Remote Control with Telegram and chipKIT uC32, Basic I/O shield with Raspberry Pi


chipKIT Digilent uC32 (or Uno32) and Raspberry Pi are both pretty cheap, almost of the same size, and although they look similar, they are different. The Raspberry Pi is effectively a mini-computer, running a Linux operating system (OS), and the chipKIT is a microcontroller, without a typical typical OS, but purpose-built with important features such as EEPROM, analog inputs and PWM outputs, features that Raspberry Pi does not have. On other hand, Raspberry Pi offers Ethernet connection, USB Master, video and audio outputs, all of these that are not available on chipKIT, can enhance any electronic project.

There is already a marriage between chipKIT and Raspberry Pi, called chipKIT Pi that makes it easy to connect Raspberry Pi to chipIT. The chipKIT Pi board fits nicely on the Raspberry Pi interfacing directly on the IO header of the Raspberry Pi. The board can be used without Raspberry Pi, in stand-alone mode and for this reason there is a DC plug, useful to power the board with a power supply. The ICSP header (JP3) has been added to program the on-board microcontroller PIC32MX250F128B  using a Microchip PICkit or a ICD in-circuit debugger/programmer.


  • Capture the local temperature with Microchip TCN75A temperature sensor on Digilent Basic I/O shield using chipKIT Digilent uC32 board
  • Make the reading available through USB port to Raspberry Pi
  • Install Telegram in Raspberry Pi
  • Make Raspberry Pi with a Python program to read from the USB port, and to accept commands from Telegram
  • Write a Lua script to accept commands from Telegram, and to control the previously written Python program


  • chipKIT Digilent uC32 with Digilent Basic I/O shield on top, and power supply


  • Raspberry Pi Model B and power supply (and I recommend a powered USB hub)


  • USB A to mini-B cable


My setup is as following photo shows:



a) Install libraries of Basic I/O Shield in MPIDE environment for uC32 board

On uC32 you must have Jumpers JP6 and JP8 set in the RG3 and RG2 positions. Install the Basic I/O shield on top of UNO32 as shown on the above image . Connect to the PC with USB cable. Although USB connection will power uC32 and the Basic I/O shield simultaneously, we will use external power supply to uC32 board.

We assume that you have already installed MPIDE environment.

You will need to know the location of MPIDE sketches folder:

Run MPIDE  . In menu do File -> Preferences find the sketchbook location:

tempmon4Take note of the location of your sketches (MPIDE codes are called “sketches”). In your Windows navigate to where the folder is, and create a directory named ‘Libraries’.

Download from here the zipped file containing libraries and documentation for using the Basic I/O Shield™ with the chipKIT MPIDE and unzip into the Libraries folder you have just created:

tempmon5Now if you do File -> Examples you will see three folders IOShieldEEPROM, IOShieldOled and IOShieldTemp. Open the sketch IOShieldTemp_Demo:


Next choose the board (in our case chipKIT uC32):

tempmon6And choose Serial Port to which the board is connected in Tools >> Serial Port >> (port where UC32 is connected). In my case it is COM30.

Now we are ready to upload the sketch to the board. Click the Upload button  on MPIDE environment.

If successful you will see the following results at bottom of MPIDE environment:

tempmon7We are now ready to check what is being sent to our COM30 port (your PC’s may be other) in Tools >> Serial Monitor.

A new window will pop up showing the readings sent to your PC’s serial port:tempmon8We are  getting readings in degrees C and degrees F. Note that Alarm is not displayed even though the temperature is above 24ºC as set in our sketch (you can check – it is clearly written). This happens because in uC32 and Uno32 boards you need to toggle to top the rightmost switch on Basic I/O shield   If you do so, ALERT will sent to serial port. You can use the switch to switch off the Alarm by toggling down the switch.

If you are here, the rest will go smoothly.

We will now change this sketch, and adapt it to Raspberry Pi to be read easily by Python. Also, we will add code to show the temperature on OLED display of Basic I/O shield.

/* Original source code at
Modified and adapted by Tayeb Habib

#include <IOShieldTemp.h>
#include <IOShieldOled.h>
#include <Wire.h>
#define ALERT_PIN 2

int tensc = 0;
int onesc = 0;
int dot_tensc = 0;
int dot_onesc = 0;
int tensf = 0;
int onesf = 0;
int dot_tensf = 0;
int dot_onesf = 0;
int tempC=0;
int tempF=0;

void setup()
 //set up the OLED display
 //Set the range to bring the alert pin high if it's above 78F (25.5C), alert will stay
 //high until the temp drops below 75.2F (24C).
 IOShieldTemp.setTempLimit(IOShieldTemp.convFtoC(78)); // 78.0F ~ 25.5C
 IOShieldTemp.setTempHyst(24); // 75.2F ~ 24.0C

void loop()
 float tempf, tempc;
 //Get Temperature in Celsius.
 tempc = IOShieldTemp.getTemp();

 // Convert the result to Fahrenheit.
 tempf = IOShieldTemp.convCtoF(tempc);

 //Print Temperature to serial port
 if(digitalRead(ALERT_PIN) == HIGH)

 //parse data for temperature in celcius
 dot_onesc = tempC%10;
 tempC = tempC/10;
 dot_tensc = tempC%10;
 tempC = tempC/10;
 onesc = tempC%10;
 tempC = tempC/10;
 tensc = tempC%10;

 //convert data to ASCII for temperature in celcius
 tensc = tensc+48;
 onesc = onesc+48;
 dot_tensc = dot_tensc+48;
 dot_onesc = dot_onesc+48;

 //parse data for temperature in Fahrenheit
 dot_onesf = tempF%10;
 tempF = tempF/10;
 dot_tensf = tempF%10;
 tempF = tempF/10;
 onesf = tempF%10;
 tempF = tempF/10;
 tensf = tempF%10;

 //convert data to ASCII for temperature in Fahrenheit
 tensf = tensf+48;
 onesf = onesf+48;
 dot_tensf = dot_tensf+48;
 dot_onesf = dot_onesf+48;

 //Clear the virtual buffer

 //Draw a rectangle over wrting then slide the rectagle
 //down slowly displaying all writing
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 0);
 IOShieldOled.putString("Aliatron Office");
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 1);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(1, 1);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(2, 1);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(3, 1);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(4, 1);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(6, 1);
 IOShieldOled.putString(" Degrees C");
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 2);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(1, 2);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(2, 2);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(3, 2);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(4, 2);
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(6, 2);
 IOShieldOled.putString(" Degrees F");
 IOShieldOled.setCursor(0, 3);
 if(digitalRead(ALERT_PIN) == HIGH)
 IOShieldOled.putString("A L E R T !");

The OLED display on BASIC I/O shield will show something similar to following image:

tempmon9Note that rightmost switch is toggled to up position. Only in this position the Alert for temperature above 24ºC will work.

Now we are ready for Raspberry Pi!

b) Preparing Raspberry Pi

As a requirement your Raspberry Pi must have an already working Raspbian OS, and mouse and keyboard duly configured, and with network connection to Internet duly installed. If not, you need to do all those things before proceeding.  The aim of this tutorial is not to install OS in Raspberry Pi or to connect peripherals to this board.

So, we assume that mouse, keyboard, monitor and Internet connection will be working. Check if your installation has already Python serial with following command on LXTerminal of Raspberry Pi desktop:

dpkg -s python-serial

If it is not installed, the response will be the following or something very similar to:

dpkg-query: package 'python-serial' is not installed and no information is available

The result you will see on Terminal screen if it is installed will be:

tempmon17Now, if it is not installed, write the following command:

sudo apt-get install python-serial

After duly installing we are ready to connect our setup of chipKIT Digilent uC32 board and Basic I/O shield with USB to mini-B cable to Raspberry Pi! But, do not connect yet!

c) Connect chipKIT Digilent uC32 with BASIC I/O shield to Raspberry Pi

On Terminal of Raspberry Pi write:


You will get a response similar to following:

tempmon10I have an USB hub. where all my USB connections are made. I also have installed a TP-Link wireless dongle.

Now connect chipKIT Digilent uC32 board to Raspberry Pi board with USB cable.

On Terminal write again:


And the response now will be:

tempmon11Our chipKIT Digilent uC32 is recognized as having a FTDI serial IC.

We can check a bit more with the following command:

dmesg | tail

The response will be similar to following:

tempmon12The last bit is what interests us. We have identified our recent connection as ttyUSB0 (it can be 1 or 2 or whatever is your setup). We will use this information for next part of our Procedure.

Before anything else we will install Minicom if you have not already installed. You can read in b) how to check if it is installed with following command:

 dpkg -s minicom

If it is not indtalled, write the following command:

sudo apt-get install minicom

After installation run the following command:

minicom -b 9600 -o -D /dev/ttyUSB0

If all is well with your setup you will see the following on Terminal:

tempmon13Alert is shown because we have this feature enabled and our temperature is over 24ºC threshold defined in our chipKIT Digilent uC32 firmware.

d) Install Telegram in Raspberry Pi

The starting point of installing Telegram is the vysheng github project which contains also installation instructions.

First we install packages needed to build telegram by typing on Terminal:

 sudo apt-get install libreadline-dev libconfig-dev libssl-dev lua5.2 liblua5.2-dev libevent-dev make

Next, we clone Telegram CLI from github, making sure we are in /home/pi directory:

 git clone --recursive && cd tg 

The recursive call is because two sub-projects tgl and tl-parser are also required. The && cd tg means that you end up in the tg directory ready for the next phase.

Before doing anything else we will make sure you we have enough /tmp for the compilation, by enlarging /tmp. 

We need more space due to the fact that gcc places the intermediate compilation result (i.e. the expanded asm code + macros) in /tmp before linking takes place. Compilation fails if /tmp is too small. We will increase it 100MB. So edit /etc/fstab with:

 sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the following:

 tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777,size=100m 0 0

The  “size=100m” and similar other parameters force the RAM size used for the corresponding temporary file to certain megabytes. The “m” suffix corresponds to “mega bytes”.

Save and reboot

Make sure you are in /home/pi/tg directory. We make a build directory in order not to clutter the source code with intermediate object files.

 mkdir build && cd build 

Now we carry out the compilation there inside /home/pi/tg/build


Next we will compile


Compilation takes a while, but eventually you will be greeted hopefully with a successful installation.

 e) Setting up Telegram

Telegram is based on (free) accounts associating a user name and a mobile phone number. In order to set things up you really need access to TWO phone numbers, although thereafter you only need ONE mobile phone to use it.

It is advisable to set up the Raspberry Pi to use the other mobile phone number that you will not be using. This second phone is only really needed to authenticate the account.

I actually did all the set up in Raspberry Pi.

Initially we can test telegram from the inside the folder /home/pi/build/bin. We will move later the binary files elsewhere so that they are easier to access and use.

First type the command inside /home/pi/tg/build/bin

 ./telegram-cli -k -W 

You should see some information printed about telegram, ending with a > prompt on the screen.

Press the “Enter” key a couple of times, and wait.

You should then see a prompt phone number:

Type in the phone number of a phone you have just set up, including the country code. eg

Note, we will need access to the mobile phone in order to get a 5 digits authentication code.

We should then see the response:

code (‘call’ for phone call):

After a pause, we should get a SMS on the mobile phone we have just registered containing a 5 digits code number. Alternatively if you don’t receive the code it can ring you 2 minutes later and give you the code with an automatic voice.

Type this number into the Pi terminal and press “Enter”, to authenticate it.

We have set up Telegram in Raspberry Pi. The following image shows steps taken in my case /I have blured relevant information for basic security reasons):


Now we need to install Telegram in our own phone. I have installed “Unofficial IM App for Telegram” in my BlackBerry BB10 from Blackberry World. Apple Store and Google Play have official Telegram apps that you can download and install in your phone.

The first time we start Telegram in our phone we must enter the phone number, including land code (for example Portugal is +351).

Justas before we should receive on our phone a SMS message with a 5 digits code. Write the code and press “Enter”

Now we are ready to use telegram. In Raspberry Pi’s > pronpt write:

 msg <Name_Lastname> testing message from Raspberry 

Substitute <Name_Lastname> with the names you have just registered not forgetting that you need to use _ underscore between the first and last name.

You should get a message in your phone’s Telegram app. You can add the phone number you have used to register Telegram in your Raspberry Pi and then test sending a message.

The Terminal of your Raspberry Pi as well as your phone’s App will show the messages.

e) Write a Python program for Telegram

We will now write a Python program for reading from USB port, and accepting commands from Telegram.

Before we do anything else we need to install Pexpect which is found in The Python Package Index or better knows as PyPi,  which is a repository of Python programs. Hence we will need to install it write in Raspberry Pi’s Terminal:

 sudo apt-get install python-pip 


After that, we will download Pexpect from the repository writing:

 pip install pexpect 


And that is it.

Now in /home/pi/tg/build/bin directory of your Raspberry Pi, write the following code, and name it You can use the default nano editor.


import pexpect
import serial

ser = serial.Serial("/dev/ttyUSB0", 9600, timeout=2)

contact = "<Name_Lastname>" # substitute with registered name
telegram = pexpect.spawn('./telegram-cli -k')

while True:
 data = ser.readline()
 telegram.expect('status', timeout=None)
 if (data != ""):
     data = ser.readline()
     processed_data = data.split(',')
     Data1 = str(processed_data[0])
     Data2 = str(processed_data[1])
     Data3 = str(processed_data[2])
     telegram.sendline('msg '+contact+' '+Data1+' '+Data3)
     print ('Message sent to '+ contact)

Now run this code saved as

python /home/pi/tg/build/bin/

You will see the program waiting for a message from Telegram. Write “status” in your Telegram app. Immediate shortly you will see a message on Raspberry Pi’s Terminal:

Message sent to <Name_Lastname>

In your phone’s Telegram app you will see 26.0 OK or whatever temperature is read in ºC and if it is OK or there’s an ALERT.


The following image shows Telegram working from PC’s desktop using the same phone number (Telegram functions in multiple devices):

telegram_desktop NOTE: I am enabling ALERT with rightmost switch on Basic I/O shield in top position.

f) Write a Lua script for Telegram

We will modify test.lua script.

Before writing anything, there were two further packages which needed to be installed on the Raspberry Pi. Write:

 sudo apt-get install lua-lgi libnotify-dev

After installing you can try using the test.lua script

Once /home/pi/tg/build/bin directory type in:

 ./telegram-cli -k -s test.lua

This should start Telegram with the line before the prompt saying:

Hi, this is lua script

We can try a couple of the procedures already built into it.

From your phone’s Telegram app send the message ping to your Raspberry Pi.

You Raspberry Pi should respond with the reply pong

Next send the message  PING (all caps) to your Raspberry Pi. This time Raspberry Pi will respond with:

Forwarded from Your Name

First we will copy action.lua script in order to keep it intact for any references, or changes:

 cp action.lua tempmon.lua

Now let us edit tempmon.lua with:

 sudo nano tempmon.lua

We will add a path variable to the beginning of the file, so that it will be easy to use telegram and the extra python scripts we will develop from any defined location. Immediately after the first two lines which set the variables started and our_id we will insert a line:

 path = os.getenv("HOME")..'/tg/build/bin'

After function on_msg_receive (msg) find:

do_notify (get_title (msg.from,, msg.text) 

Next to this add the following code:

if (msg.text == 'check') then
if ( == our_id) then
os.execute('python '..path..'/')
send_msg (msg.from.print_name, 'Ready to check status', ok_cb, false)
send_msg (, 'Ready to check...', ok_cb, false)

Save <strong>tempmon.lua</strong> and we are now ready to test our set up.

<strong>g) Testing the set up for Remote Control</strong>

Run <strong></strong>a script by writing the following:

 ./telegram-cli -k -s tempmon.lua 

In your phone's Telegram app write: check

Next write: status

Raspberry Pi will reply with temperature and if everything is OK or there is an Alert!

The Raspberry Pi's Terminal will show a prompt and the dumping of Python program when closing:


The following image shows the Telegram app the sending of commands and messages that have been received in my phone:


ALERT is enabled by putting in UP position the righmost switch on Basic I/O shield.

The following image shows the whole set up on a desktop at my company Aliatron:


What next?

In fact imagination and resources are the limit. We can add a camera that will send us snapshots of our control process, we can control equipment and devices and receive feedback from them, and much more.

In fact IM (Instant Message) apps such as Telegram can add a whole new dimension to Automation, provided security issues are addressed.


A special thank you is due to Robin Newman for his excellent tutorial at  Everything Robin Newman wrote worked, and his post was an inspiration for this one I have just written.

A thank you is also due to Geeky Theory and their execellent website for the tutorial of Pexpect.

I had difficulties in compiling Lua, and could only sort it out after increasing the size of /tmp directory. A special thank you is due to Darmawan Salihun for his simple explanations.


Connecting up Raspberry Pi with a board such as chipKIT Digilent uC32 opens up a whole  new range of  interesting electronic projects. Microchip has already made it easy with chipKIT Pi, as mentioned at the beginning of this tutorial. Raspberry Pi offers lots of interesting and powerful solutions at low price, that can be combined with another low-priced board yet equally interesting and powerful chipKIT Digilent uC32. Digilent Basic I/O shield, that also offers more interesting electronic projects and proof of concept, with very same idea of connecting up with Raspberry Pi.


About Tayeb

Electronics engineer, part-time webmaster and owner of "Aliatron", a tech-oriented company registered in Portugal and Mozambique.
This entry was posted in Electronic Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s