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Connect to Mac? USB? Not found!

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22 hours ago, The Zaar said:

For my purposes, that's exactly what VinylMaster is -- a program to move the cutting head around, like a printer driver. OF COURSE printer drivers are free; the printer won't work without it. But the design that the cutter cuts has to be created in a different program – a typical Windows solution. SCAL both creates the design AND  drives most cutters. If it won't drive mine, then USCutter and I need to have a serious conversation about why they told me it would before they sold it to me. For USCutter to "upgrade" an established cutter model with one that "breaks" the established work flow is not a good strategy, and they need to fix it. Simple print drivers are not all that difficult to program. Assuming the same is true of cutters, they need to hire someone and get it done.

Skeeter was talking about the design capability that SCALP comes with vs the (pc only) Vinyl Master Cut version that is very basic comparatively. She was referring to VM Cut, Flexistarter, SignCut Pro that are all just cut only programs or nearly so that you design on another program and use as a cutting tool afterword. The free part with SCALP is that is has design capabilities albeit somewhat lacking in most of our professional opinions. 

When I bought my first cutter it came with a years free subscription to SignCut Pro1 and then I had to decide if I wanted to continue with the subscription or do something different. I actually spent $400 on a lifetime dongle for SignCut Pro1 after looking around at all the options available at the time that were mac compatible. I actually tried out SCALP Beta but was unimpressed, I assume they have improved some since then. 

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Thank you everyone for the replies. I appreciate your help. I know the type looks really small, but the JPG I posted is a Photoshop rendition of a 4x8 foot menu board. The columns are 30" wide. The headers are 160 pt type (2-1/4"), the item names are 90 pt (1-1/4"), the prices are 120 pt (1-2/3"), and the smallest type — the bullet points at the bottom of the first panel — is 42 pt (9/16"). I know that it will be a lot of weeding, which I'm sure is the main reason sign shops want to charge me hundreds of dollars to do the job (since "time" is more valuable than "vinyl").

I will look into getting a Trip-lite USB2COM adapter. But frankly, I can't believe that here we are, 18 years into the 21st century, with the USB standard on its 3rd iteration, and there is still hardware being offered for sale that is not compatible with even USB2. The USB standard is not rocket science. Even China makes USB chips that are up to the current standards. Printer drivers are not rocket science. It's not like someone is asking to run a cutter with their Commodore 64 or Atari. Macintosh computers have been around since the 70s, and unlike Commodore 64 and Atari, thousands of Macs are sold each year. And Apple is no minor player -- it is the most highly valued company in the world (stock value). Sorry for the rant, but it's inconceivable to me that USCutter is offering a product that is incompatible with millions of computers people use every day. And they can't blame "China" for that. That would be like buying a computer that's not compatible with WiFi and the company saying, "Sorry. The WiFi chips in China are not up to current standards, but you can either use dialup or buy a Trip-lite USB2WiFi adapter."

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You can still buy the OLD SC at "THE RIVER" site  Called Liyu SC631  which is for Windows and Mac...sold by a different seller.  I don't see where any cutting software is provided. 

Your not going to find  other value cutters with TRUE USB.   They are only on higher end cutters.  Starting with Titan/Saga... Check out other value cutter sellers.  Signwarehouse, Seiki, Cutter Pros.  etc.   They all have a cheap Chinese chipset in them. 

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I actually tried out SCALP Beta but was unimpressed, I assume they have improved some since then. 

SCAL5 (not Pro) is the only "design and cut" program I've used, and I have issues in its use of fonts. I'm sure that as a design and cut professional, you are looking for things other than font handling, but my biggest complaints are that 1) all font sizes are expressed in inches, so people like me with 40 years of typographic experience scratch our heads when 90 pt is converted to 1-1/4"; and 2) there is no concept of a "baseline," which is the imaginary line upon which the type rests. For problem 1, SCAL does do the conversion if you enter "90 pt" into the size box, but a better option would be to allow the user to choose inches or points for the type tool, like he can choose inches or centimeters for the document size. For problem 2, the "bottom" of a line of type with descenders (letters that go below the baseline, like g, j, p, q, and y) is different than the "bottom" of a line of type with no descenders. It is impossible to line up the words "September" and "October" horizontally, for example, because  the first word has a descender and the second does not. I have to set "Sextender" and "October", align the "bottoms" (which is the same as the "baseline," since there are no descenders), then edit "Sextender" to "September". Yes, in this instance I can align the "tops," because both words are capitalized. But I cannot align "april" and "may" by the "top" of the text, because the "l" in "april" is higher than any of the letters in "may". This is why the concept of a "baseline" is the bedrock of typography.

I have been using Photoshop on a Mac since Version 3 (1994). The original design of my menu was done in Photoshop CS4 (2008) on a Mac. I don't expect SCAL to match the capability of Photoshop, mainly because SCAL5 cost me $60 and Photoshop cost me $700 (ten years ago). The real shame is that Photoshop cannot export vector graphics when 100% of the image is composed of vectors, as when it's a page of type.

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Then you sure DON"T want to try the most highly respected software out there,  SAI. Flexi.  as it is all inches for text/fonts. Unless you want metric.  And it is all I have used.  It costs $1000's on up, depending on which level you get.   This is vector software.

Also SAI/Flexi quit making software for a Mac back on version 8.5.(2008)  lack of sales.   They are at version 12 now.  

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If you want a USB cutter that's pretty much plug'n'play for Mac, then bite the bullet and get yourself a Graphtec. It even ships with it's own software (which you need to download), and plug-in's so it can cut from different design programs. Boom! The total package.

USC could potentially bring the cutter hardware up to date, but then they would need to sell it around the prices of the Graphtec.

Cutters/Plotters and huge deals to some of us, but make no mistake, the average business and household doesn't have one, so there's no mad push to pour tons of money into re-engineering it to bring it up to date. Does it suck? Yes. Do we make it work? Yes.

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1 hour ago, The Zaar said:

I will look into getting a Trip-lite USB2COM adapter. But frankly, I can't believe that here we are, 18 years into the 21st century, with the USB standard on its 3rd iteration, and there is still hardware being offered for sale that is not compatible with even USB2. The USB standard is not rocket science. Even China makes USB chips that are up to the current standards. Printer drivers are not rocket science. It's not like someone is asking to run a cutter with their Commodore 64 or Atari. Macintosh computers have been around since the 70s, and unlike Commodore 64 and Atari, thousands of Macs are sold each year. And Apple is no minor player -- it is the most highly valued company in the world (stock value). Sorry for the rant, but it's inconceivable to me that USCutter is offering a product that is incompatible with millions of computers people use every day. And they can't blame "China" for that. That would be like buying a computer that's not compatible with WiFi and the company saying, "Sorry. The WiFi chips in China are not up to current standards, but you can either use dialup or buy a Trip-lite USB2WiFi adapter."

It's not USB that is the problem. It's the conversion of USB to the comm chip. Basically the cutter has a USB2COMM chip in it, just like the trip lite adapter, only the version in the cutter is cheaper and not a robust. It does seem odd that no one has created a mac driver for the chipset used in these cutters but I'm not a driver developer, it could be more work than I'd think. The cutter itself at it's core runns on the protocol RS-232 and uses HPGL as it's command language. Which is why I say you should be able to get it to work using a usb comm adapter that is supported by macs.

And don't be fooled by the age of RS-232. It is an extremely robust and a very reliable communication protocol, superior to USB in several ways actually. It's biggest down side is speed, and for devices like a cutter, CNC machine, 3D printer, etc, communication speed is not really a factor and 9600 baud rate over a serial cable is more than fast enough.

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SAI. Flexi... is all inches for text/fonts

I get that inches is what everyone in the sign world uses, and if that's what you're used to, that's fine. Just like we in the U.S. CAN measure temperatures in Celsius, drive our car with a speedometer that displays kilometers, buy our gasoline in liters, and design on a page that's designated in cm or mm, but since that's not what we're used to, it's more difficult than it needs to be (unless we're visiting England). The option to use inches or points in the text tool dialog boxes would be a trivial program change, since I'm sure the software uses some other measurement internally and converts it for display, just like Photoshop's internal measurement is pixels, which then converts to inches, cm, mm, picas, or points for display in the dialog boxes. I CAN design my menu in inches, and I HAVE designed my menu in SCAL using its inch scale, but having a Post-It stuck on my screen to remember that 1.25" is 90 pt – the measurement system I work in – just seems unnecessary. The basic philosophy of a good user interface is to make the program conform to human users, not to make human users conform to the program.

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Download and give Inkscape a try. You can use just about any measurement you like in it. Inches, mm, cm, pixels, pt, pc (not even sure what those last two are). 

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The cutter itself at its core runs on the protocol RS-232 and uses HPGL as its command language.

Hmmm... If the command language is HGPL, then it's likely there are drivers out there that will work. HGPL is a widely used standard for plotters, 3D printers, and CAD (computer assisted design). Macs can drive a lot of those things. Something else on my list of things to look into. Thanks for the info!

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10 minutes ago, The Zaar said:

I get that inches is what everyone in the sign world uses, and if that's what you're used to, that's fine. Just like we in the U.S. CAN measure temperatures in Celsius, drive our car with a speedometer that displays kilometers, buy our gasoline in liters, and design on a page that's designated in cm or mm, but since that's not what we're used to, it's more difficult than it needs to be (unless we're visiting England). The option to use inches or points in the text tool dialog boxes would be a trivial program change, since I'm sure the software uses some other measurement internally and converts it for display, just like Photoshop's internal measurement is pixels, which then converts to inches, cm, mm, picas, or points for display in the dialog boxes. I CAN design my menu in inches, and I HAVE designed my menu in SCAL using its inch scale, but having a Post-It stuck on my screen to remember that 1.25" is 90 pt – the measurement system I work in – just seems unnecessary. The basic philosophy of a good user interface is to make the program conform to human users, not to make human users conform to the program.

Vinyl cutter resolution is set up in "steps" according to metric or inches for a stepper motor. 

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Inches, mm, cm, pixels, pt, pc (not even sure what those last two are)

Pt is points, which is 1/72 of an inch. That's the "standard" measurement for fonts. The "10 pt type" in newspapers is 10/72 of an inch, or 0.139" high. Can you see why typographers say "10 point type" and not "0.139 inch type"?

Pc is picas, which is 1/12 of an inch. That's the "standard" measurement for blocks of type, like columns, mostly used in page layout programs.

Thanks again for recommending Inkscape.

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Vinyl cutter resolution is set up in "steps" according to metric or inches for a stepper motor. 

Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking "steps," but do all cutters have the same number of steps per inch or cm? If the program thinks it's cutting to a machine that has, say, 1000 steps to the inch, and the machine actually has 2000 steps to the inch (i.e., higher resolution), the design will come out half the size it should. Maybe that's one of the things the driver does... tell the program how many steps it takes to move one inch or cm. Sorry, I'm into SWAG territory here. I'm better off to just plug it in and watch it work. :-)

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17 minutes ago, The Zaar said:

Hmmm... If the command language is HGPL, then it's likely there are drivers out there that will work. HGPL is a widely used standard for plotters, 3D printers, and CAD (computer assisted design). Macs can drive a lot of those things. Something else on my list of things to look into. Thanks for the info!

Except the driver you need, is for the chip that is doing the comm connection inside the cutter. The USB connection on the cutter is nothing more than a cheap RS-232 converter. HGPL is just the language which is why I said if you can plug directly into the comm port on the cutter you should be able to make it work on a mac as you don't need a driver.

1 minute ago, The Zaar said:

Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking "steps," but do all cutters have the same number of steps per inch or cm? If the program thinks it's cutting to a machine that has, say, 1000 steps to the inch, and the machine actually has 2000 steps to the inch (i.e., higher resolution), the design will come out half the size it should. Maybe that's one of the things the driver does... tell the program how many steps it takes to move one inch or cm. Sorry, I'm into SWAG territory here. I'm better off to just plug it in and watch it work. :-)

No, but most do seem to be 1012 steps per inch. This value is determined by the type of stepper motor used. Driver has nothing to do with this value. Again, the driver is nothing more than a usb to rs-232 converter. The step count would be a setting in the software being used. Most cutting programs have a drop down list to select your cutter and have settings such as this preset just to make it easier for the user. Inkscape for example, at least the windows version, just has the settings, it doesn't care what model of cutter you have. You set the step count, the comm baud rate, and a few other things I can't recall right now and that's it. 

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I think some of the problem with fonts is they have "evolved" or maybe Devolved and there is apparently less uniformity. If THATS all your upset about as far as font's go you will probably fight that in almost all programs. Your background in typography may be a blessing and a curse.  To tell the truth I usually make a rectangle box that is the exact height I want for a given font and then type on top of it and adjust until it's where I want it. If I think I will be doing MORE later as your project suggest I typically keep a working file with the various fonts styles and sizes over on one side and so the next time you can just grab the specific font for a specific spot on your sign and just retype the new words and save if off as a new cut file. 

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I'm confused by the statement "He said a design that uses fonts other than VM's own would have to be designed in some other program (Illustrator, CorelDraw, etc) and imported into VM as a vector file."  The VM Cut that came with my cutter read what fonts were installed on my PC and made them all available for use.  I've upgraded to VM Pro since then and am overwhelmed by the number of fonts that come with it, but it still offers me everything installed on my PC also.  Maybe it's a Mac specific issue?

Also, VM Pro allows you to see fonts in pt, in, cm, whatever.   >Tools >Settings >General >Editing >Text Units.

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45 minutes ago, ShaneGreen said:

I'm confused by the statement "He said a design that uses fonts other than VM's own would have to be designed in some other program (Illustrator, CorelDraw, etc) and imported into VM as a vector file."  The VM Cut that came with my cutter read what fonts were installed on my PC and made them all available for use.  I've upgraded to VM Pro since then and am overwhelmed by the number of fonts that come with it, but it still offers me everything installed on my PC also.  Maybe it's a Mac specific issue?

Also, VM Pro allows you to see fonts in pt, in, cm, whatever.   >Tools >Settings >General >Editing >Text Units.

Vinyl Master is only for Windows.  There is not a Mac version.  At Ieast I have never seen one advertised.    There is also differences between the retail version of Vinyl Master Cut4 purchased from Vinyl Master website and  the version that UScutter sells of Vinyl Master Cut4 (Included with their vinyl cutters)

Retail version from Vinyl Master has all of the cutter drivers, but you cannot vector an image in it.  You cannot until you purchase LTR

UScutter version you can vector an image,  but only have drivers for UScutter vinyl cutters that they sell.

 

System Requirements

  • Pentium processor-based PC or compatible computer (Windows)
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (Windows)
  • 512 MB of RAM or more
  • At least 50 MB of available hard disk space
  • USB Port 1.1 or 2.x

This software will work with the following cutters: *

  • USCutter Series MH, SC, Laserpoint II
  • USCutter Series Table Titan, Titan, Titan 2 & Titan 3
  • Graphtec CE Series, FC Series
  • Mimaki CG Series
  • Roland GX Series
  • Summa D, FX ,T

 

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