Intro: Floating Death Star Build 2017
I made this based on the original instructable for a levitating death star by backwards lamb although it came out slightly different.
My favourite quote, from a London designer: "Google are OK to work for, but if anyone was going to build a death star, it would be them."
Anyway, to build this Christmas present for a relative, I used one of the levitating globes of the earth, which now hover above a base, rather than hanging in a "C" shaped cradle as they used to. This was combined with a Disney Death Star USB mood lamp, which runs on a 5V USB cable and has a set of LED's inside. These come up on ebay.
I also added a small LiPo battery to drive the internal LED's when it is hovering, a charging circuit and some plastic light pipe guides which run out through holes from one of the LED's to maximally illuminate the superlaser.
Levitating globe of the earth.
Disney Death Star USB Mood Light.
LiPo battery, mine is 600mAh
1.5 metres of fibre optic strands. Mine were 1.5mm diameter.
LiPo charger board with micro-USB socket.
Small size electrical heat shrink insulation.
Soldering materials, glue gun, Dremel with fine cutting disc.
Kitty litter - if you also want to make the blasted-to-dust Alderaan.
Step 1: Picture of the Globe I Used and the Death Star "mood" Lamp
The globe is plastic with a thin metallic covering.
The death star mood lamp is made of a translucent plastic, and quite light in weight, which is essential for this to work.
Step 2: Dremel and Thin Cutting Disc Required
First thing is to cut the Disney death star lamp into an upper and lower half using a thin cutting disc in a Dremel.
When buying these abrasive discs in blister packs they all look the same. You want the really thin ones ideally.
Also do the same thing with the levitating globe. All the important stuff is in the bottom of the levitating globe.
Step 3: Cut Top Off Globe.
Here we have cut the top off the levitating globe.
Step 4: Circuit Board With 4 LEDs on It.
In the base of the Disney lamp there is a square circuit board with a bright LED on each corner. Remove the 4 legged plastic thing. Keep the circuit board.
Step 5: Cut Up Globe and Embed Base of It Into the Disney Death Star Lamp.
Be quite ruthless with the Dremel and cutting disc. The useful stuff in the base of the levitating globe consists of a big circular magnet, surrounded by discs of clear plastic glued around it asymmetrically, presumably to balance it in some way. Cut everything other than this away and glue it into the base of the Disney lamp.
Step 6: View From Underside
Here it is glued into base of the lamp, viewed from underside. Make it as neat as possible. Part of the lamp base is circular and held in with 3 screws. If you are careful with the dremel cutting, you can re-use it as I have done here.
Step 7: Circuit Board From Lamp
The circuit board saved from base of the lamp has a pushbutton switch on its underside to turn the LEDs on or off, and 4 LEDs on upper side, one at each corner.
Desolder the central switch and extend it with 2 wires to about 3 inches long with the switch on the end.
Also extend the power wires +ve and GND.
Step 8: Switch
I drilled 4 holes for the "legs" of the switch we desoldered before. I then ran the 2 wires I used to extend the switch out through 2 of them, at rim of LOWER half of the Disney lamp, resoldered them to the switch, and glued switch to outside of the lamp. I used a hot melt glue gun.
Step 9: Light Guide for the Superlaser
In order to blow up Alderaan we need a decent superlaser.
Here is 1.5m of clear plastic that acts as a light guide.
We will drill 6 holes (yes I know in the film there are more), in a ring around the circular depression in the Death Star and we will feed six lengths of this light guide out through them.
Step 10: Cut Into 6 Lengths
Cut it into 6 equal lengths and then bundle them together neatly at one end and hold them together with shrink wrap insulation. Note, apply enough heat from a soldering iron to just shrink it and no more, too much and the clear plastic will melt.
Step 11: Modify One of the LEDs
I glued a short length of plastic tube over one of the LEDs (glue all on the outside of course).
I can then push the bundle of 6 light guides into the tube and that particular LED will send it all its light out along the 6 light guides.
Step 12: Spray the Death Star
I drilled loads of little rows of holes in the lamp with a drill bit in the dremel, to represent the lights on the death star. The remaining 3 LEDs will light the inside of the sphere and the light will shine out through the holes.
Next is to spray the 2 halves of the lamp with grey primer or similar, as we do not want it to be translucent any more.
Step 13: Glue LED Board in and Run Light Guides Out Through Holes
The LED board is very light so I glued it centrally in the top of the death star. Generally we want all the weight low down but I took a chance with this. The light guides are then run out in a circle through the 6 holes. Eventually when all arranged neatly they will be held in place with a dab of glue behind each hole.
Step 14: Attach Male Header Pins to End of Power Lead to LED Board
To make final assembly of upper and lower halves easier at the end, I soldered two male header pins to the ends of the power wires to the LED board. This will make it easier to plug them into the corresponding leads we will create from the battery in the lower half later.
Step 15: Create the Superlaser (Mwahahahaha)
Use small ring of shrink wrap to bring the 6 lengths of light guide together, and also one at the end. Apply only just enough heat otherwise the clear plastic strands melt.
Step 16: Test the Lighting All Works
Here I connected a LiPo battery temporarily, pushed the switch and checked that everything lit up correctly. Looking good.
At some point you ideally need to colour the 6 strands green with a marker pen.
Step 17: Charger Board
These little boards and similar ones are available to charge single 3.7V LiPo cells, using a mini-USB cable (we have a suitable cable as it was supplied with the Disney lamp). Solder 2 wires on as shown, I like to use Blu-tack to hold everything, I also wear magnifying spectacles too.
Step 18: Wiring Up
Here we have wired the +ve to battery on the charger board, to +ve of the battery, and also to a red wire with female connector at the end.
Also the -ve to battery on the charger board has been run to -ve wire of the battery, and also to a black wire with a female connector at the end. Detail view on the right.
Step 19: Install the Battery and Charger in the Base
The charger has been glued into the base so the micro-USB socket sticks out of the side, so the charging lead can be pushed into it from outside.
Next step is to
A) float the whole lower half above its levitating platform, then just rest the upper half on top of it.
B) Move the battery position around until whole assembly (with top dome of the mood lamp lamp just resting on top) balances perfectly level. This is fiddly and takes some time. If not level, it will want to fall over as the Disney mood lamp is heavier than the original levitating globe (of the earth) was. You can put tiny bits of blu-tack near the outer rim if necessary to trim it so it balances perfectly.
C) Once you are happy the whole thing balances level, only THEN glue the battery in place with a small amount of glue.
Step 20: Test Again Then Glue 2 Halves Together
Having glued the battery in, test the whole assembly floating above the levitating base again to check it still floats level. Mark the relative positions of the upper and lower halves of the lamp so you can glue them together in exactly this position.
Connect the male pair (from the upper half) and female pair (from the battery in the lower half) of leads together.
Rest the upper half on top of the lower half.
Test the lights still work OK when you press the button.
Float the whole lot above the levitating base to do a final check it still floats level.
When you are happy, glue the upper half to the lower half around the midline, using plastic model glue.