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Lightsabers! Use the Force and become a Jedi .... or a Sith!

Check out the new and updated instructable here!

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You can now build your own!

This project is now part of Parts and Crafts' Monthly Make-It: a new kickstarter launched in October 2016 for builders and makers to get a project kit shipped to them every month from Parts and Crafts

Kits available at the Parts and Crafts Store!

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This project comes from Parts and Crafts, developed from 2008 - 2011. Parts and Crafts is a creative community & summer camp for children to learn in an environment in which they are freely able to choose what they are doing. Parts and Crafts grew out of a camp I started in 2006 called Camp Kaleidoscope, which I directed through 2008.

The lightsaber kit was conceived of at Camp Kaleidoscope in 2008, and has since gone through several revisions by Parts and Crafts. We've tried it out in several public workshops, where children as young as 6 or 7, as well as parents and adults, have tried and generally loved the project. The project serves as both a reasonable introduction to electronics -- as it requires no prior knowledge -- as well as a fun way to explore making electronic props for costumes (especially for Halloween!)

And for those interested, here's a blog post from 2008 when I was running Camp Kaleidoscope, telling a few stories I saw around kids making lightsabers and what I saw them learning in the process.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

Tools:

-PVC cutter
-hack-saw
-drill
-soldering set-up (you can probably get by without this, but it'll make the electronics section way easier.)

Materials:

HANDLE:
- 1.25" diameter PVC or larger, roughly 8 - 12 inches (any length that's comfortable.)
- push on push off button, or switch
- battery pack (between 2 - 4 AA batteries)

(optional):

- silver spray paint
- bike inner tubes
- small motor (for making vibrations in the handle, and thus the awesome lightsaber sound effects!)

BLADE:

- polycarbonate tube. The outer diameter should be at least .75" and less than the inner diameter of the handle. Should be roughly 2.5 ft. long, scaled to size of future Jedi.

- 25 to 35 LEDs of desired color

- solid wire (22 gauge).

Total length = length of handle + length of blade + 3 inches

Notes on using different materials:

There are lots of different materials that can make this project work!

For handles, any tubular material of the right length and comfortable thickness will work. One padawan at camp used a handle from a scooter and it worked great. We also figured that tennis racket handles could work, and that we could make handles out of clay if we needed to, but we never tried these out.

For blades, opaque is better than clear because the light
must be diffused. So, basically any long, light, and stiff material that allows light through would work well for a blade.

Step 2: Handle Construction

1) Measure desired length of handle in PVC and cut with PVC cutter. Standard length = 10inches.

Steps 2 and 3 aren't necessary, but are really cool:

2) Lay down paper or cardboard, and spray paint handle desired color (this can be done later too. You can always experiment with black spray paint and stencils!)

3) Cut inner tubes into cylinders of desired length, and squeeze over handle to make the grips. A padawan made himself a belt and holder out of inner tube too (by wrapping it and tieing it around his waist.)

Step 3: Making a Slot for the Battery Pack

Handle, Step 2: CUTTING HOLES/SLOTS IN THE HANDLE:
1) The Jedi must decide where he/she wishes to place the button/switch. Drill a hole there to fit the button/switch snugly.

2) Cut slot in bottom of handle for battery pack if desired:


TIPS:

FOR SMALL SLITS:

-use PVC cutter to cut where the end of the slit will be.

-then simply use PVC cutter to cut the slit itself.


FOR LARGE SLITS (longer than PVC cutter blade)

-use PVC cutter to cut where the end of the slit will be.
-use hack-saw to cut sides of slit itself in a long straight line.

Step 4: Blade Construction

FORMING YOUR BLADE

1) Forge a blade to the correct length: ~2.5ft or so depending on the height of the jedi. (use a
hack-saw to cut the polycarbonate)

2) The blade has to be made translucent if it is
not already. Any method that causes light to diffuse will
work for this step. Here are two ways to do this.

1. Sandpaper method: Sandpaper the blade in a lengthwise
direction until the surface is nearly white
and you cannot see into the blade itself.


2. Tissue paper method: Do the next step, step 3 first. Neatly wrap one layer of white (or any color will
probably work actually) tissue paper around the blade. Tape in place. Then, cover the entire
blade with clear packing tape to hold it in place.:

(back to blade construction!)

3) Chose one end to be the tip. Take the other end, and measure .25 inches
from the bottom. Then, neatly wrap duct tape around and around the blade starting at this .25 inch mark until the blade at this point becomes thick enough to wedge into the handle such that it wont wiggle or fall out.

Optional steps:

4. Find a stiff piece of wire or wood that can be cut to the exact outer diameter of the blade. It
needs to be long enough to not fall though, but short enough that it doesn't protrude and
become a sharp section. You want to be able to tie your string of LEDs -- made in the next step -- securely to this cross-bar to keep it from sliding down the blade. One for the bottom should serve the same purpose. This is optional but helps the performance and
durability of the lightsaber.

Ideally, a reflective tip and bottom could be
fashioned that has a hole to tie to in the center (see pics for a diagram.)

5. Tape tin-foil as neatly as possible to the tip. This will reflect the end light back down the blade. If you plan to tie in your LED string, wait until its attached to this bar before
taping the foil over the end of the blade.

Step 5: Making the LED String

Making AN LED STRING:

1) Strip both wires fully, so there's no insulation left.

2) Start with one stripped wire, and attach the positive side of the LED to the top of the wire as a base. You can identify the positive side by seeing which of the two metal legs is longer -- the longer leg is the positive side. See pictures for clarification.

3) Continue down the wire, attaching LEDs by their positive side to the stripped wire. Each subsequent LED should sit about where its neighbor's tail ends.

4) After desired length is reached, do the same thing with the negative side so it looks like the
following:

5) Use pliers as necessary to crimp the ends onto the wire.

6) If there's a single short circuits, the blade won't light! (!!!!!!!!)

Make sure there are no short circuits between the long wires. A short will happen if the positive wire touches the negative wire -- so if the two wires ever cross-over and touch, there will be a short circuit and the blade won't light.

7) If you made a crossbar/tip for the string of LEDS, attach the top of the string to it. Lower the string through the blade, and attach the bottom. Adding a reflective bottom helps the light stay inside the
blade as well.

Step 6: Electronics

THE ELECTRONICS::::::

Materials you'll need:

- button/switch
- motor (optional):

If you do use a motor: Wrap a piece of wire or carefully hot-glue a nut onto the motor shaft in such a way that its as off-balance as possible. Thatll make it vibrate more, making a better sound effect. Also, if the motor is too small to fit snugly into the handle, wrap duct tape around it until it does.

-wires: switch and motor wires must be long enough to reach from your components
mounting location to 3 inches out the bottom of the handle to allow room for attaching or soldering them.

-battery pack (these wires dont have to be long,
just long enough to attach your connections to)


1) Make sure the button works with your hole, you want enough clearance for leads and wires (see pic.)

2) Solder your wires to the button/switch and thread through hole (see pic.) If you don't have a soldering set-up, you may be able to wrap the exposed end of the wire around each lead of the buttong and tape it down. I think soldering would work best here.

3) Attach your blade (by jamming it on) such that the wires from the LED string protrude out
the bottom of the saber handle.

4) All loads need to be soldered in parallel across the battery pack with the switch in between.

In how we did it, red wire is for the positive end and white wire is for the negative end. Traditionally, black wire symbolizes negative/ground. Keep that in mind here!

-solder a weak resistor (~10ohms) to the white terminal of the motor (this gives more power to the
LEDs.) Which terminal is white on the motor is arbitrary -- either one is fine, we just need to keep track.

-Solder the white wire of the switch to the red wire of the battery pack.

-Solder the red terminal of the motor and the red of the LEDs to
the red of the switch.

-solder all the white wires to the white of the battery pack


5) Carefully insert everything into the handle so it fits snugly and so that the motors shaft its
hitting against anything inside. You may have to be skillful in arranging the wires around the
inside of the handle to make it all fit without jamming.

Step 7: Try It Out! See If It Works!

There are all kinds of variations on the construction method that are possible. This is one possible way of doing it (as with anything!)

If nothing lights, check the LED string for shorts. That's the most likely problem.
If the motor shaft is touching anything, it won't work.

Have fun with it! Tell me if you make a lightsaber!
<p>I used an electroluminecent tape (red) to make the lightsaber</p>
<p>please tell me how do you solder the wires to the battery? with what? thanks</p>
<p>How durable are the blades? I've been thinking of making one for my 7 year old nephew but I know he will start swinging/smacking it around - don't want it to brake after the first swing.</p>
<p>Does it have the &quot;Power-up&quot; effect? since it uses many LEDs</p>
<p>My brother sent me this link yesterday and asked me to make one for my nephew. Was able to whip one up this weekend. I used a 3/4&quot; PVC compression coupling and 3/4&quot; PVC slide coupling from Home Depot ($7) for the handle. As in this instructable, polycarbonate tubing from Tap Plastics for the &quot;blade&quot; ($7.50 for 6ft). I had some 3 watt RGB LEDs and just wired up the blue elements through a 10 ohm, 5 watt resistor for current restriction to a 9 volt battery. With 12 LEDs, it pulls 450mA, so a 9 volt will only last ~30 minutes, but I made it easy to change out by unscrewing the bottom cap. Going to make another for my daughter but wire all elements so she can change what color it is. Total parts cost if I had to buy everything would be $20-25.</p><p>Thanks for the instructable!</p>
If you paint the LEDs black with some spray paint, it will diffuse them and it will distribute the light emitted from the LEDs better.
<p>sanding the LEDs themselves will work really well to diffuse them too! (and you won't lose light due to paint!)</p>
Black?
If you do not COMPLETELY cover it, but only finely spray them, they will defuse the light better. It came as a surprise for me, too.
I'd have figured white, I'll be damned.
Were Can i found a polycarbonate tube?
hi brother you have an awesome project.can you pls tellme what kind of battery do you use?
<p>I wonder if you could use the force? <br></p><p>http://batteries.factoryoutletstore.com/category/f...</p>
<p>hello guys and girls can y4ou all give me some good and awsome tips on buliding a light sabour</p>
So awesome!!!<br/>
Do you need to use resistors for this?
when you were making the LEDs did you uses a resistor? and if you did what resister did you use?
<strong>where can we buy clear polycarbonite tubes, exept for the site http//:polyzone.com</strong>
<a href="http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/" rel="nofollow">www.thecustomsabershop.com/</a>&nbsp;
I'm frm sri lanka. And my parents really don not like internet shopping for some reason. I did make a light saber and it did turn out really good. I got this transparent tube from a shop called shanti plastics in mountlavania and use sand paper on it.
hey! my mom is sri lankan! (and thus I'm half sri lankan.) i've been to mount lavinia. how neat! will you send me a picture of you with your lightsaber? i bet my mom would get a kick out of it. mpnagle at gmail dot com if you do want to. thanks!
srry my brother broke it. As i told i took a plastic clear tube,( it was around 2m long so i cut it) from shathi plastics. Check out http://www.shanthiplastic.com/. They i scarped it with sand paper. Then i took a pvc tube, cut it to the lenght i needed and i covered it in blue tape (also frm shanthi plastic) . then did the circuit and stuff and it works
hey , perfect excuse to get that clear tube and cellophane!
try a clear tube, then roll up cellophane until it looks silver then put it in the tube,not glad wrap, that thin sticky stuff, but the thicker stuff that people use to decorate. Use clear or that pearl colored clear I think its called iridescent or opalescent.. Trust me, it beats the Hell out of sandpaper.
Petsmart in the fish section. They are usually tucked in the corner on the shelf with the pumps and hoses. Home Depot in the lighting department, they are used to protect those long florescent lights(not the strongest tubes,but ehh,if ll else fails. And most importantly Ultrasabers.com. You can buy a ready made blade that is just the right width and length and light diffusing properties. They go for about 30 bucks. But consider this. THe gas you will burn going to these different places,plus the items themselves;how much more is 30 bucks really? Now, the lightsabers are expensive as hell, but I think you can get one with no sound for less than 100 bucks and if you pick the right color, they're so bright they look real(as far as real goes concerning lightsabers). They do look good I bought a Bellicose Saber,red blade, flash on clash(it flashes silver when you lock sabers or hit sabers,looks cool) and sound that can be reprogrammed via usb cable plus expedited shipping. All the bells and whistles are extra, when all was said and done it was 300 bucks,but worth it. save up your money, don't burn it experimenting with diy projects that end up looking like a prison shank with Christmas lights, I know, I did it. Became obsessed, gave up said F*** it got online found ultrasabers,saved my money and got one. <br>
www.eplastics.com
i can use this for my melvin and florence lightsaber battles!!!!! <br> <br> <br>GO YGOTAS
NASA studies have shown evidence that specific frequencies of light are responsible for growth in plants. NASA was maximizing the growth while minimizing their electrical use. In fact, many commercial growers are using this fact to save $ on their businesses. We'll go over the specific frequencies, where you can buy ready-made, how to make your own http://www.saberforge.com/
NASA studies have shown evidence that specific frequencies of light are responsible for growth in plants. NASA was maximizing the growth while minimizing their electrical use. In fact, many commercial growers are using this fact to save $ on their businesses. We'll go over the specific frequencies, where you can buy ready-made, how to make your own/
hey pleas mr.tinker could u follow me in messenger pleas my meesenger is fredycool2002@hotmail.com
If my knowledge of a teenager is correct, it is possible to build a deadly (sorry, but it is true, is this not about the most famous deadly Star Wars weapon?) Lightsaber. First, in the handle, you need a laser pointer, a series of magnification glasses, then a tube that leads to a pole with copper wire inside and outside for the light to travel to and spreads around the pole.
this would look great with a rgb led strip in it connected to a switch that could pick a color or even, with the help of a microcrontroller, fade through difffrent colours
Picked up a toy lightsaber today at Reverse Garbage, its not a legit branded one or anything, just a rip off. Although, I opened it up and inside the saber blade (which is made of translucent plastic like yours) is some kind of foam tubing shaped like an 'O', possibly foam gap filler rod. It helps diffuse the light a lot and probably protects the LEDs too. Love the motor idea!
i 1+ this.
Have you seen these: http://bigyellowbox.tripod.com/<br>Or this: http://www.slothfurnace.com/sabers/ROTJLuke_01.html<br><br>The first got me into making stuff in the first place back in the early 2000s, and that second one I just found the other day. There's a huge Star Wars fanfilm community online (check out TheForce.net/fanfilms). All of it's pretty inspiring.
where can i find polycarbonate tubes?
Any home improvement store, all the big boxers have them.<br>Ask for florescent light sleeves. They come in 48' Lengths, 1 1/2&quot; diameter. They cost between $3 to $4 each.
A store called, &quot;Tap Plastics&quot; carries them. For about $1.10 a linear foot.
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://abs-rods-sheets.com/polycarbonate/images/polycarbonate-tubes2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://abs-rods-sheets.com/polycarbonate/polycarbonate-tubes.htm&usg=__jihAhnTkSPBXZI1Ow-6sW7QfSPc=&h=547&w=1194&sz=32&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=BZluo-VGY8jstM:&tbnh=69&tbnw=150&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpolycarbonate%2Btube%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1">here</a><br/>
cara ao inves de usar pilhas voce poderia usar uma raquete mata mosquitos a imagen ficol muito ruin eu sei e que usando o cabo da raquete fica muito mais facil porque ja ten o botao de liga e desliga ,baterias e plugi para recarga
i think that is so cool
(FAIL!) amigo tente em ingles que e uma lingua universal<br>marcelo-fire_wing said:<br>dude instead of batteries you could use a bug-killer racket the image stayed too bad i know its that using the racket's grip it becomes a lot easier because there is already the on/off switch batteries and recharge plugin(?) [sic]<br>(image)<br>n&atilde;o quis ofender, s&oacute; &eacute; um fato...
This looks like a fantastic light saber to build! I have some friends whose kids spend hours making armor and weapons out of cardboard and duct tape. Though the mom may grimace a bit at adding light sabers to her <a href="http://www.teresaselitemerchandise.net">home decor items</a> they really are a great addition for the kids to play with and making them will certainly be educational.
i got some EL wire from crazypc.com for like under 30 bucks (shipping and battery adapter included) and it worked great! (if anyone wants to kno)
How strong should the led's be?<br>Is like a 3900 mcd good? or would lower mcd ones work as good also?<br>Thanks!
its probably a better idea to use a soldering iron to melt through the PVC
but it would smell really bad!
toxic fumes....
&nbsp;it's all good.
as my father used to say: &quot;It's all fun and games, until someone loses an eye.&quot; or in this case&quot; It's all fun and games until someone breathes in toxic fumes.

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