Installing CH340/CH34X drivers on MacOS to load sketches onto cheap Arduino clones

This post details how to get [most] cheap Arduino clones working with MacOS Sierra so you can upload sketches to them.

Many clones are not recognized “out of the box” because they implement their USB to serial interface with a CH340 chip designed by China’s WCH (http://www.wch.cn/) instead of the more costly FTDI chip found in genuine Arduinos.

Most sellers on “China deal sites” like Aliexpress.com are up-front about these chips and include “CH340” in their product titles and descriptions, though the implications of this design modification are not alway understood by purchasers.

The easy installation method covered in this post comes courtesy of one Adrian Mihalko. He has bundled the manufacturer’s latest Sierra-compatible CH340/CH34G/CH34X drivers for installation with brew cask. These drivers are signed by the OEM so its no longer necessary to disable Mac’s System Integrity Protection (SIP) feature.

Github: https://github.com/adrianmihalko/ch340g-ch34g-ch34x-mac-os-x-driver

I had no problem getting a Robotdyn Arduino Uno as well as another cheap clone running on a Mac with High Sierra.

Step by step

Prerequisite: ensure brew installed on your Mac. Verify its presence and version info by executing brew --version in Terminal.

To begin, install the drivers with brew cask:

brew tap mengbo/ch340g-ch34g-ch34x-mac-os-x-driver https://github.com/mengbo/ch340g-ch34g-ch34x-mac-os-x-driver

brew cask install wch-ch34x-usb-serial-driver

(Note: the above is only two commands. The first one runs long, so take care when copying and pasting.)

When the install completes, reboot your machine.

Next, plug your Arduino clone into a free USB port.

Using Terminal, verify that the device is recognized by listing the contents of the /dev directory and looking for cu.wchusbserial1420 or cu.wchusbserial1410 in the output:

ls /dev

For example, I found cu.wchusbserial1420 in the output when I connected my Robotdyn Uno.

Things are promising if you find a similar result.

The Arduino IDE ships with drivers for the Uno itself, and save for the CH340, my clones are otherwise fully Arduino compatible (note: some clones might require additional drivers, and/or a different Board must be specified in the Arduino IDE). For my clones, the following steps were all I needed to upload sketches:

  • Open Arduino IDE with a test Sketch
  • Select the correct port in Tools > Port (e.g. /dev/cu.wchusbserial1420)
  • Verify that the Tools > Board had “Arduino Genuino/Uno” selected
  • Verify/Compile the Sketch (Apple+R)
  • Upload the Sketch (Apple+U)

Done.

In particular, the Robotdyn Uno appears to be decently well made, it’s laid out to support all Arduino-compatible shields, and it comes on an attractive black PCB. Versus a genuine Uno, it uses a micro-USB port instead of a full size one and exposes the ATmega328P microcontroller’s analog 6+7 pins. The company makes a number of similarly slick-looking accessories on black PCB. Their store on AliExpress is: https://robotdyn.aliexpress.com/

Have fun with your cheap clones!

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@firxworx

Kevin Firko (@firxworx) is an entrepreneur, developer, and digital project manager based in Toronto, Canada. He works on ventures and client projects through Bitcurve, the independent digital design and development studio he founded in 2008.