Category: Projects

Getting started with the BFB Rapman 3D Printer

Getting started with the BFB Rapman 3D Printer

So if you read my last post you know why I bought a £35 3D printer, so now the story of how I got it running.

My initial plan was to see if I could get it running in its original form. I applied 5v to the power socket and the controller fired up, I was able to navigate the menus and everything looked good but obviously the steppers wouldn’t move. I slowly increased the voltage up to 12v and like magic it sprung into life. 

So what to do with it? I was able to move the head, and with a little help the Z axis. I could even get it to extrude filament although the extruders method of pulling the filament in was interesting. The SD which came with the printer even had a couple of files on it so it made sense to give them a go. I selected the print, hit go and it started moving, it extruded a few mm of filament and then began to lay down a raft. It even got to layer 10 or so before the nozzle began to clog and the print became a spluttered mess of little plastic blobs.

As interesting as these 2 files probably were they simply would not print, was this a problem with the printer or with the files. Was the Hotend cooling down and causing the blockage, was the extrusion too fast or too slow causing it? I didn’t know and had no way of telling.

The Bits From Bytes Rapman shipped with its own board and firmware (this was 2 years before Marlin arrived). This meant I had no way of monitoring the prints from a PC to try and identify the cause, with my very limited experience I struggled to know where to start diagnosing the problem.

To compound matters the printer used a bespoke file format called .bfb produced by software called Axon. This meant I couldn’t even try printing a different model to see if the issues were due to the files on the card. After much searching I found a website with some info on these legacy models from 3D Systems. I tried the Axon software but that wouldn’t run on my modern Mac or Win10 PC. Next I tried a firmware update to hope for some connectivity on USB or it loading GCode files. Sadly the newer firmware wouldn’t load so back to the drawing board.

The plan

So the plan now, replace the controller with a RAMPS control board, Arduino MEGA 2560 and then install the Marlin firmware. The cost of these would double the value of the printer but at only £30-35 this is a great upgrade. It will give me a controller with full USB control from a range of modern software and it will include all the latest features for controlling the printer. Most importantly though it should give me clear monitoring of the printer while its running so I can see the temperatures and try to identify what’s causing the extrusion issues.


Trailer Restoration 2017

Trailer Restoration 2017

So after 4 years of hard work and little care and attention my trailer finally began to feel the strain, the biggest problem was that the plywood base had begun to rot / de-laminate / generally collapse. Not a difficult job I hear you cry, undo the screws, pop the sides out and lift the base. New sheet of plywood and a couple of coats of wood preservative and bobs your uncle.

So I lifted the trailer to remove the electrics and noticed a rather worrying 2″ wobble side to side on the offside wheel, the bearing had obviously seen better days. With a bit of encouragement and the now infamous “They’re only a couple of quid on eBay” quote I proceeded to take the hub off. The wheel nuts were a bit stiff but to be expected, the dust cap came off without too much trouble and the bent nail that held the castle nut came out with ease.

Then the fun began, half a dozen ball bearings and a couple of pieces of broken brass drop out, then when I finally get to the hub the cases are well and truly stuck in the hub. So look for new bearings but they are minimum £20 for a pair and I’d still have to get the cases out without damage, what about new hubs, they come with bearings and I can get them for £15, bargain! Trouble is the new hubs are 25mm ID and the old arms are 22mm. So it’s new suspension arms, hubs & bearings, well that’s £60 but not the end of the world.

In the end once I’d decided to replace the whole suspension I decided to go out and vent my frustration on the stuck bearing shells, with brute force and no concern for damaging the hub I managed to free them. Happy days, trip to the local trailer merchant for new bearings and job done.

Now just to Hammerite the metalwork and wood preserve the new base. Oh and new end panels, the old ones had started to break up and 2 coats of wood preserve on each side, because, it couldn’t be simple, but other than that jobs a good-un.



DIY Table Saw and Router Table & Scroll (Jig) Saw Table

DIY Table Saw and Router Table & Scroll (Jig) Saw Table

This has become a bit of an epic task, it started out as an idea to build a table saw using a normal circular saw mounted under a wood top, nice, simple, quick to build and most of all cheap. Then I saw videos of router tables, well that looks useful, and how hard can it be to mount my existing plunge router under a table. Why not use the same table as the saw, that will keep the size down and I can make a better table for them. Wouldn’t a scroll saw be useful, maybe if I mounted the jigsaw under the table with the blade coming up I could achieve a similar effect. Well that was where it all began!

I love the bargain corner in IKEA, so far it’s provided some draws for a future pillar drill storage unit, the worktops that adorn the workshop (and now also the utility room) and most recently a new desk for our office, although the piece we got was about twice the size we needed so the offcut has become the top for this project.

UPDATE: Having built the circular saw table saw and tried it on a few jobs it worked great, it wasn’t perfect, it didn’t have the greatest power or depth of cut but it worked. That was right up until a piece I was cutting caught on the back teeth and fired out of the saw with considerable speed straight into my stomach, now thankfully I’m well padded and it didn’t cause a serious injury but the 2″ square bruise was rather painful. I concluded that for all the simplicity of the homemade solution its lack of safety features were not something I was willing to for-go any longer and I began looking for a purpose made replacement. See the Jet Table Saw post for more details on that.

Zero Clearance Base

Zero Clearance Base

This was a relatively simple upgrade for the circular saw to reduce the breakout when cutting a laminated worktop.

First job was to measure and cut the piece of 9mm plywood slightly smaller than the base so that it wouldn’t interfere with the saws included fence or if I used a straight edge.

Then I drilled and tapped M4 holes in the corners of the saw base, these will also be used  to mount it in the table saw project. I went with M4 as although smaller than I would like they are the same size as the screws holding the base on my router, this means when I do build the Router / Table / Saw the screws will be interchangeable between attachments.

For the table saw project I’ll use countersunk screws but as I don’t have any yet I drilled 12mm recesses with a Forstner bit and then drilled the clearance holes for normal M4 bolts. In the end these were a little closer to the edge of the plywood than I had intended but they were in the best places on the saw base to avoid the workings but remain on the flat of the base.

Zero Clearance Base

The final task was to plunge the blade through the plywood to create a slot that perfectly matched the blade dimensions hopefully preventing splintering and breakout when cutting laminate.

Bosch POF1200 Router – Base Adjustment Conversion

Bosch POF1200 Router – Base Adjustment Conversion

When I began building a router table I looked at the various options & recommendations for router and the number 1 choice seemed to be the Trend T11 with the ability to adjust its height from the base.

I went to look at them in Axminster tools and decided that the mechanism was nothing more than a long bolt. This inspired me to modify my existing Bosch router to allow height adjust from the base.

The normal depth stop is a 6mm rod so the mount for this made the basis for the new adjustment. I needed to get a straight line through the depth stop to the base below, my centre punch was too wide but a suitable diameter Phillips screwdriver worked well enough to make a mark. It proved impossible to get a drill into this position on the top side without removing the base so I used a 3mm bit in the cordless drill to give me a pilot hole then turn it over and use a 6mm bit in the pillar drill from the underside to make the hole. Sadly due to the shape of the base this wasn’t as easy as it sounded and I ended up having to elongate the hole to line up with the depth stop.

Then it was simply a case of putting a 6mm bolt through the holes and attaching a washer and nut to the end, this was more a proof of concept than a final design but by tightening the nut I was able to raise and lower the router. I will get a long flat headed bolt that can be inserted from the base end and will make a suitably shaped piece with a threaded hole to fit above the depth stop that won’t be able to rotate. For this I used an off cut of aluminium bar about 20mm long then drilled and tapped a hole for the bolt. It’s not the prettiest solution but it does the job.

The final task was to remove the spring loaded locking bolt that is operated by the left hand during normal handheld plunge routing, this was a simple case of unscrewing the retaining screw on the thumb lever and removing the locking bolt and Spring. I’ll probably put a blanking plug in the hole to prevent dust entry when the bolt is removed.

Anglepoise 1209

Anglepoise 1209

I’ve added another model to my collection, an earlier style this time in the original 4 spring 1209 design

The 1208 & 1209 are virtually identical with the 1208 featuring chrome arms and the 1209 featuring colour co-ordinated arms and came in 3 forms either the standard base, wall mounted or table fixed base with the later 2 suffixed with A & B respectively.


This model is a post war 1209, it has coloured aluminium arms, the shorter base and the screw attachment on the lamp holder.

It has a few issues that will need to be fixed before it can be fully restored and back working, the worst of which is the break on the lower end of the rear arm. This is going to need some machining to manufacture a new part and blend it in so that it doesn’t look out of place. The plan is to machine an insert that will fit into the end of the arm, it will need a square profile to match the arm but I plan a round profile where it inserts into the arm to give a larger space for brazing material to hold them together.

The other area that needs some work is again on the lower bracket, this time at the front its missing a couple of spacers, the plastic inserts are clearly an improvised solution and had clearly been assembled badly restricting the movement of the arms. Some damage is visible where they have rubbed together but hopefully this will smooth out easily and more or less disappear once painted.


Anglepoise Paint Stripping & Cleaning

Anglepoise Paint Stripping & Cleaning

I’ve again refered to the excelent guide from Relight Lamps for this one (

The Dettol seems a very safe and realtively cheap option if slightly inefficient and although working very well on the shade and lower arms didnt work so well on the upper arm or base but with repeated treatment and a little mechanical removal (scrubbing with a scotch pad) the arms cleaned up. For the base I borrowed a small amount of industrial stripper that did the same as the dettol had in 3 days in about 30 seconds. It is apparently safe for aluminium so may be an alternative for next time.

Alongside stripping the paint I wanted to clean the other parts, bolts, spacers, springs etc. I have an ultrasonic cleaner and use a solution called Biox for cleaning other chrome plated parts and so used this for the small Anglepoise items. It worked perfectly and the images below show the difference.

The spring took a bit more cleaning and after the first treatment in the ultrasonic I scrubbed it with the scotch pad, the image below shows half cleaned and have as it came out of the ultrasonic. After scrubbing them I put them springs back in the ultrasonic for a second treatment and repeated the scrubbing. They arent perfect and the inside of the spring is still quite rusty but hopefully with a 3rd treatment and a wire pipe cleaner this should improve.

Anglepoise Disassembly

Anglepoise Disassembly

I’m not going to write a complete guide as the guys at Relight Lamps have a good resource here ( and even a video showing the complete process.

Here are a few of my notes to add, I tried to photogragh each stage and the parts that came out in the order they came apart, not just for record but to remind me how they should go back together.

Anglepoise 1227 Cream

The nuts and bolts on the arms turned out to be 3/16th inch, this wasnt an issue as they were relatively loose and I had a suitable socket but I’ll need to get a second one to tighten them properly when complete.

Nut Size Spring Removal Hinge Parts

The nut on the bottom of the base has been more difficult to identify, it’s slightly bigger than 1/2″ but not as big as the next socket so I made do with an adjustable and will measure it properly later to source a socket.

Centre Line Marking Jig

Centre Line Marking Jig

I’ve seen a few examples of these on Pinterest but have been unable to find them for sale so resorted to making my own crude version.

I take my hat off to Rob on Lumberjocks who has put me to shame with the quality of his version.

Centre Line Tool

My attempt was somewhat cruder than his but in my defence was knocked up quickly to accomplish a specific job. The main body is a 70mm x 42mm baton offcut trimmed to about 150mm long, the pegs are 10mm dowels drilled 20mm from each end and the pencil is pushed through a 7mm hole.
The accuracy clearly leaves something to be desired as when tested first one way and then turned the other way the lines produced are a couple of milimeters adrift but for what I need it will do the job.

Hopefully with more time and the workshop better equiped a more accurate version will challenge Rob.