Clicking brick syndrome

Do you have a problem that your LEGO NXT brick won’t start? It won’t show up in the software… but it gives a strange sound.

Put your ear right up to the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT brick with fresh batteries and turn it on. Do you hear a clicking noise?

tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic… tic…

There is no way you can start your brick. You press the orange button and nothing happens. The brick isn’t even recognized in the NXT Software. But don’t worry, this is a very common problem.

There are many names for this, including:

  1. Dead brick
  2. Clicking brick syndrome
  3. Coma state
  4. Samba mode (technical term)

What’s the problem?

The brick’s firmware has been either deleted or corrupted in some way. That’s it. There is no physical damage to the brick.

Why has this happened?

Some possible causes for this problem include:

  1. Unfinished Firmware update.
  2. Hard reset (button) applied.
  3. Changing firmware / installing different firmware (e.g. changing the firmware between NXT, RobotC, Enchanting, LabVIEW etc.).
  4. Seriously bad programming (rare, but not impossible).
  5. Pulling out the USB cord while a program is downloading.

How to fix it?

  1. First, ensure that your NXT brick has fresh batteries or a fully charged battery pack.
    (Tip: You should always avoid updating firmware when the batteries are flat or low on charge. You may totally ruin your NXT brick.)
  2. Try a hard reset using a paper clip, screwdriver, or LEGO axle to press the concealed button as shown below.
  3. Connect the NXT brick to a computer by USB.
  4. In the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Software, go to Tools -> Update NXT Firmware
  5. Choose the latest available Firmware File and select Download.s2

Your NXT brick should now ready to use.

Last updated: 23 November 2017

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Srikanth M
Srikanth M. is the Director of Academy of Robotics, a startup from Visakhapatnam, India. Academy of Robotics has 20 centers across India for students from 4 years to high school, supporting STEM, creative architecture, experiential learning, problem solving, rapid programming, advanced electronics, and embedded systems.
Srikanth M

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8 thoughts on “Clicking brick syndrome

  1. I have several bricks that went into clicking syndrome with a firmware update, I have tried all suggestions here and it isn’t fixing the problem. I have unistalled the driver as suggested, tried a hard reset but when I go to download the firmware again it says currently no bricks connected via USB. It isn’t recognizing the brick while it’s in clicking mode. What do I do?

    1. I had the same problem and none of the suggestions have worked for me so I came up with my own way combining some of the other suggestions. So first disconnect from the internet then open up device manager by going to my computer right click and select manage. Then connect your NXT to the computer and you will see the device manager refreshes. Go to ports and select the Bossman port and click on update driver, click manual update and then select “select own program” then there will be a list of drivers and select the lego driver. Then you can go to the nxt software and update the firmware to get it working again.

      1. I had the exact same problem. I was able to fix 5 of 6 bricks using both suggestions above. However, the last one will not work with either your steps or the ones at the top of the page. Any additional suggestions?

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