Lightsabers & Blasters EL lightsaber

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by McLean, Jan 14, 2004.

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  1. Woodgee Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Hi All,

    Quick question - I've found a polycarb tube supplier, but the only size I can get is what they term as 28mm Outside diameter, 25mm inside diameter.

    Is this size ok for a blade? I'm not quite sure how thick they are supposed to be!!?

    Thanks

    W.
  2. bobalu23 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2004
    do you have a parts list on the blade its self what do i need?
  3. LukeSkiewalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2003
    star 4
    If you look in the earlier post in this thread you should see a fairly good list of parts by Jedi_Loreen. However there is no one set way to do it so use your imagination if think of a better way.
  4. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    I would say that 28mm is too large, that's over an inch. The "industry standard" is 3/4" outside diameter, or about about 19mm. 28mm might be pretty flexible, even at 3mm wall thickness.

    Okay, here's a basic parts list to make blades the way I do:

    40" piece of 3/4" OD, 5/8" ID polycarbonate tubing (I get mine from usplastic.com)
    39" piece of 1/2" OD, 3/8" ID rigid polyethylene tubing for diffuser (mcmaster.com)
    2" piece & 1/2" of 5/8" OD, 1/2" ID polypropylene tubing for top and bottom "bushings" (mcmaster.com)
    1/4" mono audio plug (Radioshack)
    1/4" 10x32 set screw to hold above plug in bottom of tubing.(mcmaster.com)
    8-10' of electroluminescent wire, depending on what kind of inverter being used (I use coolneon.com or coolight.com for this, they have the high brightness wire)
    2" piece of 22 guage stereo wire, to wire the EL wire to the connector(I get mine from coolneon.com)
    1" piece of heat-shrink tubing to insulate your solder connection between EL and stereo wire (RadioShack)
    1/2" 6x32 clear polycarbonate screw to hold end bushing in (this is a recent addition, because the end bushings have come out of some of my blades when they are dueled with. However, these are rather expensive, as screws go. I think I payed about $10 for 50 screws.)
    hot glue, or silicone for end of blade
    super glue to glue in bottom bushing
    220 grit sand paper for smoothing and beveling bushings and diffuser tubing

    Note: I don't really like RadioShack all that much. I have a much better electronics store locally that I use that has a better selection and cheaper prices, but you can't order from them online, so I know you should be able to find what you need at RadioShack)

    That's just for the blade.

    To power it, you need to put inside your hilt:
    9V A/C inverter with 9V battery clip (same places that sell the EL wire)
    1/4" mono audio jack (Radioshack)
    switch of your choice(Radioshack)
    extra wire to put switch into circuit(Radioshack
    more pieces of heat-shrink tubing to insulate solder connections
    9V battery

    Then when you get all that stuff, you get to figure out how to put it all together. ;)
    Though I can help there, too, of course. :p

    When I started making my own blades, I knew I'd be making several, so I didn't mind buying a whole box of set screws, or polycarbonate screws. Or buying special tools, like an automatic wire stripper, and a drill and tap set to thread my screw holes. You may not want to buy all that extra stuff for only one or two blades, in which case you will have to figure out for yourself how to keep things together. You'll probably have to just glue everything really well.
  5. bobalu23 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Thx alot for the parts list ill post a picture of my first saber when i make it tough it may be a week or two but probly sooner thx 2 all and most to u loreen
  6. Annaerullo Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2004
    Jedi-Loreen, thank you for the information you've posted so far.... I have been designing my lightsaber for about a year now, and have been trying to figure out how to make it "work," with an EL blade, flash bulbs (for impact effects), sound effects, and a motor for gyroscopic "Force" effect. As you might have guessed, it's rather complicated and ambitious. :)

    My Idea for an EL blade consists of a core of three stainless steel tubes, connected by high-tension springs, around which the EL wire is wrapped. I believe that only the 2.3mm wire will work in this design. This will be inserted into the diffuser (good word, hadn't thought of it, but that's definitely the function of the thing - a mutual discovery) which is just some opaque polycarbonate tubing from on a roll. I know that it may bend the blade slightly, but it is my hope that the core will keep the blade mostly rigid, and easily bent back into a straight line.

    Outside that assembly, I planned on a clear polycarbonate tubing, much like the opaque diffuser. I, too, have had some difficulty getting two tubes with the same measurements (one ID and one OD) to fit together very far, so I like your "bushing" idea. But tell me, how does it look at the top of the blade? Can you tell that there's an extra piece in there? I can't really see the answer to this question in your photo album.

    I was also wondering how durable (PLAYable) your blade design is. I wanted mine to be strong enough for moderate duelling, which is why I designed the triple-steel tube core. And yet another question: I HATE the blades I have seen with the "plug" on the end. I thought I saw that you made blades with closed, rounded ends; how did you do it? I have my own ideas, but I have no idea if they will work?

    Sorry this post was so long. Finally, anyone who might be reading this should please remember that I have NOT made this sabre yet, so I don't really know if it will work! I'd be glad to share my other ideas, as long as you bear that in mind!
  7. DarthVader79 San Francisco FF Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Jun 16, 2001
    star 4
    Thanks for the great information, I want to perminantly attach my blade to my hilt, is there a way I can attach the red and black wires from the battery directly to the EL wire with out using a mic jack?

  8. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    You cannot attach the EL wire directly to the battery. El wire runs on high frequency A/C voltage. You must have an inverter that will the change the D/C voltage from the battery to the A/C voltage needed to power the wire.

    But yes, you can permanently attach the inverter output to the EL wire in the blade. I'm not sure how you would want to do this though, I build blades for myself and other people who want them to be detachable (and interchangable) so that they can wear their lightsabers on their belts.
  9. ge_rpger Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2004
    You could just hook it up like "normal" and then simply screw the blade into the hilt.

    I've got some friends coming in from out of town and we're hopefully going to build a few blades while they are here. It should be fun over the next week and a half to see what we can do. Pictures will be posted when we're done!!!
  10. ge_rpger Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2004
    EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY HELP NEEDED WITH MAKING EL BLADE!!!

    Yeah, well you see, I've got four friends in from out of town and we're all making lightsabers and we're stuck in the building process.

    The problem is, we don't know how to attach the female end of the of the "mono audio jack" to the hilt.

    The EL blades are done, the hilts are nearing completion, but we don't know how to affix the "plug" to the hilt.

    ANY HELP WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!

    Thanks,
    Larry
  11. Jaareth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2004
    star 1
    heres an odd question..how durable are these things ...ive heard you can duel with em with no fear of damage..and some have said the wires can be fragile. Whats the take on this..i dont wanna beat mine if its gonna just toast it and them im stuck with squat :(
  12. krillindb Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 1
    They are very durable if built correctly. Since I built mine, i haven't dueled with it yet but i have droped it a couple times with no damage to the blade or the hilt. Not to say that you cannot break it because I'm sure you could if you hit it against something with enough force. As far as dueling is concerned though it should be fine.
  13. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    For my sabers, ge_rpger, I just glue the female connector into the bottom of the piece of PVC that I use for a blade sleeve. What are you using to hold the blades? You don't want them just flopping around inside the hilt, only held by the connector.

    You can have just an opening in the emitter that would hold the blade steady at the top, too. And you need somewhere to put a thumb screw, or something else that will hold the blade secure, don't rely on the connector to keep the blade secure, either.

    I helped a friend build one where we drilled holes in the connector housing and used to screws that just barely go into that housing to hold it. Then that piece holding the connector was slid into another piece of pipe, so the screws weren't seen.

    It all has to do with the hilt construction. You may need to get creative, depending on what else goes into the hilt and how much room you have. There's no definitive way to do it, each one is a case-by-case basis.

    On page 2 of this thread, in my post dated 2/18, I give a brief explaination on how I plan to make the blade sleeve for my next saber, which I've tried on a smaller scale and it seems to work well.

    Good luck, and I hope you get all the sabers done. ;)
  14. ge_rpger Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Alright, well I've got the "plug" issue resolved, but now that we've got that sorted, we're having a bit of an issue with the blades themselves.

    Perhaps it's just the way they are supposed to be and all, but the blade rattles when struck.

    I used JediLoreen's method of the three different sizes of tubes and there is a lot of room between the outer and the inner tubes. When they clash, they rattle.

    Is it just me or is this what happens?
  15. ge_rpger Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2004
    WOW! These sabres are pretty friggin' DIM! I had no idea they'd be this dim when lit, I'm shocked and a little bit disappointed to say the least.

    I used the 2.3mm wire from EL Wire Cheap (purple and yellow so far cause that's what they wanted) and their 9v inverter.

    I was expecting a little more litght from them, especially the purple one, that's gotta be one of the dimmest that they offer. I've got their high brightness 3.2mm Orange wire, and I'm realy hoping it's lighter.

    Anyone have any suggestions about making these things brighter?

    Oh well, I'll put pics of everything up when we get all done either tonight or tomorrow morning!

    Cheers!
  16. krillindb Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 2002
    star 1
    Wow, I hope your orange wire is brighter, I know mine is pretty bright(well at least for me). Also how many strands are you putting in your blade 1,2,3? I used 2 and it turned out fine.
  17. Jedi_Ranger_007 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2004
    star 4
    Greetings everyone. Just minutes ago, I discovered these forums, and more specifically this topic.

    For the last 3 months, I have done much research into building my first lightsaber. I quickly decided on EL wire. Since then, I have found that this seems to be the most popular light source.

    Later, I decided on using polycarbonate tubing, for the blade, but for the life of me, could not find any reasonable suppliers. No,thanks, I don't need 50 meters. I emailed many companies, and only about 1/2 of which ever replied. Thanks to Jedi-Loreen (sp?), I have found what I hope will be the best supplier.

    As for the actual EL layout, I have my own idea and design, but have yet to order the actual parts. It won't be quite as neat and organized as most designs that use the stereo plugs, but I have high hopes. But, to make a fair comparison, I plan to build a couple of my design, and a couple of Jedi-Loreen's (sp?) VERY helpful design.

    My first hilt is about half done. Right now, I'm stalled on finding the right glue for sheet foam and chrome piping. I think that most strong glues will melt my foam sheet.

    Right now, I do have one question, to which I have not found a very clear answer too, so far. Is it possible, and if so - how, are most people rounding and finishing the tips of their blades?

    Until next time, have fun, keep the ideas and pics coming, and keep your blade up! :D
  18. LukeSkiewalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2003
    star 4
    Thank you for bringing up this question again...

    I am still looking for an answer myself ;)
  19. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    For rounding the tip of the blades, you can buy a 3/4" acrylic half-ball called a "carbachon", it should be available from USPlastic, too.

    I bought a few, to try for this purpose, but when I dry fitted one to the end of a blade, is seemed to magnify the loops of wire at the end. I may try sanding the flat part to diffuse it a bit and try it again.

    I just take the lazy, cheap way out, since I make so many blades (over 40, by now). :p After I install (then cut the head off) my polycarbonate screw to hold all the end pieces together, I just fill the end with hot glue till some excess comes out the top, let is sit a few seconds, and before it cools all the way, I wet my finger and shape it into sort of a dome shape.
  20. LukeSkiewalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2003
    star 4
  21. TheWizard Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 15, 2004
    Does anyone know where I can get the necessary tubing in the UK to make a blade? specifically the main polycarbonate tube.

    I never saw the interest in owning a saber hilt - till I saw the EL blades online last week, to me a hilt doesn't have the attraction without a full glowing blade and electroluminescence has finally come up with the goods :)

    I ordered a Master Replicas Force FX Luke saber this week and am dying to have a go with it, managed to get it from eBay for siginificantly less than any gadget store sells them for, but want to make my own and a hybrid - lightsaber nunchucks!

    Oh and thanks Jedi-Loreen for your notes on making EL blades, it's most appreciated.
  22. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    You're welcome.

    I still need to sit down and write a full-fledged tutorial, but I hope what I've posted so far is of some help.
    ;)
  23. ge_rpger Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Here are a couple pics of one of the EL sabres we made. We made 3 purple blades, one yellow, and 3 hilts. I still need to make the Orange one.

    In the Dark
    Close Up

    In the purple and yellow ones, we used 3 strands of 2.3mm wire in our blades. Like I said, the purple ones were really dim. The yellow one was much brighter.

    Because the Orange is 3.2mm, I don't think I'll be able to make it with 3 strands, but the tube that I'm going to use for it, has a bigger ID than the other ones, so it might be possible. I'll post pics when done!!!

    It was GREAT FUN making the blades and rather easy once we figured everything out. We didn't round our blade tips, we only put hot glue on the tips and made them flat across.
  24. LukeSkiewalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2003
    star 4
    Jedi-Loreen: I was thinking about this and had a question...

    For the blade mount in my next saber, I will be using a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe and making a slit in it to shrink the ID down a tad, then hollowing out 2 1" PVC plugs that fit nicely into a sink pipe. The PVC pipe will be tightly held inside the plugs and I'll JB Weld it all together, sand and paint it.

    I'll be drilling and tapping holes into the plugs (before attaching the pipe to them) so that I can use screws to hold it in the hilt, after I JB Weld the female connector coming from the inverter into the bottom. The top screws will be decorative and stick out from the hilt, while the bottom screws will be set screws that screw into the grip, through the pipe and into the PVC plug. At least that's the plan.


    When doing this method how do you do a blade screw (or for that matter are you using one because I don't see it listed)? I would think that frequent tightening and loosing of a screw that is in PVC pipe would eventually cause stripping in the hole.

    The only way that I can think of that this mounting method would work is if the pvc was recessed a bit from the top and you had two or three blade screws above the pvc. I am just having difficulty picturing this in my head since all I have used in the past is the lightech adapter.

    Could you clarify this? When I make a hilt I using have the hilt mapped out completely on my head before I make one. This is the one part that I am still having some problems with.
  25. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    You do have a good point about stripping out the threads that hold the blade screw. I'll be using a thumb screw to hold the blade, threading the PVC plug and sleeve.

    As I said in an earlier post, I've tried this blade mounting method on a smaller scale with my lightdagger, but it holds 5/8" blades that are only 20" long and not very heavy. The thumb screw seems to hold just fine with no sign of the threads stripping in the PVC.

    However, a 3/4", 40" long blade will be heavier (and be swung harder and faster) and in more need of being well secured.

    You have me rethinking my design. I now think I should perhaps incorporate a nut recessed and secured into the PVC plug, so as to not worry about stripping out the PVC with repeated loosening and tightening of the blade screw.

    Perhaps I'll buy another plug to sacrifice for a test to see how well it's going to work, since I can't do the real parts that'll go into the saber till I cut the hilt and drill the holes in it for the set screws that will hold the assembly inside it.
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