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Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?

Posted by jcabrer 
I just am waiting for some possible way to make custom cuts in Linux. I don't have windows or mac, just linux.
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
September 21, 2010 09:49PM
Cricut has been hacked. libcutter does it. There's an SVG interpreter and a software simulator. Not terribly polished yet though.
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
September 21, 2010 10:02PM
Has anyone been able to convert the fonts from cricut design studio (.pcgf files) to something that is workable in inkscape? I know that it was mentioned earlier on in this thread and do believe that it is possible, but have yet to find a conversion method.
Blade cost is a bit high , but the main problem for me is the load sensor .Every time I load
my paper in the machine it starts to cut then stops beep and kick's it out all the way out
so I'm not even able to re cut with out offset destroying the template. I am going to
defeat the load sensor by simply buffing the solenoids with a S.C.R. or even a simple relay
I need cutting pressure witch I control with a variable load regulator. I will post the pressure senor
over ride mod , for all to use .when finished.

I got an old cricut to mess around with. The main board has an Atmel ATmega128 which I'm familiar with, so I went looking for the serial programming signals. Conviently, they are all available through the cartridge connector, so I tried hooking up my programming cable. The CPU was recognized without a problem, but unfortunately (and expectedly) the code is locked and can't be read from the device.

Not willing to deal with the encryption, I decided to figure out the connections from the CPU to all the hardware on the main board, erase the CPU, and reprogram it with my own firmware. I'm now at the state where I have rudimentary support of all hardware (as far as I can tell). Keys can be pressed, and recognized, text can be displayed on the LCD screen, the X/Y steppers can be moved around, and the cutting blade goes up and down. For testing purposes, I've replaced the blade with a pencil, and I have been able to draw some straight lines on a piece of paper. Cartridges won't be supported (I'm pretty sure they are well encrypted).

The next step is to add some sort of command line interface so you can send simple plotting commands through the USB port.

If anybody is interested, let me know.
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
October 13, 2010 02:08AM
Making your own firmware is much better than decrypting theirs as you can then do anything you like with it. Very good! While I don't have any time to contribute to this project at the moment I am very interested in following it's progress. Please do make your code available somehow, assuming that is your intention. Also, which model are you working with and is it still available?
Yes, I'm planning to release the source code to my firmware in a few days time. I'm using the Cricut Personal, but from what I've heard, the mainboard in the Expression is very similar (if not identical), so it probably won't take much effort to run it there as well.

If you want a Cricut Personal, I'd recommend checking out Ebay or similar. Also note that there's no way back. If you erase the original Cricut firmware, you can't restore it.
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
October 13, 2010 04:42AM
... if it's a common chip and you have experience with desoldering, you can remove the original and solder a fresh one ... so you'll have the possibility to return to original firmware either winking smiley

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True, you can take off the old chip and put a new one on. They are quite common, and easy to get.. However, I don't have the proper tools to desolder these big devices without ruining either the CPU or the circuit board (especially doing it multiple times), and frankly, I didn't really see the need to keep the original firmware. The only benefit to the original firmware is that it can read the cartridges, which I don't have, and don't plan to buy. :-)

If you don't want to get rid of the original firmware, I'd rather recommend getting a second Cricut cutter from Ebay to play around with.
Here's a demo of my firmware in action. I'm using the libcutter code (see earlier in this thread) to convert the SVG, with some modifications to libcutter because of the different command protocol that my firmware uses.

Freecut demo

Firmware will be released soon.
Freecut firmware sources:

Freecut sources
Hello Arlet,
I just found this thread as I am researching hacking the cricut--have you made any more progress? I'm not a programmer, but have some experience in working with electronics and FPGAs, so I don't have enough experience to come up with the hack, but I would like to try to copy it.
Please let me know if you had sucess!
Many Thanks,
Hi Kelly,

You can see what I have by following the link to the freecut sources in my previous message. There's a README file that describes current capabilities. I haven't really done much after that, but anybody is free to pick up the sources and start from there.
Would you please email instructions for doing this? Thank you very much!
if i buy the program ( sure cuts alot) an install it into my computer can i still use the cartriges you use with the cricut
A software program called FairyCut exists which allows a PC to directly control a Cricut machine without requiring a cartridge. This software is able to take a design in a variety of formats (e.g. JPEG, bitmap, PDF) and convert it to a cutting path which can be downloaded to the Cricut via its USB port. A demo version can be downloaded from their web site FairyCut.com.
I found it easy to use and it opens up the potential for using the Cricut to cut X-Y designs in thin material.
You'll get over the name.
Thank you to the person who emailed me with the solution.
Care to share this solution with others?

Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
February 12, 2011 01:19AM
rachel Wrote:
> Thank you to the person who emailed me with the
> solution.

I likewise would love to know the solution, Anyone care to share??? smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2011 01:19AM by bug.
I'd pay $20.
Count me in if you are sharing the .pcgf conversion to use in other programs.
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
February 17, 2011 10:50AM
Well its not a conversion of the .pcgf, but a workaround to get the shapes. You have to use the snipping tool to get the shapes from design studio and then trace them to svg in another program. I know this method has been around for a very long time, but I thought it was nice of someone to email me this workaround. It does get the job done rather nicely.
The software I have used and works excellent with the cricut machine is Sure Cuts A Lot and allows files to be created and used in Inkscape. Cut using the Sure Cuts A Lot computer software no matter the cartridge in your cricut machine.
All I can say is check it out if you haven't already!
Re: Cricut Automatic Paper Cutter - Hackable?
March 06, 2011 11:05PM
So my friend thinks he can make a program to convert the pcgf files, he wants to know if anyone would pay for such a program, and if so how much would you be willing to pay? He will work on it this week if anyone is interested.
What i'd like to know is if they gypsy is hackable to get the cricut images onto the gypsy in order to cut.. anyone have a solution for that yet?
Is the gypsy hackable???? can you jailbreak it and use all the carts in there already????
I currently own sure cuts a lot which operates by a firmware update downloaded by a free trial to cricut's design studio. Now there are lawsuits against sure cuts a lot and making the cut software and they can no longer include the cricut driver's in their software. Since I already own two copies of the software on three different computers I wondered if I couldn't copy the driver files and make them available to the new owners of the software so they can still use it. I'm guessing I would need the software drivers for sure cuts a lot and also from the cricut design studio's trial but if someone can help me figure this out I would like to share the files. I'm not at all a computer programmer but I'm fairly savvy with pc operations and would love to share these files if someone can tell me how to do it. I'm not willing to open up my cricut expressions machines and mess with the guts or anything like that but will copy the software and post it on all the sites if possible.

Susan if you still have the original install files for the software posting this would be the easiest way to get the drivers. I would love to take a look at them myself. If you can also include the update files if you still have them.
What do you mean you use the snipping tool to get the images?
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