If you, like me, owned a Netgear WNR854T router for more than 6 months, you are probably looking at a front panel with just the green power light on, desperately trying to connect to it. As a last resort you hit the interwebs to look for a fix which is when you realize that you probably should have read the reviews on amazon.com, buy.com or any other retailer. Yes my friend, you bought a piece of junk, your router is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This, is a late router! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! "THIS IS AN EX ROUTER!"

Mine failed after 12 months and 20 days which is, as the friendly Netgear Customer Support Representative reminded me, exactly 20 days past the warranty period. I filed a complaint with the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection but apparently is is perfectly legal in this fine country to sell any POS as long as it gets replaced if it fails in the warranty period, to which I replied "With the same POS?", yep, that's all perfectly fine, long live capitalism. I consulted a few lawyers (no shortage of those here) and they confirmed that this is acceptable business practice, probably not good for business in the long run, but business none the less. I followed this all up with a few F-bom riddled e-mails to Netgear but they wouldn't budge and I gave up. I was planning on taking the sledge hammer to it, Office Space style, but for some reason I never did, maybe I thought I would set a bad example for my kids or maybe I felt sorry for the router, who knows.

It has been more than a year now, my replacement router, a D-Link DIR-655 has been humming along without any hick ups whatsoever, it is much faster and more configurable, a fine piece of machinery. But I still cannot believe I have a bricked router in the house, I never got over it and haven't had the hart to toss it out. So in one last attempt before composting it, I decided to open the thing up and see if I could find what was wrong with it.

The first thing I did when I found it was to plug it in, maybe hopping that time would have healed it, but it hadn't. I found myself staring at that green light again, like I had over a year ago, first transfixed but very quickly the sledge hammer urge came over me again like a green haze at which point a recomposed myself and started focusing on the job at hand. I couldn't immediately find any screws, maybe I would have to user a hammer after all. When I turned the router upside down, a pair of stickers drew my attention and made me chuckle:



I presumed you have to rip these off, maybe there were screws under these stickers, so I did. No screws, but it became clear that the side panels on the router are held together by those plastic hooks you can see at the bottom and the sticker will get damaged if you remove the panels, hence voiding your warranty. Put your router flat on its side so that you can read the labels at the back above the ports (i.e. make sure it is not upside down), like so:



The side panel that is now on top is the panel you need to remove first (you'll see why later). Take a sharp tool (I used scissors but a small flat head screwdriver will do to) and start pushing in the (5) plastic hooks of the top side panel one by one while slowly lifting the side panel. When you push in the last one, the panel should pop right off. There are a few internal plastic hooks along the other sides, again you can use a long tool to pry those loose while you pull, I just pulled and it came off without damaging any of those other hooks. You should be looking at something like this now:



You can clearly see the wireless card with 3 cables coming out of it. Those are the antennas and you see they run to the other panel into 3 tubes. This is why you cannot remove the other side panel first, it's kinda attached to the wireless card. It seems that the wireless card is attached to a IDE port and can be removed. As I do not need wireless on this router, I decided to start with that and see what would happen if I remove it. Start by disconnecting the 3 wires from the card, just pull them off, its a snap-on connection. You can now safely pull the other side panel off.



Next you need to remove the 2 white plastic pins in the corners opposite the IDE port that pin the card to the motherboard. I found it easiest to start from the underside of the motherboard, just squeeze them and push them through the holes, the wirless card will bend but it is very flexible. Then bend the card even further and push the pins from the other side (on the wireless card) all the way through. Alternatively, you can just clip the pins, we won't need them anymore anyway.

Now for the scary bit, removing the card from the IDE port. Unfortuntately it seems that it is soldered onto the motherboard. I took my chances and just ripped it loose (finally some revenge), pulling hard away from the port. The plastic sides broke off, but no real damage was done, the card came out clean, as did the motherboard. Here is the result, router with spare parts:



I thought after this major surgery I would give my router another try and I plugged the power in (be careful not to touch any components when you do this OR better, put the panels back before you try this). It had been so long since I last used it that I did't remember the boot sequence anymore. As a result, my first reaction was disappointment, that all to familiar green light was staring back at me. But then, it suddenly started flickering and turned orange and then I remembered that this is how it boots. Hurray, it's alive, ALIVE! I plugged in my internet connection and poof, the internet light started flickering.

So there you have it, by removing your wireless card you can revive your WNR854T router from the dreaded Green Ring of Death (GROD). You will loose the wireless capabilities, but at least it's not bricked.

Mission Accomplished.

In the next article I will explain how to use this router as a second router in your LAN.

28 comments

  1. Anonymous // December 30, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

    Nice. I pulled my wireless card and now I have my backup dsl router if I need it. Glad I didn't get around to throwing it away. I may actually end up using it as my main router simply so I can move my current one to a better place for the wireless signal.

    Cheers!

  2. mvilrokx // December 30, 2008 at 10:48 PM  

    excellent, glad I could help. So did you have to rip it out like I did? Or did it come out smoothly?

  3. Peter // February 4, 2009 at 3:14 PM  

    Thanks for the tip - will give it a go! (I too couldn't bring myself to throw it away, given how much I'd spent on the blasted thing...)

    Out of interest, have you tried reinstalling the wireless card, perhaps after flashing to the latest firmware etc, or was its removal terminal?

  4. mvilrokx // February 4, 2009 at 4:07 PM  

    I have put the card back in and the router immediately stopped working again (confirming it is that card for sure that kills the router). As for the firmware, I wouldn't even know how to do that, how do I get the firmware (just)on the card? The router is/was on the latest firmware.

    Also note that I have now stopped using the thing again. It works fine with one PC connected but as soon as I hooked up another device (Popcorn Hour NMT), it failed on me again. It kept resetting itself. Has anybody seen that too? Darn this thing is crap.

    Cheers,
    Mark.

  5. Chris // March 1, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

    Worked like a Charm!! At least it's not a complete waste. I haven't experienced any issues connecting multiple devices.

    I did update the firmware and it didn't help with the wireless. It still bricks it. I'm guess the card itself has a burnt chip. Most likely due to the cheap chip it uses and poor ventilation. If you haven't noticed this POS of a router gets pretty hot.

  6. mvilrokx // March 2, 2009 at 11:08 AM  

    Hi chris,

    Glad another one pulled through. Did you also have to "snap" th card out?

    Cheers.

  7. jal2 // August 17, 2009 at 1:23 AM  

    Nice article. Removing the WLAN card helped here, too. I looked into it a bit deeper - seems like the internal 3.3V drops down to 2.8V if you add the WLAN card.
    The WLAN card itself worked fine in a PCI adapter.
    So I assumed that the internal power regulator for 3.3V was broken and I replaced it with a PicoTlynx, together
    with a restistor and two capacitors.

    This helped and now the device is working with the WLAN card again.

    I bought another dead device from ebay (as I like the platform to play with, may put OpenWRT on it) and it seems like the manufacturer meanwhile added some
    capacitors to the PCB - which didn't prevent it from breaking.

  8. Anonymous // September 22, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

    jal2, can u pls post some more info(pics if possible) on what you replaced and part numbers for the replacement. this will be a big help... and big thanks to the author of this page!!!

  9. Anonymous // December 19, 2009 at 12:58 AM  

    damn!!!!!!!

    it didn't work for me. man, thanks a million for posting it though.

    Its a piece of SH*T!!!!

    oh well, happy holidays!

  10. Anonymous // February 1, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

    Try shorting the WAN port with any of the others with a utp cable y cicle the power, mine starts like that

  11. Anonymous // February 6, 2010 at 12:11 AM  

    Just loosened the soldered clips with a soldering iron and the card popped out without breaking. Still doens't work for me though. Any help finding the 3.3V regulator would be appreciated.

  12. jal2 // February 7, 2010 at 4:35 AM  

    I've put some more info about my changes into a OpenWRT Wiki article (see attached URL). HTH.

  13. jal2 // February 9, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

    BTW, the wireless card is connected to a miniPCI socket (not IDE).
    Unfortunately the card is larger than the usual miniPCI card. So it won't fit into an notebook (and even if it would, the next task would be to find the driver for it).
    Just in case someone is curious about the IC on the board:
    http://wiki.openwrt.org/oldwiki/openwrtdocs/hardware/netgear/wnr854t

  14. Dave // March 10, 2010 at 3:46 PM  

    jal2,
    PLEASE, would you be able to let us know where the power regulator for 3.3V is on the PCB and the part numbers of the replaced power regular (PicoTlynx you said), restistor and two capacitors so others who are adventurous enough can fix this router?
    It would be appreciated by MANY.
    thanks

  15. jal2 // April 8, 2010 at 2:53 AM  

    The link above was broken when the OpenWRT article moved from inbox into the wiki. Please use this one instead:
    http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/netgear/wnr854t_glod

    @Dave
    Is there any more info needed in the article? part numbers etc. are there.

  16. www.Giacomorilla.com // May 11, 2010 at 4:05 AM  

    Hi Jal2 - I'm in the UK and have the same GLOD issue. Thing is, I can't find a UK equivilant (where I'm based) for the regulator you used.

    Can you recommend one from this list to use?

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/Search.aspx?criteria=switching+regulator&source=15

    Many thanks!

  17. Anonymous // July 28, 2010 at 10:06 AM  

    Hi, same "Green Ring Of Death" for me. I took out the card and like you explained it came to life. Now anyone know where you can get a wireless card for this router?
    Thanks.

  18. jal2 // November 11, 2010 at 6:43 AM  

    @www.Giacomorilla.com
    Sorry, couldn't find any matching
    regulators on the maplin list.

    @anonymous
    You may try a wireless miniPCI card
    with low power consumption (no idea which one) together with an alternative firmware (e.g. OpenWRT). The original firmware will certainly not contain the drivers for the replacement card.


    BTW, the link in the OpenWRT wiki has
    changed again:

    http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/netgear/wnr854t/glod

  19. Anonymous // January 4, 2011 at 5:02 AM  

    What a POS! Had bought three of these off ebay - factory refurb, you would have thought Netgear would have corrected the problem given the chance. Pulled boards on all three, no difference and no time (although very qualified) to diddle with caps and resistors... In the trash and mental note: Do not buy Netgear products. Will look into Linksys or D-Link. Hell, Belkin probably would have been a better choice at this point. Luckily, I was able to write them off!

  20. Sorin // January 10, 2011 at 4:56 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  21. Sorin // January 10, 2011 at 4:56 AM  

    I have a WNR854T that is "almost" dead (the power light comes up, if I connect my switch (does not work directly connect to PC) on ports 1 or 2 (of the switch) the leds light up but I can't do anything else with it. I tested the voltage of C524 and it's 3.3V (also between pin 2 and gnd and pin 3 and gnd of the serial port 9 pins header it's 3.3V).
    Can somebody please tell me what are the voltages for C537 and C554 ( I have 0.8V and 1.43V respectively )

    I also tried to solder a serial cable but nothing comes on.

    I removed the wifi card but it won't boot... Any ideas would be helpful...

  22. Tanguy // February 19, 2011 at 10:02 AM  

    Did you try to change Power Adapter ?

    Try to connect it to a PC 12V :)

  23. calif94577 // June 28, 2011 at 8:51 AM  

    I was able to take everything apart without breaking anything, yet no luck, still have the GLOD... for the plastic tabs on the bottom they are clearly seen, you can use a small flat head to push them in as you pull up, on the other side not so visible, all you see is little holes, if you look thru those holes you can faintly see the tabs hiding behind it, i used a very small (thin) Allen wrench that fit perfectly in the whole and pushed them in as i pulled up and worked like a charm. The wires that go to the wifi card pull right up and the plastic clamps just need to squeeze the wings in as you gently pull up on the card slowly working each loose, my card was also soldered in at the metal tabs, luckily i have a soldering and desoldering kit so it was easy. No where near as hard as soldering so its an easy fix to take it out without breaking it if you want, just takes a bit of patience, i did it all in about 10 min (including finding my tools lol) doing it again would take about 2-5 now that i know what im doing lol.

  24. Stephan // October 3, 2011 at 6:08 AM  

    Hi folks, I've got the same problem with the GROD phenomenon over here. However, I conducted some experiments and got the following results: Some component(s) behind the C537 / L17 must be broken or the voltage regulator which creates 5V / 1.2V is the cause of the problem. Applying stabilized 1.2V from an external power supply to C537, the router is running as smooth as ever. Using some kind of voltage regulator which creates 1.2V but is not separated from the 12V power supply of the router us useless because the broken component seems to backfire over the built-in regulators. In my eyes, there are only two solutions: a) find the broken component (almost impossible!) or add a built-in power supply to the router which creates two separated voltages, one time 12V and one time 1.2V. Cheers, Stephan

  25. Stephan // October 3, 2011 at 7:22 AM  

    Hi folks, I did some more measurements and now I think I've found the troublesome component - seems to be D27, a zener diode. On its "upper" end, there are 5V, on the lower one only 0,8. It is supposed to create 1.2V and the circuit is not separated by a transformer from the original input (12V external power supply). Hence creating 1.2V from the 12V and connecting it behind D27 doesn't work. To me, it seems that D27 is just not powerful enough and therefore the device is prone to break, particularily if the router is used 24/7. Let's see if I can find a more powerful zener diode with 3,8V. What do you think about it?

  26. Ivan // August 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM  

    Same thing, bricked router, wireless card removed - no success, .75v behind D27 - assume it's dead. Anyone succeed replacing that one?

    I also tried 1.2v (AAA rechargeable battery) behind D27 - no luck either.

  27. Rusty Leskiv // March 7, 2013 at 8:54 PM  

    So when you say that it doesnt have wireless anymore after taking it apart, do you mean that it still wont work for a laptop to connect to it wirelessly? Whats the point of reviving it if it still wont send a wireless signal?

  28. Giacomo // May 22, 2014 at 6:47 AM  

    I'm still trying to find a suitable UK component to replace the Voltage regulator. Maplins recommended this unit:

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/ts1084cz-33v-5a-low-dropout-positive-voltage-regulator-n49ca