Step 1: Initial Sketch
Step 2: Grip and chamber cover
When my marks are done, I begin to cut grooves.
I also leave a bit of material on the rear, so when I drill my template through that section, and cut it off, I will be left with proper holes in the grip section, and a piece of aluminum with corresponding holes I can use as a hole transfer template.
Step 3: Support rods and main can
After drilling my holes and threading my grip section for 6-32 threads, I run my support rods through the main can and into the grip section. These rods move freely through the holes in the can, and will allow me to open and close the crystal chamber.
Step 4: LED String
Consistency here is key, as it will make a big difference in the straightness of the LED string
Next step, folding over. I use a scrap piece of shelving track for this, so my bends are the right angle and length every time. Again, consistency is key here. It won't be perfect, but the closer to uniform you get, the better.
Always make doubly sure that the bends here go the right way. I always point the "arrow" part of the LED up when I bend, so that the positive and negative leads always go the right direction. Saves me from having one reversed.
Now that they all are bent, it is time to assemble them together. This is one of the more tedious steps, but it will be worth it when they come on for the first time.
Assembly, here I make sure my leads are all correct, positive down one side, and negatives down the other. I will assemble six sets of 12 to 14 LEDs like this, depending on length of blade. Pass one LED's leads through the shoulders, and bend up and crimp with needlenose pliers.
This is a section of 12 LEDs. This will go on the rest of the strip I already have made after soldering and trimming.
To solder, I have a little anvil with a magnet on top, this keeps my LED string section in place while I solder, and the magnet is also handy for when I trim the extra leads off the sides. The magnet collects the leads, instead of them getting in my carpet, and in my foot.
Here I have several sections placed into the diffuser foam tube, and test lit. It is unbelievably bright, pictures don't do it justice. It hurts to look at it without the diffuser foam, and I think once I get them all assembled, it will be one of the brightest sabers I have ever seen.
This blade is made up of 90 LEDs.
Step 5: Crystal Chamber Details
This is the way the leads connect to the positive and negative floating rings behind the crystal mount. There's enough space here to isolate them, and they look nice. Now I have the correct three way radially symmetrical support rods, instead of the 4 way I had earier. These support rods go through two identical harddrive motor mount housings, and I shaved one down to fit inside the one inch diameter hole in the foreward grip, the other is notched to let the forward grip posts slide through.
I'll be replicating my radiator section from the graflex on this saber, only much smaller.. instead of it being based on 6-32 rods and nuts, it will be based on 4-40.
At this point, I decided to work on the radiator section, recreating that part from my graflex saber in this one, but at a much smaller scale. Previously, I had bolted the brass sheets to a block of wood and cut them down to size on the standup belt sander. This time I wanted an easier way to do it, so I cut, drilled and bolted the one inch square sheets to the top end of my crystal chamber, using the same support rods.
After using the lathe to turn them down to the right size, and dropping off a few that were bent, I was left with 6 or 7 that I liked, and then drilled them out hollow. This was much easier on the lathe than what I did previously.
Deciding to keep five of them, I spaced them out and sanded the sharp edges down on the outside and inside.
After spinning them to get nice radial sanded texture on the faces, I then used the dremel to cut away the section I didn't need, leaving the spot for the wire conduit on one side.
Step 6: Copper neck section
The slightly raised lip fits snug into a tiny bevel in the shoulder of the forward grip. A black setscrew will secure this, and be well hidden in the groove after it's painted.
The copper collar that goes on the top section of the neck, I had to cut off with a hacksaw from the main stock, so I wasted as little copper as possible. Also, I hate this particular alloy of copper, as it's extremely difficult to machine. It work hardens pretty fast, and gets gummy.
After shaving off the hacksaw side, polishing and slipping it on to the neck.
Also shown is the other bladed neck. This one I machined to barely fit around the 1 inch outside diameter polycarbonate tube I use for the blade, and an aluminum plug that barely fits inside it. This is all press fit together and attached to the other neck.
Step 7: Emitters
The bottom section machined, I'll drill this for a threaded 3/8 hollow rod, and flip it over to do the top section.
However, I couldn't resist putting the Rylo emitter on just for grins. It's really coming together!
Step 8: Pommel and chamber lock
I also have to drill out the pommel for the speaker, and sound hole. Once this is done, I mark and drill my holes for everything, then tap so I can reassemble it later. You'll notice I machine off a couple plates that go on either side of the locking lugs that attach to the pommel. These plates are a slightly larger outer diameter than the locking lugs, so that when it's installed in the main can, the pommel and locking lugs can rotate freely. The brass screws act as rotational stops as well as holding the plates together. There are spacers between the plates so that as I tighten the brass screws, I leave just enough room between the plates not to restrict movement of the lugs.
Step 9: Painting the grip
After painting, I allow the grip enamel to cure before I shave off the outermost raised areas to reveal the aluminum beneath, leaving the paint in the grooves.
Step 10: Control box
Then I machine out the slot in the box for the aluminum rocker switch, and then machine the rocker switch to fit the slot, and with holes to go down over the tactile switches. Once I know that works, I drill holes for the triangle LEDs, and file them from round holes to triangles to fit the LEDs. Once I get that done, I have to mill out the box cover plastic a bit to fit everything, then wedge it all in. I then add my resistors to the LEDs, and assemble everything.
Step 11: Final assembly
Also shown are my cathode leads from the LED string blade, marked with a sharpie from 1 to 6 and anode, so I keep them all straight.
Next we see the soundcard assembly and then the 4 AAA rechargeable batteries that power the saber. Everything barely fits inside.
Step 12: Finish pics
Now that it's done, I notice I especially like the subtle weathering in the crevices of the copper, I hadn't planned on that, but I like the way it looks.
This vid is of the blade in action
This vid is of the chamber reveal
Also shown is this saber next to a few others I have done, as well as the licensed mini replica from Master Replicas.
Thanks for looking, more details on this and other projects can be found at http://www.slothfurnace.com