K40 Whisperer

K40 Whisperer

K40 Whisperer:
Control software for the stock K40 Laser controller

Contents

Background
Features
Supported Controller Boards
Changes
Download
Documentation
Related Links

Background

K40 Whisperer is an alternative to the the Laser Draw (LaserDRW) program that comes with the cheap Chinese laser cutters available on E-Bay and Amazon. K40 Whisperer reads SVG and DXF files interprets the data and sends commands to the K40 controller to move the laser head and control the laser accordingly. K40 Whisperer does not require a USB key (dongle) to function.

K40 Whisperer is a free open source program released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

K40 Whisperer Features:

- Reads SVG files and DXF files
- Splits input design based on color formating (red,blue)
- In SVG files blue and red paths are interpreted as vectors for vector engraving and cutting everything else is transfered as a raster image
- In DXF files blue paths are interpreted as vectors engrave else is interpreted as vector cut (red)
- Performs cuts on features inside of other features before cutting the outside features. (If you cut the outside first the part might drop out of the stock material)
- Converts gray scale images to halftone images to simulating varying levels of grey (i.e. engraving pictures). The Halftone option needs to be selected under "Raster"-"Settings" to enable halftoning.

K40 Whisperer Main Window

k40w_screen.png

Supported Controller Boards:

Only boards that work with LaserDRW will work with K40 Whisperer. (Moshi boards will not work)
To see which board you have you can go to "Properties" from the LaserDRW (or CorelDraw) Engraving Manager window and look at which board is selected for the "Mainboard" option. You can also just at the the controller board. (The controller board is the circuit board the USB cable plugs into)

Controller Boards Known to Work with K40 Whisperer:
- 6C6879-LASER-M2 (M2 Nano)
- 6C6879-LASER-B1
- HT Master5
- HT Master6
- HT-XEON5
- HT-XEON-DRV

Additional Controller Boards That Most Likely Work:
- 6C6879-LASER-M1*
- 6C6879-LASER-M*
- 6C6879-LASER-B2*
- 6C6879-LASER-B*
- 6C6879-LASER-A*
* If you try one of the boards listed as "Most Likely Work". Please send me an e-mail with the results. My e-mail address is in the image at the bottom of this page. If it does not work i may be able to fix it. If it does work I can move it up to the known working category.

K40 Whisperer Changes:

Changes in Version 0.12

- Added advanced options pane
- Added multi-pass engraving and cutting
- Added Mirror option
- Added "Use Input CSYS" option to force K40 Whisperer to use the coordinate system from the input design (the default is to use the upper left corner of the design).
- Added option to disable homing the laser cutter upon initialization.
- Added option to disable preprocessing of CRC data. Un-selecting the "Preprocess CRC Data" option results in the CRC data being generated on the fly while data is being sent to the laser.
- Added option in Rester Settings to force engraving from the bottom of the raster image to the top. Sometimes this is useful to prevent smoke from spoiling the engraved image.
- Changed the communication with the laser cutter to include error detection/correction during transmission of data.
- Fixed bug that resulted in the laser area value being removed during a change in units

Changes in Version 0.13

- Fixed g-code processing so that it does not ignore spindle inputs. Now works with raster input from LaserWeb4
- Fixed bug that could result in "'update_gui' is not defined" error.

Changes in Version 0.14

- Fixed bug that resulted in two passes on some vector cut and vector engrave paths
- Changed some error messages to be less confusing.

Changes in Version 0.15

- Fixed DXF import so it recognizes colors assigned at the layer level
- Improved DXF warning messages. Identical messages are now counted and to displayed in one line.
- Added support for the remaining board type supported by LaserDRW


For the full history look at the
K40 Whisperer Log

Download

This should be considered experimental software. I have tested it but there may still be some unknown issues.

(Right click on the link and select "Save target as" or "Save link as")
K40 Whisperer for Windows (32 bit) K40 Whisperer for Windows (64 bit) K40 Whisperer Source
K40_Whisperer-0.11_win32.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.11_win64.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.11_src.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.12_win32.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.12_win64.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.12_src.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.13_win32.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.13_win64.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.13_src.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.14_win32.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.14_win64.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.14_src.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.15_win32.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.15_win64.zip
K40_Whisperer-0.15_src.zip

Installation Instructions:

Windows:
Setting up K40 Whisperer on Windows

Linux: Setup instructions for Linux are included via the README_Linux.txt file in the "K40_Whisperer-x.xx_src.zip" file.

Mac: Setup instructions for Mac are included via the README_MacOS.md file in the "K40_Whisperer-x.xx_src.zip" file.
(I can't help with Mac specific questions. I have no experience installing software on a Mac.)

Trouble Shooting:

Why blue or red items (or text) are not detected and how to fix it: Vector Colors and Text in K40 Whisperer
Why there are errors on SVG import and how to fix it: Input SVG File Errors

Creating Input for K40 Whisperer

1. Create your a design in Inkscape.
- Use RED lines to indicate cutting.
- Use BLUE lines to indicate vector engraving.
- Use BLACK to indicate raster engraving (this can be shapes, paths or images)
2. Adjust the size of the document to match the area you want to export (You can use "File" - "Document Properties" - "Resize Page to Content" to make the page the same size as your design)
3. Within Inkscape select "Save" to save the design as an SVG file.
4. Open the SVG file you just saved in K40 Whisperer.

Halftone (grayscale) Images with K40 Whisperer

In addition to red blue and black you can also do greyscale with K40 Whisperer. The stock boards that work with K40 Whisperer are not able to controlling the power output by the laser. However, grayscale can be created by creating a halftone image (dithering) of the raster image. below is an example of an image that was engraved with the halftoning option turned on in K40 Whisperer.
madrid_default.jpg
The truck photo came from Wikimedia Commons: Madrid_-_Fargo_Power-Wagon

In order to generate the halftone image in K40 Whisperer the Halftone setting in the Reaster settings needs to be selected. When the Halftone option is turned on the image displayed in K40 Whisperer will be shown in grayscale. There are some settings for the output levels. The defaults should work pretty well. Here is a brief explanation of the settings:

Slope, Black: This is the ratio of the output level vs the input level on the dark end of the grayscale spectrum. Increasing this value will make the darker areas of the image get darker at a faster rate but but more of the image will remain lighter. If a lot of your image appears too dark you can increase this value. (A value of 1.0 is no adjustment, The K40 Whisperer default has some adjustment based on my experimenting)

Slope, White: This is the ratio of the output level vs the input level on the white end of the grayscale spectrum. Decreasing this value will result in the lighter parts of the image become lighter at a slower rate as you approach the white side of the grayscale spectrum. (A value of 1.0 is no adjustment, The K40 Whisperer default has some adjustment based on my experimenting)

Transition: This setting determined how abruptly the transition from the black slope to the white slope occurs. The larger the number the sharper the transition.

K40 Whisperer Videos

These videos are the closest thing I have to a manual at this point in time. A text based manual will come eventually but these videos will have to do until that time comes.

Overview/Introduction

Making a Design in Inkscape

Engraving a Picture Using K40 Whisperer

Advanced Settings in K40 Whisperer

Using G-Codse with K40 Whisperer

Related Links

Laser Draw Inkscape Extension: Save Laser Draw (LYZ) files from Inkscape.



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