A member at the hackerspace donated a Cricut 6" cutter when she upgraded to the Expression model. I've seen these little devices in most craft stores and even Wal-mart, and they seem ripe for the hacking. The Cricut line of personal CNC paper cutters appear to have been looked into on a number of occasions from what I could find, but I didn't really find any good resources for information on hardware hacking other than a couple simple hacks and the discovery that the Cricut USB link was actually an USB to RS232 connection. I also didn't find any open source or homebrew software to turn these devices from advanced scrapbook die cutters to general purpose CNC paper cutter/plotter/whatever. I really want to play around with this thing (including trying to mount a spindle on it for crude PCB routing, among other things), but it looks like someone still needs to do a little leg work to make that happen easily.
What I did find is that there are a few proprietary software packages out there (
Unfortunately I found that no combination of serial sniffer and control software seemed to work out. I can easily use the serial sniffers to look at the transactions of the Arduino bootloader and the host application over the USB to RS232 link, but I see no activity with the 3rd party Cricut software. I can set up a USB sniffer link and log data, but these logs are relatively verbose and I'd like to use a more elegant solution to log the RS232 data directly.
Since I'm more comfortable with the hardware side of things, I'm currently focusing on the problem from that angle. I didn't want to start chopping up the space's Cricut, I set out to acquire my own for the task. I managed to scoop one up for $60 with no cartridges from an individual who upgraded to the Expression as well. Stay tuned for some hardware dissection notes as I take my personal unit apart!