How to finish unbricking Belkin RT3200

Several months ago I successfully installed 23.05.0 on a Belkin RT3200 using https://github.com/dangowrt/owrt-ubi-installer and converting the file layout to UBI. I configured a few things and got busy with other things. I have NOT run the v1.1.1 UBI installer

Recently I turned it on again and nothing happened.

It appeared to be bricked based on number reported experiences similar to mine.

I followed the steps on this page:
https://openwrt.org/toh/linksys/e8450#recovery_from_openwrt_kiss_of_death_okd

And used this USB Serial connector to successfully connect to the RT3200.

I was never able to reach the boot menu and this is the output I got instead.

sudo ./mtk_uartboot -a -p ./bl2-for-mtk_uartboot.bin -f ./openwrt-23.05.3-mediatek-mt7622-linksys_e8450-ubi-bl31-uboot.fip && screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

mtk_uartboot - 0.1.1
Using serial port: /dev/ttyUSB0
Handshake...

hw code: 0x7622
hw sub code: 0x8a00
hw ver: 0xcb00
sw ver: 0x100

Baud rate set to 460800

sending payload to 0x201000...
Checksum: 0xdac6
Setting baudrate back to 115200

Jumping to 0x201000 in aarch64...

Waiting for BL2. Message below:

==================================

NOTICE: BL2: v2.10.0 (release):v2.4-rc0-5845-gbacca82a8
NOTICE: BL2: Built : 19:21:54, Mar 1 2024
NOTICE: WDT: Cold boot
NOTICE: CPU: MT7622
NOTICE: WDT: disabled
NOTICE: Starting UART download handshake ...

==================================

BL2 UART DL version: 0x10
Baudrate set to: 921600
FIP sent.

==================================

NOTICE: Received FIP 0xf914c @ 0x40400000 ...

==================================

[screen is terminating]

I noticed that the power light was now on and that I could login via ssh and LUCI and see that OpenWRT was running. If I reboot the unit doesn't work.

I can’t make sense of the different forum thread as to what I steps I should take next so that I have a functional, working router (some threads seem to suggest this isn’t possible until a permanent fix is found and committed).

What specific step(s) should I take next?

It looks like the mtk_uartboot is doing exactly what it needs to do and it's bringing the router up. However, for whatever reason, screen is unable to connect to the serial terminal after mtk_uartboot finishes. Is it possible that you have something getting in the way? Do you get a flash of any message that disappears before the [screen is terminating] message appears? I suspect your distro has something that is either blocking access to the serial port from screen or that you have some service getting in the way.

I can see you're using 'sudo' to launch the mtk_uartboot but not the screen command. Does the current user have access to use the serial port? If not, then you're probably getting denied permission to attach screen to the serial port. If you're running a Debian-based distro, you can probably solve this by adding the user to the 'dialout' group and then logging out and logging back into the computer. That way, you shouldn't need to run sudo at all. After all, it's generally a bad practice to provide excess privileges to an executable you don't know for sure is safe.

Thank you! that was the problem.
For completeness I did:

$ sudo ./mtk_uartboot -a -p ./bl2-for-mtk_uartboot.bin -f ./openwrt-23.05.3-mediatek-mt7622-linksys_e8450-ubi-bl31-uboot.fip && sudo screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

What are the recommended next steps to reduce my chances of future bricking?
I'm currently running 23.05.0 and have not run the 1.1.1 UBI installer.

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The best steps to reduce the chances right now are to keep things as they are. The devs are hard at work on getting the bootloader chain patched for what is believed to be the cause. Until that happens, all we can do is sit and wait. On the bright side, you've been through it once and so you're in a better spot to handle it if it does happen again.

...and of course as I seem to be saying frequently these days, please make sure you have a safeguarded backup copy of the factory partition from your device now that you have it running again. I don't expect things would get worse, but that factory partition is the only part of the router that would be difficult to replace should things truly go bad.

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Got it! Thank so much.

What's the best way to backup the factory partition on this device... is that the ART backup described here? https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/installation/generic.backup

I'm glad I was able to point you in the right direction.

If you have luci installed and haven't yet run the v1.1.x updater for the new layout, it will be available right from the "Backup / Flash Firmware" menu. Under "Save mtdblock contents", there should be one labeled "factory".

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