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Ever since I saw Star Wars as a small boy I wanted to build a light saber. Decades later, I've crossed it off my bucket list. This instructable will show you how to make your very own laser sword/light saber using a laser array, an electronic cigarette, a couple of fans, a switch, and a 3D printed enclosure. It's mostly harmless and looks amazing, especially at night. Unlike the usual bright-lights-in-a-tube light saber, this one can be plunged into things, blazes dynamically and has the weightless blade you expect from a real light saber.

Step 1: Concept

The idea is a simple one, and was born when I cycled home one frosty night. While waiting for the lights I exhaled right down the axis of my 2000 lumen LED bike light, and a brilliant white beam lanced across the road. By the time I'd got home I'd hatched a plan to make a laser sword. The principal idea was that if I focused some laser beams as a plume of vapor dispersed, the light output would be roughly stable up to the focal point, beyond which both the beams and the smoke would BOTH be dispersing rapidly and therefore vanish, giving the beam a realistically finite length. I was an Artist in Residence at Autodesk's amazing Pier 9 workshop in the Fall of 2016, so what better chance to realize a childhood dream?

The trickiest thing I soon found was going to be focusing the lasers and producing fog reliably. My first prototype used dry ice and laser pointers (first photo), and while it proved the concept to be sound, the beams were all over the place (second photo) and the dry ice was awkward and short-lived. Soon after I arrived at Pier 9 I prototyped a 3D printed laser array (3rd photo) and hooked it up to a mains-powered fog machine (the kind you have at parties) and this looked pretty cool, even outside and without it being dark (animation above).

After a ton of online shopping research into small, battery-powered commercial fog machines ($800! Are you kidding me! And not even that small) I gave up and designed my own using a small fan, a 3D printed enclosure and an electronic cigarette. That problem being solved, I then designed a 3D printed array of 12 lasers that could be focused on a single point using set screws. It took a ton of testing and more prototypes than I have ever made for anything (except perhaps my 3D periodic table).

<p>Sorry about the newbie question, but is the body printed vertically or horizontally? What is the height/length? Just wondering about size limitations on the printer.</p>
<p>So, you're sith?</p>
<p>no, Canadian</p>
<p>Canadians are also known to deal in absolutes. They're just very apologetic about it.</p>
<p>yes, sorry to not be more specific</p>
<p>Step 1/2 complete! Design is complete and ready for to-scale print. Massive thanks to my super-awesome teacher for letting me use one of the school's 3D printers! My first print was too large, so I printed this small one as a trinket/artifact thing, and I found a flaw. Best to get things while the're <em>small</em>, eh? Get it?</p><p>I'll have the to-scale design printed first thing tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have the full thing ready for hardware installation!</p>
<p>Nice. Good luck with the full-size build</p>
<p>You should call this saber the Darth Vapor.</p>
<p>or the light vaper</p>
<p>AAHHH THAT'S SO COOL</p>
<p>I knew one day someone would get it done right :)</p><p>Wow, just wow :)</p>
<p>Wow!!! :)</p>
<p>Use thin fiber oprtics type acrylic rod with a mirror at the end to stop the beam or some form of impenatrable material to make them stop at 1 point even if the acrylic rod was the focal point to stop them.</p>
<p>wont happen =-)</p>
<p>looks rly cool im going to try making a better one</p>
<p>This is the best attempt at making a realistic light saber so far. Great job.</p>
<p>Thanks!</p>
<p>Wow, just wow!</p><p>I wonder if you had a slight diverging lens on each beam if it would make them &quot;disappear&quot; more effectively beyond the point where they cross. Possibly would also produce a more &quot;solid&quot; effect.</p><p>FYI, normal laser pointers are class 1 I believe, less than 1mW. The 5mW ones you are using are class 3a and aren't intended to be used in a pointer kind of way. There are a few guides to the classifications but this one is pretty clear: </p><p>https://ehs.research.uiowa.edu/laser-classification</p>
<p>Quite possibly - they can be defocused so that might work. I'd be surprised if they were actually 5 mW, though - they're bright, but no more so than standard laser pointers. A 5 mW laser makes it hard to look at the dot, and these aren't at that level of brightness. I take the advertised rating with a hefty grain of salt.</p>
<p>Given that light waves of opposite waveform will cancel out I wonder if this was made with enough precision and some magic electronics to control the wave form if you could get opposing beams to cancel each other out at the tip, creating a real laser sword.</p>
<p>They would cancel at the tip but past the tip they would still continue on. It would be near impossible to get them to interfere at the tip and all distances past the tip, but not from the base to the tip.</p>
<p>I agree. Even if you could get them all in phase&mdash;a near impossible task, and arrange for half the beams to be 180&ordm; out of phase with the other half at the point of convergence, the beams would cancel at that point only and still continue on.</p>
<p>I really like this version of a light saber. I've never seen anything quite as neat as this. Does the wick on the ecig burn if it is left on for a long time?</p>
<p>Thanks. No - the ecig has a safety cut-out at 10 seconds. So you need to release and hold again. Good idea to keep an eye on fluid levels though - you don't want to dry-run it.</p>
Cool. I might make one!
<p><em>Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete! </em></p>
<p>falling for that one I am not</p>
Awesome but do you think you could make one powerful laser.
<p>and then what? not being able to turn it on cause you would set your home on fire every single time?</p>
<p>Gosh! Wowee! Jeepers! Golly-willikers!</p><p>Reminiscent of Fluke Starbucker's light saber (but way cooler).</p><p>A virtual cookie to anyone who cam identify what I'm talking about without Googling it.</p>
<p>BTW, your instructions do not list part #s for the fan and laser modules. Can you provide those, please? Just makes it easier to compare. Thank you!</p>
<p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mgL4O1">Fan link</a> added. Thanks for letting me know it was missing.</p>
<p>I did miss the fan, but the laser modules are there. Buy 2 packs of 10 - I found quite a few (20%?) to be duds. I will update the fan later today.</p>
<p>so good that I took the time to log in and comment. </p><p>I really have to try this one day... </p>
<p>Thanks, you should! Not too expensive if you have 3D printing capability.</p>
<p>What struck me in the video was the flame-like appearance of the beams in the fog. I envisioned a rotation aperture after the fan, perhaps air driven, to rotate the stream of fog and direct it outward along the proximal few cm of each beam. Combine this with an appropriate rapid fire sound effect. The idea being an effect like a laser minigun. </p>
<p>you should make that jeff! Sounds cool.</p>
<p>I see the mist is rolling away after it get emitted, you could maybe put hard tubing on the output jets to get the fog to emit in a laminar stream. Nice build by the way! :)</p><p> </p>
<p>Thanks. And yes, improvements definitely possible. Am hoping people will experiment with this build and let me know how to mod mine!</p>
<p>This is neat! Would a collimating lens and LEDs instead of lasers give the same effect?</p>
<p>You would definitely get a bright beam, but I suspect it would be harder to get the focusing effect.</p>
<p>That is a <strong>really nice</strong> build!</p><p>I was wondering if you printed a new cover that directed the air from the center plenum outward to each laser... and had a 10mm hole for each... printed slightly conically inside... if that would cause the air to exit at a <em>very slightly</em> higher pressure... and be more coherent. </p><p>If it worked... the fog would stay together longer enhancing the effect more. Just a thought... <em>all theory</em>... but the only modification would be a new cover plate. Might be worth experimenting with?</p>
<p>I'd love to see different experiments. I ran out of time and know very little about fluid dynamics, so I don't doubt there are very cool effects that could be achieved with the right design. You could easily make the vents interchangeable and print a whole lot of different ones.</p>
<p>Here in Canada we recently had a case of someone pointing a laser at rescue helicopter while it was taking someone to hospital and practically blinded the pilot. In the wrong hands this light sabre could be fatal for airplanes and numerous passengers flying in them. Or have I missed something about the range of these lasers?</p>
<p>The lasers used in this project are on the lowest end of what you can get, red 5mW. I don't know enough to say you *couldn't* cause problems for pilots with them (I don't think so, but even if I'm wrong, you'd need to point them directly at a pilot, which is pretty hard to do accidentally) but these are the kind you could find in consumer pointing devices, so very safe in general.</p>
<p>lukeuser is correct. Their focus is pretty terrible so I suspect the spot size is pretty large even at a few hundred ft.</p>
As with any &quot;weapon&quot; I believe could be dangerous in the wrong hands. What's your point? Not to make this?
If using it on muffler , may be look like a jet engine afterburner...
<p>ha, yes. That would look badass</p>
<p>amazing.. it would be the best gift to my nephews...</p>

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Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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