July 15, 2009

SCAL 101: Getting started

Welcome to Part Dos of my SCAL for beginners bit. If you missed the first, go back and read SCAL 101: Intro to cutting cool crap



In the next part, we will get our Cricut all set up to cut from our puters, and get the programs that we need. You will also find some things not mentioned in any resource I have found, that I had to figure out myself.


Let's start out with some links:
1. Sure Cuts a Lot by Craft Edge Official website and product page
2. Cricut Design Studio Free Trial from Provocraft/Cricut website
3. Amazon results for Sure Cuts a Lot
4. My Cricut Buddy /Memory Lane LLC, Source on Amazon where I purchased my copy of SCAL (I recommend them)
5. Inkscape A free program to convert any image you have into the .svg type



What is .svg? It stands for Scalable Vector Graphic, which means that the image is not made up of tiny pixels (dots) of color like we are used to, but actually lines and shapes made from magical mathematical equations in computer code written by powerful wizards from another dimension. How math=pictures I have no idea. The difference is that when you click and drag to make your picture bigger or smaller, it won't get grainy or distorted. The lines stay crisp and clean.





Enough BS! Let's get started!


First, you have to connect your Cricut to your puter. For that, you will need a printer USB cord that looks like so
<-- A USB end and a squarish end



This did not come with either my Cricut or my SCAL software. I happened to have one that connects my printer, so I use that and switch it back and forth as I need it. I'll probably get another at some point if I use the SCAL a lot.





Next, you have to have the most recent version of the "Firmware" software for your Cricut. If yours is new then I assume it would be. If not, you have to get it, and the only way to do that is through Design Studio
-install the free trial version of Cricut's Design Studio
-in the settings, update to the most current version of firmware available
-you don't have to use the Design Studio for anything else after that, but I don't think you can uninstall it, or it might uninstall your Firmware upgrade.


What if you want to try the free trial? You can, but when it cuts, it will also cut vertical lines through any designs, making cuts unusable. Go ahead and close out of that.



Reference: SCAL works with these versions:
Cricut Personal (firmware v1.1 or 1.3)
Cricut Expression (firmware v2.1 or 2.3)
Cricut Create (firmware v1.51)




Okay, now you install SCAL. I bought mine from Amazon.com, from seller My Cricut Buddy, and not only did they send me the SCAL, but also a disc FULL of fonts (as in, I can't even install them all, it would take forever). You will have more fonts than you could dream of. They also send you some freebie vector files also to get started with, AND a few programs for converting regular image files into the .svg format. Friggin sweet.




You will also most likely want to install Inkscape, which again is a free program that can convert any image into a .svg. This came with my SCAL package from My Cricut Buddy, but you can also download it from the net.





Another thing that I learned is that you must have a Cricut cartridge inserted, or you will do no cutting. I got mine from a friend with no cartridges, and it won't "Load Paper" without one in the slot. At least on the Personal, you have to have one cartridge to Load, Unload, Stop and move your blade around.


You are now all set up! It's a good idea to do a test run now and make sure all the settings are right. Go ahead and open SCAL. This is what you will see:





Looks just like your cutting mat! Click anywhere in this area to put your cursor there. In the "Library" box, chose Fonts or Shapes. In the corresponding new box, select one of the letters or shapes, and when you select it, it should show up on your cutting area. We will get to more detailed use of this program later, but try it now and see if it works.

Press the Scissors button along the top. A message box will come up asking you what version of Firmware you have. Pick the right one, and then it *should* cut for you.

Troubleshooting: Mine did not cut right away. The first few times, I had to also have the Design Studio trial version open, so that it picked up on my updated Firmware. This finally worked itself out, and now I no longer have to do that.

So get settin' up, and I'll start writing the next bit, playing with the SCAL!

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2 comments:

  1. This is awesome! My sister and I were just talking about if this was possible. Could you post some pics of things that you have made or cut? Thanks for the info!

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  2. I had no idea Amazon sold this!?! I have Amazon dollars saved up for stamps but forget that...I am going to keep saving up for this.

    I can tell already that these tutorials are going to be so helpful! Thank you so much!

    Kelsey

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