Created by: gwideman, Sep 29, 2012 9:31 pm
Revised by: gwideman, Sep 29, 2012 10:45 pm (6 revisions)

Overview

This page offers a brief overview of the LaserCut 5.3 software. The intent is to help understand the overall scope of the software, particularly for those completely unfamiliar with it. To that end, it is well worth obtaining and browsing the manual here:
However, the manual doesn't correspond exactly to the actual Lasercut 5.3 software we have -- some functions and dialogs are different. Info below corresponds to the actual software (actually the demo version.)

Main screen

LaserCut's main screen consists of several panels that correspond to all of the software's areas of functionality:
  • A drawing area in which can be drawn (or imported):
    • lines (which become cuts) and
    • images (which become laser engraving actions).
  • Toolbars containing tools for working on the drawing
  • A table in which to define the cutting or engraving parameters for each color used on the drawing
  • A "control panel" with buttons to directly manipulate the laser cutter, and by which to send jobs to the cutter.
Lasercut-app-screen.png

Menu structure

File

  • New
  • Open (non-functional in demo software)
  • Save (non-functional in demo software)
  • Save As (non-functional in demo software)
  • Import
    • ... offers PLT-HPGL, AI-Adobe Illustrator, DXF-Autocad, DST-Tajima, BMP, NC_Mastercam, JPG/JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIF/TIFF, TGA, PCX.
  • Export
    • ... offers DXF-Autocad and PLT-HPGL.
  • Machine Options
    • Opens an extensive multi-tab dialog to view or set a multitude of parameters about the laser cutter mechanics and controller board, and default cutting parameters.
  • Print
  • Print Preview
  • Print Setup
  • Exit

Edit

  • Undo
  • Redo
  • Copy
  • Paste
  • Cut
  • Refresh
  • Pick (mouse pointer becomes arrow select tool)
  • Zoom In
  • Zoom Out
  • Pan (mouse pointer becomes hand tool)
  • Zoom to table
  • Zoom to all object
  • Center to table

Draw

Most of the following set the mouse so that it draws the shape mentioned, or applies the mentioned transformation to the selected figure.
  • Line
  • Rectangle
  • Polyline
  • Ellipse
  • Bezier
  • Text
  • Tran(slate) Text to curve
  • Code Text
  • Copies
  • Rotate
  • Mirror (vertically)
  • Mirror (horizontally)
  • Size
  • Align
    • Left/right/top/bottom/center horiz/center vert/center middle
  • Edit node (allows mouse to select a curve path, and select and move handles on that curve.)
  • Split line

Tools

  • Data check
    • Checks drawing for curves being closed, intersections and self-intersections, overlaps
  • Smooth curve
    • Smooths a curve
  • Unite lines (combine several paths into one)
  • Offset curve
    • Creates a new path parallel to and at an offset from an existing path. Typically used to create a path slightly outside or inside an existing one.
  • Cal EnterPath
    • This menu item invokes a dialog called "Import line and export line Options", but the contents of the dialog resemble the Lead In/Lead Out options dialog in the manual. As such, the dialog would control what happens as the laser starts cutting a new path, and what happens as it finishes the path.
    • Unfortunately, in the software we have, some of the labels are in Chinese. (These could be translated and fixed in the language.ini file.)
  • Output order
    • Dialog to control the order of cutting the paths.
  • Invert colors. For bitmaps that are to be engraved, this function inverts the relationship between image intensity and laser intensity.
  • Half Bmitmap. This appears to correspond to what the manual describes as "Screen Print of Bitmap". Ie: the "half bmitmap" is probably a bad translation of "apply halftone", and "Screen Print" is a bad translation of "convert from continuous-tone photo to printable dot screen". At any rate, the point is to convert a bitmap into "halftone dots" so that it can be rendered by laser. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halftone

Laser

  • Define cut route
    • Mouse pointer becomes a tool with which to set the cut start/end point on a curve
  • Set laser origin
    • Dialog to set the drawing's idea of where the origin is (small blue square). In preparation for cutting, set the actual laser origin relative to the raw material to correspond to this point.
  • Array output options
    • Sets how to replicate the drawing for cutting multiple copies.
  • Calculate
    • Recalculates the path. Not sure what else this does or when it's necessary.
  • Clear log
  • Simulate
    • Runs an animation on the drawing to show how the laser will cut the paths.
  • Move To

View

  • Toolbar (show/hide)
    • File
    • Output
    • Edit
    • Layers
    • Align
  • Statusbar

Help

  • Help (doesn't do anything in our demo version)
  • About

Control Panel

To the right of Lasercut's window is a panel which contains two main features:
  • A table that controls the order of cuts according to their color in the drawing
  • A control panel for interacting with the laser cutter

Lasercut-control-panel.pngTable

The rows in the table correspond to colors used in the drawing. For each color, a number of cutting parameters can be set
Double-clicking a row opens a dialog in which allows entering the cutting parameters. See manual for details.

Table's buttons

  • Up/Down: After selecting a row in the table, these buttons move the row up or down the list. Cuts will be performed in the order their colors appear in the table.
  • All: After selecting a row in the table, clicking this button will apply that row's settings to all the other rows. (Note: the manual says to "check" a row for this purpose -- this is incorrect. Instead select the row -- it becomes highlighted as is conventional.)
  • Calculate: Again, not sure when "calculate" is needed.

Control panel

Buttons and checkboxes

  • Y+/Y-/X+/X-/Datum: These buttons immediately send commands to the laser to move it.
  • Z+/Z-/ZDatum Commands raise or lower the table
  • Laser: Turns on or off the laser, with the power setting.
  • Times/Delay: Number of times to repeat the job, and delay between running.
  • [...] button: "Output options (advanced)": Options for the automated feed, if the cutter has one.
  • Immediate Checkbox:
    • Unchecked: Positions will be interpreted absolutely relative to the drawing.
    • Checked: Positions will be relative such that the blue origin point on the drawing will correspond to the laser position when starting the job.
  • Run Box: Causes laser head to move in a rectangular path that encompasses the objects to be drawn.
  • Clip Box: Manual says: "cut the work pieced well-processed off the materials to process". Hmmm. This might mean, after cutting the job, use this button to cut a clean rectangle around all the cut-out shapes, so as to leave the remaining material in a fresher condition.
  • Download: Compile the current drawing, saving the results on the local machine, and also send the MOL file to the cutter. (A dialog opens with various options.)
  • Start/Pause/Stop: Command the cutter to run the job that's in its memory. Note: The download must be performed before using the Start button, otherwise the cutter will just run whatever job it was previously sent.
Note that some of the software control-panel function duplicate the functions available on the actual control panel on the cutter.