K40 Whisperer

K40 Whisperer

K40 Whisperer:
Control software for the stock K40 Laser controller


Supported Controller Boards
Related Links


K40 Whisperer is an alternative to the the Laser Draw (LaserDRW) program that comes with the cheap Chinese laser cutters available on E-Bay and Amazon. K40 Whisperer reads SVG and DXF files, interprets the data and sends commands to the K40 controller to move the laser head and control the laser accordingly. K40 Whisperer does not require a USB key (dongle) to function.

K40 Whisperer is a free open source program released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

K40 Whisperer Features:

- Reads SVG files and DXF files
- Splits input design based on color formating (red,blue)
- In SVG files blue and red paths are interpreted as vectors for vector engraving and cutting. Everything else is transfered as a raster image.
- In DXF files blue paths are interpreted as vector engrave(blue). Everything else is interpreted as vector cut(red). Raster Engraving is not supported for DXF files.
- In DXF files everything on layers that have the text "engrave" in the layer name are interpreted as vector engrave.
- Performs cuts on features inside of other features before cutting the outside features. (If you cut the outside first the part might drop out of the stock material)
- Converts gray scale images to halftone images to simulate varying levels of gray (i.e. engraving pictures). The Halftone option needs to be selected under "Raster"-"Settings" to enable halftoning.

K40 Whisperer Main Window


Supported Controller Boards:

Only boards that work with LaserDRW will work with K40 Whisperer. (Moshi boards will not work)
To see which board you have you can go to "Properties" from the LaserDRW (or CorelDraw) Engraving Manager window and look at which board is selected for the "Mainboard" option. You can also look at the markings on the controller board. (The controller board is the circuit board the USB cable plugs into)

Controller Boards Known to Work with K40 Whisperer:
- 6C6879-LASER-M2 (M2 Nano)
- 6C6879-LASER-B1
- 6C6879-LASER-M1
- 6C6879-LASER-M
- 6C6879-LASER-B
- 6C6879-LASER-B2
- 6C6879-LASER-A
- HT Master5 (use LASER-M2 setting)
- HT Master6 (use LASER-M2 setting)
- HT-XEON5 (use LASER-M2 setting)
- HT-XEON-DRV (use LASER-M2 setting)

The best way to determine if a laser will work with K40 Whisperer before buying is to check if the laser comes with LaserDRW (Laser Draw) software. If a laser works with Laser Draw it should work with K40 Whisperer.

K40 Whisperer Changes:

Changes in Version 0.29

- Slowed down the movement to return to the zero position after engraving. At high speeds the laser head would sometimes over-run and slam into the hard-stop if the job was started from the home position.
- Added command to stop windows computers from going to sleep while the laser is running.
- Changed the SVG reader so it ignores CSS entry without data instead of throwing an error.
- Added key binding for alt-control-(arrow keys) for moving the laser head independent of the design.

Changes in Version 0.30

- Added rotary settings and check box in advanced settings to enable/disable the settings typically used for a rotary fixture.
- Added option to set rapid speeds in the rotary settings. (zero uses the default controller rapid speed.)
- Fixed SVG reader so hidden layers are hidden. (In some cases they were being shown.)
- Fixed problem that caused excessive memory use when dithering was disabled.

Changes in Version 0.31

- Improved speed codes (again) now uses library from the K40Nano project on Github
- Added workaround for non UTF-8 characters in SVG files (Files from Adobe Illustrator sometimes have these).
- Fixed SVG reader so cloned objects work now.
- Added dialog box to manually set scale for SVG files that do not have physical scale fully defined. You should be able to bring in files without setting the units and viewbox in Inkscape. (Users will need to verify scale is correct for there designs.)
- Improved cascading style sheet interpretation for style information. (Some colors could being missed before the improvement.)
- Fixed crash on startup if data in settings file is incorrect.
- Changed writing location for error log files to avoid attempting to write to folders that are write protected.
- Added clarification to the installer script to specify the laser needs to be on when installing the driver.
- Fixed a cannot convert string to float error for SVG files that define circles as ellipses.

Changes in Version 0.32

- Added fix for timeout issues.

Changes in Version 0.33

- Fixed potential error when decimal points are added to integer input values.
- Fixed erroneous closing of loops in some DXF files
- Fixed potential cause of lost data during sending data to the laser
- Fixed bug that caused laser to move in the wrong direction for certain cases while running g-code.
- Made the "Stop" button respond faster and after clicking "OK" the laser will stop motion faster.

For the full history look at the
K40 Whisperer Change Log


(Right click on the link and select "Save target as" or "Save link as")
K40 Whisperer for Windows (32 bit)
K40 Whisperer for Windows (64 bit)
K40 Whisperer Source
K40 Whisperer
Windows Installer.
(Includes Windows Driver Installer)

These installers will install the
correct executable for your
operating system (32 or 64 bit)
K40 Whisperer Installer 0.29.exe
K40 Whisperer Installer 0.30.exe
K40 Whisperer Installer 0.31.exe
K40 Whisperer Installer 0.32.exe
K40 Whisperer Installer 0.33.exe

Installation Instructions:

Setting up K40 Whisperer on Windows

Linux: Setup instructions for Linux are included via the README_Linux.txt file in the "K40_Whisperer-x.xx_src.zip" file.

Mac: Setup instructions for Mac are included via the README_MacOS.md file in the "K40_Whisperer-x.xx_src.zip" file.
(I can't help with Mac specific questions. I have no experience installing software on a Mac.)

K40 Whisperer Manual:

K40_Whisperer Reference Manual
 K40 Whisperer Manual

Creating Input for K40 Whisperer

1. Create your design in Inkscape.
- Use RED lines to indicate cutting.
- Use BLUE lines to indicate vector engraving.
- Use BLACK and other colors to indicate raster engraving. (Raster Engraving is not supported for DXF files.)
2. Adjust the size of the document to match the area you want to export (You can use "File" - "Document Properties" - "Resize Page to Content" to make the page the same size as your design)
3. Within Inkscape select "Save" to save the design as an SVG file.
4. Open the SVG file you just saved in K40 Whisperer.

Halftone (grayscale) Images with K40 Whisperer

In addition to red, blue and black, you can also do grayscale with K40 Whisperer. The stock boards that work with K40 Whisperer are not able to control the power output by the laser. However, grayscale can be simulated by creating a halftone image (dithering) of the raster image. Below is an example of an image that was engraved with the Halftone (Dither) option turned on in K40 Whisperer.
The truck photo came from Wikimedia Commons: Madrid_-_Fargo_Power-Wagon

In order to generate the halftone image in K40 Whisperer the Halftone setting in the Raster settings needs to be selected. When the Halftone option is turned on the image displayed in K40 Whisperer will be shown in grayscale.

K40 Whisperer Videos


Making a Design in Inkscape

Engraving a Picture Using K40 Whisperer

Advanced Settings in K40 Whisperer

Using G-Code with K40 Whisperer

Driver Removal:

K40 Whisperer requires the installation of a different driver than the one that Laser Draw and Corel Laser use. The Setting up K40 Whisperer on Windows page includes instructions for removing the libUSB-win32 driver so that you can go back to the standard programs.

Related Links

Laser Draw Inkscape Extension: Save Laser Draw (LYZ) files from Inkscape.

Scorch's Home
Scorch Works Home
Scorch Works Blog
@scorchworks On Twitter