Okay, some people have claimed that this isn't really a tutorial, and it technically wasn't intended to be, to be honest....but I recently built one of these and took pictures, tutorial-style so I could post them....so here we go....here's what you need to start with for a very basic PVC lightsaber:
Those are the basic parts I've used in the past....it is built using a 10" long piece of 1" electrical conduit pvc. It's called 1", because it has a 1" inside diameter, which is perfectly suited to the polycarbonate tubes we use to make blades from. The outside diameter is about 1 1/4", and works great for those with smaller hands, like children. (The intended target for these is actually kids.....) I will now detail some of the parts used.
Here's the first piece:
This is a 1" pvc coupler. It is used to glue to sections of PVC together, but we'll be using it as part of the saber's emitter.
The next piece:
This is a PVC end cap. This is used to cap off a PVC pipe. I found this one in the pvc plumbing pipe section at my local hardware store. We can use white, because the hilt will get painted later on.
This is the LED I'll be using in these:
Since they are geared toward kids, not adults, and would want to avoid any potential eye damage should the blades get removed, it is a Luxeon I red. See that little white thing next to it? That's the lens and lens holder....it will focus the light from the led up into the blade, causing it to light up. We'll cover that later, though.
Here's the led driver:
This is called a Micropuck. similar to a buckpuck, this one is geared towards driving a 350ma led like the Luxeon I led (Rebel Single stars work great as well). It only requires 3 volts to light the led. This will allow the use of a 2-AAA battery holder to power the led, like this:
Now, if a person wanted to skip the Micropuck, as it adds about $10 to the cost of the saber, one could make the hilt long enough to fit in a 3-AA battery holder and use the appropriate resistor. You'll have to figure that out for yourself, though, since different colors require different resistors.
The blade retention screw threaded insert:
These are found in the hardware store in the furniture hardware section. It is threaded on the outside like a wood screw, but has internal 8-32 machine screw threads.
The blade retention screw, and #8 lock washer with the threaded insert:Not shown individually, but also in the first picture:
-The switch....a simple push button on/off latching switch...any kind will work, really.
-A piece of 1" polycarbonate tubing...about 3/4" to 1" long....this will house the led, lens and lens holder. More on that later.
There are some tools that will be required to complete this build....a drill (I'll be using a drill press) and a couple of drill bits (3/8", 15/64" and #29), an 8-32 tap and handle, a tubing cutter (large enough to cut 1 1/2" tubing), Hex wrenches (5/32", 5/64", and 3/32"), a soldering iron and solder, a rotary tool with accessories (Dremel or other brand, I have a Craftsman) and a saw of some sort to cut the pvc pipe with, like a hacksaw (I will be using a compound miter saw).
We'll start construction using the rotary tool with an 80 grit sanding drum to remove the divider edge in the middle of the 1" pvc coupler:
Grind it until it's flat, working with the direction the sanding drum is spinning. It should look like this when done:
It will fit on the emitter end of the saber here:
To give it some style, I am going to cut it to match the angle on the main hilt tube:
I set the saw blade to 45degrees:
and cut it:
That'll work....just need to de-burr it....I used the sanding drum on the rotary tool for that, too.
Oh, and always remember that when you're using power tools, "Safety First":
Moving on....here's the finished coupler:
Now, using a second coupler, I hammered the cut coupler onto the hilt tube:
I hammered it down about 3/4":
Here's a preview of the basic hilt shape:
Now, to make it look a bit more like a saber hilt, we'll add some fake grips with the large tubing cutter:
Fit it onto the hilt like so:
Tighten it just enough to have a snug fit, and slowly turn the hilt in the cutter to leave a simple scored line:
Using a ruler, I marked out where I wanted the lines to be with a black sharpie marker:
And then scored the lines:
The hilt now has grips:
I also laid out some towards the front of the saber, too. The large area in between the marks is where the switch will go.
Now it's time to drill for the threaded insert that will house the blade retention screw:
I set it up in the drill press and used the 15/64th" drill bit to drill a hole for the threaded insert to screw into:
I then used the 5/32 hex wrench to install it:
Then I screwed the 8-32 1/2" socket head cap screw into the insert:
When fully tightened, it will keep the blade secure. It reaches just far enough into the blade socket to put pressure on the blade's opposite sidewall and hold it in:
With that, the hilt work is basically complete. Now is the time to paint it if you so desire. There are pictures in the thread already that showed how to do that, you'll have to go back and read that for yourself, though.
Now for the electronics! I'll start by making the 1" x 3/4" polyC led housing:
Using the tubing cutter, I cut off the piece from the end of the blade that will go into the saber. I made sure to tighten the cutter tight enough to "roll" the edge of the cut to prevent the led from falling through:
Now to solder the wires to the led:
Make sure you pre-tin the wires first, it makes this much easier. Pre-tinning means getting some solder on the bare wire before you attempt to solder it to the led. The green wire in this case is the negative lead, and the orange is the positive. This matches the outputs of the Micropuck driver.
Now, fit the lens holder over the led like so:
Then feed the wires through the polyC housing we made earlier:
Now, to hold it all together, I'll use some high-temp hot glue. This will hold the lens holder inside the polyC housing. High-temp hot glue will not melt with what little heat theses Luxeon I led's give off, and should also hold up with a Luxeon III. If a Luxeon III gets hot enough to melt this glue, something's wrong with your wiring!
We'll put the tip of the glue gun right up to the hole in the led's base:
Make sure it's full of glue:
Now your led assembly is finished:
The polycarbonate housing for the led will also serve as the blade stop for the blade when it's inserted in the hilt. This kills two birds with one stone