Skip to content
Branch: master
Find file Copy path
Find file Copy path
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
476 lines (362 sloc) 18.9 KB

Test Chain Guide

Level: Intermediate

Estimated-Time: 30 - 50 minutes


This guide is intended to give an introduction on how to use Maker’s custom test chain. This test chain has all of Maker’s smart contracts deployed on it, so you as a developer can start building your dApps on top of Maker’s system. In addition, you can also use our dai.js library with this test chain.

Learning Objectives

Learn how to deploy and interact with the test chain for your development purposes.


You can run the testchain on MacOS/Linux systems and also on the Windows Subsystem For Linux. You need to have, NodeJs and bash installed on your machine.


  • Note on Windows Subsystem for Linux
  • Benefits of using the test chain
  • Getting Started
  • Options
  • Interacting with MakerDAO contracts
    • Open a CDP with dai.js
    • Use MCD contracts to draw some Dai with seth

Note on Windows Subsystem for Linux

If you want to run this test chain on the Windows Subsystem for Linux, you’ll run into some issues when installing the nix package manager.

This thread has some solutions to the installation process. In summary, their solution is to create a file in /etc/nix/nix.conf and add these flags in the file:

use-sqlite-wal = false
sandbox = false

Have a go and see if it works for you.

Benefits of using the test chain

This test chain has Maker’s smart contracts deployed on it. This is very convenient for you as a developer to interact or build smart contracts that interact with the Maker system. In addition, you have the convenience of tweaking your chain configurations to suit your needs, such as changing the block time or deploying your own set of smart contracts when instantiating the chain.

Getting Started

In a terminal, execute the following commands.

To download the repo to your machine execute:

git clone
cd testchain

Install all the necessary dependencies

npm install
yarn install

To launch the chain


In your terminal, after some time you'll see this text:

Starting Ganache...
Launched testchain in --- seconds.
Press Ctrl-C to stop the test chain.

If you see this, then congrats, you have your test chain running on


You have some configuration options to run your test chain.
In order to add these options you need to add some flags -- optionName as a suffix to the start command.

For example:
If you want to run the test chain with verbose option, you run the bellow script:

This will show you the chain logs in the terminal

scripts/launch --verbose

Here you change your port and add verbose option

scripts/launch -p 2001 --verbose

For more options check out our repo.

Interacting with MakerDAO contracts

You’ll find all the necessary Maker contract addresses in the out/addresses.json or out/addresses-mcd.json file in the testchain folder. You can use these addresses to develop your own tools that interact with Maker contracts. Use our own dai.js library or interact through the command line with seth. We will go through both of these methods now.

Open a CDP with dai.js

So, to start from scratch:

  • Start the testchain in another terminal, as you’ll be connecting to it when running the js file.
  • In a directory of your choice, in another terminal, initiate an empty project with npm init -y
  • Add the @makerdao/dai package: npm i --save @makerdao/dai
  • Create a cdp.js file where you’ll write your script.
  • Copy the below example in your js file
  • Run the file with node cdp.js

Below is an example that shows the process of opening a CDP, locking some Eth and drawing some Dai:

const Maker = require('@makerdao/dai');

async function start() {
	try {
		const maker = await Maker.create('test');
		await maker.authenticate();

		// Get account and balance
		const balance = await maker.getToken('ETH').balanceOf(maker.currentAddress());
		console.log('Account: ', maker.currentAddress());
		console.log('Balance', balance.toString());

		// Open CDP, lock ETH and Draw DAI
		const cdp = await maker.openCdp();
		console.log('Opened CDP with ID: ',

		await cdp.lockEth(0.1)
		console.log('Locked ETH')
		await cdp.drawDai(5)
		console.log('Draw DAI');

		const debt = await cdp.getDebtValue();

	} catch (error) {
		console.log('error', error)


So, if everything went according to plan, you should see an output like the one below:

Web3 is initializing...
Web3 is connecting...
Web3 version:  1.0.0-beta.34
Web3 is authenticating...
Account:  0x16fb96a5fa0427af0c8f7cf1eb4870231c8154b6
Balance 96.68 ETH
Opened CDP with ID:  1
Locked ETH
Draw DAI
5.00 DAI

Use MCD contracts to draw Dai with seth

In this example, we will draw Dai by depositing ETH into the MCD contracts that are deployed on our testchain. We will interact with the smart contracts directly, so there’s more steps involved.

As a prerequisite, you need to have the test chain running in a terminal with the scripts/launch --verbose command, if you haven’t done so already. Note: If you see a message saying the testchain is already running on port 2000, you can kill it with kill -9 $(lsof -t -i:2000)

Next, go to another terminal window or tab. To start, we will need to set up and export some environmental variables in our second terminal. These variables will help you connect to the test chain and interact with the MCD system through seth.

Let’s add the variables that will set our account and connection with the test chain. In your second terminal tab, in your home location, add these variables:

export ETH_FROM=0x...address
  • This is the first address under ‘Available Accounts’ appearing in the first terminal when starting the test chain with --verbose flag.
    You need to add this address because it is already filled with some ether for you by the test chain.
export ETH_RPC_URL=http://localhost:2000
  • This sets the connection to the test chain.

For the next two variables, you need to create a keystore file with the private key of the ETH_FROM address used earlier. Each private key, corresponding to the above-mentioned available accounts, is also printed in the test chain terminal. This newly created keystore file will be stored in a folder called accounts.

In order to create the keystore with the private key, do one of the following:

  • Go to and view the wallet with your private key. Then save it locally as a keystore file. Keep in mind the password for your keystore.

  • Use geth. To create a keystore file with geth, the command used is: geth account import <(echo <privateKey>). By default, the file is stored here: ~/Library/Ethereum/keystore/<UTC……> — <yourPublicAddress> on MAC OS or here ~/.ethereum/keystore on Ubuntu.

Store the keystore in the accounts folder.
Next, you need to create a file, let’s name it pass and save the password that accesses the keystore file you created prior.
So, by now you should have two files in the accounts folder: keystore and pass. Now you can add the next variables:

export ETH_KEYSTORE=/home/user/accounts/
export ETH_PASSWORD=/home/user/accounts/pass
  • pass being the name of the password file you created

You can try to test your connection by seeing your account balance:

seth balance $ETH_FROM

If connection is right, you’ll see this (your values might differ):


Next, we can start adding the MCD contract addresses. You’ll find these addresses in the /testchain/out/addresses-mcd.json:

export MCD_MOM=0x….
  • MCD_MOM is a contract interface that sets the risk parameters of the Dai Credit System
export MCD_MOM_LIB=0x….
  • MCD_MOM_LIB is a contract library for the MCD_MOM
export MCD_JOIN_ETH=0x….
  • MCD_JOIN_ETH is the ETH adapter responsible for joining and exiting ETH collateral.
export MCD_SPOT=0x….
  • MCD_SPOT is a contract that allows external actors to update the price feed for the given collateral type (ilk).
export MCD_VAT=0x….
  • MCD_VAT is a contract for the CDP core engine, keeps track of DAI credit system accounting.
export MCD_JOIN_DAI=0x….
  • MCD_JOIN_DAI is a contract for the DAI adapter responsible for minting and burning DAI.
export MCD_DAI=0x….
  • MCD_DAI is a contract for the DAI stablecoin contract.
export PIP_ETH=0x….
  • PIP_ETH is a contract for the price feed oracle for the ETH price
export WETH=0x….
  • WETH is the wrapped ether contract, you can find it as ETH in the json file

Next, add the variables that will be used in calling specific functions in the MCD contracts:

export ceiling=$(seth --to-uint256 "$(echo 10000*10^45 | bc)")
  • Setting the ceiling variable to a large number and converting it to hexadecimal
  • This variable is used to set the total debt ceiling for the Dai System and each collateral.
export ilk=$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "ETH-A")")
  • ilk - a collateral type
  • Setting the ilk variable to the ETH type of collateral and converting it to hex and bytes32 format.
export urn=$(seth --to-bytes32 $ETH_FROM)
  • urn - a specific CDP
  • Setting the urn variable to your ethereum address. Urn being the specific CDP that you’ll create
export mat=1500000000
  • Setting the collateral ratio variable to 1.5. The reason this number has 9 extra digits is because of the necessary conversion in seth. The value of mat in the Dai system has a 27 digit precision, so using a seth --to-wei conversion, it adds 18 extra digits to the 9 digit number. Giving the total of 27 digits.
export dink=$(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-hex $(seth --to-wei 5 eth)))
  • dink is delta ink - a signed difference value to the current value. This value is used in the frob function call to determine how much ink to lock in the Vat.
export dart=$(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-hex $(seth --to-wei 20 eth)))
  • dart is delta art - a signed difference value to the current value. This value is used in the frob function call to determine how much art(debt) to mint in the Vat.

As the MCD contracts are freshly deployed, we need to configure some parameters in the MCD system. They are the general debt ceiling, debt ceiling for ether collateral, collateral ratio for ether collateral, ether price feed and value of spot. As a side note, these parameters are set by certain actors such as Maker Governance and Oracle Relayer Network on the mainnet. Changes to these parameters occur through voting mechanisms. However, in this situation, you are the complete owner of the MCD system. You can make any change you want to your specific scenarios.

MCD_MOM is a contract interface that sets the risk parameters of the Dai Credit System. The DSChief contract has authority to call functions on the MOM contract after the MKR holders have voted their decisions.

In this case, you as the sole user on the test chain, are performing all the function calls necessary to bootstrap the Dai Credit System.
All the MCD_MOM function calls are called by the DSChief contract on the mainnet. While on the test chain, you are performing all the roles.

Setting the general debt ceiling:

seth send "$MCD_MOM" 'execute(address,bytes memory)' "$MCD_MOM_LIB" "$(seth calldata 'file(address,bytes32,uint256)' "$MCD_VAT" "$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "Line")")" "$ceiling")"

Setting the ceiling for ether collateral:

seth send "$MCD_MOM" 'execute(address,bytes memory)' "$MCD_MOM_LIB" "$(seth calldata 'file(address,bytes32,bytes32,uint256)' "$MCD_VAT" "$ilk" "$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "line")")" "$ceiling")"

Setting the collateral ratio for each collateral:

seth send "$MCD_MOM" 'execute(address,bytes memory)' "$MCD_MOM_LIB" "$(seth calldata 'file(address,bytes32,bytes32,uint256)' "$MCD_SPOT" "$ilk" "$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "mat")")" "$(seth --to-uint256 "$(seth --to-wei "$mat" ETH)")")"

PIP_ETH is a price oracle feed for the ETH price. In this case, you are providing the price feed information to the contract.
Setting the price feed:

seth send $PIP_ETH 'poke(bytes32)' $(seth --to-uint256 "$(seth --to-wei 150 ETH)")

Setting the liquidation ratio:

seth send "$MCD_MOM" 'execute(address,bytes memory)' "$MCD_MOM_LIB" "$(seth calldata 'file(address,bytes32,bytes32,uint256)' "$MCD_SPOT" "$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "ETH")")" "$(seth --to-bytes32 "$(seth --from-ascii "mat")")" "$(seth --to-uint256 "$(seth --to-wei "$(echo "150 * 10 ^ 7" | bc -l)" ETH)")")"

The MCD_SPOT contract allows external actors to update the price feed in the Vat contract. Setting the value of spot, which defines how much unit dai we can draw from unit collateral.

seth send "$MCD_SPOT" 'poke(bytes32)' "$ilk"

Let’s deposit 5 eth into the WETH adapter:

seth send $WETH 'deposit()' --value $(seth --to-wei 5 ETH)

Let’s approve MCD_JOIN_ETH to withdraw some WETH:

seth send $WETH 'approve(address, uint256)' $MCD_JOIN_ETH $(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-wei 5 ETH))

Let’s lock 5 ether into the ether adapter:

seth send $MCD_JOIN_ETH 'join(bytes32,uint256)' $urn $(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-wei 5 ETH))

Checking if MCD_JOIN_ETH got the collateral:

seth --from-wei $(seth --to-dec $(seth call $MCD_VAT 'gem(bytes32,bytes32)(uint256)' $ilk $urn)) eth

Finally, we can lock up collateral in the Vat and generate Dai. The parameters $dink and $dart that we defined earlier represent how much ether we want to lock in our ether CDP and how much Dai we want to generate, respectively. This being 5 ether and 20 Dai. We can deposit the ether and generate Dai all in one transaction, as shown below:

seth send $MCD_VAT "frob(bytes32,bytes32,bytes32,bytes32,int256,int256)" $ilk $urn $urn $urn $dink $dart

Now we can check if we successfully generated our Dai in the Dai Adapter:

seth --from-wei $(seth --to-dec $(seth call $MCD_VAT 'dai(bytes32)(uint256)' $urn))

We need to approve the Dai adapter to withdraw the created Dai from the urn.

seth send $MCD_VAT 'hope(address)' $MCD_JOIN_DAI

Lastly, we can withdraw the Dai to your account. We need the $wad parameter that will define the amount of Dai we want to withdraw.

export wad=$(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-wei 20 eth))
seth send $MCD_JOIN_DAI "exit(bytes32,address, uint256)" $urn $ETH_FROM $wad
  • wad - some quantity of tokens

Checking the balance in your account:

seth --from-wei $(seth --to-dec $(seth call $MCD_DAI 'balanceOf(address)' $ETH_FROM)) eth



If all went right, you should see your balance of Dai in your account. Congratulations, you’ve successfully created an ETH CDP in the MCD system and drawn some fresh Dai.

Note, if you want to create a CDP with other tokens, like COL1, you need to request some from the FAUCET contract. You'll find the FAUCET contract address in the out/addresses-mcd.json file.

Add the FAUCET address to the env variable:

export FAUCET=0x..

Add the COL1 address to the variable:

export COL1=0x...

Now, you can call the gulp(address) function:

seth send $FAUCET 'gulp(address)' $COL1

Verify your balance:

seth --from-wei $(seth --to-dec $(seth call $COL1 'balanceOf(address)' $ETH_FROM)) eth 

Then you need to follow the same steps as above but change the $ilk to COL1 and interact with $COL1 and $MCD_JOIN_COL1_A contracts.

Pay back Dai debt

If you want to pay back your Dai, follow the steps below.

Approve $MCD_JOIN_DAI to withdraw $wad from $MCD_DAI

seth send $MCD_DAI 'approve(address,uint256)' $MCD_JOIN_DAI $wad

Add Dai back to the MCD_JOIN_DAI adapter.

seth send $MCD_JOIN_DAI 'join(bytes32,uint256)' $urn $wad

Pay back your Dai debt and unlock your collateral. We do this with the same $dink $dart values and with the $frob function. But we change them into negative numbers instead. We do it this way:

Using mcd-cli, we create our two negative numbers:

export minus20hex=$(mcd --to-hex $(seth --to-wei -20 eth))
export minus5hex=$(mcd --to-hex $(seth --to-wei -5 eth))

Then, we set these negative numbers to $dink and $dart.

export dink=$(seth --to-uint256 $minus5hex)
export dart=$(seth --to-uint256 $minus20hex)

Now we can call the frob function in VAT to pay back Dai and unlock our collateral.

seth send $MCD_VAT "frob(bytes32,bytes32,bytes32,bytes32,int256,int256)" $ilk $urn $urn $urn $dink $dart

Our ETH is in the MCD_JOIN_ETH adapter now, we need to call the exit function to withdraw them.

seth send $MCD_JOIN_ETH 'exit(bytes32,address,uint)' $urn $ETH_FROM $(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-wei 5 eth)) 

Finally, we just need to unwrap our ETH from the $WETH contract.

seth send $WETH 'withdraw(uint)' $(seth --to-uint256 $(seth --to-wei 5 eth))

You can check your account balance again and see that your ETH is back.

seth balance $ETH_FROM


In this guide, you have been introduced to Maker’s test chain and its benefits. You’ve learned how to deploy your own test chain with your preferred configuration options. You have interacted with the Maker system through the dai.js and seth tools by creating a CDP and drawing some Dai.


Feel free to create an issue if you run into trouble. We are here to help you.

Next Steps

After you have deployed your test chain, you could go and discover our integration examples. Some of them will need to use this test chain that you just deployed. Feel free to poke around and do PRs with your own examples. In addition, you can use this repo to deploy the MCD contracts to your own local test chain of choice.


You can’t perform that action at this time.