Instructables

Darth Maul LED light saber

Create a cheap yet effective dual ended light saber for a sci-fi fancy dress party.

Anyone that has seen Star Wars knows Mr Kickarse 'Darth Maul'. He was different, he had a light saber that had a blade on each end. He didn't say much but you knew he was trouble. Wih this guide you too can be the silent one who looks like trouble. As long as Ewan McGregor doesn turn up with a Force FX your safe.
 
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Step 1: Construct Blade

The most expensive part of this project will probably be the LED's. For mine I opted for 50 LED's per blade (100 total). These will light up in 5 blocks of 10 giving the appearance of the blade firing up. My blade length is 1100mm 1000mm of which will be visible so I need an LED approx every 20mm.

Initially I bought 5000mcd LED's assuming the higher the mcd the brighter the lamp. This has not been the case. Quite disappointed with the output of these I then took a gamble and bought 2000mcd with a much wider viewing angle and sure enough they are easily (appear) twice as bright as the narrow angle 5000mcd.

By bending the anode (long leg) at right angles at the very bottom you can solder it to the anode of the next LED which gives us about a 20mm spacing. The cathode can then have your resistor. Im my case I am running of 5 volts so use 150ohm resistor. Your could possibly run one resistor per 10 led's but due to manufacturing anomalies you may get varying brightness

Step 2: Construct blade Part 2

The LED's should all be joined together with a common anode and 5 separate wires running of each five banks back to a plug to connect to the ignitor board. I used a relatively expensive microphone plug. It looks cool so Im happy with it.

Once all the LED's are constructed and you have a plug on the end, it's time to find something to put them all in. Other sabers I have seen on the web use polycarbonate tubing. I'm on a budget and don't actually expect to be beating anyone with my saber so I opted for the cheaper acrylic.

The tube is water clear so with the LED's in place you can see each one light up which doesn't really give me the saber glow.

So some type of diffuser is required. I am still experimenting but I'm quite happy with clear cellophane that I scotch bright in various directions.

I feed the rolled up cellophane into the tube then feed in the LED's. Some care is required but the LED's are quite flexable in this condition so put up with a bit of abuse.

On the end I bought a plastic bung that fits in tightly so should prevent any moisture getting in.

Step 3: Ignitor Construction

There is probably a dozen ways to light up a row of LED's in sequence. I prefer the ant and hammer effect.

I am using a PIC micro and darligton driver. For the PIC I am using the amateur friendly Picaxe http://www.picaxe.co.uk. These little beastys let the mad scientist out of everyone. Extremely easy to program with the free program software you can get up an running for as little as NZ$20. Initially I was using a 08M and shift register + darlington driver. Due to size constraints I opted for the big brother 18X to free up some real estate. If you make your own I suggest you make your hilt at least 40~50mm Dia so you don't have these size problems. For those not to electronics savvy (like myself) the LED's will draw current, not to much about 20mA. But 10 LED's will draw more current and 100 will draw even more. More than the poor old picaxe can supply. The 18X is cheap in the scheme of things I guess but NZ$15 is NZ$15 so if you were going to try and drive all these LED's at once it would work for an extremely short amount of time then become relatively useless. This is why we have a darlington driver. This chip is designed to drive big loads - it's it's job. If you get the 18X starter kit it comes with a darlington driver chip so your good to go immediately. The ULN2803A can drive up 500mA per output which is massive and can connected directly to the output of the Picaxe. This capacity is well above what we need so should do nicely!

The Picaxe, Darlington driver some resistors to make it all work and an 5 volt regulator fit snugly on my vero board. For the sound I found a site on the web that sells sound modules that make the fire up/down, wave and clash noise. I was tempted to record my own and interface it with the pic but with the time I have this was a quick fix. The pic turns the unit on and off so it works well for my application.

Click on the AVI below to see how the blade looks when it gets fired up.

Keep coming back more to come!

On this page are the Eagle schematics for the igniter board if you don't want to use variboard.

Step 4: Programming the PIC

The great thing about programming the Picaxe is the minimal amount of money you need to get into using them and the simplicity of the language. For my program I used about 1/2 dozen BASIC commands. Experts could probably do more for less but I'm a hack and get a result that suits me! To program the chip itself you need a chip (obviously) A download cable - serial or parallel you could even make serial one your self for next to nothing, also you will need the free programming software available on the Picaxe website.

The Picaxe I used was an 18X, this chip has 9 output pins and 5 input pins and can hold up to 600 lines of code. At this stage I only make use of the 6 of the output pins. 5 to run the LED's and 1 to turn on and off the sound module. At a later stage I could break the LED's up into 8 blocks for a higher resolution, remember my darlington driver can run up to 8 outputs at once. Or alternatively I could make the blade up of 4 blocks (Like another brand) and control each blade individually

All that said and done I can pretty much make the blades light up and down with about 20 lines of code. So what about the other 580? This seems a waste so I have added some extra modes 1. Normal mode, 2. Normal mode no sound 3. Night Rider mode 5. Pig mode. To change modes you hold down the push button for 5 seconds the saber flashes twice to signify program mode and depending on how many times you hit the push button with in 5 seconds dictates your new mode. If you don't press the button or press it too many times it reverts back to normal mode.

Here is the code that I have started with anyway.....

b5 = %00000001 ' Intiallise saber mode variable
b1 =0 ' Intialise mode change counter variable
b0 =0 ' Not sure why I did this
b2 = 1 ' Set the default mode to Saber normal

let pins = %00100000 ' Set pin 6 HIGH, LOW will turn on the sound module

Reset: ' resets all the pins after a mode change
let pins = %00100000
pause 100
goto loop

loop: ' main loop checking push button
if pin2 = 0 then mode ??? jump to flsh if pin0 is high
goto loop

mode:
if b1 > 5 then mode_change ' if the counter is at 5 goto mode change
pause 20
if pin2 = 1 then decide ' if the switch is up goto select a mode
if pin2 = 0 then count_t ' goto counter
count_t: ' this counter will count to five
pause 10
b1=b1+1
goto mode

mode_change: ' flashes saber twice to signify mode change
b2 = 0
let pins = %00111111
pause 300
let pins = %00100000
pause 300
let pins = %00111111
pause 300
let pins = %00100000
pause 300

count 2, 5000, b2 'counts bush button actions with in 5 seconds and stores this in b2
let pins = %00111111
pause 300
let pins = %00100000
pause 300
b1 = 0
goto loop

Decide: ' decision made depending on value in b2
b1=0
if b2 = 1 then saber
if b2 = 2 then silent_saber
if b2 = 3 then Knight_rider
if b2 = 4 then pigs
if b2 > 4 then saber
if b2 < 1 then saber
goto loop

saber: ' basic saber mode
b1 = 0
if b5 != %00000001 then p_down
if b5 = %00000001 then p_up
goto loop

p_up:
let pins = %00110000
pause 200
let pins = %00010000
pause 100
let pins = %00011000
pause 100
let pins = %00011100
pause 100
let pins = %00011110
pause 100
let pins = %00011111
b5 = %00000000

goto loop

p_down:
let pins = %00111111
pause 200
let pins = %00011111
pause 400
let pins = %00011111
pause 100
let pins = %00011110
pause 100
let pins = %00011100
pause 100
let pins = %00011000
pause 100
let pins = %00010000
pause 100
let pins = %00000000
b5 = %00000001

goto loop

silent_saber: ' says it all really
b1 = 0
if b5 != %00000001 then p_down_s
if b5 = %00000001 then p_up_s
goto loop

p_up_s:
let pins = %00110000
pause 100
let pins = %00111000
pause 100
let pins = %00111100
pause 100
let pins = %00111110
pause 100
let pins = %00111111
b5 = %00000000

goto loop

p_down_s:
let pins = %00111111
pause 100
let pins = %00111110
pause 100
let pins = %00111100
pause 100
let pins = %00111000
pause 100
let pins = %00110000
pause 100
let pins = %00100000
b5 = %00000001

goto loop

Knight_rider:
if pin2 = 0 then reset
let pins = %00100000
pause 100
let pins = %00110000
pause 100
let pins = %00101000
pause 100
let pins = %00100100
pause 100
if pin2 = 0 then reset
let pins = %00100010
pause 100
let pins = %00100001
pause 100
let pins = %00100010
if pin2 = 0 then reset
pause 100
let pins = %00100100
pause 100
let pins = %00101000
pause 100
let pins = %00110000
if pin2 = 0 then reset
goto Knight_rider

pigs:
if pin2 = 0 then reset
let pins = %00100000
pause 100
let pins = %00110000
pause 100
let pins = %00101000
pause 100
let pins = %00100100
pause 100
if pin2 = 0 then reset
let pins = %00100010
pause 100
let pins = %00100001
if pin2 = 0 then reset
goto pigs

Eventually I think it would be cool to use a microphone or something and use the saber as a VU meter - Bring on the tri colour LED's!

Step 5: Hilt Construction

Hilt design is something up for interpretation. I Think there is two playing fields here. To be as authentic to the star wars movies as possible or custom. Because Im in New Zealand making an authentic replica of Mr Mauls saber without owning a lathe is a bit of an ask. As I mentioned before I'm on a budget and time frame. So I managed to get my hilt made for about 20 bucks. The shaft of the hilt is a vacuum cleaner pipe that a guy in Christchurch gifted to me (When in Christchurch I get my Vaccume cleaner serviced at Parklands) the end pieces were spun up by my brother in law on an industrial lathe. I was expecting aluminum but I ended up with what I think is stainless steel. Either way this material is quite heavy and really gives the hilt a sense of quality. The thumbscrews were sourced off an overclockers website. On the shafts you will notice a couple of grub screws, these will hold the blades in place. The thumbscrews and mic plugs make it easy to break down the saber. Also if I just get a bung for one end I can run solo pretty easy too.
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matstermind3 years ago
is there a way to modify the code to run on a PIC16C57?
powercube6 years ago
Hmm, i wish there were pictures to show the final piece. but anyways. i was wondering if anybody knew a place to get the tube for the blade?. and a good credible yet cheap site for LEDs. and im not looking for the blade to "extend" or sound id rather it simply light up. so i was wondering what all i would need for that thanks
slimguy3796 years ago
pretty cool idea and I love darth maul (wished they showed more of him in any movie he COULD of been in ) but I don't care for your hilt88 just an opinion
this is more like it, ps don't know why it came out as "hilt88"
larbel_m.jpg
ItsTheHobbs6 years ago
theres no pic or video so we can see it?
coolmatt6 years ago
"to the people who built this light saber" i was just wondering if it looks like a light saber. thanks
What was the view angle of your LEDs?
pmlemes6 years ago
hey, anyone here want post some Instructable about, how to make one more easier, cause, I live in Brazil and you know, is hard and expansive have access to some things, like those pic projects...i have some projects with some simple electronics, but i just don't have finished because, I'm lacking some info about LEDs, and electronics, if someone have some information about make this same effect of ignition without pic, i would be grateful.....
bommber man6 years ago
im still confused make a more simple 1 dude but this 1 was awsome (forced by state of law)
Slushba1327 years ago
I know at this point I'm kind of spamming but could you let me know what types of resistors you used and where you got the 5 volt regulator? I'm really going to build this so any other information you could give me would be great.
jmumby (author)  Slushba1327 years ago
Hey, On step 3 I have added the schematic and board layout that you can edit in Eagle (free pcb layout software) . You should use methods described on this site to make the PCB. I used clear cellophane as a diffuser I would not recommend defused LED's as they won't be as bright as the clear type. You need to get LED's with the widest possible viewing angle. Where ever you get the LED's from should have the regulator - must be able to take a high current!
Slushba1327 years ago
Hey I know your kind of busy with everyone and everything but I have a couple a questions real fast before I actually buy this stuff. Where did you get your pcb from? And do you know of any place or method to make or buy a pcb thats really cheap? I want to battle with this is polycarbonate tubing the only change I need to make? I found a place that sells diffused LEDs do you think those with the polycarbonate tubing would be enough to get a blade effect or do you think I would still have to buy another diffuser? And could you just draw a diagram on the circuit board picture to let me know where all the ICs and wires go? Thank you very much
Oh one more question do you anything about rechargeable batteries? Like Im looking into powering this with a lithium ion rechargeable battery. Do you anything about making a charger or something like that? Or is as simple as just plug an ac adapter in the wall and let it charge off that?
Ok one more thing (sorry for the multiple posts) How many volts does this take to run? Or just how many batteries did you use and how long does it run before you have to replace them?
Slushba1327 years ago
Hey I'm just wondering is it on this page http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/ ? and if so did you buy the tutorial or the starter kit?
jmumby (author)  Slushba1327 years ago
I did buy a starter kit but for this project you only need the 18x chip. If you have not delt with PICS before you should get the starter kit as everything is good to go out of the box.
Could you put a picture of the back? A schematic would be great, too. I'd really like to see how you hooked it up to a computer to program that thing. Also, I bet you could put those LEDs in a series circuit instead of parallel, giving you a small delay in each block of 10 for better resolution.
jmumby (author)  pinstripebob7 years ago
You can look at a PCB layout herePCB if you are into making your own boards you will just have to make a negative of this one. To connect to the PC for programming I use picaxe microcontrollers which can be programmed via usb. Sparkfun.com have a range of these chips. Because the eye isn't that quick to see each segment light up greater resolution is'nt to critical.
cuanu7 years ago
maybe you couls spill some kind of solvent through the pipe to get the inner side of the tube translucent.
him27hk7 years ago
Wow, great tutorial~ Any good for the sound board? How to build it??
jmumby (author)  him27hk7 years ago
sound board was bought assembled at custom saber shop, see link below.
maestroyoda7 years ago
Excelent tutorial! Is it too dificoult to program the PICAXE 18x, wont the 18A or 18 be enough for this simple task of fireing up the saber blade? I want to program mine so it has 3 diferent speeds of "scrolling". How can one know when the code we wrote is correct?
jmumby (author)  maestroyoda7 years ago
The program would be identical for an 18x and 18a or 18 for that matter. You could change the fire up/down speed with a simple delay. Or you could get real tricky and use one of the analogue inputs with variable resistor to adjust the speed manually!
jmumby (author) 8 years ago
You can get a circuit board layout here http://blog.myspace.com/jason_mumby
There seems to be an issue with that link or your myspace page. I hope every thing is ok with you and it's not down due to life ick.
Sorry this got posted some many times. BTW
There seems to be an issue with that link or your myspace page. I hope every thing is ok with you and it's not down due to life ick.
There seems to be an issue with that link or your myspace page. I hope every thing is ok with you and it's not down due to life ick.
thefunkybat8 years ago
I was wondering how bright your lightsaber is. I built on for cheap with EL wire, which was fine for me except that you can't see it in daylight very well. Also,I tried experimenting with an LED with some spare tubing I had once (I used polypropelene tubing as a diffuser) and it was obviously a pinpoint of light...does your diffuser work as well in daylight? Also, what's the OD/ID of the arcylic tubing you use? I know it's a lot of questions, but building an LED lightsaber that could be comperable to the Master FX ones has been on my mind for some time now.
I'f you look at some of the Vid files you can see how bright the blade is. it realy very impressive
unobomber8 years ago
"Invalid Friend ID. This user has either cancelled their membership, or their account has been deleted." :(( do you have a wiring diagram and parts list please ???
pulse8 years ago
do you have a wiring diagram showing the soundboard, main board, switch, and leds. also do you have the link to where you picked up your sound board?
jmumby (author)  pulse8 years ago
I will post a diagram soon you can find heaps of tips and parts at www.thecustomesabershop.com
Those diagrams would deffinantly be aprecated... the saber shop link apears to be broken by the way.
www.thecustomsabershop.com
thank you
thank you
Erlend8 years ago
Might I ask what you payed for the LEDs?
jmumby (author)  Erlend8 years ago
GrimGenius8 years ago
Really Interesting Project, I am interested to know if you had more details on the LEDs that where used. what was the larger viewing angle?
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