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Author Topic: A Padawan's Guide and Glossary / Dictionary to a New Lightsaber  (Read 45560 times)

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Offline Sanjuro

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Recently, like most of you, I became aware of this forum and the amazing advances in Lightsaber building technology.

So, I though I might post what I learned so far, in the hopes that it might help some others in finding, deciding upon, and buying their first Lightsaber.

I will update/edit this original post, as more information comes in, so please e-mail/pm me with suggestions to improve this information.

Lightsaber hilts are available in 3 main types:
1) Custom - hand made custom built hilt (from parts not specifically designed to be used for a Lightsaber hilt: pipe tubes, PVC, etc.)
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).

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)

For Blade Electronics, there are basically 3 kinds:
1) EL (Electro Luminescent) - generally thought to be older technology, it is a wire that lights up when electricity is applied to it.
2) Single LED (Light Emitting Diode) - Basically a powerful flashlight.  A single "bulb" (an LED), is in the hilt that lights a tube (the blade). Also known as a Luxeon style.
3) Component LED - 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.

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) SaberSD - made by Hyperdyne Labs.
3) Obsidian USB
4) Hasbro or Master Replica boards - taken from Hasbro or Master replica factory lightsabers.


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.

Power
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.

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).

That's what makes the CF (Crystal Focus made by Plecter Labs) so desireable, it has all of the above customizable features.


I will add to this as time and new information comes in.

Hope this was helpful!

Respectfully,

Sanjuro
« Last Edit: September 12, 2011, 03:37:54 PM by Sanjuro »
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Glossary / Definitions of Lightsaber Terms
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 11:03:35 PM »
Thought I would put in a Glossary, and keep adding to it as suggestions come in...

Glossary of Terms:

14500 - refers to a Lithium Ion battery. "14" is the diameter in millimeters, "50" is the length in millimeters, the last "0" at the end means it's round.
18500 - refers to a Lithium Ion battery. "18" is the diameter in millimeters, "50" is the length in millimeters, the last "0" at the end means it's round.
18650 - again, a Lithium Ion battery. 18mm x 65mm, round.
7.4v - refers to a 7.4 volt battery pack. This is the standard voltage for most lightsaber battery packs.
Accessory LED - refers to LEDs that are not used the light the blade. Usually used to add effects to the hilt, like blinking lights, a lighted crystal chamber, switch lights.
AFBB - "As First Built By". Acronym for a prop that is clean and as new, not weathered and old looking.
ANH - abbreviation for "A New Hope", episode IV of the Star Wars movies.
AOTC - abbreviation for "Attack Of The Clones", episode II of the Star Wars movies.
Anti-Vandal Switch - a button switch, that is either momentary or latching, that is has an LED light (green, blue, red, yellow) it it.
Aux Switch - most lightsabers have 2 switches. One is the main switch that turns the lightsaber on/off. The other is the Aux Switch, that is used to activate effects like blaster deflection sounds, force sounds, blade lock up sounds.
AV - abbreviation for Anti-Vandal button switch.
Black Blade - refers to a lightsaber with a black blade similar to one seen in video games. Often asked for, and controversial as to its feasibility. Please don't ask for one, or tell your ideas for making one. If you have an idea as to how to make it - make it, then post a video and show it. We would all be interested in a real "black blade", but until you actually make one, please do not post about one.
Bling - refers to some cosmetic component of the saber, or added cosmetic feature to some functional part such as chrome plating, engravings, gemstones.
Bling strip - refers to a thin strip of metal or plastic that has cosmetic add-ons, and is usually placed in the clamp area of a Graflex or Obi-Wan saber.
Boot - refers to when the saber is powered on (not ignited where the blade lights up).  A "boot font" or sound is the sound the saber makes when powered on.  Saber smiths will usually put a unique boot sound in their sabers - such as quotes from the movies, or other effect sounds.
Buttered Toast - refers to the Crystal Focus (CF) soundboard made by Plecter Labs.
Canon - refers to the images/story/acutal props that were used in the Star Wars episodes I-VI movies.  A "canon" lightsaber, for example, would look exactly like one of the lightsabers in the movies, and have no crystal chamber (since none was shown in the movies).
CeX - Color Extender.  Used with the later versions Crystal Focus soundboard to allow color changing of the main blade LEDs.  Actually controls the powering of different LEDs on a multi-LED main setup to allow the blade to change color.
CF – an abbreviation for Crystal Focustm.  A sound board made by Plecter Labs. Currently felt to be the top of the line soundboard.
CFv5, CFv6, CFv# - abbreviation for Crystal Focus.  The small "v" designates the version:  5, 6, etc.
Chassis - refers to an internal "skeleton" in a lightsaber that holds the batteries, sound board, speaker, wires and other components.
Clash/Flash - The blade light will flicker when in hits something, INCREASING brightness to make the flicker. This is accomplished by another LED in addition to the main LED lighting the blade. 
Clash on Flash - See FoCtm
CoF – See FoCtm.
Crystal Chamber – an actual crystal (made from quartz, glass, plastic, etc) which is built into the saber to add to the cosmetics of the saber.
Crystal Focustm - A sound board made by Plecter Labs. Currently felt to be the top of the line soundboard.
Crystal Shard - another excellent soundboard from Plecter Labs (Erv).  This is a dimensionally small soundboard - much smaller than the Petit Crouton or Crystal Focus - with similar features to the Petit Crouton and Crystal Focus, but with different technical specifications.  Some differences include the optimization to use just one battery, continued Flash on Clash support but with and on-board Power Extender, and no Auxillary button.  Currently only available through certain sabersmiths.
CS - abbreviation for Crystal Shard, a soundboard from Plecter Labs.
Darkmeat - an example of the name of a soundfont that is included as a standard lightsaber sound on the Petit Crouton.
Direct Drive - refers to powering the blade's LED directly from the battery. A resistor is usually needed between the battery and the LED. This is in contrast to a blade LED that is powered through a sound board that has more sophisticated LED controlling electronics (not Direct Driven)
DIY - abbreviation for Do It Yourself.  Usually refers to a kit that you need to put together yourself.
DRL - stands for "Darth Real Life" - "Something happened in my real life that prevented me from fulfilling my promise to you."
Emitter - refers to the part of the lightsaber that holds the blade, emits light.
ESB - abbreviation for the "Empire Strikes Back", episode V of the Star Wars movies.
Flash on Clashtm - same as Clash on Flash and CoF.  The blade light will flicker when it hits something, usually by increasing brightness to make the flicker.  This is accomplished by another LED in addition to the main LED lighting the blade. 
FoCtm - Flash on Clash
Font – refers to the sounds that can be loaded into some sound cards.  There are many different fonts out there: Sith sounding, Jedi sounding, even fonts that sound like a cat meowing.  DO NOT PIRATE THESE.  GIVE THE MAKERS THEIR DUE.
Graflex - refers to the old camera flashgun that was the base for prop made into Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in "A New Hope".
Greeble – a cosmetic add on. A blinking LED, or knob, or other such thing that has no other function than to look cool would be an example.
Greeblie - same as greeble.  A cosmetic add on.
Hero - refers to a screen (as in the Star Wars movies) accurate version of the Lightsaber. Exactly the way the lightsaber was pictured.
HO - abbreviation for High Output. Usually refers to the lightsaber's speaker.
Ignitor - refers to a soundboard with an LED driver which has color changing capabilities.  New to the soundboard market.  More details to come...
iSaber - the sound bank in a CF soundcard that allows playing of music.
Kill Key - a plug which fits into a recharge port, "killing" or completely powering off the lightsaber.  This saves battery power, since without it, the saber will continue to drain power from the battery in those sabers that have more complex electronics.
Latching switch – a switch or button that can be “clicked on” or “clicked off”.  You do not need to keep it pressed down for it to be “on”.  Different from a Momentary switch.
Lightmeat - an example of a sound font that is a standard lightsaber sound included with the Petit Crouton.
Li-Ion - abbreviation for Lithium Ion battery. A rechargeable battery.
Li-poly - refers to Lithium polymer batteries commonly used in the Radio Controlled hobby market.  Considered by most sabersmiths to be too unstable at this time to be used in lightsaber building.
LED – Light Emitting Diode.  Used to add lights to the saber:  the blade light, accessory lights, power graph, a light in the crystal chamber to show it off, etc.
LS6 - refers to the lightsaber Luke Skywalker used in "The Return of the Jedi", also called the MK VI.
Luxeon - refers to the main blade LED of the lightsaber. The LED that lights up the blade. Luxeon is one manufacturer.
MHS - abbreviation for Modular Hilt System.  A program on The Custom Saber Shop's website which sells modular parts to build your own saber.  People often refer to MHS compatible parts, meaning that they will fit together with MHS parts.
MK III - refers to the lightsaber Obi Wan Kenobi used in "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope"
MK VI - refers to the lightsaber Luke Skywalker used in "The Return of the Jedi".
Momentary switch – a switch or button that is “on” only when it is actively pressed down.  Often used at the AUX switch.  Different from a Latching switch.
MR - abbreviation for Master Replicas, the company that used to make factory replicas of Lightsabers complete with lights and sound. Had LED strip blades that could be converted to single in-hild LED only.
Nano Biscotte - a Plector Labs soundboard.  This is a new soundboard designed to run off 1 Lithium Ion battery. Entry level, with some less features than the Petit Crouton or the Crystal Focus soundboards. No auxillary switch, no Flash on Clash.
OWK1 - refers to the lightsaber Obi Wan Kenobi used in "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones".
Parallel - refers to how an electrical circuit is wired.  When wired in parallel, Voltage remains the same, Amperage is decreased.
P4 - refers to the main blade LED of the lightsaber. The LED that lights up the blade. P4 is one type of LED
PC – an abbreviation for Petit Crouton.  A sound board made by Plecter Labs. The PC used to come in a PC-L and PC-U version, which stood for Locked and Unlocked. This is no longer important, as now all PC's have been reset (flashed) so that they are all Unlocked, meaning they can be loaded with new sound fonts by the user.  Locked PC's (PC-L's) could use only 3 fonts (Lightmeat, Darkmeat, and one other choosen font), but could not be loaded with new fonts later. Various versions are identified with a "v" - PCv2.0 would mean version 2.0.
PC - also and abbreviation for Powder Coating. A durable colored or clear coating on hilt parts.
PCB - abbreviation for Protection Circuit Board. Used with Li-ion or Li-polymer batteries to prevent over-charging, over discharging, and regulating current.
PCB - also and abbreviation for Printed Circuit Board.
Petit Crouton - A sound board made by Plecter Labs. The PC used to come in a PC-L and PC-U version, which stood for Locked and Unlocked. This is no longer important, as now all PC's have been reset (flashed) so that they are all Unlocked, meaning they can be loaded with new sound fonts by the user.  Locked PC's (PC-L's) could use only 3 fonts (Lightmeat, Darkmeat, and one other choosen font), but could not be loaded with new fonts later. Various versions are identified with a "v" - PCv2.0 would mean version 2.0.
PEX - stands for Power Extender.  Used to regulate power (increase voltage) to electrical elements that are powered off a soundboard that delivers less power than the element may require.  Often used in FoC setups to drive the LED for the flash.
PLI - abbreviation for Power Level Indicator. An LED bar graph which lights up to show the power level in the battery.
Pommel - The end piece of the hilt opposite the blade emitter. Sometimes wrongly called a "Pummel".
Rebel - refers to the main blade LED of the lightsaber. The LED that lights up the blade.
Recharge Port - a port on the lightsaber hilt which allows recharging of the internal batteries.  Usually a standard size of 2.1mm and mounted externally.
RICE - abbreviation for Plecter Labs' "Real time Internal Configuration Editor". Allows you to change the configuration file in the Petit Crouton sound board via a cable and port set-up, so you don't need to remove the SD card.
ROTJ - abbreviation for "Return of the Jedi", episode VI of the Star Wars movies.
ROTS - abbreviation for "Revenge of the Sith", episode III of the Star Wars movies.
Reveal - a cosmetic feature of the lightsaber that is hidden in the hilt, and not visible from the outside unless the saber is taken apart. An example would be a crystal chamber that is in the hilt, that can be seen only when the hilt is opened (Yoda made Graflex sabers, Genesis Custom Corran Horn saber, for example).
Rumble Motor - A motor in the hilt that creates a vibration, allowing the user to "feel" the vibration of the Lightsaber.
Stick pack - refers to batteries that have been aligned end to end forming a "stick".
SD - a memory card, like the ones in a digital camera or phone. Used by some sound cards to store information like the fonts.
Stunt Lightsaber - refers to a lightsaber that has a lighted blade only, no sound.
TCSS - The Custom Saber Shop website.
TPM - abbreviation for "The Phantom Menace", episode I of the Star Wars movies.
U.S. 2.5 - refers to the Ultra Sound soundboard, no longer made.


If you have some terms that you think can be added, let me know...

Respectfully,

Sanjuro
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 05:23:27 AM by Sanjuro »
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Offline Marv

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2011, 11:44:18 AM »
Recently, like most of you, I became aware of this forum and the amazing advances in Lightsaber building technology.

So, I though I might post what I learned so far, in the hopes that it might help some others in finding, deciding upon, and buying their first Lightsaber.

I will update/edit this original post, as more information comes in, so please e-mail/pm me with suggestions to improve this information.

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).

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)

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.

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.
2) PC (Petite Crouton) - also made by Plecter Labs, some have called this the "Baby" CF.
3) Obsidian USB
4) Hasbro or Master Replica boards - taken from Hasbro or Master replica factory lightsabers.


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.

Power
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)
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).

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).

That's what makes the CF (Crystal Focus made by Plecter Labs) so desireable, it has all of the above customizable features.


I will add to this as time and new information comes in.

Hope this was helpful!

Respectfully,

Sanjuro

Fantastic post, I've just brought myself a Graflex. I am completely new to all this and was pointed here by someone on the FISD site (I like E-11s).
I have to admit I thought this would be relatively simply, I thought it was a matter of sticking on a D ring and some track and if lucky enough some bubble stuff from a calculator.
When I got to this site I have found myself blown away by it all, and beginning to think what have I done!
If there are more threads out there like this then maybe, just maybe I'll have one of those nice looking CF sabers myself.
T-track seller on the FISD and RPF

Offline ASAJJ VENTRESS

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2011, 07:56:24 PM »
Sanjuro, I'm rather impressed here.   ;)

Marv, you really have just scratched the tip of the iceberg here!  Take a look around, and you'll find all sorts of information here!


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Offline LUMINARA UNDULI

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2011, 08:08:46 PM »
BTW, PC is also an abbreviation for powdercoating (and for politically correct :D).  FoC is the abbreviation for flash on clash.  CoF is incorrect.  The saber flashes upon clash, not clashes upon flash :D.  Also, greeble is usually greeblie.  You might also add TPM, AOTC, and ROTS.  Pommel is another word that a lot of people get wrong (it is NOT a pummel).  I'll have to remember this is here :D.  What fun! :D
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 08:22:20 PM by LUMINARA UNDULI »



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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2011, 08:20:21 PM »
This is all great stuff. Has anyone ever built an FX-Sabers wiki?
For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock… everywhere!

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2011, 08:23:39 PM »
You know, that really is a STELLAR idea.  Someone really should build us a wiki. (No, not me.  You don't want to see my computer programming skills in action.)

"It's only stupid if we die doing it, otherwise it's heroism." -Corran Horn-

Offline Jedi Yar Nala

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 08:38:14 PM »
GREAT post Sanjuro... this should be stickied... I'm just saying :P

Offline Luke S.

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2011, 08:43:00 PM »
GREAT post Sanjuro... this should be stickied... I'm just saying :P

You mean like that?  ;D

I meant to do it earlier.  Awesome job so far.  As you add to this info just edit your first post to keep it all together and easier for the padawans to read.  ;)

I'm sure others will chime in with additions. Great work.  I wish we had info like this when I joined.  Although much of this stuff was not invented yet.  :D

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2011, 08:45:26 PM »
All,

Thank you.

Luminara - Excellent, I will add to and correct the Glossary!

Respectfully,

Sanjuro
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Offline GENERAL GRIEVOUS

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 11:33:29 AM »
Fixed the spelling of Petit Crouton for you.  Nice work man ;)

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 12:28:44 PM »
I have to +1 about this post being super nice !

*thumbs up* It will be for sure useful to a lot of (new) members !

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2011, 12:40:27 PM »
A useful guide.


I'd point out that not all onscreen sabers are "Hero"...what makes a actual filming prop saber a "Hero" is not only that it was onscreen but that it was the [usually nicer finished] one intended for use in closeups. In all of the films there were other sabers that we did see but were intended to be used in longer shots so those could be intentionally made with less attention to or different in detail and in some cases even with reduced diameter necks for easier stunt handling which [the filmmakers hoped] we would not discern because they would not be seen in closeups. Fans have made very accurate replicas of the screen-seen Luke ROTJ v2 and v3, but those aren't the version 1 "Hero" design.
To DREAM the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. To FIGHT the unbeatable foe. To BEAR with unbearable sorrow. To RUN where the brave dare not go. To RIGHT the unrightable wrong. To LOVE, PURE AND CHASTE, FROM AFAR [-sigh-]. To TRY, when your arms are too weary; to REACH the unreachable Star!... This is my Quest; To follow that Star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far...

Offline Ultra

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Re: A Padawan's Guide to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2011, 06:39:34 AM »
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.


Power
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.

Offline Sanjuro

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Re: A Padawan's Guide and Glossary / Dictionary to a New Lightsaber
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2011, 10:09:30 PM »
Hello All,

Just made some minor updates to the list and dictionary.

Again, if any of you have suggestions, please let me know, and I can make the changes.

Respectfully,
Sanjuro
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