Lightsabers & Blasters Jedi-Loreen's EL Lightsaber Blade Tutorial

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Jedi-Loreen, May 6, 2004.

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  1. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Yes, boys and girls, I have finally written it. I know some of you have been waiting a long time for this. [face_blush] Now you people can stop asking me about it. :p

    I'm sorry I don't have anyway to easily document the process with a digital camera, as I don't have one.
    I have tried to make the instructions as detailed as I could think to write them.

    I invite comments, critiques or questions, after you have read these instructions.

    So now, without further ado, here it is:


    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" piece of 5/8" OD, 1/2" ID polypropylene tubing for top and bottom "bushings" (mcmaster.com)
    1/4" male mono audio connector (Radioshack)
    1/4" 10x32 set screw to hold above connector 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 wire 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 top and bottom bushings

    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" female mono audio plug (Radioshack)
    switch of your choice
    extra wire to put switch into circuit
    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.




    Disclaimer: This is how I make my blades, if you do not follow these instructions, I cannot guarantee how well your blades will come out, nor how sturdy they will for dueling purposes. I have improved my construction methods as they have been "battle tested".


    Construction


    Preparing the tubes:
    Cut the polycarbonate tubing to 40" (the "industry standard") or whatever you've decided on for the length of your blade. You can use a Dremel, or a pipe cutter. If you use a Dremel, put a piece of tape around the tube, this will make a cutting line and protect your tube from scratches if you slip when you're cutting. Lightly sand the inside and outside edges of both ends with some fine sand paper.

    Next, cut a 2" piece of 5/8" tubing for the bottom "bushing". Using sand paper, bevel the inside and outside of edge of the end that will be inserted into the outer polycarbonate tube. Push it halfway up the bottom end of the outer tube, apply some super glue and insert it flush with the inside of the outer tube. This will hold your male connector and bottom end of the diffuser tubing. You may need to use a hammer to seat the bushin
  2. LukeSkiewalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2003
    star 4
    Thanks Loreen!

    It's nice to finally see all this info in one place.
  3. surlygirlie Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2000
    star 4
    GREAT write-up, Loreen! I will be editing this thread into both the thread index and the tutorial list post haste.

    Here's a question -- what do you think of this being the jumping off point for a fresh EL saber thread, and closing the other one?
    I'd like to keep conversation centralized, ideally, and the first post here will definitely answer many questions you've had asked repeatedly in the other thread, so it might keep repeat conversation down a little...

    Let me know your thoughts.

  4. hofie Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 2002
    star 2
    Loreen, what would you say was your final cost for everything? Even a ballpark estimate would be great. Thanks :)
  5. unknownjedi Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2004
    thanks alot i have been waiting for a long time and finally here it is thanks agian its very helpfull you ar the master of the blades. Just to let you know/remeber when you wrote 22 guage stero wire from coolneon it is actully listed speaker/lead wire (#ACLW)(this was posted in the the el blade thread and i just wanted you to remember so it is more clear to people when ordering)thanks agian.....let the force be with you.......
  6. unknownjedi Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2004
    ""Will sombody PLEASE Tell or show me how tomake a EL saber out of a graflex!! thanks!!!!!!!!:)"" -Dark Palawan

    i reposted this qeustion for dark padawan from the old el thread can any body give him some feed back he has been asking this for a long time i am in the middle of finding this answer my self but if anybody has any info please post..
  7. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Do what you think is best, Surly. I just started a new thread because I wanted people to see that I had finally written this tutorial that lots of people have been asking for. I've been getting a lot of PMs about it, too.

    Hofie, you can make a blade this way for around $35-40, half (or less than) the price that you can buy one from the "professionals", though that doesn't include shipping for parts.

    But there are initial expenses, too, like tools and ending up with a whole box of screws, when you only need one. :p

    A lot of people don't want to try to make blades, since they don't have the soldering skills, not that you need a lot, but it helps. And they don't want to have to go through the trouble of getting all the parts together. There is a growing number of people here in So. California that now own one of my blades. People have been impressed with my blades, which is how I got my special title here on these boards. I have earned the title "Master of the Blades"! ;)

    Then there are people that can't wait to try it. Guys on other message board where I post have successfully made themselves, and others, EL blades this way. People have been coming to me for advice for a year, since I seem to be the most forthcoming with my information.

    I spent months, and hundreds of dollars researching and experimenting to come up with this conscruction method, and I don't mind letting people benefit from it.

    It's not really that hard to do, but coming up with the right materials to do it the way I wanted is what took a lot of experimentation and time, mostly concerning the diffuser tubing, and how I wanted the EL wire to look inside it. I needed a nice, even glow that would not show the wire.


    Please don't hijack my thread, unknownjedi, that's not nice. :mad: If anyone has information on how to make an EL saber from a Graflex, they will post it in the other thread.

    Okay, I guess my thread's not being hijacked, if things are being re-routed over here. Sorry.
  8. unknownjedi Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2004
    hey DARK PADAWAN.. this is a site that will give you instrustions and pics on making a vader EL bladed saber out of a graflex i hope you can use these instuctions to convert your graflex to an el saber and then you can do what ever you want custom or cozmeticly(YOU DONT HAVE TO DO THE VADE OBVIOSLY IF YOU DONT WANT TO) so here is the link and yall prabably have to cut and paste it to your address bar ones againd this should give you your answer

    http://www.geocities.com/elvistrooper/Gc/index.html
  9. hofie Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 2002
    star 2
    Has anyone ever done this with a Big Yellow Box saber? I've got a style 8 that I've had for a few years that I want to add an EL blade to, but if I can't retrofit it for this I'd definitely like to know that beforehand.
  10. unknownjedi Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2004
    sorry about hijacking your thread its just i kind of have to because this is the new el blade thread the old one is now locked
  11. Wes_Janson Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2004
    star 5
    Loreen, would it work to take a neon tube and get a length of polycarbonate tubeing to put it inside of ?

    Do you think that would do any good in protecting the neon, while still looking good (yes, I know I cant dual with it anyway.)
  12. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    I really don't know anything about neon, so I can't give you any good advice there.

    The advice I can give you is that the word is "duel", not dual, it's not something that's of 2 parts, it's a formal fight between two armed opponents. ;)
  13. jangofett219 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2003
    star 2
    As posted on my foolishly and impatiently posted, locked topic:

    Im trying to make a hilt that will sport my Parks blade. Parks blades use stereo connector, and it has three prongs. I have no idea why it needs three. I need HELP!
  14. zhi-don_aquintas Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2002
    star 4
    thats the hard part about using jeff's blades. they won't function with any other inverter. we [loreen] or myself have no idea why he uses a stereo plug. the blades that loreen makes and the ones from mike [LT] use a mono plug. now the real funny thing is that any blade will work in one of jeff's sabers. still dont know why.

    oh...you can adapt any yellow box saber to EL if it does not have a wooden dowel rod inside it, or if you can figure a way to not use the rod. the basic kit with adapter from [LT]is very easy to put in most sabers made from sink pipes. loreen and i made an EL saber from the [LT] kit and adapter and a sink pipe with a chrome hole plug for the end in about 5 hours. i will post the tutorial here if anyone wants me to.
  15. razorsharp192 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2004
    what thickness el wire do you use? there seems to be a few, eg. angel hair
  16. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Well, I am now exclusively using the High Brightness, Long Life EL wire, available from either Coolight.com or Coolneon.com, now that it's made in 8 of the 10 colors that EL wire comes in, every color but orange and teal.

    It only comes in one thickness, which is somewhere between 2.3 and 3.2 mm. I think it's around 2.7, 2.8 mm.

    This past Saturday night, I got to be part of a lightsaber battle. My local Fan Force group put on a show at an outside charity event for cancer research.

    We had 7 Jedi and 6 Sith battling it out. All but a couple of the blades were ones that I had made. It was a very gratifying experience to see so much of my handiwork all lit up at the same time! :D

    Zhi-don and I had also helped to build several of the custom EL sabers out there on the field that night. It was great, and the crowd loved our show! :)
  17. razorsharp192 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2004
    which inverter do you use? i cant see one small enough to fit in the saber handle, can you link to one you use to show me it?
  18. The_Clone_Emperor Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2002
    star 1
    [color=006699]Jangofett219, regarding your stereo/mono jack problem, ¿have you considered using an adapter;? RadioShack stereo plug adapter
    [image=http://www.radioshack.com/images/ProductCatalog/ProductImage/274/274-360.jpg]

    I am not sure it would work, and it is not the most elegant solution, but it seems like a sound notion (to me.) If it did work, you would not have to alter your Park's blade and you could use it in both stereo and mono female hilts.

    Be well,
    Thomas
    [/color]
  19. razorsharp192 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2004
    what type of set screw do you use? on the site theres loads!
  20. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Most of my friends have been using inverters from Lightech, when they can get them, as they are the brightest I've seen. Otherwise, I recommend this one from Coolight: IFW 5541-2K

    shopping.netledger.com/s.nl/c.ACCT76399/sc.2/category.11/it.A/id.21/.f


    As far as screws, are you referring to thumb screws, to hold in a blade? Or set screws, that go into a blade?
  21. razorsharp192 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2004
    1/4" 10x32 set screw to hold above connector in bottom of tubing.(mcmaster.com)

    that one.

    (i've emailed you by the way)
  22. LondonCalling Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2004
    i was wondering what type of mono plug you use
  23. Darkooze Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Are there any plans on updating this tutorial? Maybe add model/part numbers? Also, not all the parts in your list are available anymore.

    Thanks,
    Darkooze
  24. BescinPrix Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2004
    star 1
    Excellent instructions. Will have to try this soon.

    Also, upping for everyone's benefit :)
  25. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Thank you, BescinPrix. :)

    LondonCalling, any 1/4" mono audio connector will do, but it needs to have a metal housing that is slightly less than 1/2" in diameter in order to fit inside the bottom "bushing". :-B


    Do you want me to do all the work for you, Darkooze? ;) lol [face_laugh]

    Which parts are not available anymore? :confused: I'm not aware of any, though I haven't ordered the polyethylene diffuser tubing for a while, since I buy it in 50' sections. Nor the polycarbonate screws, since I bought a bag of 100. Everything else I buy on a continuous basis.

    I don't deal with Radio Shack for my connectors, since I have a better, cheaper source for them at a local electronics store. Perhaps that is what you are referring to. Or maybe the inverter? [face_thinking] Please enlighten me.
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