Error imaging roboRIO 1.0

The beginning…

I’ve finally done it, I’ve broken a roboRIO somehow!

Anyways… I found a roboRIO hidden with a bunch of motors in my team’s storage. I figured I might be able to use/salvage it. Hook it up to my test bench and it boots! Woohoo! Alas, this is when my troubles begin.

The roboRIO had an image and firmware from 2015. After updating the firmware using the roboRIO Imaging Tool to 8.8.0f, I came into problem number 1.

Problem 1

The roboRIO does not image (image, not firmware). The progress bar goes about 25% of the way there, times out and the roboRIO shows a status led of 3 blinks (Safe Mode).

Now, after scouring forum threads and some archaic posts from @marshall about RAD, I attempted to use NI Max to “Erase disk” the roboRIO. This also fails with a “failed to reboot, device is in an unknown state” (some verbiage similar to that). Okay, fine, let’s try RAD. Unfortunately failed to figure out where I could obtain a blank image. I guess I could grab one from another roboRIO.

I looked into grabbing the full blown LabVIEW installation to make my own image, or use an example one, but that’s 50GB of download space alone.

Unfortunately, in the process of all that, I encountered another problem.

Problem 2

Unrecoverable error. The roboRIO no longer boots at all and status led blinks continuously. Refuses to boot into safe mode. Fails to boot with recovery config per CSA training either.

Where next?

I’ve opened up a ticket/forum post with NI (Unable to image roboRIO 1 - NI Community), so we’ll see where that goes. Any advice is appreciated. It was mentioned that the flash itself on it might be corrupted, so we’ll see if NI will accept an RMA on a 7 year old roboRIO. Otherwise it’ll probably be a donation to the nearest recycling facility.


To date, RAD is the only OS imaging tool I’m aware of that attempts to clone the bits locally before sending them to a target. So weird. Also problematic given our storage specs.

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From your message it looks like you have access to the CSA tools issued recovery.cfg file and instructions. If that doesn’t work, you almost certainly will need NI support ticket assist. I have only had to use that method once, but it worked without fail for me. (Do see the note in the instructions about trying more than 1 USB stick…)

I haven’t had to do it, but I have heard NI will repair old RoboRios at little or no cost if it has a hardware issue.

One thing to consider – did some metal swarf get into the Rio via port openings? Once had a Rio 1.0 that started exhibiting similar issues with failed boots – we opened up the case and carefully blew out debris/swarf and cleaned up the board – and was able to re-image and been fine ever since.

Good luck

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