EV3 gone wrong: What to do when your EV3 stops working

ev3 update failed
Firmware update mode

The EV3 brick is a wonderful piece of technology, but like all technology, it sometimes has glitches. Here are some possible problems starting, stopping, and connecting the EV3 brick, with suggested solutions.

Starting/stopping issues:

  1. The EV3 brick is dead after a battery change. The battery connection may be bad. Check the battery springs to make sure that none of them got bent during the battery change.
  2. When started, the EV3 flashes red briefly then dies. If you have the Education version, the problem may be a defective battery pack. Early shipments of the kits included a defective rechargeable battery, which LEGO Education will replace.
  3. The EV3 brick’s display says “starting” but never progresses beyond that point. You need to reload the firmware. Follow these steps:
    1. Remove the battery and then reinsert it.
    2. Hold down the Center and Right buttons until the display says “Updating…”
    3. Open the EV3 Software and plug the EV3 brick into the computer via USB.
    4. Update the firmware by selecting Firmware Update in the Tools drop-down menu.
  4. The EV3 brick gets stuck during a firmware update and the update never completes. To fix the problem, manually update the firmware. Open the EV3 Software and connect your EV3 to the computer via USB, then follow these instructions from the EV3 User’s Guide:
    1. Hold down the Back, Center, and Right buttons on the EV3 Brick.
    2. When the EV3 brick restarts, release the Back button.
    3. When the screen says “Updating,” release the Center and Right buttons and click the Download button in the Firmware Update tool. The firmware will be downloaded to your EV3 Brick, which will restart itself.
    4. If the manual firmware update does not make your EV3 brick work the first time, repeat the manual update process.
  5. The EV3 brick stops working and will not turn off. Perform a manual reset. From the EV3 User’s Guide: Resetting the EV3 brick does not delete existing files and projects from previous sessions in the EV3 brick memory. Files and projects from the existing session will be lost.
    1. Make sure that the EV3 brick is turned on.
    2. Hold down the Back, Center, and Left buttons on the EV3 brick.
    3. When the screen goes blank, release the Back button.
    4. When the screen says “Starting,” release the Center and Left buttons.

Connection issues:

  1. The EV3 brick is not recognized by the computer after a firmware update. Check the box in the lower right-hand corner. If it says “EV3 Firmware Update,” click on the Available Brick tab and switch to “EV3”.ev3 firmware update
    ev3 firmware update 2
  2. The EV3 Software will not launch after it is installed, but instead gives an error message. You may have a problem with Silverlight. Try uninstalling and reinstalling Silverlight and the EV3 Software.
  3. The computer “beeps” when the EV3 is connected, but the drivers do not recognize the brick. You may have a damaged port, caused by trying to force the EV3 cable in upside down. (Thank you to Damien Kee for the information and photo.)ev3 broken port
  4. You are using a Windows computer and get a “communication failure” message when you try to connect with the EV3 brick. There may be a conflict with the antivirus software or some other application. Try turning off the antivirus software to see if that fixes the problem. Try restarting your computer using Selective Startup.
  5. You are using a Mac and the Bluetooth connection will not work. If you are using the Home version of the EV3 Software, try updating the firmware, which should fix the problem with Bluetooth running on the newer Mac operating systems. If you are using the education version, an updated version of the firmware should be released in the next couple of months.

And finally, here are some general things to try when you encounter a problem:

  1. Remove and reinstall the battery.
  2. Restart the EV3 Software.
  3. Do a manual reset of the EV3 brick. See #5 in starting/stopping issues above for detailed instructions.
  4. And, of course, you can contact your local LEGO Education distributor.
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Barbara Bratzel

Barbara Bratzel

Barbara teaches at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and works at the Center for Engineering and Education Outreach at Tufts University. She is the author of several LEGO robotics activity books for teachers, most recently STEM by Design.
Barbara Bratzel

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22 thoughts on “EV3 gone wrong: What to do when your EV3 stops working

  1. Great resource Barbara! I have sent several of my peers here instead of showing them how to do things myself. I hate to split hairs, but one of my colleagues who I sent here pointed out that #3 didn’t work. It does work, but with a slight modification… in #3 step #2 it says {Hold down the Center and Right buttons until the display says “Updating…” } It should read “Hold down the right and then the center buttons” I explained to my colleague it was simply semantics, but I would contact you to make the corrections.

    1. Thank you for this recommendation. Pushing the buttons simultaneously didn’t work for me, but the sequential approach did. Thank goodness!

    2. Barbara, our EV 3 is stuck at starting… I removed the battery and restarted, but it continued to state starting. I tried your suggestion #3 and it did not work. Any other suggestions?

  2. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I tried testing both the original solution and your variation. Both worked just fine for me. However, it’s great to have a second option for folks who encounter problems with the original method.

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for the advice. I was able to get two EV3’s working by checking that pesky bent spring.

  4. I’ve tried the manual update sequence several times, but it always hangs. I do the back-center-right button thing and the brick says Updating. Then I click Update Firmware in the tool and it says Preparing EV3 Brick and makes good progress (1% every few seconds) until it gets to 50%. Then it switches to Downloading and after that, nothing further happens, no matter how long I wait. I’ve repeated this sequence several times, but it always gets stuck right at 50%.

    Has anyone else seen this problem? Any suggestions?

      1. I finally got the Firmware Update tool to work by downloading a fresh copy of the new firmware. (Apparently the copy on my Mac had gotten corrupted somehow.) Note that the fresh download does NOT go to the standard EV3 firmware location, but instead ends up (at least in Mac OS/X) in your Downloads directory. So you need to go into the details panel of the Firmware Update tool and enter the full file path (not just the Download directory path) into the filename box. Once I did that, it worked the next time I tried it.

        Your mileage may vary, of course — i.e. if your problem is not corrupted firmware.

    1. I was successful after installing the EV3 sofware on a Windows laptop, and following the 3-button firmware upgrade procedure

  5. Greetings from far-off Cambridge, Massachusetts. Your advice worked great, and saved our Sunday! Big thanks from my 10 & 12 year olds!

  6. Hi everyone,

    Just wondering if you have come across a EV3 that doesn’t run brick programs. I have one that will allow the kids to program but when you click the “play” button, nothing happens, even with a simple program. I have run the latest firmware over to this device, but still no luck.
    Any ideas would be helpful.


  7. The 3 buttons is successful, but my problem is my ev3 software is running so slow, i am using a lenovo g50 core i7 with 16gb memory. What do you is the problem, i installed the latest software already but still the same.

  8. I cannot for the life of me get this to update from Firmware 1.07H to the latest. It keeps failing. It says to do the 3 button thing, but then it never gets anywhere. I tried manually downloading 1.08H first but get the same thing. I’ve had to remove the batteries to get it to boot back up. Any help would be appreciated.

  9. I’ve got the code on the robot but when I play it then it just keeps on loading and loading. Can you please tell me how I fix this? That would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Can you give us some details? Is the code you’re referring to the firmware or a program? What exactly happens when it “keeps on loading and unloading?” With some more specific information, I hope we’ll be able to help solve your problem.

  10. My Ev3 brick won’t connect to bluetooth no matter what I do. It also keeps spinning around in circles when I use a USB to try to connect it even though I programmed it to go forward. Also, recently it refuses to get out of the starting screen. I NEED HELP ASAP!!!

  11. I am having a problem with 2 bricks – they just say “loading” and will never begin a program. Is there a solution? I updated the firmware recently just to be on the safe side.

  12. Hi Erin,
    It sounds like you are having the same problem as Rhys (see Feb 24 comment). It is not something I have encountered. Has anyone else seen this? I recommend getting in touch with LEGO tech support. They have seen just about everything!

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