pocket beagle initial problems

So after some great beagleboard projects a while back, I bought a pocket beagle. Booted up, got that whacky network interface going, logged in, seemed to do what it said on the tin. Great. Bought 3x more for various projects. Let them sit for a year or three (life happens).

Now I am ready to take on those projects! But wait. I download the “IoT” image, dd it to an sd card, and … nothin … well the power light comes on, sometimes a second light, but never more than that and I never get any blinking.

I tried balena etcher or whatever that was, seems like the same result. Saw some whacky directions calling to first MSDOS format the sd card?! Cannot imagine that matters when you dd to the device with no skip count… but the limited info I find online seems to hint at bad formatting or bad sd card (I have tried several now, different brands too). Maybe bad sd socket? Uhg.

Appreciate any and all guidance, feeling a little stupid for buying so many of these.