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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pinguino Egypt - Do-it-Yourself PIC Arduino Clone

Pinguino Egypt - PIC Based Arduino

It 's been eleven years since I first started learning and building my first Microchip PIC Microcontroller circuit. I really like this Microcontroller family.

Recently, I started reading and trying some Arduino.

I really wished to build a similar circuit based on the Microchip PIC. Even I started to think to design a circuit of my own. I searched online and I found Pinguino.

Just like Arduino, there are many versions of Pinguino using different Microcontrollers from Microchip. I wanted to build the version using PIC18F4550.

I found Pinguino before this time and saw it among many other Arduino clones , but this time was really different.

I was ready to start making circuits with the PIC18F4550 chip after I completed building the PIC18F4550 programmer .

So I decided to start from where the others have reached.

I 've decided to build this magnificent circuit that brings all my dreams together,

PIC based , Arduino compatible and Easy-to-build. 

I was such excited to build it and try all Arduino projects with it. So, I started to collect the data and components to start working.

I also wanted to try the PC Software/Embedded Software communication.

Although I was determined to build the circuit on a copper board to stay with me and use it many times, I wanted to quickly assemble it on a bread board to try it ASP !!!

Here are some useful links:


Material I built my board with :

1          Copper Board ( VeroBoard or Stripboard or Perfboard )
1          PIC 18F4550
1          40 Pin IC Socket
1          USB Type B Socket
1          20MHz Crystal
1          220nF Capacitor
1          100nF Capacitor
2          22pF Capacitors
1          Push Button
1          Dip Switch
1         10k Ohm Resistor
1         7805 Voltage Regulator
1         9v Battery Connector
1         Female Pin Header
1         1N4001 Diode ( or any other general purpose diode )
2         Rows of Pin Headers


This circuit is the circuit diagram on the Pinguino website.

And this circuit is the one I've built in detail.

Start Soldering

There are many instructables and other online tutorials for soldering.



I used a large verro board because I didn't know how exactly the circuit will occupy.

I started to solder the components on the board.

After I finished assembling and soldering, I used an architects saw to cut the board into the size which the components actually fit into. 

Install Pinguino Boot loader

The boot loader is the initial software that enables the Microcontroller to communicate with the PC through the USB port.

It also enables the Microcontroller to self update its software sent on the USB port.

This is the link were you can get the boot loaders of your circuit. In my circuit, I 've chosen the PIC18F4550 Microcontroller with the 20MHz Crystal

The 18F4550 Microcontroller chip is a self programming Microcontroller.

This means that the Pinguino board can be used to update its Firmware to a new one making it capable of doing a new function.

Initially , the Microcontroller cannot directly communicate with PC using USB port. But it can be programmer as a normal Microcontroller.

You can program your chip on an external USB or Serial Microcontroller programmer.

You have to do this step only once. After this, when completing Pinguino, you will not have to use a programmer any more.

I installed the bootloader using a simple programmer I previously built. It is called JDM Programmer .



You can build it your self. It is simple and direct.

Here is a link for the Instructable of the programmer

I used the PicPGM programmer with my serial JDM programmer to load the target bootloader file (Bootloader_v4.13_18f4550_X20MHz.hex)


After successfully install the Bootlader Hex file on the Microcontroller chip , you can insert it into the Pinguino board.

Congratulations , you have completed the Pinguino board Hardware part !!

Pinguino IDE Installation

The Pinguino IDE is the software part of the Pinguino where you can develop code for your project, compile it and then upload it into your Pinguino board.


Here is how to install the Pinguino IDE on Windows Xp

It may looks a little bit long. But believe me , it's not complicated.

It is simple and strait forward steps.

Here what I 've done simply :

1-  Download and extract Pinguino IDE for window form here

2- Download vcredist_x86.exe (for win32) --- If you encounter the message of not existing msvc*90.dll in Windows,it has to be installed from here

3- Download and Install Python from here:

4- Download and install wxPython for Python 2.6

5- Download and install pyusb-1.0.0a2-py2.6

To install Pyusb module , you have to follow the next steps :
- Add python path to the PATH variable ..  for example   c:\python27
- Extract pyusb folder on any location of your hard disk
- Open the command prompt and change directory to the pyusb directory.
- Run the command python install
- Make sure that the Pyusb module is installed by python directory and look for site-packages folder .. for example :  C:\Python27\lib\site-packages if you can find usb folder inside then pyusb is successfully installed.
- You can now remove the Pyusb source folder.

6 - Download and install libusb-win32

(Don't discard this file yet. In some cases the library has to be installed twice to work.)

7- Download and install pyserial

Now , with a printer USB cable, connect your Pinguino board to the PC. You 'll get the Found New Hardware popup message.



8- Download and Extract Driver from here:

Now, from the folder of Pinguino IDE ( ..\PINGUINO\x4-easy-rev959\ ) start pinguino.exe file.

That's it.

Now you can open any example or Arduino sketch, compile it and then upload it into your Pinguino board and start your application.

Hello World

The example here

Show you how to send text on the USB port using CDC emulated RS232

Just copy and paste the code


void setup()
   // put your setup code here, to run once:

void loop()
   // put your main code here, to run repeatedly:
  if (CONTROL_LINE) CDC.println("\n\r Hello World !!!");


And windows xp will ask for a driver software .

You can find it under Pinguino IDE Folder


Run Hyper terminal

with the following settings:

Choose the com port which the Pinguino driver you installed has created. ( ex. Com 4 )

Speed (Baud): 115200
Data bits: 8
Stop bits: 1
Parity: None
Flow control: XON/XOFF

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