If you’ve downloaded a pre-built binary for a specific vehicle, see the Flashing a Pre-compiled Binary section for instructions on how to flash your CAN translator. Most users do not need to set up the full development described in these docs.

Quick Start


  1. Install Git from your distribution’s package manager.


$ sudo apt-get install git

Arch Linux:

$ [sudo] pacman -S git
  1. Continue to the all platforms section.


  1. Install Cygwin and in the installer, select the following packages:
gcc4, patchutils, git, unzip, python, python-argparse, check, curl, libsasl2, ca-certificates
  1. Start a Cygwin Terminal.
  2. Configure the terminal to ignore Windows-style line endings in scripts:
$ set -o igncr && export SHELLOPTS
  1. Continue to the all platforms section.


  1. Open the Terminal app.
  2. Install Homebrew: ruby -e "$(curl -fsSkL"
  3. Install Git with Homebrew (brew install git).
  4. Continue to the all platforms section.

All Platforms

  1. If your network uses an Internet proxy (e.g. a corporate network) set the http_proxy and https_proxy environment variables:
$ export http_proxy=<your proxy>
$ export https_proxy=<your proxy>
  1. Clone the cantranslator repository:
$ git clone
  1. Run the script:
$ cd cantranslator
$ script/
  1. If there were no errors, you are ready to compile. If there are errors, follow the recommendations in the error messages. You may need to manually install the dependencies if your environment is not in a predictable state.

The script is tested in Cygwin, OS X Mountain Lion, Ubuntu 12.04 and Arch Linux - other operating systems may need to install the dependencies manually.


In order to build the CAN translator firmware from source, you need a few dependencies:

If instead of the chipKIT, you are compiling for the Blueboard (based on the NXP LPC1768/69), instead of MPIDE you will need:

  • GCC for ARM toolchain
  • OpenOCD
  • JTAG programmer compatible with openocd - we’ve tested the Olimex ARM-OCD-USB programmer.

The easiest way to install these dependencies is to use the script/ script in the cantranslator repository. Run the script in Linux, Cygwin in Windows or OS X and if there are no errors you should be ready to go:

$ script/

If there are errors, continue reading in this section to install whatever piece failed manually.

Source Code

Clone the repository from GitHub:

$ git clone

Some of the library dependencies are included in this repository as git submodules, so before you go further run:

$ git submodule update --init

If this doesn’t print out anything or gives you an error, make sure you cloned this repository from GitHub with git and that you didn’t download a zip file. The zip file is missing all of the git metadata, so submodules will not work.


Building the source for the CAN translator for the chipKIT microcontroller requires MPIDE (the development environment and compiler toolchain for chipKIT provided by Digilent). Installing MPIDE can be a bit quirky on some platforms, so if you’re having trouble take a look at the installation guide for MPIDE.

Although we just installed MPIDE, building via the GUI is not supported. We use GNU Make to compile and upload code to the device. You still need to download and install MPIDE, as it contains the PIC32 compiler.

You need to set an environment variable (e.g. in $HOME/.bashrc) to let the project know where you installed MPIDE (make sure to change these defaults if your system is different!):

# Path to the extracted MPIDE folder (this is correct for OS X)
export MPIDE_DIR=/Applications/

Remember that if you use export, the environment variables are only set in the terminal that you run the commands. If you want them active in all terminals (and you probably do), you need to add these export ... lines to the file ~/.bashrc (in Linux) or ~/.bash_profile (in OS X) and start a new terminal.

Digilent / Microchip Libraries

It also requires some libraries from Microchip that we are unfortunately unable to include or link to as a submodule from the source because of licensing issues:

  • Microchip USB device library (download DSD-0000318 from the bottom of the Network Shield page)
  • Microchip CAN library (included in the same DSD-0000318 package as the USB device library)

You can read and accept Microchip’s license and download both libraries on the Digilent download page.

Once you’ve downloaded the .zip file, extract it into the libs directory in this project. It should look like this:

- /Users/me/projects/cantranslator/
---- libs/
-------- chipKITUSBDevice/
        ... other libraries

FTDI Driver

If you’re using Mac OS X or Windows, make sure to install the FTDI driver that comes with the MPIDE download. The chipKIT uses a different FTDI chip than the Arduino, so even if you’ve used the Arduino before, you still need to install this driver.


Arch Linux

$ pacman -S openocd


Install Homebrew. Then:

$ brew install libftdi libusb
$ brew install --enable-ft2232_libftdi openocd

Remove the Olimex sections from the FTDI kernel module, and then reload it:

$ sudo sed -i "" -e "/Olimex/{N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;N;d;}" /System/Library/Extensions/FTDIUSBSerialDriver.kext/Contents/Info.plist
$ sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/FTDIUSBSerialDriver.kext/
$ sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/FTDIUSBSerialDriver.kext/

GCC for ARM Toolchain

Download the binary version of the toolchain for your platform (Linux, OS X or Windows) from this Launchpad site.

Arch Linux

In Arch Linux you can alternatively install the gcc-arm-none-eabi package from the AUR.