DSP Mac?

Discussions and help on this commercial controller.

Moderator: twehr

DSP Mac?

Postby iGull » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:24 pm

Hi All

I guess I'm directing this at Tim, but if anyone else can help, please chime in.

I'm half-interested in purchasing a DSP controller (probably lightobject after reading the recent noise :-) )- however, I really have no interest in purchasing a PC with windoze just to drive it when I have a perfectly good set of Macs that could do the job.
I'm guessing that there is not a Mac version of 'LaserCAD' available ?
I tried it under bootcamp (XPpro) on a Macmini and the app works of course (it really turns the mac into a 'real' PC :x ) - at least I assume it works - I don't have the DSP hardware to test it - I'd rather not go that route 'though as I am then over on the dark side without direct access to my Mac software :lol: . Has anyone had success using any of the virtualisation software available - Parallels/VMware Fusion/Crossover etc ?

LaserCAD just seems to be a way of getting data up to the controller or USB key with some minor massaging and laser control (which looks like most of it could be done directly on the controller) - is there an official file format that the DSP accepts (I'm assuming it has it's own?) and if so, is it available? I'm thinking that converting my data couldn't be that difficult. I don't need access to the controller via an in-app driver, I'm quite happy using it like a cnc machine and I like the idea of dumping data using a usb key rather than having a computer permanently attached.

I'm still working my way through my own hardware currently - I'm going to use the Lasersaur controller for now - I may end up just using that if it works well enough - forgetting the raster issues for now, it only needs compass directions and laser control which it has - it also has acceleration code (all this in an 8 bit arduino too !) - and the interface is very clean. I believe there may be a headless version in the future.

TIA

Neil
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby twehr » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:04 pm

iGull wrote:Hi All

I guess I'm directing this at Tim, but if anyone else can help, please chime in.

I'm half-interested in purchasing a DSP controller (probably lightobject after reading the recent noise :-) )- however, I really have no interest in purchasing a PC with windoze just to drive it when I have a perfectly good set of Macs that could do the job.
I'm guessing that there is not a Mac version of 'LaserCAD' available ?
I tried it under bootcamp (XPpro) on a Macmini and the app works of course (it really turns the mac into a 'real' PC :x ) - at least I assume it works - I don't have the DSP hardware to test it - I'd rather not go that route 'though as I am then over on the dark side without direct access to my Mac software :lol: . Has anyone had success using any of the virtualisation software available - Parallels/VMware Fusion/Crossover etc ?

LaserCAD just seems to be a way of getting data up to the controller or USB key with some minor massaging and laser control (which looks like most of it could be done directly on the controller) - is there an official file format that the DSP accepts (I'm assuming it has it's own?) and if so, is it available? I'm thinking that converting my data couldn't be that difficult. I don't need access to the controller via an in-app driver, I'm quite happy using it like a cnc machine and I like the idea of dumping data using a usb key rather than having a computer permanently attached.

I'm still working my way through my own hardware currently - I'm going to use the Lasersaur controller for now - I may end up just using that if it works well enough - forgetting the raster issues for now, it only needs compass directions and laser control which it has - it also has acceleration code (all this in an 8 bit arduino too !) - and the interface is very clean. I believe there may be a headless version in the future.


Neil,

I'll start off by apologizing that I can currently only give you some maybe's, probably's, and some guesses. I don't have the 2012 version of the controller, but although there are some differences I suspect that if it works in the older version then it will likely work in the current one.

The key issue will be whether the usb driver will work or not. What that does is capture data normally sent to a parallel port and redirect it to a USB port. If it were straight USB, I would expect it to work. Since the Mac does not know anything about parallel ports it may not work. Moreover, it "may" be that the usb driver is expecting to interact with a physical parallel port, meaning it needs to see actual hardware. So that is all an unknown (by me) at this point.

I do have a few Macs and I use different windows emulation that allows me to run windows apps and mac apps side by side. If you want to keep access to all apps, you may want to investigate that.

Meanwhile, I will try to get the software loaded on my Mac and see if it chokes or not. I am out of town tonight and tomorrow night. The earliest I will be able to give it a try is Wed night, if all goes well. Sounds like you are not going to go out and buy one today anyway, so hope that timing will work for you. Again, I will be testing on an older version of the board and software, but that may tell us something.
tim
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby lasersafe1 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:27 pm

I don't know this to be a fact, but it was my understanding that Corel gave up on Mac support long ago, so you can only run old versions. I have always gotten the best horsepower out of my laser when using CorelDraw as the primary working platform. I doubt that you would find the USB key to be a good solution. When you get into fine engraving, you want the instant control ability of changing power or speed on the fly from the PC.
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby twehr » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:01 pm

lasersafe1 wrote:I don't know this to be a fact, but it was my understanding that Corel gave up on Mac support long ago, so you can only run old versions. I have always gotten the best horsepower out of my laser when using CorelDraw as the primary working platform. I doubt that you would find the USB key to be a good solution. When you get into fine engraving, you want the instant control ability of changing power or speed on the fly from the PC.


I agree with the usability aspect. Probably not going to do much significant design work in LaserCAD. But we should still try to find out if the software will talk to the USB port appropriately. The user could still import bitmaps, and HPLC files.
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby iGull » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:28 pm

Tim and lasersafe1 (apologies, I don't know your name :-) thanks for the replies.

twehr wrote:The key issue will be whether the usb driver will work or not. What that does is capture data normally sent to a parallel port and redirect it to a USB port. If it were straight USB, I would expect it to work. Since the Mac does not know anything about parallel ports it may not work. Moreover, it "may" be that the usb driver is expecting to interact with a physical parallel port, meaning it needs to see actual hardware. So that is all an unknown (by me) at this point.


I agree on the direct USB connection being a possible issue, but I find that concept strange as there is no 'parallel port' involved either virtual or physical. The USB port by it's very nature is serial - I doubt if there would be any issues regarding this - considering all 'new' PCs no longer have parallel ports fitted anyway (virtual or otherwise :-).

twehr wrote:I do have a few Macs and I use different windows emulation that allows me to run windows apps and mac apps side by side. If you want to keep access to all apps, you may want to investigate that.


I don't have 'parallels' or 'vmware' installed on my Mac, but I had a friend install the laserCAD software this afternoon on his mac (running parallels with winXP) - it installed and ran fine - of course, we couldn't check the USB connection to the controller - I did forget to ask him to try saving the resultant file to a USB key (or indeed to the hard drive - same process really). I did try installing laserCad with 'crossover' , but couldn't get the install to function (this is not uncommon with xover in my experience :-).

twehr wrote:Meanwhile, I will try to get the software loaded on my Mac and see if it chokes or not. I am out of town tonight and tomorrow night. The earliest I will be able to give it a try is Wed night, if all goes well. Sounds like you are not going to go out and buy one today anyway, so hope that timing will work for you. Again, I will be testing on an older version of the board and software, but that may tell us something.


That would be great Tim, a few days isn't a problem - and the older version will mostly operate much the same I should think - I still need to align my laser that I fitted this morning anway :-)

lasersafe1 wrote:I don't know this to be a fact, but it was my understanding that Corel gave up on Mac support long ago, so you can only run old versions. I have always gotten the best horsepower out of my laser when using CorelDraw as the primary working platform. I doubt that you would find the USB key to be a good solution. When you get into fine engraving, you want the instant control ability of changing power or speed on the fly from the PC.


I don't think that Coreldraw (or any other graphics/cad app really) needs to be in the equation at all - there _is_ a driver for Coreldraw and Autocad that allows direct access to the controller from _within_ the app (not unlike a print dialogue) but it isn't necessary to actually use the controller (as I understand it). Ditto for the USB key - again, as I understand it, the laserCad application creates a file (created from an imported graphics file - eps/dxf/jpg etc) to be sent to the lasercutter - either via the USB port or by opening the file on a USB key - the file would contain all the co-ordinate stuff plus any required power changes - any speed changes I would imagine the controller would have it's own ramping algorithms to do. I don't think there is any 'changing power or speed on the fly from the PC' involved - the control is already pre-ordained from the data in the file that was sent to the controller (again, as I understand it :-)

That's why I'm thinking that if the data format was available, it should be a reasonably 'simple' matter to emulate what the laserCAD application is doing (without all the bells and whistles).

Many thanks for the help and replies.

Neil
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby bdring » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:42 pm

What does the new RJ45 connector do? Is that another control method? I don't see anything in LaserCAD. Does any one have a picture or PDF documentation yet?

Mine is supposed to be shipping today.
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby iGull » Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:29 pm

bdring wrote:What does the new RJ45 connector do? Is that another control method? I don't see anything in LaserCAD. Does any one have a picture or PDF documentation yet?

Mine is supposed to be shipping today.


I'm guessing exactly that - a network interface hopefully - maybe a web control interface even (that may be wishful thinking 'though :D )

Cheers

Neil
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby r691175002 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:48 pm

It's mostly a usability thing.

When engraving a new material or cutting a new job its a trial and error process that may take several tries. You don't want to be running back and forth with a USB key to make changes.

From a technical standpoint its not necessary to use coreldraw but in practice things are different. A lot of programs half work but there are subtleties in how lines/curves get exported that force the use of coreldraw.

Other programs "work" but there are strange issues where lines are not connected properly, shapes dont close, circles become polygons, etc... It's not something you want to have to deal with.

I was planning on using inkscape/fireworks for my laser cutter but gave in very quickly. If this is your first laser build the chances are you want to keep things as simple as possible.
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby Groover » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:49 pm

I had a look in the manual. It looks like it will be able to use a standard network to connect Lasercad to the controller.

It's in Chinese and a bit hard to read.
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Re: DSP Mac?

Postby twehr » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:50 pm

iGull wrote:Tim and lasersafe1 (apologies, I don't know your name :-) thanks for the replies.

twehr wrote:The key issue will be whether the usb driver will work or not. What that does is capture data normally sent to a parallel port and redirect it to a USB port. If it were straight USB, I would expect it to work. Since the Mac does not know anything about parallel ports it may not work. Moreover, it "may" be that the usb driver is expecting to interact with a physical parallel port, meaning it needs to see actual hardware. So that is all an unknown (by me) at this point.


I agree on the direct USB connection being a possible issue, but I find that concept strange as there is no 'parallel port' involved either virtual or physical. The USB port by it's very nature is serial - I doubt if there would be any issues regarding this - considering all 'new' PCs no longer have parallel ports fitted anyway (virtual or otherwise :-).

twehr wrote:I do have a few Macs and I use different windows emulation that allows me to run windows apps and mac apps side by side. If you want to keep access to all apps, you may want to investigate that.


I don't have 'parallels' or 'vmware' installed on my Mac, but I had a friend install the laserCAD software this afternoon on his mac (running parallels with winXP) - it installed and ran fine - of course, we couldn't check the USB connection to the controller - I did forget to ask him to try saving the resultant file to a USB key (or indeed to the hard drive - same process really). I did try installing laserCad with 'crossover' , but couldn't get the install to function (this is not uncommon with xover in my experience :-).

twehr wrote:Meanwhile, I will try to get the software loaded on my Mac and see if it chokes or not. I am out of town tonight and tomorrow night. The earliest I will be able to give it a try is Wed night, if all goes well. Sounds like you are not going to go out and buy one today anyway, so hope that timing will work for you. Again, I will be testing on an older version of the board and software, but that may tell us something.


That would be great Tim, a few days isn't a problem - and the older version will mostly operate much the same I should think - I still need to align my laser that I fitted this morning anway :-)

lasersafe1 wrote:I don't know this to be a fact, but it was my understanding that Corel gave up on Mac support long ago, so you can only run old versions. I have always gotten the best horsepower out of my laser when using CorelDraw as the primary working platform. I doubt that you would find the USB key to be a good solution. When you get into fine engraving, you want the instant control ability of changing power or speed on the fly from the PC.


I don't think that Coreldraw (or any other graphics/cad app really) needs to be in the equation at all - there _is_ a driver for Coreldraw and Autocad that allows direct access to the controller from _within_ the app (not unlike a print dialogue) but it isn't necessary to actually use the controller (as I understand it). Ditto for the USB key - again, as I understand it, the laserCad application creates a file (created from an imported graphics file - eps/dxf/jpg etc) to be sent to the lasercutter - either via the USB port or by opening the file on a USB key - the file would contain all the co-ordinate stuff plus any required power changes - any speed changes I would imagine the controller would have it's own ramping algorithms to do. I don't think there is any 'changing power or speed on the fly from the PC' involved - the control is already pre-ordained from the data in the file that was sent to the controller (again, as I understand it :-)

That's why I'm thinking that if the data format was available, it should be a reasonably 'simple' matter to emulate what the laserCAD application is doing (without all the bells and whistles).

Many thanks for the help and replies.

Neil


Neil,

There are a number of assumptions you are making here that I believe are confusing you about how it works. Unfortunately, I am on the way out of the office and out of town for the evening. When I get back I will write details. Until then:

The older version actually looks for Com ports (parallel ports). But the USB driver redirects that to USB. That's why there MAY be an issue. Some systems actually look for the hardware. That's what we need to check out.

LaserCAD is ALWAYS used to create the file that goes to the controller, either at the time of creation or stored on a USB stick and manually moved there. There is only a bridge between Corel and LaserCAD. So you would be designing elsewhere and then importing that to LaserCAD and then creating the file that will be cut/engraved.

You are still going to need someplace to do quality design work. If it imports AI, then you can use that from the Mac.

When I get home, I'll get the specifics for you.
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