Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

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1BigPig
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Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by 1BigPig »

I wrote a post processor for Full Spectrum CO2 laser's RetinaEngave3D controller after being frustrated with their HPGL implementation. It is a two part post processor, first is an HPGL post processor which is then converted to XAML along with a ".redesign" file that can then be opened in RetinaEngrave's "Design" tab. The advantages of doing it this way, are two fold. First, while RetinaEngrave3D says is supports HPGL, all the files that I have imported leave vectors uncut or unprocessed--probably a bug in their converter but when asked to be fixed, FSE says HPGL import is not a priority. Second, the file is then converted to a ".xps" file that can be reopened at a later time directly with all the power settings and cutting order information retained.

There are two parts. The "FullSpectrumLaser.ini" and "FullSpectrumLaser.pp" must be put in the Aspire/VCarve PostP folder. The third file "hpgl2xDraw.EXE" must be put in the "c:\output\" folder (this is the folder that RetinaEngrave3D monitors and saves files to). If you are using another folder, you must edit the "FullSpectrumLaser.ini" folder to reflect where the "hpgl2xDraw.exe" file is stored.

After posting the files from Aspire or VCarvePro, the post processor will automatically convert the hpgl file into a ".XML" and a ".redesign" file, which can then be opened in RetinaEngrave3D's design tab. Once opened and the file is displayed, press the "render" button and it will appear in the "Vector" tab.

It has been tested with Aspire 3.5 and VCarvePro 7.0, but should work with all Vectric's products.

As always, please ask if you have questions or anything is unclear.

Bruce
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FullSpectrumLaser.zip
Full Spectrum Laser Post Processor for RetinaEngrave3D
(77.57 KiB) Downloaded 317 times

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ChiloquinRuss
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by ChiloquinRuss »

Bruce,

The following was tried using Aspire 1.029, 2.504, and 4.006

I am going thorugh the steps as outlined above. I get through the part of creating the 'redesign' file. When starting up the Retina software it sees the 'redesign' file but then when clicked it doesn't display the image.

I created something really simple, a star, my next step was to select a toolpath profile, I picked a ballnose and told it to 'cut' ON. I then saved the toolpath via your Fullspectrum PostP. It created a file star-01.plt. Next I ran the hpgl2xDraw.EXE located in the OUTPUT folder, it created the star-01.redesign file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<XDrawProject>
<FileVersion>1.0</FileVersion>
<ProjectName>Design Documents</ProjectName>
<DefaultExportFormat>DrawingImage</DefaultExportFormat>
<XAMLFilePath>C:\output\star-01.xml</XAMLFilePath>
<Drawings>
<Drawing Name="star-01">
<ExportFormat>DrawingImage</ExportFormat>
<DrawingSize>1392,960</DrawingSize>
<SaveDrawingSize>False</SaveDrawingSize>
</Drawing>
</Drawings>
</XDrawProject>

I think I did everything correctly. Thanks for even attempting this project, I hope WE can get it worked out. Russ
AKA: The Train Guy!

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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by 1BigPig »

Russ,

I think that is another bug in the RetinaEngrave controller. It _SHOULD_ automatically display an opened file, not make the user do extra steps...but here are the 4 steps (pictorially) to make it work...
Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2
Step 3
Step 3
Step 4
Step 4
If this does not work for you, let me know. Also, if you use the post processor file I included, it should automatically generate the two files that RetinaEngrave needs without you having to run the HPGL2xDraw.exe program--unless you are converting existing .plt file.

Bruce

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ChiloquinRuss
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by ChiloquinRuss »

Bruce, thanks the double click was the missing link. The software does leave a little to be desired! An undo would be terrific also a way to group vectors so that they could be moved around on the grid. I have had limited success using Aspire to eps file, input to Powerpoint, save as xps. Some little quirks but gets me a lot closer that other methods I've tried. I also have never got the print direct 'feature' to work. I am anxious to get my procedures ironed out and your tool set should be a big step towards getting that done. Thanks again for taking on this project, I appreciate it. Russ
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ssflyer
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by ssflyer »

Russ,

I have no experience with the retina contoller, so don't know why you need an xps output file, but you don't need powerpoint - just select "print" and choose, "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" as your printer.

Of course, this assumes 8) that that wasn't some option I installed along the way --- :wink:
Ron Sloan

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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by 1BigPig »

Mr. Sloan,

Yea, it sorta doesn't work like that...I only wish it did...

VCarvePro and Aspire v3.5 only output "raster" XPS files. While RetinaEngrave controller could "open" these files, they contained NO vector data. Sorta like opening up a .PDF file that contains scanned/photographed pages of a book as opposed to editable TEXT stored in a .PDF file format.

As for WHY we need XPS files...well the really smart people at Full Spectrum Engineering decided that people only use Corel Draw for drawing vector graphics. So they made their with their laser controller work with Corel Draw via an XPS printer driver. While the idea that you can print from any program in Windows is very nice, in the "real" world, their implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

I hope that helps clear things up.
Bruce

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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by 1BigPig »

Russ,

I read your message on the FSE forum, and while I am not sure this addresses the issue you raised, it might...

The color of the tool path is dictated by the tool number. So if you are using tool #0, it will usually show up in RetinaEngrave as black. Tool #1, red
Tool #2, green
Tool #3, blue
Tool #4, magenta
Tool #5, cyan
Tool #6, yellow
Tool #7, black and the cycle repeats itself in that order.

So, if your tools numbers are all the same and the colors keep changing on you, go ahead and send me a few files where it is getting lighter color upon importing and I will see if I can replicate the problem. If not, I can always create you a version with a fixed file name in the XML files, which would fix the problem you are having.

Bruce

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ChiloquinRuss
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by ChiloquinRuss »

While my solution is not eloquent I am producing product and getting what I need to get done, done. I use Powerpoint instead of Corel because I have lots of experience with PP and I really don't like Corel! :mrgreen: I use Powerpoint to make my chnges as far as color selection etc,. I select the eps vectors and convert to windows draw objects and then change the colors. Anyhow it is working for me and I really appreciate you all commenting and making this work for me. Thanks. Russ
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by ssflyer »

Thanks Bruce,

Cleared it up perfectly! :D
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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by 1BigPig »

hpgl2XPS.zip
Converts HPGL (.PLT) files to Microsoft's XPS file format
(96.3 KiB) Downloaded 217 times
After using my converter for a few days, I decided that there were WAY to many extra steps to get from VCarvePro or Aspire to the RetinaEngrave3D controller. So I learned about a bunch of stuff I didn't really want to know, cleaned up my code and then wrote a new converter that goes from HPGL directly to XPS. Now, you do not have to select, click or even load anything, as soon as you click the "Save Toolpath(s)..." button in Aspire/VCarvePro, the file automatically opens up in RetinaEngrave (if you save the .PLT file to their "c:\output\" folder).

Another use for this converter is making "hard copies" of toolpaths. It seems that .XPS files is Microsoft's attempt at a .PDF type file format. So you can save a toolpath to the Full Spectrum Laser post processor and get an XPS file with any of your selected toolpaths. As before, the Tool # is used to indicates toolpath color. Not sure how many people want/need a way to make a printout of their toolpaths, but now at least you can.

Installation is the same as before: The "FullSpectrumLaser.ini" and "FullSpectrumLaser.pp" must be put in the Aspire/VCarve PostP folder. The third and forth file "hpgl2xps.EXE" and "ZLib.dll" must be put in the "c:\output\" folder (this is the folder that RetinaEngrave3D monitors and saves files to). If you are using another folder, you must edit the "FullSpectrumLaser.ini" file to reflect where the "hpgl2xps.exe" and "ZLib.dll" file are stored.

Again, this has been tested with Aspire 3.5 and VCarvePro 7.0. Please verify the output before committing valuable material to be cut.

Lastly, while the file is "'command line", if you double click the "hpgl2xps.exe" program, it will display an "Open File" dialog which you can then manually select a file to convert. This is converting existing .PLT file or for use with other programs.

Bruce

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Re: Post Processor for Full Spectrum Laser's RetinaEngrave3D

Post by erobold »

Has anyone tried Bruce's post processor and EXE file recently. It was working just fine until I updated my VCarve pro to version 10. Now it won't work. I contacted Vectric and they fixed part of the issue (allowing the EXE file to run without crashing the program) but the PLT will not make the XPS file when the EXE file runs. I really liked using Bruce's solution for making the XPS files. If anyone has any updates on a post processor to get from VCarve Pro 10 to RetinaEngrave 3D, I would appreciate any help you can provide.
Thanks Ed

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