Getting the installation program
The Lasercut 5.3 installation files can be downloaded here.
Extract the files from the zipped archive to a new directory.
The archive contains 4 folders:
- Lasercut 5.3 – Control Software - this is used to prepare the cutting files before sending them to the laser
- Driver – Softdog USB Dongle - an additional driver for the USB dongle (seems to be needed on all Windows systems)
- Driver – Laser Cutter - the driver to connect directly to the laser cutter.
- Inkscape Files - Inkscape templates of various sizes from A4 to A0 and the full 1200x900 bed. A custom Inkscape palette is also included which can be used to easily define layers.
In a typical install all the required drivers will be set up as part of the LaserCut Installer, the additional drivers are only provided for completeness. If you do not need to connect your computer to the laser directly you can ignore the drivers.
Installing Lasercut 5.3
Run the “Setup.exe” program from within the LaserCut 5.3 folder, this will start the installation of Lasercut 5.3
Install Lasercut using the default settings. The "Lasercut53" type is a standalone version of Lasercut which can be used in demonstration mode without the need for the softdog dongle.
Like most older programs Lasercut prefers to run from the default paths.
The program will install Lasercut, the drivers for the USB dongle and the drivers for the laser cutter.
Once complete navigate to the newly created folder to start the program.
Running Lasercut 5.3
There are two versions of Lasercut located within the program path, a full version and a demonstration version.
The full version of Lasercut, "Lasercut53.exe", will only run if the softdog USB dongle is connected to the computer. This version gives you complete control over the laser cutter. You can download jobs to the laser, adjust the cutting position and start a job all from within Lasercut.
The demo version of Lasercut, "Lasercut53_Demo.exe", will run even if the softdog USB dongle is not present. This version of the software has limited capabilities; in particular it does not allow you to save your work and it does not connect to the laser cutter (the program will crash if this is attempted). There are workarounds which allow you to prepare files while using the demonstration version (while you cannot select File -> Save, if you exit the program it will ask you to save, however you cannot open ECP files again only import them).
Selecting the appropriate Laser cutter
The default Lasercut installation configures the environment for a Silvertail A0 laser cutter (the Nottinghack one). If you require a different laser cutter simply run the appropriate “.bat” file from the install directory. This will load the full program as well, just close the prompts and launch the demo instead.
Lasercut extracts laser cutter information from the “syscfg.ini” file stored next to its executable. This file contains information about the size of the machine, the maximum speed of the axis and lots of other data. When the “bat” file is run it simply copies the appropriate configuration file for the target machine and replaces the “syscfg.ini” file with it. The bat file then launches the Lasercut application. Each time Lasercut is run from this point onwards it will refer to the target machine. These “bat” files are particularly useful when one computer is used to connect to multiple sizes of laser cutter.