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Getting Started with Trogdor the Laser Cutter
What is RDWorks?
RDWorks is the program used to set up art in and talk to the lasercutter in the Lab. You will need a copy, which you can download here:
Yes, you can use RDWorks to create vector art, but it is extremely basic, and not especially good at it. You will likely have better luck importing from Inkworks, CorelDraw, or Illustrator.
RD Works has very poor documentation, so anything you have learned, please share in the Wiki so others can benefit from your experience!
Ok that's great. How do I start lazoring stuff.
We ask you talk to an experienced member of the Lab before you start using the lasercutter. However, if you are experienced, and have already talked to someone OR if you just want to have your settings in order, the IP for the lasercutter is trogdor.thelab.lan.
In lieu of our own list of laser material no-nos, we ask that you check out the handy chart that the Austin Hackerspace put together:
👉 If you're not sure, DON'T PUT IT IN THE LASER CUTTER. 👈
At this time, round/curved materials cannot be cut in the cutter. We need a special thingus that holds an object and rotates it in conjunction with the laser. You can try, but will likely be disappointed with the blurry/charred results.
- cut - which items in your artwork that will be cut out with the laser
- scan - imported bitmaps (like a photograph) that the laser doesn't cut out, but instead burns at different intensities to create the bitmap in your material
- layer - assigned by color, a layer contains items you wish to be treated in the same manner (i.e. I want this triangle to be burned in at 50% intensity, then have this circle to be cut out around it.)
- speed - how fast the laser moves in mm/s
- min/max power - how intense the laser is; you will need to adjust this based on the material you are using.
- scan - used for reproducing a greyscale/black and white bitmap, and for "etching" out large areas that aren't burned completely through. Darkness/lightness varies with material and speed/power combos.
- ramp - a "bevel" effect: the laser cannot be angled, so this reproduces "bevels" for things like stamps or 3D engravings.
- overstriking - NEED DEFINITION(S)
- scan mode - NEED DEFINITION(S)
- dot - NEED DEFINITION(S)
- pen - NEED DEFINITION(S)
Basic Settings to Make Your Life Easier
- Position: Select "Absolute Coordinate" This will cause the laser to start its business at the bottom left-hand corner of the bed. This makes it much easier to position your materials in both the program and in the laser.
- Transform: Select your item(s) and tick the bottom left-hand checkbox and type in the position: Horizontal: 685 Vertical: 487 this will move your art to same position as the bottom left-hand corner of the laser bed.
Tips on Artwork
- Work. In. Millimeters. Measure your material in millimeters, make the default unit in your art program millimeters. Your life will be easier for it.
- RDWorks will import vector files in .AI (Adobe Illustrator) format.
- Colors are treated as layers in RDWorks. Layers aren't names, they're colors. If you import art, you must separate it into different layers by selecting art and clicking a color in order to assign properties to that layer.
- A vector/bitmap combo may not be GROUPED then DUPLICATED. Doing so will only cause the vectors to be cut; the bitmaps will not scan.
Ok, seriously, what is this Trogdor business.
Back in the dark days of the Internet, before YouTube existed, certain websites would provide entertainment using a futuristic program called Macromedia Flash. We would all huddle around the glowing warmth CRT monitors after pressing F5 over and over, hoping for an update. For those lucky enough to have high-speed internet, our efforts were rewarded with amazing cartoons and clever songs. For the unfortunate, Mom would pick up the phone and yell at us because she wanted to make a call to your stupid Aunt Hilda or something. Whatever.
Anyway, enjoy some Trogdor. 🔥 https://youtu.be/2hlgm39msW0