Making a Crysknife Light Up!





Introduction: Making a Crysknife Light Up!

"Crysknife?" someone asked.

"No doubt of it," Idaho said. "Milky white and glowing with a light of its own like." He reached into his tunic, brought out a sheath with a black-ridged handle protruding from it.

"Keep that blade in its sheath!"

Frank Herbert

I got into the crysknife replica project not just because I wanted my own Lynch version crysknife–I wanted to make a version of the knife that is closest to the one in the book--one that had a faint, flickering, almost organic glow. I got this idea after reading the this line from the novel:“She took sheath in one hand and handle in the other, withdrew a milk-white blade, held it up. The blade seemed to shine and glitter with a light of its own."

It’s a pretty literal translation of Herbert’s description of the crysknife from the Shadout Mapes scene. In my head however, I thought it made sense because some of the blades are "unfixed" according the Dune Encyclopedia. An unfixed crysknife can only remain stable if it is in contact or proximity to a living human body. Outside of the body’s electrical field, the knife seems to lose molecular integrity, weakening and crumbling within hours.

That can explain why the ritual Fremen challenge before a duel is: "May thy knife chip and shatter." It's a declaration of an opponents death--an end to his body's electrical field.

A weapon that responds to it's user's energy field is a concept I find very cool. It raises a lot of questions that I love to think about. Does the knife respond to any electrical field or only to it’s owner’s particular energy signature? Also, a "glowing" knife might be contradictory to Fremen tactics, which draw strength from stealth. If I were a Fremen I wouldn't want a weapon that would draw attention and give away my position in the desert :)

* * *

Still, I thought it would be cool to portray this kind of interaction between the knife and its user–hence the motion-activated flickering version of the crysknife replica that I've set out to build since the beginning of the project.

Admittedly, most of the Dune fans following the crysknife build are sceptical about the idea--one even told me that I had to make the glow as subtle as possible--else I might come up with a tacky short lightsaber!

Nonetheless, this is a build I've always wanted to do. It would make a terrific display, too like a sort of night lamp that intuitively lights up when you pick it up.

The subtlety of the glow would be possible--it all comes down to proper tonal values of the resin mix, just the right balance between opacity and translucence to let the LED light flicker through.

I'm using all the steps from my other Instructable except painting and weathering in this build. I'm putting in a simple circuit board that contains the following components:

  1. 1 LED light
  2. 1 3.7v rechargeable lithium battery
  3. a motion activated switch that lights up the LED for 120 seconds
  4. a switch that thumbs between "flicker" and "steady" light modes
  5. a female USB port (for battery recharging)

The tricky part of this build is integrating the CB into the resin cast. While I'm confident that the high temperature of resin curing won't melt the board, I applied window sealant on the board to add insulation for the heat. I also have to make sure that the switch and the female USB port is properly embedded in the pommel. It's pretty much a one-shot deal with the board because if I make a mistake, I can't take it out and reuse it anymore!

I'll update you guys as I go along. I hope it works out well. Have a great weekend, everyone! :)



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    Please bear with my Oscar-esque speech after winning in the Makerlympics which I also posted in my build blog:

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Instructables!

    I definitely couldn’t have won this without the support of friends and family, with particular mention of Jedi Master Gregg Yan, who did the first paint job on the knife (it made for brilliant photographs!). He deserves this award as much as I do and I consider him one of my mentors as a craftsman (though he will be too humble to admit it). I also thank Mark Bennett of Dune Info for giving me his valuable insight and guidance as (imho) the world’s best Dune chronicler and aficionado (I’d say expert but he’s too humble for that, too!) since I started out with the project many many months ago.

    I’ll be doing something nice for the people in Instructables to show my profuse appreciation for their kind support of an obscure noob like me. I’ve decided to raffle the first light-up version of the crysknife here in the Instructables when I’ve finished crafting it, which I’m aptly naming “Muad’Dib’s Maker Lamp”. I'm still formulating the mechanics and of course, finishing the build. Please stay tuned for details!

    Thrilled, grateful and humbled by the all the blessings and generosity of this world,

    Mark Ponce