I applaud what you're doing! You've hit the major points and it's good to see a new comer trying to contribute.
This thread needs some additions, which is not altogether unexpected for someone new to the hobby.
So, in the name of accuracy, I'd like to suggest some changes:
Lightsaber hilts are available in 3 main types:
1) Complete custom - hand made custom built hilt
2) MHS parts - MHS refers to the Modular Hilt System. An online program on "The Custom Saber Shop" webpage. The Custom Saber Shop (TCSS) has a program called the MHS which will allow you to buy premade lightsaber parts that are designed to fit together to build your own Lightsaber. You can put customize your own lightsaber - the pommel, the body, the blade holder, the switches... everything.
3) "Factory" builds - these lightsabers are sold by various manufacturers either as empty hilts only, hilts with a light up blade only (also known as "Stunts"), or complete lightsabers with light up blade and sound (the Hasbro company is a good example of this).
I think your first section describes some types of Purpose-Built hilts, but doesn't actually list the main hilt types in this hobby.
I would say the main types of saber hilts should be more accurately presented as:
1. Hardware - hilt is made mostly from off-the-shelf components found in hardware stores, like sink tubes and various kinds of pipe. These parts are not specifially intended for use in a saber, but can still make a very impressive hilt.
2. Purpose-Built - hilt is made mostly from cast, forged, or machined materials (steel, plastic, aluminum, etc) to make a hilt specifically intended to build a saber. Most sabers made by the sabersmith's here fit this description.
3. Graflex - hilts made using Graflex flash guns, but often used to refer to any hilt made with any flash gun of any brand.
4. Improvised - hilts made from various items that are not purpose made for a saber hilt, but are not common hardware parts, either. Many of the lightsaber hilts used in the original Star Wars movies were made with improvised materials.
5. Licensed - any hilt made by a Lucas Film licensed manufacturer: Hasbro, Master Replicas, eFX, etc.
Also, where you say "Complete Custom", I think you're trying to convery unique, or one of a kind hilts. In that case, avoid the use of of the word "custom" altogether because custom does not mean unique. That is a big misconception and it really needs to stop being propogated.
Customization is simply another word for "personalization" which could include anything from a unique hilt to simply choosing your blade color.
Anything "custom built" simply means it's made to the buyer's specs, a service offered by every sabersmith here, so the term is not distinctive enough to be helpful.
Besides the hilt, for a functioning lightsaber, you will need:
1) Some kind of blade electronics to make your blade light up
2) Sound (if you want)
I'd suggest replacing "functioning" with "illuminated". This forum discusses illuminated sabers as well as hilt-only props. Several smiths have made amazing hilt-only sabers with complex internal mechanics and electronics that many would call "functional". And many sabers are perfectly functional weapons, yet don't have an illuminated blade, such as the Novus carbon fiber bladed choreography sabers made by Ryan Weber (Saber Shop). I'm not trying to split hairs; I simply don't wish to marginalize the work of others by saying their sabers are not "functional" just because the blades do not light up.
For Blade Electronics, there are basically 3 kinds:
1) EL (Electro Luminescent) - generally thought to be older technology, it is a strip of "paper" that lights up when electricity is applied to it.
2) LED (Light Emitting Diode) - Basically a powerful flashlight. A single "bulb" (an LED), is in the hilt that lights a tube (the blade)
3) LED String - A string of LEDs in the blade itself that lights up. Generally, because the blade is composed of a string of individual LEDs, you can have a powering up effect (the light will move up the blade) and a powering down effect (the light will move down the blade). Also, these are thought to be somewhat more fragile than a single LED blade.
#1 - Most EL blades these days use EL wire, not sheet (paper).
Might want to change #2's name to "Single-LED" and reference "Luxeon Style" somewhere in there since this forum refers to Single-LED sabers as such.
In the same spirit, the term "Component Blade" should be referenced in #1 and #3.
You also may want to make mention of plasma bladed sabers. While not as common these days, they are still being sold and it would be helpful to inform new comers what exactly they are. Confusion about plasma sabers is even more common ever since Michio Kaku's TV show where he designed a "real" lightsaber that would use a plasma blade.
The other type of saber that you may want to mention is the "laser saber", a saber that uses a laser diode instead of a light emitting diode. Again, not at all common, but I still get questions about them.
For Sound, there is basically the:
1) CF (Crystal Focus) - made by Plecter Labs, general consensus is that this is the top of the line sound board. Currently in Version 5 (v5)
2) PC (Petite Crouton) - also made by Plecter Labs, some have called this the "Baby" CF. Currently in Version 1.5 (v1.5)
3) Obsidian USB
4) Hasbro or Master Replica boards - taken from Hasbro or Master replica factory lightsabers.
SaberSD needs to be listed. Even though many of us have our own opinions, Hyperdyne Labs is a guild member here and it wouldn't be right to ignore their products.
Obsidian USB is made by Ultra Sabers with collaboration from FX-Sabers and Novastar.
You should rename "Hasbro or Master Replica boards" to "Force FX Boards" since I think that is what you are talking about and those boards are specific to that particular model line.
You should also add a #5 for "Economy Boards" which come from the $20 Hasbro Toy sabers, which are also very popular options.
There is also a #6 with the Hasbro "Ultimate FX Board", from the $35 Hasbro Ultimate FX line of lightsabers. Though not common at the moment, they will become a popular option if Hasbro keeps making the Ultimate FX line.
It would also be a good idea to mention what type of lighting tech each board supports.
And while CF is certainly the board most of us covet, that statement needs to be qualified properly. I.E. "general consensus is that this is the top of the line sound board for Single-LED sabers
Of all the components above, the Sound board is probably the most important
The proper sound board will not only offer you different sound options, but it can also drive the way the blade works.
Some features that you should consider for the electronics/sound/blade are:
1) Sounds the saber can make: boot sound (the sound the saber makes upon turning it on), ignition, de-ignition, clash (when the saber hits something like another blade), swinging, lock up (the sound the saber will make when crossing another saber blade), blaster deflecting sounds. The last two sounds, the lock-up and blaster deflection, are usually controlled by an auxillary button on the saber if your sound board supports this feature.
2) Blade ignition/de-ignition: does it fade in and dim out, or just turn on like a light switch, or scroll up and down (LED string blades can do this)
3) Blade flicker: does the blade light remain constant, or flicker like in the movies
4) Flash on Clash: does the blade light flash/flicker when it hits something (clashes).
5) Sound boards can support the functioning of accessory LEDs - LEDs (lights) that blink, or indicate something like power, battery level, etc.
Your first statement is very subjective. As a major soundboard manufacturer myself, I would like that statement to be true, but reality is that the vast majority of non-LFL sabers being purchased do not have any sound at all and sound is actually a disqualifying element for many people.
For bladed sabers, I think most people would agree that the blade technology is the most important component, and that of course depends on preference and your intention for the saber's use (heavy dueling, light dueling, stage performance, film, display only, etc).
Additionally, you really need to remove light driving components from the sound board section and make light driving devices their own section.
This makes sense since most light driving electronics are sold separately without sound and most sound boards do not include a driver.
The section for lighting electronics would list EL inverters, constant current LED drivers, LED sequencers, resistors, and of course direct drive.
You will need some kind of battery pack to power the lights and sound:
1) Some kind of disposable over-the-counter battery (like AAA or AA)
2) Rechargeable battery pack: either take the batteries out and recharge them, or have an in-hilt recharge system (called a recharging port, usually 2.1mm standard size, a port in the saber that you connect to a recharger to recharge the saber). Most commonly used rechargeable battery packs use Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries that are sized as 14500 or 18650.
You should really state that store-bought rechargeable batts can be used in disposable battery sabers. This may seem like common sense, but it's a common question I get all the time.
You should also mention that Lithium batteries people see at the store are not the same as Lithium-Ion batteries in a saber. This is another very common point of confusion.
Some really nice features to consider:
- Blade effects, such as: flicker (shimmer), Clash/Flash, ignition brightness fade in/out add greatly to the realism of the lightsaber effect.
- Some sound cards allow you to change the sounds the saber makes, you can load different sounds into the board. A definite plus. They call these loadable sounds, "Fonts", and there are a bunch of custom fonts out there. DO NOT PIRATE THESE - A LOT OF GOOD PEOPLE WORK HARD TO CREATE THESE, SO GIVE THEM THEIR DUE.
- Some sound cards allow you to change the sensitivity of the settings (when to clash, when to give the swing sounds, etc).
Again, you really should make light driving features and sound features their own sections since it's possible to get one without the other and we don't want to make people think they need a sound board to drive a light source.
That's what makes the CF (Crystal Focus made by Plecter Labs) so desireable, it has all of the above customizable features.
CF is extremely desirable for the type of sabers most of us build here, the "Luxeon Style" saber. However, the hobby is varied and not everyone wants single-LED sabers. Those with Hyper Blades and Makoto blades probably aren't desiring a CF.
It's certainly worth mentioning the reason for the CF's desirability since there is so much CF talk here, but if you're going to mention this at all, qualify it. It's important that we do not try to elevate our own preferred technology over those of others. All the technologies have their place.
On a side note, the CF isn't just desirable because of it's features, but more so by the man behind the board, Erv. If someone else cloned the CF and sold it for the half price, I would still want a Plecter.