Frequently Asked Questions
Here Ive answered the most typically asked
questions that show up in my inbox.
this a real light saber?
This is a nonfunctional saber. (The
technology does not exist yet to produce a functional one.) I built this because I wanted
to have a realistic looking light saber hilt prop to wear with my Jedi costume.
you please build me or sell me a light saber?
For the time being, no. It wasnt my aim to
sell light sabers, just show people how they can build their own (as the title of the site
suggests). Do you have someone who is good at building things who could help you build
yours? Youd get more enjoyment out of that anyway, I would think. However, if you
are still desperate to have me build you one, Ill add you to a list of similar
requests. We are working with another team to provide assembled sabers, but it will be a
while before it is finished.
does the light inside do?
Will it extend like a real light saber blade?
The light inside it is used to illuminate the
calculator bubbles on the handle, and to shine through the electron tube. The
light is cool-looking, but would not be confused with a real light saber blade (if such
existed). Essentially, you could think of it as a low-powered flashlight.
can I get a real/functional light saber?
How did they make the light sabers used in the movies?
How can I add a blade to my saber?
Remember that the technology to make a light
saber does not yet exist. Even in the films, saber props were constructed using aluminum
rods for blades, and the glowing light effect was added later by Industrial Light &
Magic. (See Lynnes Diary: The Making of Episode I, Part
6Prime of the Jedi at the official Star
Wars site for more detail.)
Jinn and Maul Sabers, as used during filming (Photo courtesy of LucasFilms, © 1999)
If you want a functional saber, you
could build this, and build a blade that goes in the top. Some guys I met had
sabers that used blades made from a long section of PVC pipe, about 1" in diameter,
that theyd painted bright red or greenit looked pretty good. Such a blade
could be inserted into the top of this design for battling. (I will probably modify my
saber design to allow for using such a blade myself.) See also the Noodle Saber page.
The light saber toys (about $22) are also pretty
good, and even have sound effects, if you can live with the fact that the blades
dont completely disappear, and they are not extremely durable. Both my sons have
them and like them quite a bit. Theres also a new $10 model that does not have sound
effects, but does light up, and the blade retracts completely into the handle.
We hope to offer the parts soon for a reasonable
price, but the best place currently to get a plasma tube is unquestionably from Information Unlimited. They offer everything from the basic parts to an
assembled kit, and for the parts, their prices are extremely reasonablefar better
than Ive seen anywhere else on the Web.
If you have lots of money (upwards of $275), you
can get a plasma saberthese use a gas-filled tube with high-frequency
electricity flowing through it (something like a fluorescent light) to create a glowing
blade effect. You can find these at Sci-Fi Collectibles, but they are expensive. The plasma sword itself could
probably fairly easily be fitted to my hilt design.
Ive also found at FutureHorizons something which seems to be a similar design for less
money. It turns out its a plasma tube mounted onto the existing toy
sabers. See the specific FutureHorizons information below.
If you have loads of money (and I mean loads),
and want the best saber replica and plasma tube money can buy, youll want to talk to
at the University of Chicago. They also have some good technical information about plasma sabers.
BJ Powers suggests cannibalizing a toy saber for its blade:
Also an alternate suggestion for the
blade is the blade from the toys. I found a cheap Obi-Wan light saber for $7.00 at a
Kaybee Toys. The quality is of medium strength. You must disassemble it and take out the
blade. There are 5 pieces. The largest wont fit so set that aside. the second won't
fit until you do the following. Take the second largest and make a "V" shaped
cut about 1 to 2 inches down and pull that off. That allows you to squeeze the blade and
put it into the saber. Once it is in let go and it will expand and fit firmly. it is
removable unless you want to glue it in.
can I get a Jedi costume?
See the links page under
the Other Star Wars Sites section. A talented woman named Juana
Quinlan made costumes for my boys and I, and Ive found one other site that sells
long does it take to assemble a saber?
I spent about two weeks putting my saber
together. You could probably build one in one marathon weekend; spending most
of Saturday and part of a Sunday to finish it. Remember that anything you paint will need
to dry for at least 24 hours, and if you give it two coats (recommended), youll be
adding a few minutes of work for reassembly on a third day.
about those cool sound effects?
I havent thought much about the sound.
Theoretically, you could destroy one of the toy sabers and use its sound electronics. See
CTLaw74s Project Graphlex section, under Electronics Exploded View and
Electronics Photos for more information. There is also a microchip you
can buy at Radio Shack that would allow you to record the light saber hum onto
it and play it back. I just use my imagination.
suggests this easy-and-inexpensive method of providing sound:
I found a way to make the lightsaber
hum! I bought a 3 watt buzzer from Radio Shack, and a second battery pack. I
glued the 2 battery packs together, back to back, and it just barely fit (I had to sand
down the edges a bit). Then I cut another tiny hole in the metal rod, just below the
hole for the light switch, and wired the buzzer to the battery pack. Now the buzzer
is pretty loud, so you have to wrap it in plastic, so it quiets it, and it only works when
your holding the button down, but its better than nothing!
can I get these pages to print better?
Some browsers have trouble with printing white
text on a black background.
If you are using Microsoft
Internet Explorer, Click View > Internet Options, and then click on the
Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Printing settings, and be sure the box marked Print
background colors and images is unchecked. Internet Explorer will then print black
text instead of white.
If you are using Netscape
Navigator, go to the Preferences dialog (Edit > Preferences), and click on
Colors. Set your text and background colors to something that will print well (the default
is fine), and put a check the box marked Always use my colors, overriding
document. That will change the colors you see on screen, and allow you to print
Please see my comments after this, but here is
what FutureHorizons.net has to say about its sabers (thanks to Jedi Phaleg for providing this):
The lightsaber blade is solid. It is a high
power shock mounted neon type tube which contains a plasma gas which glows brightly when
activated. It is not just a simple light bulb! Just by looking at our photos of it on our
website should confirm that.
The lightsaber looks amazingly similar to the
real thing when activated. You wont realize how true this really is until you actually
hold it in your hand. It also creates all the sound effects when activated.
The lightsaber beam can be seen very well
indoors or in low light conditions outdoors. It is very bright!
The lightsabers run on (2) 9v batteries. If
you use alkaline batteries then it should operate for about 30-60 minutes on its
batteries depending on how often you power it up and down.
The lightsaber blade can be removed. The
blades on our double ended saber can also be removed and will work with only one blade if
We now have several new saber designs and
some new photos at:
We guarantee that every lightsaber works when
it arrives or simply send it back with a note and we will repair it for free.
We are also currently working on an
incredible new design which will allow the lightsaber to actually extend and retract using
actual laser light. The technology is incredibly expensive to accomplish this however. We
will likely be offering a few demo units for sale when they are completed. Unfortunately
the price will be around $1,200 each! But we will post plenty of photos for all who are
interested in looking at it.
From Jedi Wilcox: Ive discovered why
their saber looks so much like the film sabers. Theyve cannibalized the toy sabers
to make the hilta good idea, to a certain extent. If you look at their photo (below)
of the Vader saber, you can even see the caution label on the side that says
dont poke someone with this. That also explains how theyre doing
the soundtheyre using the existing sound hardware from the toy. Smart from a
design standpoint. It also gives them a number of rather good features for a $22
investmentand probably sidesteps a number of legal issues.
I finally received a report from someone who purchased
a saber from Future Horizons. You may want to e-mail
him with specific questions about their sabers.
I got my lightsaber today, after 6
and a half weeks. I got the Qui-Gon one, so I didnt have a choice in
blade color, it was green. It came in two pieces, the blade and the hilt.
The hilt is indeed the toy ones. It even has Hasbro printed on the
hilt. The lightsaber takes one 9 volt and 2 AAA batteries for the 24 inch
blade, and I have heard that the 36 inch blade takes two 9 volt batteries.
After putting the batteries in their cases, I placed them into the hollow
handle, screwed on the blade, turned it on, and heard sounds but no light. I
found the instructions, and they said to put the top battery pack facing up.
So I fixed that and turned it on. The blade flickered for a few seconds,
then lit up completely. When I turned it off, the blade flickered again,
then went out. Even though the blade is a glass tube, that is in a Plexiglas
tube for protection, It still shouldnt be used for fighting. The blade
light flickers sometimes when you swing it or tilt it, but usually it stays
is the purpose of the electron tube?
The electron tube (Hit Ray
6X5 GT, Sovtek 6SN7, or equivalent) is used merely for aesthetic (appearance)
purposes. It is not part of the electronics circuit, and will not produce a
saber blade. The light or LED within the saber shines through
the electron tube, illuminating it and its internal components. It looks fabulous as an
emitter array. Note that if you are adding a blade to the saber, you will not
need this part.
Both tubes and available from The
Tube Store. More information is posted on
the parts list.