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. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    As far as i can tell you can only find the type of inverters you need for EL online, no local stores carry that i could find.

    Loreen you should check out that link from high-tech they dont tell how they make thier blades but they give an example of how to make them and its exactly the way you make them lol.

    Acrylic is not as strong as polyc thats why i never tried using colored tubes. If you want a blade just for looks dont bother with EL, But if you want one you can smack your friends upside the head with then use polyC.

    As far as power sources go you can use any batteries that give you a output of 9-12v on most inverters. One of my sabers i use just a 9v other i use 8 AAA batteries for 12v. Parks's new deuce system uses 2 9v which would be 18v but i have not seen a inverter rated for 18v so dunno if he stepping down the voltage somehow or what.

    Strydur
  2. JayNobELblade Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    Coolneon just sent my order out today. WTF? I ordered friday. It's not like I had a huge complicated order or something. Since I went cheap on shipping I'm most likely not gonna get my stuff untill Monday at best :( The hilt is coming along nicely though and I've been monkeying around with power supplies.
  3. Lord_Brainsss Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2005
    we do have 9v batteries in Sweden, the issue is more that of the hilt. its just a tad more narrow than most hilts so a 9v battert wont fit in the tube, shure i could create a pack thing that sorta looks like Lukes ROTJ saber but i want all the equipment conceled within the hilt, have it nice and sleek, so thats why i want to opt for small 3v or less lithium batteries in a sequencial connection.
  4. sporty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2005
    star 1
    Ya that sucks jaynobel,

    Accordiing to my ups tracking number i was suppose to have 2 shipments yesterday. So I am hoping today.

    The question for myself is can I get another saber done in less than 6 hours tomarrow. When I go and pick up my machined piece for my blade. I dont wanna rush it. So we will see. Either way my son will have one.

    Now if im not mistaken, 2 9 volts is not 18 volts. its still 9 volts, just more amps and longer battery life. unless somehow it was connected inline. like with AA and AAA, you are able to do this -AA+-AA+-AA+-AA+ = 9.2 volts, but you loose some in the process. So likely 9 volts. so 8 AA batteries like this likely give you 18 volts. SO a nine volt might be like this

    look at this link, good example how to fet 18 volts

    http://www.fulltone.com/PDfFiles/18v_snap1.pdf

    sporty

  5. Lord_Brainsss Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2005
    would the same princible work on 3v lithium batteries as well?
  6. sporty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2005
    star 1
    I do not see why not, as long as you connect it the way the link shows, and the battery allows you to connect that way.

    Lithuim is just a higher grade battery, meant for more power consumption items, Like camera flash, to regenerate quickly after a high discharge for the flash.

    sporty
  7. hphoenix Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2005
    star 1
    Just a little electronics for everyone working on their sabers.

    Batteries connected in series (+ terminal to - terminal) the voltage output ADDS. So,

    ....-AA+-AA+-AA+

    would give an output of (3 x 1.5v) = 4.5v

    If you connect them in parallel (+ terminal to + terminal, and - terminal to - terminal) then the voltage output does NOT add, but current sourcing capability increases (put simply, you can get more current). So,

    (forgive the primitive alignment, I can't use <code> tags to force a fixed-pitch font)

    . . .+=====+=====+=======V
    . . .A. . . . .A. . . . .A
    . . .A. . . . .A. . . . .A
    . . .-=====-=====-=======GND

    would give a voltage at V of 1.5v (same as a single), but you could draw three times the current.

    You can put, say, 3 pairs of AA batteries in parallel, with each pair in series.....that gives the same effect as having three 3v batteries in parallel.

    Rechargable batteries have an Ampere-Hour rating. Usually, it's in mAH (milliampere-hours), or just how many milliamps you can draw per hour before it drains the battery. So a 15mAH battery can produce 15mA for an hour before it is drained. Or it could produce 7.5mA for 2 hours, 30mA for 30 minutes, etc.

    D,C,A,AA,AAA and several other batteries are single cell batteries and they all produce 1.5 volts.

    9v batteries produce, suprisingly enough, 9 volts.

    Other batteries produce other voltages.

    To get 9v out of AA batteries, you need 6 of them in series. And to answer the earlier question: Two 9v batteries in series produce 18v, two 9v batteries in parallel produce 9v.
  8. JayNobELblade Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    Thanks for the electronics lesson hphoenix. So then could you some how wire a single 9V and 3 AAAs in series to get 13.5 volts? Things are pretty tight in my hilt and I'm thinking this would be the best config for max power and space. at least until I figure out a leave in re-chargable solution.
  9. hphoenix Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2005
    star 1
    Yep. Put all in series (- to +) and you've got a 13.5v battery.

    I've just gotten started trying to design/assemble my own EL lightsaber, and I really want some reactive sound in it. So I'm trying to find good resources to build the audio & sensor circuit. I can get good 2g Accellerometer chips from digikey for about $8.50, and those are 2 axis. And I believe I can get both Vout and PWM out versions.

    If I could get a good oscillator circuit (enveloped) that sounded like a standard lightsaber hum, I should be able to either frequency or amplitude modulate it based on the output of the accellerometer. That would give the saber the nice 'vruuuuum' sounds when you swing it. I'm going through my circiut encyclopedias tonight......

    Ignition/powerdown and clash sounds would have to be separate, though. The accelerometer would work fine for detecting impact vibration as well, so it can trigger the 'clash' sound.

    The trick here is I'm trying to develop a circuit that is cheap, relatively few parts, and sounds realistic. Then I can just share the circuit with everyone, and you can all build one for your own sabers.
  10. Seanohue Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2005
    So will a 12v inverter be able to function with just 9v going through it?
  11. hphoenix Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2005
    star 1
    Powering a 12v DC/AC inverter with a 9v source MAY work. It also may not. It depends on how the inverter is built.

    Time for another quick lesson.

    Getting the source voltage you need from batteries you have.

    First rule: It is easier to drop voltage accurately than to raise it.

    If you need 12v, and you want to use 9v batteries, use two in series for 18v.

    Second Rule: Use a voltage regulator IC. No, honestly, they are easy to use. They have three leads: Voltage IN, Voltage OUT, and COMMON(or GROUND). Voltage regulators come in a variety of output voltages. 5,6,9,12v are all available. And if you don't mind a little extra circuitry, you can use a VARIABLE voltage regulator (Like a LM317) and set it to whatever voltage you need.

    Some of the better Voltage Regulator ICs use capacitance-pumped outputs, which means they can also RAISE the output instead of just drop it. So you could get 12v out of a single 9v battery. But you'll want to filter that output. A single 0.1uF cap will smooth it out nicely (between output and ground).

    Just a couple of these (they are the size of a typical discrete transistor) and you can have all the voltages you need for your circuit without any problems.

    Third Rule: Current drain ratings must NOT be exceeded. Every Voltage Regulator has a current source rating it can produce for its given voltage. If you try to draw more than that, the output voltage will drop, become unstable, the regulator will overheat, and eventually fail. So if your Voltage regulator IC says maximum current output of 500mA, don't draw more than that!

    Fourth rule: Use a circuit dictionary/encyclopedia. For standard circuits (like voltage regulator stuff) any good circuit encyclopedia will have stuff already laid out for you. You just hook the parts together. I highly recommend the McGraw-Hill series of "The Encyclopedia of Electronic Circuits" vols 1-6. Even just ONE of these will have enough to keep you occupied for months.....






    Now, as an aside, I just found a local source (for me) for 3/4" OD 1/2" ID 1/8" wall Polycarbonate Pipe. It's Calsak Plastics and they just quoted me $16.75 for an 8' section. That's about $2.10 a foot. Only problem is they won't sell less than a case (6 tubes), which comes to $100.50......I'll see about getting some this next paycheck.... They have sales&distribution centers in LA, SF, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, and Portland....So chances are good there is one not too far from you. (I'm in Atlanta, so....)


  12. sporty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2005
    star 1
    Frustration at a alltime high.

    UPS has lost or misplaces or damaged my order for the polycarbonate tubes.

    I went in there to find out what was going on, I had a arrival date of yesterdat (17th).

    I sure do miss USPS, i always felt they do it better and get it to ya quicker.

    SOrry for the outspokeness. Looks like I will have to re-order and file a claim with UPS.

    sporty
  13. Lord_Brainsss Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2005
    does anyone have any suggestions on european based supliers for polycarbonate polyethylene and polypropylene tubings?

    Because i havent had much luck in sweden itself, so far ive only found polycarbonate sheets, but they seem to only carry Acrylic tubes otherwise.
  14. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    hphoenix,

    Can you point me to a chip on www.mouser.com that i could use to take 2 9v's and knock it to 13.8v from 18v?

    Thanks, Strydur
  15. Darth_Roadkill Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 1
    I started my blade on monday evening. Here are the problems I experianced so that others will not make the same mistakes.

    1. Ordered the thicker walled, 5/8" OD stuff for the blade and the diffuser to go with it, the diffuser fit perfectly inside however I got the 5mm EL wire and it wont fit into the diffuser, so mine is run in the polyc without a diffuser.

    2. I ordered Orange EL thinking I would be cool, should have gone with yellow I think. The Orange looks like dull red and does not glow well at all, cant even tell its on unless it perfectly dark, of course this could all be the result of 5mm wire. Dont order the 5mm unless you feel like testing it. Dont order the orange because it isnt orange its dull red.

    3. I ordered the pipsqueak inverter for my wire, however the pipsqueak does not fit inside my standard sink pipe hilt, it is probably 1/4" to thick with the screw holes on the sides, I tried to remove the plastic shell but it is filled with that polymer or whatever and doesnt want to cooperate. So for now the inverter hangs on the outside.

    4. I decided to try the quick connecters already on from coolneon.com. This works ok, especially so I could get it done in time for this mornings premier. However I have manually connect the wires to turn on the blade and this requires unscrewing my endcap. Probably work fine all internal once I get my switch installed.

    5. Finally after "dueling" with it lightly I think I broke one the wires on the inverter so now It wont turn on again. Picking up a new battery on the way home to see if thats it.

    I really wish I had followed the instructions to a T, because they seem very very well researched. I suggest you do this unless you have unlimited budget to find your way.

    Thankyou Jedi Loreen for the inspiration. Im happy to report, that although it wasnt perfect, it was at least mine, not some cheap toy. And I got alot of comments (in the dark) about it being very good for a first try (most people wouldnt try to make there own anyway.

    I will be ordering more parts and see if I cant retrofit my current blade, also think I will keep my thick Poly C but get the 3/4" OD 5/8" ID and put it around the 5/8" OD for an etremely sturdy blade. I will let you know if this turns out well.

    Respectfully,
    Darth Roadkill, Lord of the Street Pizza
  16. sporty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2005
    star 1
    Well what could go wrong has gone wrong, but I stay happy and positive.

    They found my shipment had been sent to california, Another 5 days of wait.

    I did get my aluminuim insert for the blade. I am gonna have more of these made and better design.

    here is link to pictures, just click on pic to enlarge for better view.

    http://home.insightbb.com/~jedijohnson/wsb/html/view.cgi-photos.html-MerchantID-1359802-Publish-t-makestatic-true-skip-5.html

    sporty
  17. hphoenix Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2005
    star 1
    Strydur:

    LM217T Adjustable Voltage Regulator @ Mouser.com

    You'll have to choose two resistors to form the voltage divider that biases the regulator. The basic formula is:

    Vout= Vref * (1 + ( R2/R1 )) + (Iadj * R2)

    Though the IC is made to minimize Iadj, so that term is negligible (Iadj is <100uA). So

    Vout = Vref * (1 + ( R2/R1 ))

    13.8v = Vref * (1 + R2/R1)

    So lets say Vref = 1.25v. (from the Electrical characteristics in the data sheet, 1.2v<Vref<1.3v)

    11.04v = 1 + R2/R1
    10.04v = R2/R1
    10.04 * R1 = R2

    So we choose R1 to be 470 Ohms. R2 is therefore 4718 Ohms. Hard to find that exact value, but we can probably find a 4.7 KOhm. That also means that the current drain of just the bridge is approximately (13.8v/5170 Ohms) = 2.67 mA. Since the device can source up to 500mA, we've still got plenty to spare.

    The basic circuit to use is on Page 4 of the Datasheet, and is in Figure 3 of this particular regulator on Mouser's website.

    Don't forget to bypass the outputs with a 0.1uF capacitor (tantalum is best) to smooth out any transient noise in the output voltage. (Bypass means hooking the cap up across the output to ground. Ground is the wire hooked to the negative battery terminal)

    (Note, the input of this regulator is a max of 40v, and the output has a max rating of 37v. So don't hook together more than four 9v batteries together to power it (unless some are in parallel))
  18. RedHeadKevin Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2004
    star 2
    It's fairly obvious in ROTS that the lightsabers have pointed blades.. ( No, that's not a spoiler) Might there be a way to do this with the polyC? Maybe heat it up and twist the end of the tube until it twists and breaks off? Then file down the point so you don't put out someone's eye?
  19. Strydur Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 9, 2005
    star 2
    Darth Roadkill,

    The big pipsqueek you got will fit in a 1 1/2 pipe if you grind down 4 sides enough i have done this with 2 of them but will buy the smaller one from now on. The reason it might have quit working is if you applied to power to it while no load was plugged in as in you didnt have any EL wire hooked to it when you had batteries hooked to it..some inverters will blow if this is the case, i know cause i blew one of mine.

    Strydur
  20. Jedi_Kovos Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    Been watching this thread for a while now and finally decided to register so that I could drop in my two cents.

    I haven't gotten the money together yet to buy all the parts, but...

    I'm in the process of building a saber at the moment (still need to do hilt, too) but I might well make the blade first... I'll take pictures just in case someone else doesn't beat me to the punch in making a visual companion for this technique.

    I've been looking at the various sizes of tubing at McMaster and I think I'm going to go with the 1/8" wall 1" OD 3/8" ID polycarbonate... 3/4" doesn't seem to be big enough for a saber blade by the time you get down to the diffuser. I dunno - haven't seen it in person yet, to be fair.

    I'm planning on using three passes of yellow 2.5 mm HB EL, which should fit inside my diffuser - 3/8" OD 1/4" ID... maybe even four... I'm pretty sure an inch is about two centimeters and change, but I'm not certain.

    One question about the tubing, though: It's described as semi-clear (translucent) white... does the polypropylene tubing look the same, like, for diffusing purposes, as the polyethylene? I figured they probably look about the same, since you were using them as bushings and all. Just a thought.

    That aside, my hilt ID is probably going to be 1 1/2" or so, and I got to thinking maybe I'll use eight AAAs instead of 9v... sure, it's more batteries - but the six 1.5 minicells in a 9v have lower watt-hour ratings than AAAs, and by running at 12v, I figure I'll be getting more brightness and longevity.

    Anyway, I'll post again when I acquire some parts or if I think of something else that might be useful. If I've made any logical mistakes, feel free to point them out... it's a distinct posibilitiy.

    Too bad there seems to be no practical way of getting around the two screws you have to buy like 100 of... anyone got any ideas? ><;
  21. neo2478 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2005
    What is the life span of the EL Wire??
  22. sporty Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2005
    star 1
    Today I went to a local puter store and got soem screws for free, for holding in my blade to the hilt.

    el wire, last from 4,000 hours to 6,000 hours, just look at the web sites that sell it. They usually have that information posted, The norm is 6,000 hours, But I have seen less than that with cheaper el wire.

    sporty
  23. JayNobELblade Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2005
    Very interesting Jedi-Koval. 1"OD. I was actually considering going that route as well. I chickened out and decided to stick with what has allready been done for my first saber (I'm still waiting on my order from coolneon 10 days now). Plus the cost of the bigger/thicker tubing turned my off a little. Keep us all posted as to how comes along. Oh the Poly C is clear. The poly E is translucent. Maybe I'll modify the one I'm working on now for the little guy and go 1" for my next saber.
  24. Jedi-Loreen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2002
    star 4
    Ok, first of all, RedHeadKevin, why would you want to make a pointed blade? Bad idea. It could be dangerous, and the first time you drop it on it's end, it will break. I'd go with the acrylic half balls.

    Darth_Roadkill, I don't know why you went with the 5mm wire, you can't bend it to put more than one strand inside the diffuser tubing. That's why I recommended the smaller diameter wire.

    I have done a lot of experimentation, and while I don't necessarily have the "definitive" method of meking blades, I'm trying to let people benifit from my experience so they don't go wasting time and money.
    If you guys don't want to listen to me, then fine. Sometimes your own experiments work, sometimes they don't.

    When you have a blade stop lighting up, don't assume it's something complicated as to why. It's often one of the fine wires breaking inside the EL wire, that can happen. Though I have seen solder joints fail in the circuitry for the inverter, too.

    Jedi_Kovos, why are you going with the 1" polycarbonate? There is plenty of room inside the 3/8" diffuser tube for the EL wire. Plus, a 1" 1/8" walled tube is going to be heavy.

    Most people want to go with the 3/4" blade because then they can fit into a Parks or Lightech saber, since it's the "Industry Standard". With the 1" you are limited to using it only in your own saber.

    Do not use the polypropylene for you diffuser. I tried that and it does not diffuse enough, you can still see the wire inside it, unless you want to sand the hell out of it, not like the polyethylene which is a bit more opaque.







  25. rogue_squad Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Jedi-Loreen, This is a great topic, but I do have a question. Are you buying your hilt or are you making your own? Either way can someone direct me to a site or thread that will allow me to make a complete el lightsaber. if this was answered before sorry i missed it. Thanks
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