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Assuming you have prepared the end cap, and made
the angle cut in the upper PVC coupler, and drilled any holes you will need in the PVC,
this is a good point to start the painting. To get good coverage and adhesion, I recommend
dipping the parts completely in the paint. Only 3 parts in this design need paint: the PVC
end cap, PVC ring (cut from the end cap), and the PVC coupler.
For paint I used a 1/2-pint of glossy black,
multi-surface latex. This size was large enough to dip all the parts I had, and also
wasnt very costly.
Set up a drip drying area and a place
to hang the parts. I used paper clips to create hangars, but any wire or string will do.
Stir the paint thoroughly, and completely immerse
each part you are painting for a few seconds. Lift the part out of the paint, and wait for
a minute or two for most of the excess paint to run off, then hang the part up to continue
To avoid having a big drip solidify at the lowest
edge of the part, in about 15 to 20 minutes, gently dab the drip that will form with a
paper towel or sponge. You might need to repeat this a few minutes later.
After the first coat, let all the parts dry for
1224 hours, and then give them a second coat. Dont forget to stir the paint
again. Wait at least 12 hours (24 is better) before trying to attach or work with the
painted parts. (I was a little bit impatient, and have one small fingerprint on my upper
PVC coupler to show for it.)
Upper Tube Assembly
This saber design uses two decorative caps,
generally used to secure an overhead incandescent lamp shade. To connect them to the
saber, you could just epoxy them on, but better results can be achieved by drilling
3/8" diameter holes in the chrome tube, and screwing a short piece of 3/8"
threaded tube (also meant as part of an overhead light assemblyyou will find both
the caps and rod easily in a typical hardware stores fan/lighting department) into
the saber body, and then mounting the caps on it.
caps, like these, make excellent knobs.
Spencer Brown gave me an excellent
suggestion for the decorative buttonsthese would be more similar to
those used on the Graflex-tube sabers (see the FAQ
and Links pages).
I ran across your website a few weeks ago while searching for info on building a
replica droid caller. While I didnt find precisely what I needed, I
thoroughly enjoyed your detailed instructions on building a replica saber. Even better, I
like the fan sections in which you showcase individual designs. It's cool that
you promote creativity and individuality with your site
Anyhow, today at the hardware store I walked past the perfect accessory for
building a Graflex-style lightsaber. To recreate the glass lens on the Graflex, all you
need to do is install one of those viewing glasses that fits in your front door. They come
in several sizes, and range from $2-6.
Hope this helps someone out!
Because I didnt have a drill large enough
to do the job, my machinist friend Eric was kind enough to drill two semi-random holes in
the upper body of the saber. (In fact, the position of one of the holes was decided by the
fact that the piece slipped during milling, and the position for the slot had to be milled
on the opposite side.) Where you put the knobs is entirely up to you. I definitely wanted
one near the top of the saber, just at the base of the upper, angled PVC coupler, but
wasnt picky about the other.
Youll need a pair of pliers to screw in the
threaded tube. The best thing to do is to screw in a longer piece of tube than you will
actually use. The holes for this should be slightly smaller than the threads so the tube
will tap threads into the sides of the holealthough if you have a really
well equipped workshop you can measure the threads and thread the tube with a tap and die
set. Be careful, as the chrome pipe isnt very thick; you dont want to strip
the threads (although if you do, a dab of epoxy will allow you to recover somewhat
Once youve tapped the holes with the longer
tube, cut two short pieces of it (3/8" to 1/2" in length) with a hack saw. If
you have one available, putting a nut on one side of your cut will allow you to re-thread
the portion of the rod that the hack saw will have mangled, but for this you can live
Using pliers, thread your two shorter pieces of
the threaded tube partway into the 3/8" holes. You can then screw the nickel-plated
caps on by hand.
Slide the upper PVC coupler over the top of the
saber, and line up its angle cut with the cut of the chrome tube. This should fit snugly,
but if it doesnt secure it with a little epoxy.
(1970s) calculator display bubblesI have
no idea why I saved one of these, but Im glad I did.
Using a file, carefully rough the edge just
around the milled slot, and epoxy the calculator display bubbles to the chrome tube.
Note: If you cant obtain these
bubbles, here is an alternate suggestion sent in by Padme:
I just thought Id tell you that I
couldnt find the calculator bubbles you referred to. So instead, I used four clear
square rubber furniture feet. I epoxied them on the slice in the metal and they make a
cool prism effect when light shines thru them.
obtained good results using a clear Lego brick.
GoN from EG
suggested that using the solar panel from a solar-powered calculator looks
great as well.
Carefully remove the plastic base and
metal pins from the bottom of the electron tube, and get the glass base as clear as
possible. As I was using a vintage tube, the plastic and original adhesive
were so brittle this was very easy to do. Please be careful while doing
thisespecially if you are using a new tube. They are made of glass, and can shatter,
although not very easily. Sadly, I disposed of the tube before getting down the
number, although Ive found some that are almost identical.
are a Hit Ray
6X5-GT (on the
left), and a Sovtek 6SN7 (on the right). Both are almost exactly like the tube I
used. (on the
left), and a Sovtek 6SN7 (on the right). Both are almost exactly like the tube I
used. You can get these from The Tube Store, or your local Radio Shack.
Note that this tube does not have any gettera silver coating inside the
top of the tube. Whatever you end up with, the lack of the getter is
Insert the electron tube which will form the
emitter array into the top end of the saber. In my case, tightening the
topmost decorative knob secures the tube (although mine has fallen out a couple of times
so I probably need to change that aspect). You could do the same, or add a dab of epoxy,
or even something less permanent light plastic-tack. Position the electron tube so that
the base of it is just above the top of the calculator display bubbles, and secure it. Remember, the emitter tube is not part
of the circuit, and does not serve any function other thank making the saber look good. It
will not produce a blade or beam.
Thats the last step, other than including
the electronics for the light.
This drawing is also available for
download in Windows Metafile (WMF) format, and CorelDRAW! 5.0 (CDR) format.
Adding the LED,
Batteries, and Switch
The circuit used for the light is a very simple
one. If you know how to solder, youll want to solder it together. If not, you can
probably due with twisting the wires together.
I used a super-bright, 2.7-volt LED, available in
several colors from Radio Shack for about $4.00. You could easily use a 3-volt flashlight
bulb instead, although an LED is a little more durable, and had the advantage of already
being in the color I wanted. (Dont let the words absolute maximum voltage on
the back of the LED package scare you; a 2.7-volt LED will handle 3 volts without
fryingwhat surprised me was that I didnt need to limit the current with a
resistorits possible that this particular LED has one built in.)
suggests using multiple LEDs and a higher voltage power source:
Ive run a circuit simulation on
my computer and you can increase the strength of the beam using a 9 volt battery a 0.10k
resister and 4 LEDs.
Brousseau used a 10-LED power bar instead of the calculator bubbles:
For the switch, I chose a round black
rocker switch which looks nice on the tube in front of the grip. Instead of using the
backlit calculator bubbles, I cut a rectangular slot in the side of the saber with a drill
and file to the exact dimensions of a 10 LED bargraph unit that I got for $3 at
Radioshack. I soldered together the 10 leads on each side so I could light all 10
LEDs at once and wired the bar into the circuit. Now when I activate my saber, the
powerbar lights up too.
hidden my switch right between the top of
two strips of the foam which forms the grip.
Drill a small hole (I think about
3/16"depending, of course, on the size of your switch) in the chrome tube where
you will be mounting the switch.
The best thing to do with the circuit is
preassemble it outside the saber, with enough extra wire to make the components
(especially the battery pack and switch) easy to move around.
I took the plastic cylinder my friend Eric made
to keep the chrome tube from distorting while milling, and cut about a 1/2" thick
section off it. I drilled two small holes side by side about 1/4" apart in the
center, and ran the leads of the LED through it, then bent them twice at 90° on the far
side. This has the dual advantage of insulating the LED leads while forming an excellent
platform for keeping the LED in position. Essentially, you want something that will hold
the LED or light in the center of the sabereven a couple of circles cut out of
corrugated cardboard will do.
Darth Bile (also known as Vatrick) sent in this
Pharmacies usually have small styrofoam
cylinders the they can put in prescripton vials. This is done when a prescription is being
mailed, to prevent the medicine from rattling, thus being identified as medication and
stolen. A small one of these fits perfectly onto an LED, no drilling required. One word of
cautionif you attach this part before soldering, be careful with the soldering iron;
this piece is very easy to melt.
Attach the positive side of the 3-volt battery
pack to one connector on the switch. Run a wire from the other connector on the switch to
the positive lead (normally longer) on the LED. Run a wire from the negative lead on the
LED to the negative side of the battery pack.
Test the circuit to be sure it works. If you are
using an LED, remember that the D in LED stands for diode, and
current will flow in only one direction; i.e., if you get the positive and negative leads
reversed, the thing just wont work.
Use electrical tape (or any tape, really) to
insulate any bare wire. The chrome tube is a conductor, and you dont want to short
out your circuit on the inside of the saber.
Once you have the wiring done, you might want to
wrap an elastic band or two around the batteries to keep them in the holder, then push the
LED assembly into to saber. If you use a plug like I did, be sure to file down any rough
edges you can find on the inside of the chrome tube, as the plug will get stuck if you
dont. (Even though I did, I still ended up having to gently hammer the plug into the
final inch or so.)
Push the switch into the saber, and try to get it
to stick through the hole youve drilled for it. I accomplished this by using my file
to move the switch around inside the saber and a strong light so I could see the lever
part of the switch through the hole and grab it when I got it into position. Secure the
switch by tightening its supplied ring nut with pliers.
Slide the battery pack into the end of the saber.
I threw in a spring to hold the battery pack against the side of the saber and keep it
from getting loose.
Put the D-ring assembly back on the end cap, and
secure the end cap by putting in its four screws.
My finished light saber.
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