Homemade powered lightsaber

Discussion in 'Philippines' started by s0m3u53r, Aug 15, 2005.

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  1. s0m3u53r Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2005
    Hi all,

    Just joined up and thought I'ld post a little experiment I did: bought a typical neon tube bulb from an auto shop (the type that goes under the chassis of cars), a Hasbro electronic star wars lightsaber toy (for the nifty sound effects), a simple circuit to vary the voltage to the neon tube, and a 9v battery as a power source. Hooked it all up so the toy sound and neon light power on and off in synch and here's the results (sorry for the crappy rez, was just using a phone cam):

    Saber cycle on/off

    Saber cycle on/off (2)

    Saber on

    Saber cycle on/off in the dark

    Got the idea for this from the saber web sites of Information Unlimited, Future Horizons, Parks Sabers, and Master Replicas (now if only it wasn't so damn expensive to have 'em ship one of their toys here!).
  2. StompboXX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2002
    star 2
    Very interesting. How long is the "blade" part? And how much did making it cost?

    Feel free to send your tutorial, so we can feature it on the SWP site. :)
  3. s0m3u53r Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2005

    Actually blade length depends on cost/budget: 24" neon bulb is ~700 while a 36" bulb is ~1k (diff. car shops sell the various brands at a wide range in pricing). The Hasbro toy is 2.2k, and the electronic bits (transistors, capacitor, resistors, battery, wiring, and switch) would run around a couple of hundred (I just used the electronics I had from my existing stash of parts). So a Hasbro toy-based saber would run 3k-4k (24"-36" neons), the bulk of the price being just the toy (ngahh!!).

    I'm looking into using a bicycle seat post chrome tube to fashion a graflex-lookalike and I'm hunting around for a circuit on the net that can generate the soundfx so I can make a true-blue homemade electronic saber at a cost of about 1.5k. I know the best soundfx can be had by using digitised samples and an eprom-dac combi to re-generate the sounds but I'm trying to find an analog circuit to keep the cost down.

    I haven't really put together a tutorial for this as I just did this on a whim (ehehe). But the basic idea is to disconnect the second electrode of the neon tube and vary the input voltage of the neon tube's built-in inverter to control the "blade" length (see Information Unlimited's website at "http://www.amazing1.com/star_wars_light_saber.htm" for a nice pdf doc explaining the how-it-works of single electrode neon tubes and varying the ionization length via the input voltage to the hartley oscillator). Making the powered "blade" is actually easy since the car neon tubes already come with built-in high-voltage inverters powered off of 12v. This also means you can swap "blades" to change color and length since all car neons run off of 12v.

    I'll see if I can cobble together some sort of doc listing the how-to of what I did but please don't hold your breath for this (I'm more of a do-it kind of tinkerer than a write-it-down type).

    I saw an old post on an itinerary for a seminar on prop making (I think?) and one of the parts was on building a lightsaber, so I'm wondering if someone in your group makes graflex or other prop lookalikes with a hollow interior? I'ld be interested in buying one (since I'm not much of a prop artisan anyway and my bicycle seat-post based hilt is crappy looking compared to the prop photos, hehe).
  4. StompboXX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2002
    star 2
    Sounds cool. Give us updates on your lightsaber project, we really would like to see how it will eventually turn out.

    Are you based in Metro Manila?
  5. s0m3u53r Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2005

    Yup, based right here.

    I'm still searching around for a power-on/power-off sound fx circuit. The steady hum sound is much easier as it's just an oscillator circuit. Getting the pitch to vary with movement is tougher though as I don't have an idea what sort of motion sensor I can use from the parts in the local electronic shops.

    As for the handle, I think I'm just going to settle for some sink tubing, the bicycle seat post is a bit too heavy/tough to work with.

    Right now I'm putting together a 36" green neon tube with a "chrome" sink pipe for a handle. No sound fx though as I don't have a working sound circuit yet.
  6. StompboXX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2002
    star 2
    Try the brass ones. Longer, and very reliable and tough enough.

    I was the one who conducted the lightsaber lecture a few months ago, and I used sink tails for my props, though those were for stunt/her use in my fanfilm.

    Sink tails, shower rings, and lots of drilling ang epoxy-ing. :)
  7. s0m3u53r Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 15, 2005

    I think the pipe I'm using actually is brass, just with a "chrome" finish, it seems to nick pretty easily and I can see the brass colored material underneath.

    I don't think I'm artistic enough to do any designing/drill work/epoxying to make a nice looking handle. I'm much more into the electronics and neon part, so just a plain 'ol pipe with a rubber grip is going to have to do. The handle may look just like what it is (a pipe!) but I spend most of my time watching the neon light play up and down the tube anyway so the crappy handle is ok by me, hehe.

    Which is actually why I mentioned in my previous post that if you guys have a prop group that sells finished pipe-based hilts, I'ld be interested in buying one (so long as it's got about 6-8" of inside space for the electronics and mounting for the neon inverter). I'm really not artistic in any sense at all.

    Do you have any pics of your prop hilts? Maybe you can post a link so I can see them. Even if you guys aren't selling I'ld like to see what the local prop artisans put together.
  8. StompboXX Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2002
    star 2
    You got my PM? Anyway, I can help with the hilt designs, just holler.
  9. jediknightyao Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 28, 2005
    Truly the force is strong with you.....=D=
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