F I N K B U I L T

Scale model cockpit FPV

fpv
cool scale cockpit video

Funny Zoo Snap

man enjoys elephant My wife noticed this in the family archives.

RC Nitro motorcycle racing

rc motorcycle Motorcycle racing in Lilliput.

Manned RC Multicopter

manned multicopter
Here’s an RC multicopter big enough to ride on!

Make: Talk 004

make: Talk 004
I had a fun time talking to Mark Frauenfelder in episode 4 of his new podcast, Make: Talk!

One Man Basement Band

one man band
I feel like I could be getting more mileage out of my right foot.

Liberty

liberty vintage motorcycles An Etsy portrait. Thanks, Danny.

Tequila Sleeve

tequila the champs
Champs sleeve

Wolf-Stelzer Book Lamp

Book Lamp
My friend Tess just made the cover of ReadyMade with her cool lamp design.

Tree Stump Bug

null
Can this be for real? The design is so awesomely Thunderbirds. Via

The Nothing Box

nothing box

Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds are go
Are Go!

Command Center

command center
Sweet assemblage spaceship’s bridge.

Four Drano’s

drano
Watch the sink slowly, all but disappear from the design .

Toothpaste Aerosol

toothpaste aerosol
Aerosol toothpaste




Lightsabers 2.0

I think that I may have just out-nerded myself. You see, the 2-minute dueling sabers were fun for a couple of days, but they weren’t the most durable things in the world and were a bit lacking in the realism department. So I decided to build a nicer set of “elegant weapons from a more civilized time age”.

make a lightsaber

The Hilt

After researching lightsabers, I learned that the original lightsaber props were made from 1950′s vintage Graflex camera flash guns like might have been used on old press cameras. In fact, the Luke Skywalker saber was pretty much an unmodified flash handle. If you want a true replica of the Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader sabers, you can always get a Graflex flash on ebay but they do cary a stiff premium because every Star Wars geek has the same idea.

make a lightsaber

I opted to start from scratch, so I purchased some 1 3/16 o.d. (some schedule 40 size) aluminum tubing from a metals house. I chose this size because it looked about right to me and a “C” battery slid nicely inside with a little spare room for a wire. I bought a 2 ft length of the tubing and cut it in half at a 45 degree angle, and twisted it in some sandpaper to give it a nice machined look.

Reminder: You can cut aluminum no problem on your table saw with a carbide blade.

I had an old bicycle seat post that happened to fit perfectly inside the aluminum tubing that I bought, so I used that to make the bushings for the blades and the battery terminals. The rear battery terminal also serves as the end plug/battery retainer.

The Sith

For the Vader version, I cut a shroud from some PVC conduit and gave it a wrinkle finish to emulate the vintage camera equipment feel of the original. strips of rubber cut from an old auto floor mat make up the grip. The mythology says that the original propmaker used strips of windshield-wiper as the grip.

The Jedi

The Skywalker saber sports a spartan, gripless motif. I chopped up the heat-sink from an old pentium to form a cool space-age looking thing-a-module to adorn the top. Gold connectors from the edge of the circuit board finish it off.

make a lightsaber

make a lightsaber

The Blades

There are two popular ways to light up a saber. The first is EL, or electro-luminescent wire. This is a glowing wire that you power up with a high-voltage transformer. This technology provides a nice, bright even glow, and is probably the preferred method. The second common way is to use a single, 3-5 watt Luxeon high-output LED located in the hilt to light up the blade.

I used an alternate method that I learned from Instructables member jmumby. This method chains a bunch of bright LEDs wired in parallel to form the core of the blade. The result is an extremely bright blade. However, there is a slight “rope light” effect visible due to the individual points of light. This problem can be mostly mitigated through the use of a suitable diffuser.

Tip: When you order your LEDs, look for the brightest, but also look for the widest viewing angle that you can find. The wide-angle diodes look much brighter. Don’t forget resistors. Here is a neat calculator for finding the correct current-limiting resistors to match your LEDs.

Again – before you decide to build an LED blade, I would research EL wire as an alternate light source.

After soldering up the LED chain, I tied a thread to one end. Then I pulled the led array into a length of 1/2 inch o.d. milky polyethylene tubing, which I first sanded to increase it’s light diffusing properties. That tube then gets inserted into a 3/4 inch clear outer tube which received an interior sanding to further promote light diffusion.

If you plan to use your sabers for dueling, you will want to use polycarbonate tubing, as this stuff is nearly indestructible. If you don’t plan to whack anything with it, you can use the more commonly found acrylic tubing.

make a lightsaber

Wow, “the kids” really like them.

Related: The Flashlightsaber

make a lightsaber

75 Responses to “Lightsabers 2.0”


  1. Willi Says:

    Wow. Those are extremely cool Steve. I wish I was around to actually hold one and try it out. Video soon?

  2. Scot Says:

    Those things are awesome! You have out done yourself this time. I think the title of “alpha geek” is yours.

  3. Steve Says:

    Thanks Fellas!

    Unable to leave well-enough alone, I just added some aluminum grips to the Jedi version. I’ll post a pic when the JB-Weld dries.

    steve

  4. Jeff Says:

    When is the kit for THIS available??!??! Awesome job!

  5. Thomas Says:

    Where did you get the polyethylene tubing with what appears to be a rounded tip?

  6. Steve Says:

    Thomas,

    The polyethylene tubing is available at most hardware and home stores. I used 1.5 inch o.d. 3/8 inch i.d.

    Good call, I neglected to mention the tip, which is built-up using hot glue. Hot glue dries to about the same milky white color as the poly-tube.

  7. Someone Says:

    A more civilized AGE.

  8. Ed Says:

    any chance of getting a parts list (LEDs, resistors, etc.) for the dad’s not quite proficent at such electronic stuff but not afraid of a soldering gun either?

  9. Thomas Says:

    one more thing, what is holding the hold thing together i.e. what keeps the guts from sliding out but at the same time allow you to replace a battery?

  10. Steve Says:

    Thomas,

    See the picture of those two pieces of tubing with the battery connectors? Well the forward one is glued inside the saber body tube, and the rear one is held in by a set screw, and serves as the battery “cap”

    The blade is held in by 2 more set screws.

    Sorry for the incomplete picture, but this was meant to be more inspirational than a full set of “plans”.

  11. Steve Says:

    Ed –

    Here is the data on the leds and resistors that I used:

    I actually only used 5o blue leds, not 100 like it says in the above image.

  12. Mcewan Says:

    My power was out last night for hours and I was wishing I had one of your light sabers. Looks like a nice night light, as well as the coolest kid gift.

  13. Thomas Says:

    thanks thats all I felt was really missing from the what you posted, because most other answers to questions can be inferred.

  14. Lucas Says:

    how did u get it to light up in different colors? it looks really cool

  15. Milander Says:

    alpha geek? I think not Über-geek would be better. Cool toys m8, well done

  16. Stephen Says:

    hey, steve. GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i have a couple of questions thogh…

    1) what store did you get the polycarbonate tubing, cuz i looked at home depot and lowe’s out here in cary, nc, and they don’t have it.
    2) i don’t know if it’s an illusion, but it looks to me that the handles are at a slightly bigger proportion than they really should be. mebbe, the right “proportiion” should be shrunk to 3/4 the bottom of the grip of Vaders. i don’t know, post a link up for a video in the near future!!!!

    anyway, like i said, GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!
    that’s amazing!

  17. Steve Says:

    Thanks Stephen,

    No, you will not find the right outer tubing at home depot. You will need to get it from a plastics supply house. I got mine from a little place here in seattle, but I’m sure there is a local supplier somewhere near you.

    If not you can always mail-order it. (you’ll have to search)

    The inner tubing is a milky white polyethylene, and you will be able to find it at Home Deopt.

    good luck.

    s

  18. Stephen Says:

    Hey, looked online at home depot, and all it came up with for polyethylene was a cutting board. lol.
    i did google it, however, and found multiple lengths, widths, etc.
    what was the size you had to make these, along with the size of the polycarbonate?

  19. Derek Says:

    What type of battery connector did you use and where can I find one? How did you seal the blade into the hilt? Can you post a schematic of the inner circuitry? How did you connect the negative part of the led’s back to the battery, and what were the viewing angles of your LED’s?….really cool project

  20. Derek Says:

    Where did you run the wire of the negative ends of the led’s back to the battery? What type and where did you get your battery connector/holder? How did you seal the blade into the hilt? What was the viewing angle of your led’s? Can you post a schematic of the inner circuitry?…really cool project

  21. Don't feel like telling Says:

    have you thought about using a multi tube telescopic baton for the “laser” part? if spring activated you could have just an handle and when you turned it on it would light up and spring out (like the real thing”)

  22. Twitch3z Says:

    McMaster-Carr sells polyethylene tubing for about 50 cents per foot, and has 4′ clear polycarbonate tubes for about $5 per. I used them to buy materials for the lab I worked at, and then started using them for most of my hardware needs. You’ll need to put a “company name” in to complete your order but I just made something up. They’re pretty useful in general for DIY projects that require specific, and somewhat obscure, materials.

    http://www.mcmaster.com/

  23. Steve Says:

    Derek,

    I took the springs for the battery connectors from some old broken toys. I soldered some wires to them, then epoxied them inside some short pieces of tubing which fit inside the main hilt tube.

  24. Jeff Says:

    so what was the viewing angle on your LEDs…I can find some 40 degree ones and some 120 degree ones, but the 120s are much more expensive…will it work alright with 50 or 100 of the 40 degree LEDs?

  25. Steve Says:

    Jeff –

    You know, I’m not sure. I ordered mine before I knew about viewing angles, and didn’t pay attention. I learned about it later and thought that I would pass it along.

    steve

  26. bob Says:

    steve will you post a list of everything you need please.

  27. Jeff Says:

    So then how much do you think the LEDs cost you, somewhere around $1.00 each, or about $0.10 each, I think that’s the difference between the two types. Thanks again

  28. Steve Says:

    Jeff,

    Here are the reds that I bought

    and here are the blues

    But I still had to order the right resistors from DigiKey, so you should check there for LEDs as well, and maybe not have to wait/pay for 2 different shipments.

  29. Jeff Says:

    any chance you have a link/part number to the resistors as well, and those are the LEDs i found, thankfully pretty cheap. Is there no way to rig the resistors that come with the LEDs to work on this project?

  30. Rob Says:

    I’d swear from the pics that the blades are tapered but don’t see any mention of how to achieve that. Am I missing something?

  31. Rob Says:

    I’d swear from the pics that the blades are tapered but don’t see any mention of how to achieve that. Am I missing something?

  32. Steve Says:

    Rob –

    They are not tapered, and they are really long. It is just an optical illusion due the perspective from which the picture was taken.

  33. bob Says:

    steve will you post a comment with a list of everthing you need.

  34. Steve Says:

    Bob – Sure, when I get a chance.

  35. Timbo Says:

    Hey, I love this site and I want to try doing this. Where did you find the 1/2 inch o.d. milky polyethylene tubing? Thanks!

  36. Steve Says:

    Timbo – Home Depo, Lowes, Ace, etc. should all have it.

  37. Ren Says:

    whare can i get them i wana buy some oh and when the wire runs out of power?

  38. Kevin Says:

    Hey Steve,
    This is a great idea, in fact I started building an d selling these about a month and a half before you posted this!

    Take a look at my website:
    http://www.lightsabercreations.com

    Kevin S.
    Lightsaber Creations

  39. Mysterious Stranger Says:

    A while back, while I was browsing the internet for parts (I am currently working on a lightsaber for myself) I found this website: http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/Default.aspx. It sells specially -machined parts specifically for being used in lightsabers. I have not ordered any of their lightsaber parts for use in my saber–yet, but I have ordered a blade for my saber, and it arrived on time, and was as strong as anyone could possibly want a blade to be. I also found this website: http://plecterlabs.com/. It sells very nice electronic modules for use in sabers. They are expensive, but are (as far as I know) the best on the market. I have not ordered anything from that website yet. All in all, if one were to build a saber from the stuff on these two websites, it would be a few hundred dollars, but it would be a good-looking, tough, real-sounding saber.
    For those of you who want to learn more about the building of nice custom sabers, look here: http://www.padawansguide.com/lightsabers.shtml

  40. Required Says:

    I applaud your dedication and skill, however, when do you think you will build one that actually uses a REAL laser?

    Admin says: “This one does use a real laser”.

  41. Required Says:

    I want one so bad.

  42. B3D00 Says:

    These sabers are extremely cool! There are many web sites out there about making very good hilts. I’m making one. Thanks, man!

    Here are some links:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Lightsaber-for-$33-in-33-minutes/
    http://www.wilcoxusa.net/saber/step-by-step.htm

    You can spend around $30 in each hilt. But they look very good. They could cost like $15-20 if you use aluminium tubing instead of chrome.

  43. Damien Seawright Says:

    Damien Seawright he said to you Damien need Darth Vader’s lightsaber for Damien Seawright need it for fighting Skis
    to make a new red ligthsaber to like most Aeicma People will
    to that for Damien seawright and damien’s Friend Name is Jhon Braden 3 Boys to need Blue lightsaber and need one sharingan
    one for John to he need one to

  44. Roy Says:

    hey i want to know wich type of materials or what things can i use to actually play with them, i want to build a lightsaber that i can train with it, it would be nice if you can upload a manual describing step by step so i can do it right… thanks

  45. Lord Nincompoop Says:

    Thou art my god! Thou art Alpha and Omega!

    Seriously, I’m gonna build one. : )

  46. Matheus Says:

    I didn´t understand did you used 50 leds or you used 1 led and the 50 is how bright it is??????????
    If you used 50 leds how did you conect all of them with the baterie????????????????

    you made a very good job, and thank you very much for posting the tutorial to make the blade

  47. Juan Morales Says:

    Hi, greetings from Chile!!!! woow great and amazing construction Steve, do you have any instructions manual for build the light saber?

    can you send me an e-mail?

    thanks men!

    yours light saber rules!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  48. Damien seawright Says:

    Thak you to so muh

  49. Damien seawright Says:

    to said to you my lightsaber is red for Damien seawright

  50. Name Says:

    C’mon Uber Geek wheres that supply list???

  51. goofy goober Says:

    yall totally uber geeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NERDS

  52. parent making jedi costume Says:

    how much did it cost to make all together

  53. Richard Oliver Says:

    I am doing a Light Saber for my school GCSE project i was woundering if you could help me out. what would be the best type of tubing to use? Also what type of LED’s are the best?
    Would appreciate it if you could write back Thanks

  54. Edopeno » Lightsabers…You can Duel With! Says:

    [...] out the article. It gives you a how-to on how you can make your very own (*make LightSaber sound NOW) [...]

  55. Geekazine Podcast Episode #5 10-31-07 - Geekazine.com Says:

    [...] of the Commodore 64 – Gamasutra Invert the Colors on Your Mac – WikiHow Make your own Lightsaber – Finkbuilt Audiophile Spends 3.4 Mill on Home Theatre – TechBlog Convert Toliet to Low Flush – [...]

  56. Trypstar Says:

    I live in australia and whilst lookin 4 Electro Luminescent wire i have been told by many companies that it doesnt exsist can some 1 let me kno where i can find it in aust, or on the net?

  57. Unknown Says:

    I really like those sabers. If you could make a Vadar saber, we can talk prices at msn. My msn btw is msupapa06@hotmail.com and my msn chat name is Seig

  58. darth blade Says:

    i need 2 kno 2 things:
    1. how exactly did u light the blade? leds? if so how many?
    2.how did u wire the whole thing on the inside? a diagram wud b usefull!
    kool project tho!

  59. random guy Says:

    how would you make a yellow, green, or purple blade?

  60. Anton Olsen.com » Blog Archive » links for 2008-01-23 Says:

    [...] Finkbuilt » Blog Archive » Lightsabers 2.0 Some more reference material for the lightsaber. (tags: awesome diy electronics geek starwars TODO lightsaber) This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 8:21 am and is filed under Delicious Marks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  61. Build Your Kids A Set Of LightSabers To Beat Each Other With | Reality Wired Says:

    [...] them something to do on the weekends all the time? Want them to have some sibling time together? Finkbuilt has put together a set of instructions to build a pretty darn cool set of lightsabers made from [...]

  62. Darren Menzies Says:

    Do you think you could send me a more detailed parts list and instructions on how to build the lightsabers? I think they would look cool hanging in my living room.

  63. Manuwar Says:

    Steve. I’m from Spain, could you translate your text into spanish?

    The problem is that I want to make one of your “light saber” and I need to understand perfectly the instructions, could you send me a translation to Manuwar@hotmail.es?

  64. Luke Says:

    how do you build the tube for the blade what do you use for the blade

  65. My Summer Project: Lightsabers! - Ramblings at Sunset Says:

    [...] Finkbuilt – not PVC,  but just for DESIGN ideas. [...]

  66. Lenny Says:

    Great Idea, how much did it all cost? I already have the PVC pipe but not the other parts. I bought my pvc cheap at http://www.flexiblepvc.net

  67. Noah Says:

    awsome where did you buy your leds and what kind should I get?

  68. currently The problem Find antique reproductions Says:

    Thak you to so muh

  69. computer supplies Says:

    Thak you to so muh

  70. Emo Says:

    I actually think so too. I have been surfing around the web for some time today, and its kinda hard to find something entertaining to read on blogs=] Maybe thats because there are too many of them around =) But your website actually keeps catching my attention=) Great posts, and kawai design ^__^. Ill be sure to give it more visits from now on .

  71. private schools database in America Says:

    C’mon Uber Geek wheres that supply list???

  72. Andrew Diaz Says:

    HIII i need one of these for my starkiller Cosplay. i am not good with stuff like this though, is there any way i could pay you to make me one and have you send it to me?
    plz email me at diaz93andrew@aim.com

  73. ประกาศฟรี Says:

    thank.

  74. lean management Says:

    Wow you have done a good job.Really nice.How did this idea come to you first ?

  75. basekit Says:

    One of the coolest home projects I have seen on the web in a long time!