Lightsabers & Blasters LED Blade Q and A's

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by UltraSWG, Aug 8, 2005.

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  1. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    Wow, you are my savior. I had no idea they still had those things in stock. Much better sounding lightsaber here I come!
  2. aoifrost Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 4, 2005
    star 1
    Yep! The price actually just dropped down to $30!

    I tracked one down today. They are getting rid of them all, so you have to call up local stores and have them check in the back because they aren't out on display anymore.

    They seem pretty neat! I am glad I bought mine! There are some good metal bits in there even though a lot of the stuff is plastic.
  3. Raph1613 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2004
    star 4
    Awesome! Sort of. At least this means that no one else has tamperred with it and then returned it. Unfortunately, I guess that means that it's a piece of $#!+ straight out of the box.
    * sigh *
    Money well spent...


    Now, I still haven't been able to find any wiring schematics for that piece of junk. Since I'm stuck with it for now, is there any specific place that I should look for them? I've been through the tutorial forums at TCSS and haven't found anything yet.

    Also, I've installed one of the new Corbin Driver boards into my saber. I definitely had to upgrade from a 9-volt to four AAA's since it wound up dimmer than ever. Only now, with the AAA setup, I'm only at the same brightness that I had with the 9-volt through a buckpuck.

    About the new Corbin Driver board: I love the ramp-up effect. I can't get enough of it! I just don't see any kind of "shimmer" effect.
    Comments? Suggestions?
  4. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    I don't know if I can help too much here--lots of questions, but... let's see:

    * A 9v battery will rarely be able to handle the needs of an LED saber. Why. Well, a 9v cell is ACTUALLY just a bunch of AAAA (that's right, that's 4 'A's). Six of 'em to be exact. They are all wrapped up in that nice little rectangle for you... BUT... the "mah" (milli-ampere-hours) you'll get from them sucks monkey arse. So I recommend against using them... even if you wire two together to double the runtime. Still sucks monkey funk.

    * Luxeon K2 current concerns... well, this depends on the color--to some people's surprise. It's kind of funny to me though, since you can classify them as "dark side" LEDs or "light side" LEDs... and they each require different currents. Makes it easy to remember... but, you can always look up manufacturer data.

    The Luxeon K2 "light side" series (green, blue, royal blue, white, cyan)... has a max. cont. curr. = 1500ma.
    The Luxeon K2 "dark side" series (red, red-O, amber)... has a max. cont. curr. = 700ma.

    This does NOT equate to more current = "better". Au contraire. You must look at ALL aspects of an LED to determine if it is right for your saber project: its forward voltage... its 'ideal' current... the heat generated... the lumens produced. Not to mention the bin type.

    * Saber brightness / driving... If you do not properly drive an LED--it's pretty certain that you won't be happy with the results... ... ... (!) That's pretty obvious. :) But... people rarely think about that when diving into sabers. To help, let's just consider the words from the old Bard himself:

    "Suit the action to the word, word to the action."
    ...Oh, but in this case...
    "Suit the current to the LED, the LED to the current."

    If you're able to feed an LED the correct amount of current (at the right forward voltage of course)... you'll be pretty good to go, and be seeing near to the "best" results you could get from your LED. Every high-power LED is different and many have a wide ranges of currents that they like--anything from 350ma to 1500ma... and even MORE in some cases! :)

    Corbin's original driver basically spits out about 1A (1000ma) and is not programmable. So, it suits LEDs that want something around 1000ma of current... so, you could over-drive a 700ma LED... or slightly under-drive one that wanted (let's say) 1200ma. Whatever.

    Ultra's driver board is/was configurable in a "digital" fashion for many of the Luxeon types, but basically accepts 700ma, 1000ma and 1500ma. Pretty cool. Also supports even the "voltage heavy" Lux V (700ma for current).

    Erv's Crystal Focus driver is the most configurable of all at present, as it accepts an "analog" type RANGE of currents--that range being anything from 0ma to 1500ma. This is configurable using a parameter that tells the board exactly how to drive the LED, and can also be configured for many currents even with the same saber.

    Force FX... spits out about 900ma when all is said and done. This also means for the "Joe Jedi" RGB one, but it is split in 3 for each LED. And NOT evenly... the red LED takes a little less than the green and blue ones (goes back to that "light side" / "dark side" thing)... :)

    Hasbro... which is barely worth mentioning... well--I don't know for certain, but you can hook up a Luxeon III "lightside" and it will probably be relatively acceptable. I guess. I don't really know. Who cares, the toy + board is like $10 or whatever, so even if you jacked it up, what's the big deal.

    Oh... finally... since Luxeon III LEDs are about $6 to $10... there really is no GIGANTOR harm if you "destroy" one by accidently giving it too much current / voltage. So... by all means--experiment a bit! The worst that could happen is... well... suddenly you need to go buy a new LED. Oh darn. Wow, $8. I mean, sure... it's still eight bucks, but... if you're worried about killing an LED you're in the WRONG
  5. aoifrost Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 4, 2005
    star 1
    Wow that was very informative Greytale! Thanks a ton!

    So it would seem that a "light side" K2 would be pretty under-driven if wired up to a Force FX Board? Do you have any suggestions to get around this or do you think 900ma would be acceptable for powering a "light side" K2?

    I wonder if I should just get a Lux III and properly drive it (since the optimal current is 1000mA) with the FX board as opposed to severely under-driving a K2.

    Also greytale, have you seen the Blue and Royal Blue K2's? I personally have not seen them in person and was wondering which color I should go with. Thanks again! [:D]

    EDIT: I also checked out that Joe Jedi tutorial and it was incredible! Props to him!
  6. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    Wow, never fails that Radio Shack is useless to me. Both of the stores that have them listed as in stock have none. Not in the back, not on the floor. Nowhere. Quality. Why do great idea always get foiled?
  7. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    You're welcome. And let's see... yes, essentially a light-side K2 Lux would be underdriven on any FX board... but it would still appear nice, I'm sure. :) It's just... yes, you're right: might as well use a Lux III lightside then. I mean... why not? :)

    I will say... the difference between driving a Lux III Green (let's say) at 1000ma vs. 900ma... VISUALLY... is close to impossible to detect. Now, driving a Green K2 at 1000ma vs. 1500ma... well, OK... you might start to note the difference... and CERTAINLY you would notice driving a Green K2 @ 700ma... and then trying it at 1500ma! :)

    The point is... 1000ma and 1050ma or 1100ma... no big deal. DRASTIC changes (such as doubling current or... 50% less/more current)--well... then you would actually notice brightness differences.

    Blue and Royal Blue are very nice in my opinion. Royal Blue gets a "bad rap" because it is measured "differently" than the other LEDs in the visual waveform... but that is because it BEGINS to approach ultra-violet (not "seeable") light. So it makes sense that it doesn't even register "1 lumen", since lumens really aren't the most IDEAL way to measure how this gear-bage all works. Hard to explain, but one moral = LUMENS DON'T ALWAYS TELL THE STORY OF BRIGHTNESS. It depends. Best judge? Get one, see it in person, DRIVE it correctly... and THEN you can say for sure what you like. :)

    Robodragon (Grayven's) Joe Jedi tutorial(s) DO rock. :)

    And Muffin--great ideas do not always get snubbed. Look at CF... :)
  8. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    Well, more along the lines of my ideas and plans always get smashed....

    I came to the conclusion today that I fried my CF board. I must have had a bare wire in there somewhere hit the board in the wrong spot. I turned it on, it worked for a second, and then pop. Nothing worked. I checked all of my wiring and it's all good but nothing is happening. So bad stuff seems to happen in pairs as of late.
  9. Raph1613 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2004
    star 4
    Wow!

    Quite a bit to think about and look up!

    Thank you GreytaleNovastar1138!!

  10. ardavenport Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2004
    star 4
    One note about brightness. The human eye is more sensitive to different colors than others. Basically, the eye is more sensitive to green light than any other color. So, if you have two lights, one green, one red, putting out the same amount of energy, the green one is still going to 'look' brighter.

    You and add in the complication that red light photons are lower energy than green photons, but that difference is not as big as eye sensitivity to different colors of light.
  11. JonYo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 2
    Sat on the Joe Jedi waiting for the price to drop to salvage for parts. Guess I waited too long. All sold out near me...meh.
  12. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    Essentially, this is correct--but only to a point. As... every human perceives color differently. The only way we know that is via science and experiments, but on our OWN, we cannot individually tell another human that color X is definitively brighter than color Y... because THEY might see it otherwise. Even if the lights are RIGHT there in front of us.

    Still, that being said... yup... green and red are what the AVERAGE human's eyes are most sensitive to. To this day, I've never seen a brighter LED (in the same power/watt/current/etc. class) as Red or Red-Orange. To me, a Red-Orange Luxeon III is quite a bit brighter than a Green Luxeon K2... although not by a LANDSLIDE or something.

    But... to others... a GREEN K2 (or Green Lux V) might "trump" a Red-O Lux III. Whatever. My eyes are my own, heheh. :)

    Oh--finally: Muffin, don't feel bad... both of my CF sabers are doing some BIZARRE things ever since Erv and I were doing some interesting tests with them (firmware-wise--to test v4.x and so forth). They are both out for the count and doing some *REEEEEAAALLLY* bananas things that I may simply be unable to resolve alone (with my limited electronics experience / tools).

    Muffin--check in with Erv... he might be able to suggest a plan to help repair your CF... or at least suggest some tests to make with the multi-meter in order to get an idea of what exactly is going wrong. He takes care of his people... just like I try to do! :)
  13. HisshouBuraiKen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Hi guys!

    I'm building my first saber (which ironically isn't a saber at all, it's a "beam katana" from the video game No More Heroes for Wii). I've been reading through this thread and absorbing bits and pieces of what's been posted and it's been very helpful. So thanks!

    What I've got now is the sound unit and 3AA battery holder gutted from a a Hasbro toy (slightly modded to keep the battery holder held down and the connections re-soldered to be stronger). I'm thinking, based on what I've read here, that I can drive the speaker and a green 3-watt Star III off those 3 AA's with the right resistor. I won't be doing any real heavy dueling with it but I do want it to be able to take a few hits, however brightness is the higher priority. So my questions to you guys are:

    1) Does that power setup sound like it'll be okay?
    2) I'll need to use a polycarbonate blade with 1 1/4" OD. Which wall thickness will give me a better glow, 1/16" or 1/8"?
    3) I had an idea that wrapping the part of the blade inside the hilt in some kind of reflective material (shiny duct tape or tin foil) would reflect more light back up the exposed part of the blade - will that do anything for me?
    4) Where should I buy the LED, collamitor lens and tubing from? Cheaper is better.

    Thanks a million!
  14. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    I personally would purchase the LED and lense from thecustomsabershop.com But I would buy the blade from ultrasabers.com as I've found it's overall brightness to weight ratio to be superb.
  15. HisshouBuraiKen Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Oh, I guess I should also ask what lens I'd want for a 1.25" OD tube? I'm guessing the lower one, 5-6 degrees?
  16. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    I don't know of any 1.25" blades, but the lens is relational to the LED... not so much the blade.

    It's been said that there are slight differences (LED saber-wise) between 10 degree and 5 degree lenses, but... 5 degree is generally the best unless you have a pretty insane polycarbonate blade tube length (insane being 40" +). Even then, a 10 degree lens isn't going to help a 40" blade be very well lit. It will start to look pretty dim.

    Recommend 32" to 36" of exposed blade. Any more usually makes a saber horribly unbalanced anyhow.
  17. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    Ok folks, I got my first MR DIY Lightsaber kit in the mail today. Before I start tearing it to pieces, any ideas on what to expect? Like, can I run a Luxeon III Star off of the driver already installed in there?
  18. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    Yes.

    As long as you put the Luxeon III on a heatsink.
  19. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
  20. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    Keep in mind that if it's the RGB kind of setup... all three are basically splitting the current, each around 0.3 amps. This is not entirely true, since red takes less than green and blue, but... it's still a total of about 900ma or 950ma. Something like that... :)
  21. TheMuffin Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 2005
    star 2
    Makes sense. I wonder though, do we have a chart of what each color requires for the best brightness output?
  22. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    No, because most every LED is different--even if you buy two of the "same" saber.

    You would get the best results by using a dedicated power supply to feed current + voltage into each LED color individually, and sort of "dial it in". Then, you'd mark down what voltage and current was best for that color, and do the other two.

    At that point, to set it up for a battery-driven power source, you'd either have to find the closest resistor that would yield the ideal current and voltage for each LED (kind of tough)... or hook up some POTs (potentiometers), which are essentially variable resistors. Then you could dial it in again--much like you had earlier with the dedicated power supply--and get the best results.

    HOWEVER... this is "going waaaaaaay too far" in my opinion. Ultimately, you would go with the manufacturer's specifications and be happy with that. I do not know the specific specs for the RGB that's in your saber... but if you pull it out, find the model number and name (it's probably a "Prolight"), you can likely look it up.

    If I recall correctly, Grayven (Robodragon on youtube) has talked about the exact currents he found to be good for the RGB SW saber:
    http://youtube.com/user/robodragonsdf1

    It was something like Blue & Green are like @350ma, and red is 290ma. Should work pretty well if you try those, although I'm not 100% sure.
  23. Corbin-Das Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2005
    star 2
    Hi all!
    I haven't messed much with blades larger than 1" OD, but I'd suggest getting whatever polycabonate material you can in 1.25 OD. I'm not sure if they routinely make it with both 1/8" and 1/16" sidewall, so you might be stuck with little choice there anyway. Don't forget that a thick walled 1.25" blade will be pretty heavy.
    Your idea about putting reflective material in the base of the blade where you don't see it, has been done for a long time and some folks seem to like it, while others don't see much difference. I personally like doing it and have been incorporating that into my blades for years. To MY eyes, I think it looks nicer.
    As far as lens design, you're probably going to have to go with whatever is available for the particular LED you're using. I generally use 5 degree lenses, but for the fatter blade, a 10 degree one would likely be good too.

    These are just my opinions, obvioiusly.... but I hope they help.


    Corbin Das
  24. LAN-ED-TUL Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2005
    star 4
    i gutted out my joe jedi saber for the internals. theres like 4 wires soldered to the star.

    i assume one of those is the common ground, and the other 3 are hot leds to each led die. that right? if so, then i assume also you just wire the 3 hot leads together, and to the hot terminal on the lux 3 and the common ground to the neg side? i havent looked close yet to see if the rgb led has the neg and pos marks on it, thats why i asked.
  25. GreytaleNovastar1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2005
    star 4
    Lan, I am just guessing, but essentially yes--at least one of those leads is the common GND/neg and the other three MUST be for R, G and B.

    If you're planning simply to do one color, just test it out by touching the leads to the LED in the way you're saying. It SHOULD be fine, considering you'd just be combining the current from each lead to get around 1A for the Luxeon III (or whatever) LED.

    Additionally, as far as I know, there would be no issue if you got it wrong--the LED just wouldn't light up. But you're probably going to see light the first time you try what you said.
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