The USB port on the back of your Cricut serves two key purposes:
1. To allow you to use your Cricut with a computer and software programs like Cricut Design Studio, Sure Cuts A Lot or Make the Cut software products.
2. To allow you or the manufacturer to update your Cricut's firmware. This is a key method of providing Cricut owners with performance enhancements and fixes to the internal software on the Cricut machines.
* What is the USB port for on my Cricut? or "What is the USB port for on the back of the Cricut?
How does my Cricut connect to my computer?
Cricut cutting machines connect to a computer with a common, low cost USB cable.
USB cables are so common that you may already have one if you own a printer, digital camera or other device that connects to a computer. If you don't have a friend or relative who has an extra one and need to purchase a USB cable, please let me provide you with some guidance:
1. If you do need to purchase a USB cable, you can find them in the electronics department of many stores including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Radio Shack and others. USB cables typically cost between $3 and $15 and the price is based on cable length. USB cables typically range from 1 to 16 feet.
2. USB cables are often referred to as "Type A/B" USB Cables. This is because the connection on one end is called "Type A" and the other is called "Type B." Also, as you can see on the right, see that each end looks different.
3. Some USB cables feature gold plated connections. This does not improve performance to any degree that you will ever notice. So, save your money. Also, USB cables are available in different colors but this a decorative feature only.
If you look on the back of your Cricut to the lower left corner area, you will see two ports like the picture shown.
From left to right, the first port is the power connection. The port on the right is the USB cable connection.
What is "firmware?"
Firmware is a small software program that controls your Cricut's electronics. Your Cricut needs firmware to function and to be able to understand software on your computer.
Firmware is specific to your particular Cricut model and is developed and improved by your Cricut's manufacturer.
I have written an overview of firmware that will help you understand it further and I encourage you to read it. Why? Because, even if you never use a computer with your Cricut, it is an electronic device and contolled by built-in software. The Cricut manufacturer improves the firmware as it discovers bugs or applies new techniques to improve your Cricut's performance.
Click here for my Help with Cricut Firmwarepage. At the bottom, I have step-by-step instructions that guide you through the process of updating your Cricut's firmware.
How do I check to see my Cricut's firmware version?
Turn-on your Cricut and watch the display screen as it starts. Your Cricut will display the firmware version. It will display a "v" followed by the firmware version number. For example: v 1.3 or v.2.31, etc. Each Cricut model displays a different firmware version.
* How can I see what firmware is on my Cricut? How do I check my Cricut firmware version number? How do I look to see my Cricut firmware?
How do I update my Cricut's firmware?
Updating your Cricut's firmware is easy, free and 100% safe for your Cricut.
A "USB driver" is a set of software instructions your computer needs to communicate with your Cricut cutting machine.
When you connect a device to your computer such as a printer, camera or Cricut machine, your computer immediately "sees" that something is connected to it.
With current technology, your computer will try to automatically install the correct USB driver. However, the necessary USB driver may not always be available for automatic installation. Here's why:
Equipment manufacturers provide Microsoft and Apple with the necessary USB drivers but, if the company is relatively small or if the equipment is quite new to the marketplace, Microsoft and Apple won't always have the USB driver in their online databases which is a key place your computer looks during the automatic installation process. So, sometimes you need to install the USB driver manually.
What are the computer requirements for Sure Cuts A Lot software?
You can use Sure Cuts A Lot software on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or an Apple Mac.
Following are the minimum computer requirements:
Windows XP, Vista (32 or 64 bit ) or Windows 7
An Intel or AMD processor
At least 512 MB of RAM
At least 50 MB of available hard disk space
A USB Port
Mac OSX 10.4, 10.5, 10.6 (Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard)
At least 512 MB of RAM
At least 50 MB of available hard disk space
A USB Port
Can I install Sure Cuts A Lot software on more than one computer?
Yes. You may install and use Sure Cuts A Lot software two computers you own provided you do not use them at the same time. The intent is to provide you with portability. For example, you may want to install SCAL on a desktop and laptop or netbook.
(See Section 2.2 & 2.4 of the license agreement). To view the actual license agreement, visit my Help with SCAL page and the "License Agreement" section.
What's the difference between Sure Cuts A Lot and SCAL?
Nothing. "SCAL" is simply an acronym for Sure Cuts ALot. They are the same thing.
If you are slapping your forehead for not knowing this, stop it! I have been asked this question many times.
Does Sure Cuts A Lot software work with the Cricut Expression?
Yes!Sure Cuts A Lot software works with all three Cricut models including the Cricut Personal Cutting System , Cricut Create and the Cricut Expression.
Do I need to update my Cricut's firmware to use Sure Cuts A Lot 2.0?
Not necessarily. If your Cricut's firmware already meets the minimum requirements for use with SCAL 2.0 then you do not need to update it. In the table below, I show you the minimum firmware requirments to use SCAL for each Cricut model.
If your Cricut's firmware does not meet the minimum requirement, just follow my step-by-step instructions located at the bottom of my Help with Cricut Firmware page. Updating your Cricut's firmware is easy, free and 100% safe for for your Cricut because the firmware is made by your Cricut manufacturer
Following are the Cricut firmware requirements for use with SCAL 2.0. The requirements are the same for Windows or Mac.
Cricut Personal Cutting System
v 1.1 or 1.3 or higher
v 1.51 or higher
v 2.1, 2.3 or higher
To find out what firmware version is currently installed on your Cricut, just turn-on your Cricut while watching the display screen. The firmware version will be displayed while the Cricut is powering on.
Do I need to own Cricut Design Studio to use SCAL?
No. You do not need to own Cricut Design Studio to use Sure Cuts A Lot software. Cricut Design Studio and Sure Cuts A Lot are two completely separate programs and do not interact with each other at any time.
Do I have to buy Cricut Design Studio to update my Cricut's firmware?
No. You can use the free trial version of Cricut Design Studio software to update your firmware. Once you have updated your Cricut's firmware, you can uninstall the trial version of Cricut Design Studio.
You may be wondering: "Why do I need to use Cricut Design Studio to update my Cricut's firmware?" This is just the way the Cricut manufacturer distributes firmware updates to Cricut owners. This lets them ensure quality control over the updating process. This benefits you and the Cricut manufacturer.
Updating your Cricut's firmware is free, easy and 100% safe for your machine. Just visit my Help with Cricut Firmwarepage for an overview and step-by-step instructions. These instructions are used by many thousadns of Cricut owners.
Can I use Sure Cuts A Lot and Cricut Design Studio on the same computer?
Yes! You can have both programs running on your computer and use them independently.
Use Sure Cuts A Lot software for fonts, dingbats, shapes, images and personal designs on your computer and use Cricut Design Studio for your cartridges. In fact, you can have both programs running at the same time on your computer as you can see in my Sure Cuts A Lot Overview video.
You don't lose anything with Sure Cuts A Lot software. Rather, you gain much more capability for your Cricut than is possible without it.
Can I still use my Cricut cartridges if I have Sure Cuts A Lot installed on my computer?
Yes! You can still use your Cricut cartridges with your Cricut. Sure Cuts A Lot software does not interfere with your Cricut's built-in intelligence.
You can still use your Cricut cartridges in every way they were designed to be used by the Cricut manufacturer:
1. With your Cricut as a stand-alone system.
2. With Cricut Design Studio software.
3. With a Gypsy.
If you own Sure Cuts A Lot software, you can use your cartridges a fourth way, too! See my next question: "Can I use my Cricut Cartridges with Sure Cuts A Lot software?"
Can I use my Cricut Cartridges with Sure Cuts A Lot software?
Yes but indirectly.
This question is a little more complex to answer than most so I would like to begin with a little background: Sure Cuts A Lot looks to your computer for creative content such as fonts, dingbats, shapes, images and designs and ignores the cartridge inserted in your Cricut machine. This means that Sure Cuts A Lot cannot directly access your Cricut cartridge.
However, many Cricut owners have a substantial investment in Cricut cartridges and would like the flexibility to use them with the creative content they have on their computer. Is this possible? Yes! Sure Cuts A Lot software has a feature called "Trace Bitmap" that lets you auto-trace images. So, you can employ an indirect method that I describe below.
1. Cut your Cricut cartridge shape on a piece of black or high contrast paper with your Cricut.
2. Tape the cut-out to a piece of clean white paper.
3. Scan the shape using any standard scanner. Save it as an image file.
4. Start Sure Cuts A Lot software and select the "Trace Bitmap" feature.
5. Choose the image you created with your Cricut cartridge shape.
6. Select the "OK" button in the lower right corner of the Trace Bitmap window and your Cricut cartridge shape will appear on the Sure Cuts A Lot cutting mat ready to use.
In the illustration below, I show you the Trace Bitmap feature in Sure Cuts A Lot.
Do I need to be connected to the Internet to use Sure Cuts A Lot software?
No. You do not need to be connected to the Internet to use Sure Cuts A Lot software with your Cricut. You can install Sure Cuts A Lot software from a CD if you do not have an Internet connection.
You do need to access the Internet to purchase Sure Cuts A Lot software and to create an activation code to activate SCAL on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. Please see my Help with SCAL page Chapter 1 "Getting Started", Section d "Activating" for instructions to help you with manual activation.
Do I need to have the SCAL CD in the computer to use SCAL?
No. You do not need to have the SCAL software CD inserted in your computer when using SCAL. You install SCAL to your computer.
Does Sure Cuts A Lot software run on Windows 7?
Yes! I have personally installed and am running original SCAL and SCAL 2.0 on Windows 7 Home Premium.
Does Sure Cuts A Lot software run on Windows Vista 64 bit?
Yes.Sure Cuts A Lot software runs on the Windows 64-bit operating system and I have quite a few customers who use it without any problems.
Generally, 32-bit software programs run well on the Windows Vista 64-bit operating system. The key issue is whether a 64 bit USB driver is available for a connected device you want to use. The USB driver for the Cricut is compatible with Windows Vista 64.
Does Sure Cuts A Lot software run on a netbook computer?
Yes! I have personally installed, tested and use Sure Cuts A Lot 2.0 on an Asus Eee PC 1005HA system with Windows XP Home Edition.
The netbook has a 160GB hard disk, 1GB RAM and an Intel Atom N270 CPU.
NOTE: A netbook computer does not have a CD/DVD drive. So, just download Sure Cuts A Lot software via the Internet or copy the installation file from a flash drive (also called a zip drive or key drive).
Do I need SCAL 1.0 to buy or use SCAL 2.0?
No.You do not need to download, install or own original SCAL (SCAL 1.0) to purchase or use SCAL 2.0. They are completely separate programs.
If you already have SCAL 1.0 on your computer, SCAL 2.0 will be installed separately and the two will co-exist without conflict.
Original SCAL Windows and Mac versions are still available to download but you can no longer purchase them. The downloads are in trial mode until activated with a valid serial number.
If you currently use SCAL 1.0, I highly recommend that you upgrade to SCAL 2.0 when possible. There are many more features and performance enhancements. In addition, the manufacturer is focused on improving SCAL 2.0. I have step-by-step upgrade instructions on my "Upgrade to SCAL 2.0" page.
Inkscape is a free graphic design program similar to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. You do not need Inkscape to use Sure Cuts A Lot software.
Inkscape is a popular tool to use with Sure Cuts A Lot software and I recommend it.
Do I need Inkscape to use Sure Cuts A Lot software?
No! You do not need Inkscape to use Sure Cuts A Lot software.
Inkscape is a popular software program and one feature is called "Trace Bitmap." This feature lets you auto-trace images and save the tracing as a file that you can import into Sure Cuts A Lot to cut on your Cricut. I recommend it even if you own Sure Cuts A Lot 2.0 but you do not need it.
How are dingbats different from fonts?
A dingbat file is a set of shapes created in the same format as a font file. Your computer treats them just like font files.
In fact, you type dingbat shapes using your keyboard just like you do with font characters. Each shape is mapped to a keyboard key.
A common dingbat file that comes with your computer is called "Wingdings." You probably have several dingbat files already installed on your computer because Microsoft operating systems include three or four dingbat files. These include "webdings", wingdings1, wingdings2 and wingdings3.
For more information about dingbats and how to install them to your computer, please see my Help with Fonts page. At the bottom, I have step-by-step instructions to help you.
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