Intro: Battle Ready Lightsaber
For years I have wanted a lightsaber that can take a beating, but still look kind of cool.
Recently I think I accomplished this and decided to share my findings with the world.
I'm going to tell you how I did it and what parts I used, but feel free to edit it as you see fit to make it your own.
Some of the parts used might be able to be replaced with PVC, but might lose some of its durability.
This saber just lights up and can change colors.
There is no fancy bottom to top lighting or sound effects. But with more research and the right skill set it may be possible to add those features at a later time.
Lastly I primarily used parts left over from other projects, so I can't give an accurate price estimate.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
Parts and Tools list:
1. Poly Carbonate tubing: Currently $13.58 for two 36inch tubes.
2. 1 inch Metal Pipe and ability to thread it: Currently $12.48 for 2 feet.
3. 1 inch union fitting: Currently $11.51
4. LED RGB strip lights:
I plan on using this one next time because its a better quality strip (Currently 9.98 for 16.4ft)
But I used this one because I had it leftover from another project (Currently 15.98 for16.4 feet)
5. Two 1 inch Full coupling currently $3.30
6. Silver "Screw Clamp" from this part this is a $55 item, but I only used part of it, so next time I'll find a better solution.
7. 1/4 inch x 1-1/4 inch washer (Metallics JW116) currently $5.37 each.
This part is only needed if you use the screw clamp (part 6)
8. 1 inch x1 inch threaded coupling (I didn't use one of these because I took a piece of the 1" metal pipe and used a pipe threader to thread 100% of its exterior so this part isn't necessary if you do the same, also this section was more for the aesthetics than it was for the practicality) Currently $6.99 each.
9. Wax Paper: 5.39 per roll.
You probably already have this in a kitchen drawer ;)
10. A long dowel rod approx. 3/4 inch x 32inch (basically find a dowel rod that can slide easily inside the "blade". This is only needed so that you can roll it in the wax paper to make a wax paper tube to slide into the blade.
11. Any kind of super strong glue, epoxy, adhesive silicone, and/or resin you're comfortable and familiar with
12. Various tools as needed for what you plan to do. I used a Dremel, soldering iron, drill, hammer, and a precision screw driver set.
13. Small On Off Switch for Power Currently $2.43 for five switches.
This isn't what I used, but I probably will on my next one.
14. Small 3 position switch to be used to change colors (unless you only want a single colored lightsaber, the you'll just need one On Off switch) currently $5.71 for 5 switches.
15. 9-volt battery with battery connector and some small solder-able wire.
Batteries are currently $14.99 for twelve
The connectors are currently $2.25 for five connectors
16. Patience young Padawan. Priceless.
Bases on the current prices listed and all the parts you get for that (and assuming you don't have anything helpful laying around) you're looking at Spending around $100, but will have enough parts to make 2 or more sabers.
Since I had most of this stuff laying around leftover from other projects I only ended up buying the poly carbonate tubes, a battery, and a switch. So that makes my cost around $20.
Step 2: Assemble the Battery Holder
Glue, Epoxy, or weld together a 1 inch full coupling, Silver screw clamp, and washer.
Since I planed on powering my light saber with a 9 volt battery, I needed to find a way hold and hide a 9 volt battery in the handle of the saber.
Unfortunately 1 inch pipe is just barely too narrow for a 9 volt battery to fit inside, but a 1 inch coupling fits one just right.
To keep things from falling out and to allow plenty of space for the coupling to screw onto the handle without smashing the battery or wire I glued the sliver screw clamp and washer to one end of the coupling.
Since it screws on and off I can easily swap out the battery when needed.
Once Glue dries test to see if the batter fits all the way done inside the holder.
If it doesn't fit, sand down any glue that hardened up on the inside of the holder.
I ended up gluing this together twice before I got it to work right.
Set aside holder to used later.
continue to next step
Step 3: Assemble the Hilt
See the first picture.
Take apart the union coupling and pick whichever side you like best and save the rest for another project (another lightsaber perhaps....).
See the second picture
Screw together half the union coupling, threaded coupling, and full coupling.
Instead of using a threaded coupling, I actually took a piece of 1 inch pipe a threaded the entire outside of it. That way one I completely screwed on the union coupling and the full coupling it left a threaded gap between the two pieces that reminded me of the "new lightsaber" Luke made in return of the Jedi.
Once satisfied with the hilt, continue on to next step.
Step 4: The Handle
Take the 1 inch pipe and cut it to whatever size you feel comfortable with then thread each end so the hilt and battery holders can screw on.
Keep in mind this piece is located between the hilt and the battery holder, which will affect the overall size, look, and feel of the lightsaber.
Continue on to next step
Step 5: The Blade
Take the poly carbonate tubing and slide it into the hilt and as far down into the handle as you see fit.
Here is where you decide how you want to affix the blade to the hilt, keeping in mind what you want it to look like when its all done. Aesthetics meets function..........trial and error.......
Whatever you decide make sure you leave room on the handle to add switches and inside of the handle to run wires from the LEDs to the switches, and to the battery (but we'll talk more about that later).
I had some sturdy copper wire laying around and decided I could use it to not only help hold the blade securely in place, but also to make my lightsaber stand out as its own unique design.
After sliding the poly carbonate tubing into the handle as far as I wanted, I drilled holes all the way through the saber the same size as the copper wire, cut the wire into small pieces, then inserted the wires as shown in the pictures.
See second picture.
I then used gorilla glue to fill in all small gaps, basically because it what I had it available. You can use whatever super strong glue you want to use here.
once everything has dried, cured, or cooled down continue on to next step.
Step 6: Test the Feel of the Lightsaber
Before going any further screw the hilt/blade, handle, and battery holder together and see if you like how it feels so far.
At this point you can stop if if you want and just paint the blade, no one will think any less of you if you do.....
Or you can continue on and finish your training........
Step 7: Prepare Handle for Switch(es)
First, decide where you want to place your switch or switches on the handle.
This was the most difficult part for me, but it might not be a problem for you.
This is another part that can very from person to person.
Since I wanted my saber to have different color options, I was going to have to install two different switches. One for power, and one that can switch the colors.
I decided I'd try to install the switches near the top so the copper wires would protect them while in the heat of battle.
I scavenged these switches from broken electronics I had, so I can't tell you exactly what I used.
I drilled, cut, and filed the handle until I had two holes big enough to fit the switches.
Don't secure them into place just yet, if you do you may not be able to hook up the wires for the LEDs.
Continue on to next step.
Step 8: LEDs and Wires
Now the fun part........
Take a strip of RGB LED's like the ones in the link and test them to make sure your 9 Volt battery can operate them.
Cut off a section of the LED's about twice a long as your exposed lightsaber blade (making sure you cut it where it says it can be cut)
The strip should have 4 color coded wires attached to one end (Most likely Red, Green, Blue and White.)
Strip the ends of the wires and hold the White wire to the plus side of the battery, and then hold each other wire (individually or all at once) to the negative side of the battery.
If that yields no results, try flipping the battery around.
If still no results, try another battery or get a different strip LEDs.
Once the polarity is correct each time you touch the wires to the battery terminals a section of the LED strip should light up.
Once you figure out how to light up your LEDS you're ready to install them into your saber.
See picture for Rough schematic diagram.
Fold the strip of LEDs in half so you now have a strip of LEDs of both sides.
Slide Double-sided LED strip into blade
Run wires through handle and wire/solder things together where needed.
Confirm operation once more.
Secure switches in place on handle.
I tried a few different things here but ended up packing duct seal compound (http://www.graybar.com/store/en/gb/duct-seal-92121... ) around the switches to hold them in place and to fill in the gaps, then I used 5 second fix ( http://smile.amazon.com/Second-Fix-Liquid-Plastic-...) to cover over the duct seal compound.
Once everything has dried, cured, or cooled down, continue on to the last step of your Journey.....
Step 9: Finishing Touches
Lastly add something onto or inside the blade to diffuse the light.
You might be able to get away with spray painting the blade white.
There are several materials you can buy online that are super reflective and might look great, but to keep costs down I just used standard wax paper.
I pulled out a strip of wax paper the approximate length of my saber blade.
Then I used a dowel rod and rolled the wax paper into a tube just wide enough to slide down the inside of the blade around the double-sided LED strip.
It will take some doing, but eventually you'll get it all the way.
I filled the top of the lightsaber blade with silicone to keep everything in place.
Give everything plenty of time to dry, cure, or whatever before charging into battle with it.
You are no longer a Padawan. You, my friend, are a Jedi (or Sith if that floats your boat)
May the Force Be with you.
Step 10: Take Your Lightsaber Into Battle
I finally tested my saber last night and it held up really well.
It was strong enough to deflect dodgeballs (when I was able to actually hit them, instead of them hitting me)
The only issue I had was a loose wire that would cause my green and blue LEDs to turn on at the same time, but my Red LEDs worked perfectly.
I then tested it by tossing up the dodgeballs and hitting them just as hard I would have hit them if I was using a baseball bat and my saber still looks and works great.
Note: We were using newer style dodgeballs, not the old rubberized.
The glue on the bottom (used to hold the washer in place, which in turn kept the 9 volt safe inside the saber) gave way so now my saber is exposed at the bottom. Might try welding it next time.
Also, I'm thinking about replacing the 9 volt battery with a rechargeable battery of some kind and adding a charge port on the bottom of the saber so i don't have to unscrew anything just because the battery is dead.
I'm probably going to post a new instructable soon on how to make a more kid friendly version of this saber, that also lights from bottom to top.