Tag: Workshop

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.


Workshop – Walls

Workshop – Walls

The inside walls of the workshop are just studwork covering the weather shield, this doesnt offer any insulation and more significantly doesn’t provide a particularly good surface for shelves, cupboards etc. So it was only a matter of time before they would need work.

Original Wall

My initial idea had been to install insulation in the cavity before putting boards over the top, looking at Celotex 50mm boards they come out at £25 for an 2400 x 1200 sheet. It looks like the right stuff and would certainly keep the workshop warmer in winter and cooler in summer but needing at least 12 sheets it would add £300 to the cost. The need to start making use of the workshop for other projects (more posts to follow) has pushed up the urgency to get something done.

I used OSB3 boards that were left over from another project, the boards are 18mm, which is thicker than I would have planned but as I already had them it seemed easiest to use them, plus at the moment its cheaper to buy 18mm boards than 9mm. Finally the 18mm boards will hopefully offer some insulation benefits lost by not installing the Celotex.

New Wall
Once the boards were up it was time to start tidying and getting some of the furniture into place.  Draws finally turned round so they can be opened, and new tops cut for the workbench.


Now I just need to finish the other walls and find places to put all the loose tools.

Workshop Restoration

Workshop Restoration

Our new house has a detached wooden double garage at the end of the garden, as well as the attached single brick garage. This wasnt the only thing I liked about the house but it did go a long way.

Well it wasnt in the best of states when we moved in, the roof leaks and the felt needs replacing, the gutter is held on by cable ties and although the floor is carpeted its a patchwork of offcuts and old rugs on top of a layer of cardboard so that will come up to see the damage below. Ohh and it needs completely repainting!

I have so many things to do the workshop will need to be a versatile space with options for woodworking, metalworking, engineering and electronics so the configuration of workbenches and storage will take some thinking about but I will try to update along the way.