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Since upgrading from my previous Netgear wireless router to a Ubiquti Router and Access point. I've had an amazing experience with no downtime (unless Xfinity goes down). I get strong wireless coverage to Chromecasts on TVs located at the edge walls of my two floor 2400 sq/ft home with a couple of IP wireless cameras and smartphone devices. The whole Ubiquiti setup worked flawlessly... that is until I decided to update the AP firmware via the Controller. The result was a bricked access point.
I had started the Access Point update late at night, and so I had noted the firmware version I was starting from (which was 126.96.36.19952) and was hoping it would be latest version (which was 4.3.13).
Since my setup consists of a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite and one Unifi Access Point, a dead access point means no wifi. That's terrifying to hear in an environment where everybody is WFH. So i quickly connected an (over 10 years) old wireless router to get me through the day. Even though there was wifi, it was extremely spotty.
Attempts to Fix (hint: none worked)
Even though none of these fixes worked for me, you may have better luck depending on your situation.
After work that day, here are the steps I took to try and fix the access point. Before starting, locate the "Reset" button on your access point. On the Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range, the "Reset" button is in a fairly difficult spot to reach. I found that a silver metal part of a medium sized binder clip (like this) worked perfectly. A thumbtack also works, but was difficult for me to access the Ethernet cable.
- A simple one click (no hold) of the "Reset" button reboots the AP. Unfortunately, I had disabled the LED, which is used to display the status of the AP. This did not solve my problem.
- Access with SSH, when the AP is plugged into the router. With a computer connected to the router, try to access the AP with PuTTY. If you don't know the IP (which I didn't), you can scan for the AP IP by using any of these free tools: Angry IP Scanner, Ubiquti Discovery Tool, and Advanced IP Scanner. Even when powered up and connected, the IP could not be detect, so I could not detect the IP. This did not solve my problem.
- Holding the "Reset" button for 10 seconds performs a factory reset. With the factory reset, the LED status indicators that I had disabled should turn back on. The lights did not turn on and it did not solve my problem.
- TFTP (which stands for Trivial File Transfer Protocol) is the final solution with a well written walk through and a YouTube video (no audio). In short, you'll need to download the latest firmware from Ubiquiti, put the AP into TFTP mode, and then transfer the file with PumpKIN directly from your computer. After many attempts, this also did not solve my problem.
- Swap out hardware (though this is more likely a case if you wireless router suddenly stopped working, rather than the result of a firmware update). Replace the Ethernet cables (both PoE and LAN) and reattempt any steps above. If that doesn't work, it's also possible the PoE Injector failed, so swap that out. In my home situation, I don't have a spare PoE injector, but swapping out Ethernet cables did not solve the problem.
Experience with Ubiquiti Support
Part of the TFTP steps had mentioned if I was having problems to try and contact Ubiquiti support. There was a simple to fill out form. After filling out the form, I realized they also had a chat, which I figured would be faster. And lastly, I tried both to search the community forum for similar problems and then posting one of my own.
- I did fill out the Ubiquiti support form, without the need to fill login. I never heard back from anyone regarding this route. I did fill this out around 4pm on a Friday, so its conceivable the support team had left. So I decided to try the Chat function.
- Next, I tried contacting them directly via the chat. To my surprise, the support line was open. So I figured they may have a secret way to solve the problem that wasn't readily online. They mostly suggested the steps I had already tried above. At the TFTP step, they told me to continue the conversation via email, in which case I just didn't hear back from them. Not great customer service, though better than I expected.
- Community Forum where I again typed out my post. I got a few responses, which again outlined the above fixes. I don't know for certain if these were Ubiquiti customers or reps on the support team, but the feedback here was much more timely (sometimes transparency helps).
Ultimately, it's great they have a solution in place, but also bummed out when they can't just admit the AP is bricked. I'm already well out of any warranty, but it would have just saved me time.
After spending a few hours on the issue, and realizing I did not want to spend a week waiting on ticket or chat support, I decided to re-order the Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range from Amazon. I did consider Google Nest Wifi Router, but was turned off by the fact that all the configuration was via the App, and unavailable without internet. If I happened to resolve the issue, returns with Amazon would be easy. Luckily, by Sunday early afternoon, the Unifi AP arrived. I simply plugged it into the router and the entire system started up.
This probably isn't ideal solution anyone wants, but spending another few hours trying to solve the problem just wasn't worth it. And if the 4 attempts at fixing it didn't work, it was likely bricked caused by the firmware update.
That being said, when the new AP was up and running. I did log into the Controller and updated the AP firmware. It only took 3-4 minutes and started back up. Given what's happened, I'm also opting to leave the LED lights on this time around.