Thoughts On "Working" LIGHTSABERS [Archive] - OSW: One Sixth Warrior Forum

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02-15-2006, 12:53
With the recent SST releases of Star Wars, and the end of an era in movie making, it appears the interest in Star Wars figures has increased exponentially. As would be expected, collectors strive for more and more believable ways of displaying accurate effects from the movies. Not the least of which is a "light-up" lightsaber.

I touched on the subject in a past thread, but only in passing. With our very own Netboy's spectacular efforts and advances in the goal, I would like to add with my minimal and limited knowledge in the subject a possible alternative to those already used and mentioned with his permission.

By no means is this meant to be the end-all treatise on the subject, nor should I be considered an expert. I'm just an observer who has been lucky enough to see and experience some possibly helpful information on the goal of light-up lightsabers in 1/6.

The previous attempts have involved using LEDs and tube or rod stock. While this produces a great effect near the hilt, the intensity diminishes the farther out towards the tip of the blade from point of origin. The rod or tube is incapable of diffusing and reflecting the light evenly for its entire length. In my opinion, the easiest answer lies in creating a lightsource for the entire length of the blade, rather than at just the hilt.
A 1/1 scale "hilt". This is a commercially manufactured "high end" piece. It can't be classified as a "lightsaber" due to licensing, but the company is considered to be the premier quality manufacturer.
Notice it is displayed in both lit and non-lit modes. We'll get back to this pic in a little bit.
The same hilt with blades.
Top photo shows the blade that came from manufacturer inserted in hilt yet unlit.
Middle photo, manufacturer's blade lit.
Bottom photo, aftermarket "trick blade" lit. *Background on trick blade; think of Steve Martin's arrow-through-the-head gag, only here it applies to a Tusken Raider with a lit lightsaber passing through his body from above right shoulder to under left arm. An almost $400 gag.*

Now, the manufacturer's blade uses a clear acrylic rod with a length of electroluminescent tape rolled up and slid into the tube running the length. You can see a slight tinge of green in the unlit blade.

The aftermarket trick blade, which I went to the maker of and helped build, uses an acrylic rod as well for a housing. But, the lighting effect is acheived with electroluminescent (EL) wire in this case. A length is doubled or tripled over and inserted into a translucent/white plastic tube which is then inserted into the clear acrylic rod. The translucent tube acts as a diffuser to the emitted light, so it doesn't look like a wire, but a full glow.

Both blades utilize a stereo jack as the plug for the hilt connection. Power is from a 9-volt battery.

In the first pics of the hilt, another example of "EL" wire can be seen in lit and unlit mode. It's wrapped around the hilt.
This is a close-up of some of the EL wire in the bend of the trick blade. One strand is visible, with the end of the entire length just poking in at left. (Note: no diffuser tube is seen, as getting it to bend was near impossible and wasn't necessary in this section anyway.)

You'll notice that the size/gauge of the EL wire is exactly the size necessary for a 1/6 blade. With a small diameter clear tube as a housing, a strand of EL wire can effectively be used as a saber blade with no diffuser needed.

EL wire can be purchased fairly easily in most popular colors. And those with more electrical knowledge than me can figure out how to hook this stuff up. I don't have any answers as far as electricity. All I'm doing here is showing a viable and doable solution to the 1/6 lightsaber conundrum.

Perhaps this thread can be used as a repository for any and all ideas until a solution is found and agreed upon. By all means, if anybody has anything to add to, corroborate, or discount the information so far, it will be welcomed.

Hope this helps, although not much technical info.

02-15-2006, 13:42
Thanks for reposting this. So it will work if you know how to power the wire right? I too no nothing about electrical things. Does that wire come in only one guage? I think that the one Netboy did looked great, but I think this would be near perfect.

02-15-2006, 14:16
Where to buy the EL wire?

02-15-2006, 14:58
An excellent introduction into something that could be very interesting for all the SW fans out there, thanks laughinggravy2, youve got me all fired up and Im now trying to find a resonable supplier of the LE wire, a quick search on google brings back plenty of suppliers (mainly car and comp modifiers)

Im looking for someone who can supply the components and a short run of the wire so I can experiment, otherwise Im looking at speending about 15.00 for a starter kit.

02-15-2006, 15:17
I just read that the thing with EL wire, its temporary stuff, just like what
they sell at the carnivals as necklaces or Armbands. Now what about the fiber optic wire? That should work best.

02-15-2006, 15:25
That's good stuff LG! :thumb

02-15-2006, 15:37
I just read that the thing with EL wire, its temporary stuff, just like what
they sell at the carnivals as necklaces or Armbands. Now what about the fiber optic wire? That should work best.

nope, thats wrong, this is powered, between 3v - 12v and is used for modding computer cases, cars costumes etc. I think it has a life of about a 1000 hours.

this is the UKs offical supplier: (cant get the links to work)

02-15-2006, 15:46
EL wires aren't temporary stuff. They have the correct diameter for 1:6 scale, the power lines are connected to just one end and they are powered by an inverter and the ones used in computer case mods could be hooked to 5 ~12 volts. The down side is that they are flexible and maybe should be put inside a transparent and very thin clear tube.

Fiber optic wire doesn't work as they light up just the tip of it, not the entire wire.

One Bravo Four
02-15-2006, 16:04
LG, do you mean to say that these lightsabers are 1/6th?