Moshi Draw

After some hunting the missing software dongle for my Chinese lasers was found.  There was just the one but the same software is supposed to run on both.  The controller cards are very different, one is an old Centronics parallel type interface (that was supplied with a USB to parallel converter) and the other is a USB connected board.

I tried the parallel one first as it has the tube installed.

I downloaded MoshiDraw 9.92 from the MoshiLaser web site.

I searched the net for drivers for the dongle, found none even though the dongle (a SafeNet MicroDog) maker is still around. I searched for a driver for the parallel interface and found none though it looked normal enough.

Throwing paranoia and caution to the winds I decided to install the MoshiDraw software and this went smoothly (Win XP Home) on my old laptop.  The dongle and interface drivers went in automatically and now both devices showed up as happy in the hardware Device Manager.  I ran the software and found my prejudiced expectations of the software were very accurate.  After having investigated Chinese lasers (as an affordable hobby option for myself) I had read many bad and a few satisfied reports of the available software and can testify than in the couple of hours I have spent on it so far it is rather poor software.  I will not say unusable as I expect mostly it is in fact made use of, however the unusual user interface, marginal English translations and strange way of displaying and changing settings it will take time to get used to it.  I will use it for testing and upgrade both lasers to LaOS in time.

On testing the laser which does not have water connected yet I disconnected the laser on line to the PSU so could just play with the motion control to start with.  As we know there is only laser on and off in the software and power is set with the multi-turn pot on the dash.  There is no feedback from the plotter and it looks like there is no easy way to interrupt a job from the software side.  The work area settings seem to be set in the templates (which is ok if you prepare one) so it is possible to drive the laser outside the work envelope without any limit checks if you are sleeping on the job.  Raster engraving of text worked ok and importing of monochrome files is possible, I could only get this to work with the tool button on the left side menu.  My X-axis stepper is not working correctly at rastering speeds and it is not the driver as I tried with swapping the motors around.  As some speeds it gets going and then works but usually it makes tragic sounds and jerks about or rasters for a quarter of the expected travel like it was missing 3 out of 4 steps.  Even with the belt of it continued to do this.  I will locate a suitable similar motor and see how that behaves.

Note that the software comes in left and right versions and there is a 2012 version also (downloaded but a bit fearful of installing with the other one) to accommodate the top-left or top-right home/limit switch position.

The software is made for a MoshiLaser controller board but my board looks like nothing they have advertised on their web site or that I have seen pictured on the web.  It has 4 H-Bridge ICs (PBL3717A) to drive the steppers and while my laser has the limit switches on a separate connector there are holes on the PCB to fit a flex cable socket that is used in some lasers to connect to the limits and X-motor with one flat cable.  The processor part number is ground off but it is a pretty simple micro controller circuit with a bit of external buffer RAM.

 

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