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Can/Should You Hack Your Cricut Mini?

The short answer is "No," unless you want a complicated science project that involves things like unsoldering and resoldering chips onto circuit boards and programming eproms.

Also, the only hack that has ever restored a Mini to any level of usefulness does NOT restore the ability to use Cricut's cartridge-based images. It only allows third-party software like Sure-Cuts-A-Lot to direct the Mini to cut your original images or images you download from the Internet - something that can be done with a lot less hassle on, say, a used Expression (1) or even a used Silhouette Cameo 1 or later. (More on all this below.)

Yes, I agree that the $75 "discount" ProvoCraft offered you on a new, expensive machine was scant compensation for the hassle of losing a tool you bought on purpose and had got used to using. Not to mention that Craft Room software took some getting used to as well, and its discontinuation forced you to learn yet another program.

Well, Craft Room is gone for good, so whatever your next step involves, you will have to learn something new. Before we discuss the only hack that has ever been done successfully on a Cricut Mini, we'll point out some alternatives that may save your sanity, and even maybe some money.

This Article is True as of March, 2021

I started this web site because most of the information about using legacy Cricuts, and related topics on the internet right now is seriously outdated. Much of it is flat-out wrong, though it may have been correct when it was originally penned as long as twelve years ago.

I embed the month and year of publication in most of these articles in case for some reason I can't keep this article updated, and you come across it five years from now, when everything has changed again. At least you'll know it is likely out of date.

(Safer) Alternatives to Hacking a Cricut Mini

  • The newer Cricuts have more features than your Mini ever did, and Design Studio is more useful (though a little different) than Craft Room ever was. If you already have a bunch of linked cartridges and want to stick with the Cricut line, you should know that

    • The Explore line can do everything the Mini did and more, though its cutting ability isn't that much stronger than your Mini or even older machines.

    • If you ever want to get into cutting heavier and thicker materials, watch for a sale on Makers. I'm thinking Black Friday or the like.

  • Most first-gen Cricuts are still in working condition, and a lot of them are going used for very low prices. If you have a stack of physical cartridges, or are on a really tight budget, consider shopping for a used Expression (1). There is a lot of advice about shopping for first-gen Cricuts elsewhere in this web page, so we won't fill this page up with redundant information. Whatever you do, don't buy an Expression 2. Because it was also dependent on Craft Room, it's almost as useless as your Mini.

  • Alternatively, if you're not dependent on images from Cricut's cartridge or "image set" library, you might consider a Silhouette Portrait or ANY Silhouette Cameo (even the Cameo 1).

About the Cricut Mini Hack

Having run several web sites over the years, I know that any set of really technical instructions I post will come back to haunt me, because folks who shouldn't be trying the procedure will try it anyway and fry something and blame me. So please don't expect step-by-step illustrated instructions from me on this one.

However, in case you are still wondering what it would take to get your beloved, but useless Cricut Mini working again, I will post links to the only procedures that I am aware of ever working.

This is a final reminder that, even with this hack, your Mini will never cut cartridge-based images again. The best it will do is work with software like Sure-Cuts-A-Lot5 to cut downloaded and original patterns - something that a cheap used Expression (1) will do just as well with a lot less hassle.

Who Done It? An enterprising fellow named Matt Williams tried it to see if he could render a Mini useful again. He did, and he wrote it up and provided downloadable files and instructions online. Mostly, I think Matt did it because it was a challenge - not because he was desperate to restore a piece of hardware that (frankly) could be replace by a cheaper, earlier, used-but-working Cricut Expression (1) or Create.

Another fellow named Mel Duckmanton got Matt's instructions and downloadable files to work but decided he would spell things out a little more clearly with instructions. Again, Mel seemed to view it more as a sort of science project, but his write-up brings it down to a level where people like me, who used to dabble in such things, could probably do it.

That said, I haven't tinkered with anything like this for decades so I will let Matt's and Mel's work stand as is.

As Mel explains it:

    The hack is quite technical and requires microcontrollers inside the Cricut Mini to be removed and replaced by an Arduino compatible 'Teensy' microcontroller to which you have to upload new firmware. You have to follow a circuit diagram and undertake some delicate soldering and electronic assembly.

    Additionally you can no longer use the Cricut Craft Room online software to manipulate your designs and will have to install something like "Inkscape" design software on your PC and learn how to operate your cutter with it.

    If you?re OK with all that, then click the following link or paste it into the address bar of your browser and it should take you to a copy of the 'How To' pdf in my Dropbox (cloud storage) and allow you to download it:

    At the top right of the Dropbox webpage click on the download arrow next to 'Sign in' and select 'Direct download' from the options that drop down.

    You may (or may not) get a pop-up prompting you to create a Dropbox account. Just ignore it by closing the pop-up or by clicking on the ?No thanks. Continue to view? option at the bottom of it.

There you have it. Cricut Minis can be restored to usefulness of a sort, though most people are frankly far better off with what mainframe computer engineers used to call a "forklift upgrade." That is, a total replacement. (Yes, I just dated myself.)


As I already posted my "conclusion" at the top of the page, it will be no surprise that this is not really a way of redeeming a nice piece of equipment that is been rendered inoperative by its own manufacturer.

In the words of Doc Brown, in Back to the Future 3, when asked "Is this a train robbery?"

"No, it's a science experiment!"

That said, if you try this and get it to work, please send me any feedback and I'll try to get it back to Mel.

Watch this page: more articles are in the works.

As always, we want to hear your suggestions, criticisms, additions, etc. Enjoy your hobbies, and especially any time you can spend with your family in the coming months!


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