1
    Now try to boot into recovery mode as before and see if you are getting a response to the pings. If not try plugging the Ethernet cable into different ports.

    I don't know whether the RT-AC86U is like the earlier models, but on those you could tell if you were in recovery mode because the pings returned a TTL=100 (instead of the usual TTL=64).
     
  3. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    While in recovery mode I am able to ping the router at 192.168.1.1, and it does indeed return TTL=100 instead of 64.

    The Asus utility continues to give its default "The wireless router is not in rescue mode." upon failure to connect. As an aside, when selecting firmware, the utility also indicates that the firmware is not official Asus firmware, though it is downloaded directly from Asus. It gives the same indication when selecting a Merlin firmware image. It still allows you to continue (at least to the point at which it is unable to see the router). I've read in other threads that this is typical.
     
  4. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    Instead of trying to use the utility program can you point your PC's browser at http://192.168.1.1 and get the CFE miniWeb server? I don't know whether that's still an option on your model. If it is then use that instead.
     
  5. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    I am unable to connect via browser. The connection is refused.
     
  6. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    Did you try the whole procedure using 192.168.50.x instead? Presumably it doesn't respond at all on that address?
     
  7. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    OK it looks like I'm just repeating previous discussions about this and the RT-AC86U doesn't work like the old models.

    Read through this thread if you haven't already. This looks like the most promising post.
     
  8. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    I did try the procedure with a static IP of 192.168.50.x and cannot ping anything. I just tried before since 192.168.50.1 is the default router IP while operating normally. 192.168.1.x allows me to at least ping it while it is in recovery mode.

    I did see that thread and my issue is identical to that of the post/video you indicated. His procedure however fails for me when the Asus utility is unable to connect to the router. I have tried a number of times - booting to recovery while it is trying to connect, before it tries to connect, holding the reset button for longer with it unplugged, etc. I have no issues entering recovery mode, just cannot get the utility to connect. The original OP seems to have the same issue but with the inability to even get to recovery mode.

    I do see that if booting while pressing the WPS button, I can reach the same screen via browser as the OP in the above thread here. I'm not sure if that would be a viable recovery route. Another poster suggested uploading via tftp. I don't have experience with these routers and would prefer not to truely brick it, if it is recoverable. Alternatively, I could just return it and hope for a good one.

    I really appreciate all of your help.
     
    Ameenhuus likes this.
  9. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    Just checking that you're using the recovery utility that is specific to the RT-AC86U and not the older multi-router version:
    https://dlcdnets.asus.com/pub/ASUS/...7.1202399231.1547329623-2097670677.1512402464

    Personally I would try uploading the firmware via that screen.
     
  10. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    So, I tried uploading through the web option given after booting with WPS pressed. It seemed to work, but then on reboot it simply started bootlooping again. I then tried via tftp, which indicated that it had uploaded, and the power led changed from a slow blink to solid, but upon a manual reboot, again it started looping.

    Finally, I tried the Asus utility once more (unfortunately, yes, I had been using the correct version, as you indicate above), and though I had previously tried perhaps a dozen times or more, it worked this time. I am unsure what may have changed to allow it to work. It doesn't matter though, as after indicating that the upload and recovery was finished and successful, it initiated a reboot which brought it back to the same unending sequence of rebooting itself every 15 seconds or so.

    I can only assume it is an issue seperate from the firmware. The router had been working for a solid 2 days prior to the bootloop issue. I can also say that at least as of a day ago there was no overheating as indicated from the browser GUI monitor.

    I am open to further suggestions, but I may be forced to just initiate a return or exchange.
     
  11. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    I think at this point I would assume the unit is faulty and get it replaced. Where did you get it from?
     
  12. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    I purchased it though amazon.com.

    Thank you again for your time and all of your help.
     
  13. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    I don't know what amazon.com are like but I've found amazon.co.uk excellent when it comes to returns and replacements.
     
  14. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    Amazon.com is also quite good. I don't imagine that I will have any issues.
     
  15. john9527

    john9527 Part of the Furniture

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    Try powering down the router and removing the power plug for a few minutes. Do it a couple of times if it doesn't work the first time.
     
  16. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    I have done so, multiple times since starting to troubleshoot, and thus far have had no luck.
     
  17. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Regular Contributor

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    John9527s advice is very good and has worked for me more than once on my other Asus routers. How long are you waiting. I would suggest 30 minutes to 1 hour. Over night would be better. Be patient. Also I would remove all cables and usb devices you may have connected. Also with all wires removed, press the power button as if you were trying to turn it on. This will drain all power from the capacitors. You want this thing grave yard dead. After all that reconnect the power cable only and hold down the reset button and press the power button. Continue to hold the reset button until the power light starts flashing. Then wait while the router does it's thing. Again patients. After 30 minutes or so, if you don't see the router setup screen then it's time to RMA.
     
  18. Eidolon86

    Eidolon86 New Around Here

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    I appreciate the advice. Unfortunately, I have tried this, and have now tried overnight as well. I have initiated the RMA process and hope to have luck with another unit.
     
  19. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Regular Contributor

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    Well good luck with your next one. I have an AC86U and it has been very stable going on 2 months now and I got it on EBay used. Sometimes you get lucky. I'm certainly not the router expert, but being an old, emphasis on the old, ham radio operator, I do know a few things about power supply and the ability of some capicators to hold a charge for a very long time. In your case sounds like you got a dud. Hopefully the next one will be OK.
     
  20. st3v3n

    st3v3n Senior Member

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    Eidolon86, we returned two new 86s to Amazon; everything learned from those failures helped develop how we successfully upgraded to Merlin on the third unit. As always, YMMV, do what works for you. When the third unit arrived, we didn't connect the antennas or go online until after Merlin was successfully in place and settings pretty much as we wanted. We used an older laptop without WiFi and no Ethernet access, connecting it to port 4 on the router.

    Logged into the 86s new GUI (different than other older models) and immediately uploaded/applied Merlin, saved the config, then logged out and removed power. We let it sit un-powered for a couple of minutes. Prior to logging out, you could change the IP to 192.168.1.1 or whatever you want to use, as well as the ID/PW; we didn't change the settings until the upgrade was written successfully. After re-applying power and rebooting, the upgrade write cycle does takes a while, so take a beverage break and let it churn as long as it wants, but don't interrupt, push in the power, WPS or anything else. When the upgrade is finished, the panel lights should settle down; and when you bring up a fresh browser session, the more familiar GUI should appear (remember if you changed the router IP, or not). After logging in, make whatever other offline changes you want, that are possible before logging out and removing power one final time. This time we mounted the antennas, plugged the workstation into port 4, then WAN port to the modem, reapplied power and booted the 86. After that point, WAN connected to the ISP, we made sure everything was routed to the OPVN clients and configured WiFi. It's worked fine ever since.

    From what some have written here and elsewhere, some units which are used online prior to the upgrade, can get stuck in a loop, or the hidden FW copy, or just think Merlin is unapproved/not official FW. Above my pay grade but nothing in our bag of tricks helped. That's why in an abundance of caution we left the antennas off during the process, so the router couldn't latch onto the neighbor's open WiFi. Good luck on your replacement.