Introduction: Star Wars Lightsaber Brakelight on Wiper

Do you want an awesome way to say, "Back off, man! I'm a Sith Lord!"

This instructable will show how to get your Star Wars geek on with your automobile.

It contains the steps to turn your rear window wiper into a lightsaber that powers up when you apply the brakes. So, yeah!

Bear in mind, that if you are a Jedi, you are just out of luck, because only Sith use red!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials!

You will need just a few items to build your lightsaber.

  • Small toy lightsaber
  • A pair of red self adhesive LED light strips Look for the kind that allow cut to size. (These are available at most auto parts stores like Autozone and O'Reilly and even some stores like WalMart, Target etc.)
  • Wire splicing clips (if not included in the LED kit)
  • Super glue
  • Small clear/white zip ties
  • Silver paint pen
  • Black paint pen or a permanent marker

Tools

  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flat-head screwdriver (or some flat tool to pry with)
  • Pliers
  • Exacto knife
  • Scissors
  • Wire coat hanger (Or long stiff piece of wire)
  • Wire stripper

Step 2: Build Your Handle

Disassemble the toy lightsaber.

Start by removing the screws with the phillips head screwdriver from the bottom. This will remove the battery compartment cover . I used the flat-head screwdriver to carefully pry the ring from the business end of the toy. Then, I pried along the seam to open the toy all the way. Taking care not to damage the soft plastic.

Once both halves are separated, I used the pliers to remove the inside structure of the battery compartment, light, and switch.

Using the Exacto knife, scrape away the supporting tabs and screw shafts from the inside of the half to be used. This will enable it to fit around the hinge arm of the wiper.

Dry fit the ring back on the half handle. With the Exacto knife cut about 1/4 of the ring from the back half.

Using the super glue, glue the modified ring back in place on the end of the handle and glue the battery cover to the other end, essentially re-assembling the toy without half the case.

Use the silver paint pen to paint one of the zip ties. This will help it blend in better when finally assembled.

Step 3: Remove Your Wiper

Check lightsaber handle on wiper to insure a good snug fit. If it still does not fit quite right, try carefully scraping out more of the insides of the handle

Remove the pivot arm cover from the rear wiper arm. In most cases this is just clipped in place.

With the pliers again, carefully remove the bold holding the wiper in place. Be very careful not to lose the bolt.

When this is removed, clean the wiper arm very well to insure the adhesive strips stick.

Step 4: Add the LED Strips

Once the wiper is removed and clean, place the lightsaber on the end covering the pivot point.

Line up the first LED strip along the front of the wiper arm. The wire end should be at the pivot point overlapping the lightsaber handle. If the strip is the type that allows cutting to size, line up the cutting seam with the end of the wiper to insure lighting all the way to the end. Using the scissors cut off the overhanging end of the LED strip from the tip of the wiper.

Peel off the backing of the strip to expose the adhesive strip. Press it to the from of the wiper arm.

Line up the second LED strip along the top of the wiper arm using the same guidelines as the first strip. For the best result try to offset the actual LED bulb from the first strip. This will give a more complete illusion.

Again, peel off the backing of the second strip and press it firmly to the top of the wiper.

Using the black paint pen or marker, carefully go over the LED strips taking care to NOT cover the actual LED. This will disguise the circuitry, and give it a better overall look. The pen lets you get very close and detailed to the actual lights without covering them over.

Step 5: Wire It Up

Now it is time to wire it up. These steps will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but this is how it was done on my Kia Soul. (At this point the wiper is still removed from the rear window.)

  1. Remove the inner panel from the tailgate by unscrewing the two screws securing it. There are about 10 snaps holding the panel in place. Gently but firmly pull the panel away from the tailgate. Each snap should pop loose.
  2. On the rear window there is a rubber seal around wiper motor shaft. Carefully remove the seal.
  3. Place the wiper back on the rear wiper motor spindle. Do not bolt it down yet, this is just to hold it in place.
  4. Feed the the wires through the opening left by the rubber seal behind the wiper.
  5. Run the wires around the body structure to hide. Use the stiff wire coat hanger to pull the wire through the longer hollow sections of body structure.
  6. Pull out rubber seal to the tailgate wiring located at the top of the tailgate and pull the wire through it. This will be the point closest to the hinges and should prevent the wire from getting pinched when the tailgate is opened and closed.
  7. Remove the tail light assembly nearest to the wiring.
  8. Locate the wires to the brake light and the wires to the parking light.
  9. Using the wire splicing clips attach one of the positive wires from the wiper to the positive brake light wire. Crimp shut with the pliers. Make sure no bare wire is exposed!
  10. Use another wire spicing clip to attach the other positive wire to the positive parking light wire. Crimp shut with the pliers. Again, make sure no bare wire is exposed!
  11. On the inside of the tailgate, locate a bolt or screw with a wire attached. This is a ground wire.
  12. Locate the two ground/negative wires from the wiper. With the wire strippers, strip off about 1" from each and twist together.
  13. Attach the negative wires from the wiper to the ground wire on the tailgate.
  14. Replace the tail light,
  15. Close the tailgate.
  16. Try out the lights.

You may need help verifying the brake lights, unless the power of the Force is strong in you and you can do it yourself.

Step 6: Put Everything Back Together

Now that you have verified the lighting works properly, it is time to put everything back together again.

  1. Pull the wiper off the wiper motor spindle. You, your helper (or the Force) should hold onto the wiper close to the window while you replace the rubber seal around the wiper motor. This will prevent it from pulling on the wiring. The seal will be snug now that there are wires in the way. Take care not to pinch or strip the wires on the metal while you work the seal back into place. You may need to pull some of the slack out of the wire from the inside of the tailgate. Make sure you leave just enough slack that when the wiper is swishing back and forth it does not put strain on the wires, but not too much slack that the wires are visible.
  2. When the seal is back in and the wiring is dealt with, replace the wiper arm to the spindle. Bold it down securely. Snap the wiper are cover back into place over the bolt.
  3. Replace the inner panel to the tailgate by snapping it back into place. Check that none of the new wires are pinched or visible.
  4. Replace the screws in the panel to secure it. Close the tailgate.
  5. Verify the lighting works again, just so nothing was pinched or pulled out.
  6. Fit the lightsaber handle over the end of the wiper assembly. Line it up to look the best.
  7. Use the silver painted zip tie to attach the handle to the actual wiper arm. Trim off the excess zip tie. Rotate the zip tie to hide the knot behind the handle.
  8. Turn on the rear wiper and give it a try!

Stand back and enjoy!

Step 7: "Now Witness the Firepower of a Fully Armed and Operational Battle Station!"

Well, maybe not fully armed, but you are now rolling in your own fully operational battle station.

Enjoy and happy creating.

P.S. - Please check with local law enforcement as this type of automotive lighting may not be legal in all areas. (Yes, I DID just make a disclaimer on this awesome creation!)

Comments

author
Thrombis (author)2016-03-14

Also, did you ever figure out how to make it "move up" the saber and stay lit? Thanks!

author
JokerDAS (author)Thrombis2016-03-14

Yes, actually, there are pre-made LED strips in most automotive aisles that will light sequentially giving the "move up" illusion, but at the time, they were in white or blue. The ones in red were more designed to serve as turn signal indicators, so they moved up, blanked out, moved up again, etc. If I do find the right ones, I have no problem replacing the strips.
With a little micro-controller know-how, it could be easy to program a simple sequence of lights to move, up, but I was going for a more "off-the-shelf" method, so anyone can build it.

author
Thrombis (author)2016-03-14

How does the led strip fare in winter weather and rain? Have you lost any adhesiveness or does the weather short out the wires to the led over time?

author
JokerDAS (author)Thrombis2016-03-14

Winter is relative. I live in north Texas, and since installing it, I have not had a cold/icy/snowy season to know for sure how the adhesive. I can say it survived the summer heat and did not lose any integrity. As for shorting out, he strips I used were sealed with a clear resin so there are no exposed electronics.

author
Thrombis (author)2016-03-14

Also, did you ever figure out how to make it "move up" the saber and stay lit? Thanks!

author
Spaceman Spiff (author)2016-01-12

This is probably the most amazing wiper of all time! I voted for you.

author
JokerDAS (author)Spaceman Spiff2016-01-13

LOL! Thank you very much Spaceman Spiff!

author
HP_II (author)2015-12-10

Nothing like a Sith Lord to make tailgaters think twice.

author
JokerDAS (author)HP_II2015-12-11

LOL! True. I will hit the rear wiper if a car is too close, to wave it around to warn them "back off"! Quite a few times,, though, I have seen in the mirror the people in the car behind pointing and laughing. So, I think that had the wrong effect.

author
JokerDAS (author)HP_II2015-12-11

LOL! True. I will hit the rear wiper if a car is too close, to wave it around to warn them "back off"! Quite a few times,, though, I have seen in the mirror the people in the car behind pointing and laughing. So, I think that had the wrong effect.

author
JokerDAS (author)2015-12-11

I know. <SIGH> I try not to be in the photos, but the reflection. As for my cat... well, she is a cat, and as is cat code, she HAD to be present during any kind of project!

author
GlendonG (author)2015-12-10

Now what you need is an appropriately sized and positioned Darth Vader window decal . (line art of course , to not impede visibility)

author
JokerDAS (author)GlendonG2015-12-10

YES!!! I have found a site that makes them in various sizes to fit different window heights.

author
The Rambler (author)2015-12-10

Holy crap man. This is freakin sweet. Like, this is absolutely one of the coolest Star Wars creations I've ever seen. I could see this in a ThinkGeek catalog if it wasn't for the wiring that has to be done.

author
JokerDAS (author)The Rambler2015-12-10

WOW!!! Thanks! That is a HUGE compliment! I appreciate the comparison to ThinkGeek items!!

author
ErkanK (author)2015-12-10

There are penalties in Turkey

author
JokerDAS (author)ErkanK2015-12-10

WHOA! Penalties for what? Having an extra red light on the back or a moving red light or just lightsabers on automobiles? LOL

author
robertchambers (author)2015-12-10

How did you come up with such greatness?

author
JokerDAS (author)robertchambers2015-12-10

It is kind of like the old Tootsie Roll commercials jingles... (Did they have them in the UK? I am not sure!)

What ever it is, I think I see... becomes a Star Wars Thing for me!

Rear wipers move like a waving lightsaber, so heck, why not MAKE it a waving lightsaber!

author
ethan_hair7 (author)2015-10-25

It would be cooler if it didn't light up all at once but it moved up the wiper

author
JokerDAS (author)ethan_hair72015-10-26

I did have an LED light set that did a gradual move along the line, but it looked too much like a turn signal indicator on the wiper.

If you think of a way to make it happen, please show it! I would like to see it!

author
Antzy Carmasaic (author)JokerDAS2015-12-10

It doesn't have to be a constantly moving light. Just light them up from bottom to top once when power is supplied, and keep them lit up constantly until turned off. That way when you brake, it powers up as a real saber would. But that's over-complicating things a bit which is pretty cool as it is...

author
JokerDAS (author)Antzy Carmasaic2015-12-10

That is true, it would be awesome to do it that way, and would indeed be less confusing since it would only power up the one time instead of a rotating sequence.

I think I may look into trying it, over-complicated or not, for my Mark II design!

Thanks!

author
Jedi_zombie85 (author)2015-10-27

hahaha quility

author
JokerDAS (author)Jedi_zombie852015-10-27

Thanks, Jedi_zombie85!

author
NathanSellers (author)2015-10-24

This is seriously cool. what a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

author
JokerDAS (author)NathanSellers2015-10-26

Thank you for checking it out!

author
thijsv (author)2015-10-26

The Force is definitely with you!

author
JokerDAS (author)thijsv2015-10-26

WOW! Thanks! I do appreciate that you took time to check it out!

author
mtairymd (author)2015-10-24

That is very creative and cool! Nice job.

author
JokerDAS (author)mtairymd2015-10-26

Thanks!

author
KLethal (author)2015-10-24

Vader would be proud !!!

author
JokerDAS (author)KLethal2015-10-24

Thank you very much!

He may have been! I mean, I am guessing by all that heavy breathing that he was excited and approved!

author
mrmetallica (author)2015-10-24

totally awsome nice one

author
JokerDAS (author)mrmetallica2015-10-24

Thanks! I appreciate you checking it out!

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