Goldshell BOX ASIC Miner Firmware Recovery Guide

Goldshell Hub - Introduced in firmware 2.2.0
Goldshell Hub – Introduced in firmware 2.2.0

Recently Goldshell released the 2.2.0 update which includes the new “Goldshell Hub” (featured above) which is basically a cloud control center for your miners. I was able to upgrade 23 miners successfully but I had one Mini DOGE and one ST-BOX fail during the upgrade.

After a substantial Google journey and finding some very helpful posts on the VoskCoin forum and reddit I was able to recover both of them without waiting for Goldshell’s response on the situation. I will cover what I used to do so and where to find them in the guide but it is at your own risk and if you aren’t outside of your warranty support period you should almost certainly contact Goldshell instead. Even then it might still be worth a try because it wouldn’t surprise me if they hand out these images like Halloween candy even if you’re out of warranty.

With that caveat/warning given, I have 25 of these miners and only 1-2 were bought directly from Goldshell in the first place so I was not worried about losing my warranty or support period from them but you should be careful here and only proceed if you understand this. Let’s begin!

Diagnostic Lights

After I initially tried to upgrade to 2.2.0 using the Goldshell web interface 23 / 25 miners upgraded fine. One Mini DOGE however started blinking both the red and blue light very briefly every couple of seconds. It had network link lights for a few seconds upon startup and then it would go dark other than the 2 blinking indicator lights.

The Starcoin miner on the other hand permanently illuminated both the red and blue lights and stayed stuck on. It also had network link light activity (that never stopped) but it never acquired an IP address.

If you are seeing one of these two conditions it’s likely your firmware is stuck in a broken state (especially if this happened during/after a firmware upgrade like mine did).

Recovery Process

The process to recover from an event like this will probably not be surprising if you have owned other ASIC miners. We need to flash the firmware using a SD card flashed with a recovery image.

Unfortunately Goldshell does not publicly post these images on their GitHub page like they do with the regular firmware. They certainly should though as they are incredibly useful and it only took a few minutes to fix the miners once I had all the right pieces.

Goldshell ASIC     Goldshell ASIC     Goldshell ASIC     Goldshell ASIC     Goldshell ASIC    

Hardware Requirements

The Goldshell box miners have an empty SD card slot on the back of them. You need to have a blank SD card to write the recovery image to.

Here’s a recommendation I frequently give for Raspberry Pis if you don’t already have one:

SanDisk Extreme A1
SanDisk Extreme A1

The SanDisk Extreme A1-A2 SD card has the best scoring SD card on Pi Benchmarks for years and is second in popularity only to the SanDisk Ultra (often included in combo kits). The application class (A1) means random I/O speeds (very important when running an OS) have to meet a higher standard. There’s no benefit on the Pi for A2 right now so get whichever is cheaper/available.

Links: AliExpress*, Amazon.com*, Amazon.ca*, Amazon.com.au*, Amazon.co.jp*, Amazon.co.uk*, Amazon.de*, Amazon.es*, Amazon.fr*, Amazon.it*, Amazon.nl*, Amazon.pl*, Amazon.se*, Amazon.sg*

Software Requirements

First grab Etcher if you don’t already have it (we need this to write the image to a SD card).

Next make sure you have 7zip as we will be decompressing a couple of archive types that the native Windows tools won’t work on. If you have WinRar or an additional compression tool already beyond the native OS tools you should be fine.

Recovery Image

Next grab the Mini DOGE recovery image from one of the shared links that we have:

Goldshell MiniDOGE 2.1.1

Goldshell MiniDOGE 2.1.1 #2 (Alt)

Goldshell HSBox 2.2.3 (thanks smashthestate from reddit)

*UPDATE*: Goldshell responded to my ticket with the Mini DOGE 2.1.2 recovery image and the STC Box 2.1.6 recovery image. They didn’t tell me not to share them or seem at all concerned about it (maybe not that many people ask for these and that’s why they aren’t posted) and it may save someone else’s bacon:

Goldshell MiniDOGE 2.1.2

Goldshell STCBox 2.1.6

Additional Documentation (Official Goldshell video and tutorial .docx):

Official Goldshell Flashing Tutorial

Official Goldshell Burn Video

Special Note on using Mini DOGE firmware on other models (temporarily to recover)

But wait, I don’t have a Mini DOGE, you might say. Well fortunately the Mini DOGE version seems to at least boot up enough to flash the real STC Box firmware. I doubt anyone other than Goldshell will have the link to the STC Box specific firmware as it was a limited run of only a few thousand miners.

It doesn’t really matter in this case as all we are going to use it to do is get the box to boot up again so we can flash the correct firmware on it. Ideally we would have the correct firmware. If this part scares you then for sure contact Goldshell for the right link for your miner.

I did not try anything else as I haven’t had any other types fail yet than the STC-Box and the Mini DOGE. It’s possible that it might not work on some or even cause some sort of problem (unlikely in my opinion unless you try to start configuring it or mining with it but it’s a risk) on other versions. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would brick it or make it worse but my educated guess as someone who does a lot of work on embedded systems my guess was all that would happen is that the image wouldn’t boot (which is exactly where I started).

What happened for me is that it booted up and actually did think it was a Mini DOGE. I did not try to do anything else and you shouldn’t either. It’s the wrong firmware for the miner. Literally nothing good can come from trying to do anything with it in this state other than flash it with the right firmware as quickly as possible. Do not try to add a pool, don’t change the default password, do not do anything else basically. Sign into the miner with the default “123456789” password and upload the correct firmware for your miner to the Box.

Flashing the Firmware

Now that we have all the pieces let’s actually flash the firmware. Make sure you have extracted “Please unzip this file-MiniDOGE-2.1.1(1).tgz” twice. The first time you will get a .tar file. Extract the contents of that .tar file and you should end up with:

burn-Goldshell-MiniDOGE_MCB_V5_4-2.1.1.img

This is the file we are going to select with Etcher (note that it starts with burn- to tell us this is the right image to “burn” to the SD card). Now insert your micro SD card into your computer and Etcher will write the image to the card. This is typically pretty fast.

Now disconnect power from the Goldshell miner if it happens to still be turned on. Insert the SD card into the SD card slot. Be gentle. My miners had SD slots that had a spring-loaded SD mechanism that “clicks” into place. That means that the SD card will not go all the way into the slot. To remove the SD card you actually push in again and you will feel it release the spring and the SD card will be pushed out most of the way for you (safely). I have seen this confusing some people.

If you happen to put the SD card in and the SD card reader’s “switch” is already locked in the back position just keep pushing gently and you should feel it unclick. Once this is done you can push it all the way in and you should feel it “lock” into place correctly until you push once again to release it when you’re done.

The process does not take long. Maybe a minute or less. After 20-30 seconds you will see the light activity (usually the red and blue one together or whatever) turn to just a single blue light that periodically flashes. This means it’s done. Disconnect the power and remove the SD card. Now power up the miner again and with any luck it should boot up into the Mini DOGE firmware.

Now flash the correct firmware for your miner immediately (as I’ve said before) without doing anything else and it will finally boot up and be ready for configuration! Remember to check https://find.goldshell.com as the IP settings for the miner will have been wiped so the IP address will likely have changed on your network.

Further Troubleshooting

Flash not completing

During the update to 2.2.1 one of my wife’s Mini DOGE units failed. I tried flashing it with the recovery image and it failed several times. I was so confused because the lights were blinking correctly but the flash would never finish. If I took out the SD card in the middle of the never-finishing flash the lights changed to indicate that the flash was interrupted and it wouldn’t boot correctly afterward no matter how long I had waited (although it did behave differently with both lights stuck on and network link activity but no IP).

The problem turned out to be in the most unexpected of places. It was the previous partitions on my SD card. You might think that Etcher actually clears all of these out and completely formats the disk. You would be wrong and I’ve seen this before with Raspberry Pi stuff (it’s why I recommend using the Pi Imager tool for Pis and not Etcher).

The fix is to run the SD card association’s official tool to completely (and really) blank the SD card. The tool is officially available free of charge (courtesy of the SD Card association which is basically a cartel of SD card manufacturers that manage the standards but the software is great): Official SD Card Association Formatter Tool

Run this utility on your SD card in “Quick Format” mode (enough for mine but some weird previous partition types like zfs might need a full overwrite) or you can do “Overwrite format” to do a full drive overwrite (zero’ing out the free space) if you want to nuke it (it’s the only way to be sure). This is even necessary on Pis sometimes when the Pi imager can’t even fix them. In those cases the SD card association’s tool is the only thing that seems to help (previous zfs partitioning is an example we’ve seen here on the site).

Now write the image again on the now truly blanked SD card using Etcher and with any luck it will finish the entire process within about 15-20 seconds that time as it is supposed to take.

Reseat your SD card

It is very easy to unseat or not properly seat the SD card in these slots. One tip with these is to let the SD card slot do the work for you. Push the card in and when you start feeling resistance just let it gently guide the SD card into place and it will click. Don’t fiddle with it at this point as if you try to start pulling it slightly out it will let you do that and it will be unseated (as well as leave the SD card slot in the back of the port, it will not come out as you pull out the card). If you want to remove the card (and you should if you’re reseating it) then actually push it further IN and the slot will push the card back out for you.

If you pull the card out the SD slot will remain locked in place in the back. If this is the case just push the SD card in manually all the way in until it hits the back of the SD card slot and you should feel it push and release and it will spit the card out about 50% and be back in the correct position this time for you to insert it again normally.

There’s nothing “locking” it into place when it clicks (it’s the slot itself clicking, not actually your SD card) which is why touching it is generally bad once the slot is in it’s final position. Even something bumping or brushing up against the slot is enough to unseat the card and lose pin contact with a design like these SD card slots have (not meant to be used except for recovery so it’s understandable).

You may need to reseat it a couple of times if it’s an older SD card with a lot of wear. These tend to not make as good of contact with the pins. Reseating it and trying to keep the edges lined up as well as possible will often get these going.

Conclusion

I was back up and running within 24 hours and I would have been back up and running within 5 minutes if I had these files.

I hope Goldshell releases them publicly as it’s not ideal to not have the exact right firmware and is why it is a little frustrating that Goldshell hasn’t publicly posted these recovery images (like they have with the regular firmware updates in their GitHub repository). Maybe I’m spoiled as these are generally available from other competitors without contacting support.

Hopefully they will release recovery images on their GitHub in the future and then I can recommend you download the exact right model. Try to get as close as possible if you can but in my experience it worked on the STC Box which seems more different from the Mini DOGE than the other ones (it only uses 60W and mines a Cryptonight-R variant).

If any of you have additional links/tokens for other miners from Goldshell and want to share them in the comments I will add them in the links section. Definitely let me know if you successfully try it on some of the other models I haven’t as well! These links weren’t easy to track down for sure and they don’t seem to expire. Let’s see if we can collect (catch?) them all!

Hopefully the links / guide are able to help some of you as well!

Other Resources

If you are lucky your miner may just have lost it’s IP address. The diagnostic lights should help to diagnose this condition. A great tool to check for this is Goldshell’s official “Yotta BC” which I wrote a guide for here: Bulk Management of Goldshell ASICs using YottaBC

For the best place to mine and exchange your altcoins check out my Best Altcoin Mining Pools and Exchanges article

To understand the current situation with Ethereum mining and when it is ending see my Why GPU / Ethereum Mining Is Toast – Stop Buying GPUs article

guest
18 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments