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View Full Version : Windows based laser engraver software - Hardwired to LPT1 - redirect output to file



sidi_steve
05-08-2006, 01:06 PM
I have a laser engraver which is controlled by it's own software. The software runs on windows 98 and is used for both designing what you want to cut or engrave AND for driving the device.

Currently, the software DOES work for controlling the engraver, but the software only supports pixel based images (bmp and jpg), so I am not able to "plot" out vector based (as in DXF or CAD based files) which is what I need to be able to do

According to the manual, I should be able to operate the engraver using a windows printer driver or from DOS. But I have been told by manufacturer that these options don't actually work.

The engraver is connected to LPT1 and their software specifies LPT1.

Is there a way, in Windows 98, to hijack, copy, split, hack or otherwise redirect the output of LPT1 to a file while simultaneously leaving a device attached to LPT1?

I would like to try to copy or direct the LPT1 output to a file so that I can see what kind of file the engraver is receiving. In order for the software to actually put data out thru LPT1, the engraver has to be attached.

The goal will be:
1) to copy the output to file -> LPT1test.txt
2) determine what kind of file is LPT1test.txt (hpgl?)
3) copy /b LPT1test.txt LPT1 to see if I can get a file to "plot"

Thank you

Steve

bcromwell
05-08-2006, 02:34 PM
Try creating a printer using the following method

(XP or equiv.)

Start
Settings
Printers
Add New printer
Local Printer (Uncheck Auto detect and install Plug and play printer)
Change Use the following port from LPT1 to "FILE: (Print to File)"
Select the printer driver from the list or use the driver disk that came with the engraver, Call it something like Engrave2File


When you Print something from the Engraver software you should get a prompt for the output file name. Save the file to someplace and name you can remeber (Ie c:\output.raw)

Next you need to create a printer using LPT1 using the procedure above, call it engraver, set it as default printer; from command line or create a script,
to do a "copy output.raw lpt1 /b"

The output is going to be Windows RAW format, and can be pretty large depending on the output of the print job.

Edit: Got out of order.. Typed to quickly.

bcromwell
05-08-2006, 03:16 PM
By Bad didn't see the simultaneously leaving a device attached to LPT1 part.

Look for a device called parascope on ebay if you are willing to spend $$$ to do what you are trying to do.

sidi_steve
05-08-2006, 04:44 PM
Thank you for the advice. I realize that I need to explain a little more...

Their software doesn't use a printer driver to control the device. So, when you press the output button, "some magic happens" (a virtual device driver calls some .dll files somewhere) and then some data goes out the parallel port into a buffer in the device and the plotter head moves.

From within their software, there is no File->print->print setup like there is in most windows programs. There is only an output button and the output only goes to LPT1 and thats it.

bcromwell
05-09-2006, 10:14 AM
You are going to need a LPT sniffer type program such as http://mpsniffer.softic.biz/ (If it can output to a file not 100% sure) because the program is writing directly to the hardware port. Multiport sniffer is like 80$ but if you look around I think I have seen one or two cheaper ones.
Or you can look for hardware based solutions such as the para-scope but they run in the 300-1000$ range.

KombianCNC
05-09-2006, 10:26 AM
Thank you for the advice. I realize that I need to explain a little more...

Their software doesn't use a printer driver to control the device. So, when you press the output button, "some magic happens" (a virtual device driver calls some .dll files somewhere) and then some data goes out the parallel port into a buffer in the device and the plotter head moves.

From within their software, there is no File->print->print setup like there is in most windows programs. There is only an output button and the output only goes to LPT1 and thats it.

I think that your software doesn't use the windows printing subsystem but rather output the data directly to the port address where the LPT1 port is mapped (usually 0378h). If your supplier told you that the engraver software only runs on Windows (tm) 98 family this is the proof ! Accessing hardware ports by software is not allowed on Windows NT/2000/XP (this is not completely true but it's another issue).
If this is your case what you need is some utility that "intecepts" every in/out data n the LPT1 port and write is on some file.
May be that such utilities does exists, but shouldn't be easier ask your supplier for some doc on the format used by the engraver ?

Sandro

PS: Please don't laugh for my english errors. I learned english watching CNN on the satellite here in Italy !!

PPSS: Can someone explain me the meaning of "drip feed" and "DNC" terms ?

sidi_steve
05-09-2006, 10:52 AM
Ciao Sandro - Come Vai - Tutto e bene!

Your English is close to perfect - no worries.

I wish I could ask the supplier for any information. I bought the laser engraver from China and the support is limited.

The software is supposed to work on any Windows 95,98 2000, XP -

But, you are correct - I think I do need to intercept all LPT1 data flow.

Many thanks -

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