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Author Topic: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion  (Read 1354 times)

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Offline Rogue9

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My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« on: January 24, 2018, 12:23:34 PM »
Hi guys,

My first post here. I was looking for a general presentation topic, but I didn't saw any specific section to do that, so, it will be here, and I will take the opportunity to present my project at the same time ...

So, quite a few years ago (i'm actually not sure of the time now, must have been around 2001), I build a lightsaber. At that time, top of the range tech was EL. Top of the range sound was ... well, it was not really top of the range, and not that common ... So with a friend help, we hacked an old hasbro plastic toy to use the board as both a sound board and an EL driver ...

I will try to add some pictures, but it seems I'm not allowed to put links towards external URL ... I must be too newbie for that, I suppose. i will try to update this post later on ...

So, it's a big old babe : 1.2kg, 35cm long, very dear to my heart (come on, my own lightsaber, designed and build with my own hands ...  :cheesy: :cheesy:

But, first, the techno is now quite obsolete, and sadly enough, something broke on the electronic side, and it's not working anymore either ...

So, all that to say that I'm quite interested in upgrading it to the best tech avail today ...

I'm still reading all I can to try to come to grip with that ... Until recently, I was thinking it would be a luxeon kind of upgrade ... and it was quite a bother. As my saber is more or less a thin neck design, with an emitter not very shallow, I had quite a hard time thinking how to fit everything in it, without having something too fragile ... And then, I discover those beautiful neopixel blades ... lovely !

I'm currently retroengineering my saber under solidworks, as the original plans are lost somewhere ...

I will try to post the update there as I progress, but I already have a few questions ... I try to find the answers before posting, I actually found quite a lot of answers already but those ones seems harder or I didn't manage to find the right keywords ...

Concerning neopixel blade itself : from what I read, one of the cons is the shadow area perpendicular to the strip with a 2 strips config : wouldn't a 3 strips config solve that once and for all ? I found a few mentions of this solution, but with no specific details ... I imagine it could be quite power consuming ... but quite brighter too ... so a lower brightness setting should be able to balance that, no ?

concerning power supply, it seems the 18650 is the typical choice ? As I have actually quite a lot of room inside my hilt, a 26650 would fit easily, that would seem convenient for neopixel blade. Actually, if really required, I think I could even manage to fit 2 of those in the saber ... Is it worth it, or will a single one be enough ?


Concerning the soundboard, I'm currently thinking a PRIZM which seems to be more or less the common high range, is that a good choice or am I missing another nice board here ?

Also, if you have any ideas on how to increase sound output level, I'm cery interested : the pommel has some vents for sound, but not that big, and I think I could need some boost here ... well, it's likely I'll start with a standard config, but if ever ...

Thanks a lot for any answer you may share ! Basically, I think I will take my time on this upgrade ... one of the difficulties, I think, will be that I will need to do a few hardware modifs on the saber (emitter re lathing to accept a 1" blade ... it used to be set up for a 20mm one) and sadly, I don't have an easy access to a lathe or a milling machine as I used to have ...

Also, as I'm based in France, and it's past dinner time : good evening !  :cheesy:




Offline QUI-GON JINN

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2018, 03:05:50 PM »
Pictures are allowed to be posted here,  they just need to be from a photo hosting site that has the proper security certificates, and one that allows for third party phot links.


Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2018, 01:01:12 PM »
Thanks for the trip, I so used the wizard to host the pics ...

So, a few from the original build ... something like 15 years ago (ouch, never think it was that long ago ...)



It looked so new and shiny at the time ...



2000's integrated electronics ... not so integrated, please not the 2 power sources : a 9B battery for the EL blade, and 2 1.5V battery in the white plastic part for the soundboard ...



And all parts involved in this saber ...

And quite some time later ... the same saber today ... actually, it undergo a small shortening update thanks to better electronics, but it was still a very long time ago, and it's very prehistoric by today standards ...



And not so shiny anymore  :cheesy: :cheesy:

at that shortening time, the saber fell on the hard ground, causing some marks and bents on the emitter ... I was a bit sad at first, but actually, it felt so much more personnal that way
 

A close up of the specifically designed switch :

 

It's actually build from with a steel bearing ball, mounted inside a milled cage ... with a spring and a plunger, it's designed to go push directly on a PCB microswitch as was present on hasbro toy at the time ... I definitly need to keep this feature ...

 

And lastly the vented pommel, in order to better diffuse sound ... It was not that loud yet ... but it may be better with modern soundboard compared to what it used to be ... I'm actually quite proud of this pommel !
« Last Edit: January 25, 2018, 01:27:46 PM by Rogue9 »

Offline jbkuma

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2018, 03:02:35 PM »
Looks great! I would definitely go with the 26650 if you can fit it. It will also help counter balance the blade.  I'd go with the Orbtronic as a trusted vendor.

The years have been good to the saber.  The age gives it a lot of character that is really difficult to manufacture well.

Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 10:29:20 AM »
Hi all,

Thanks for your comment, JBKuma ! and for the 26650 tip as well ! I will definitly look into that !

In the mean time, I did some progress with retroCAD of my saber ... mechanical parts are now done, I will have to take my decision on some design point to start designing the inner body to receive electronics board and battery.

But before that, I would like to have your opinion concerning the type of blade :

Originally, my saber was designed to received a 20mm OD blade (that was the standard in France all those years ago ...) in US units, it's just a little bit bigger than a 3/4"


I have the impression that a 1" blade would be the standard now, but in order to accomodate for my thin neck, I don't think I can insert it in the hilt for more than 2cm (3/4"); otherwise, I fear the bronze part of the emitter will start to be too thin for proper resistance ...


2nd choice would be to use a 7/8" blade, this way, I think I can manage a 1" insert into the hilt ...
But in this case, I believe I will have to use thin 7/8" blade : how resistant are they ? I would have like to stay on a thick walled blade ...



Last point, it's still quite schematics, but here is how I think I will assemble the blade, with a plastic insert doing the link and receiving the XLR connctor ...


Thank you in advance for any inputs/advices you may have !



Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2020, 04:36:43 AM »
Hi Everybody,

Just unearthing this topic ... I have been quite busy and that project was put on hold for a long time ...

But, thanks (..) to the current Covid Situation, I have quite lot of time to work on it now ...

Most of the item are received or on order:

Going with a CFX board
dual strip Neopixel
SCW pixel lit connector for the blade (the latest "ECO" version)
3/4 inch Transwhite blade (more on that later)
Bluetooth BT 909 module for connectivity (hoping for a Android ForceApp release soon !)
USB C socket for charge and data connection
a removable Speaker/Battery block for easy battery replacement with again SCW connector)

In terms of progress :
I have a first draft CAD version of the parts i will need to 3D print for chassis, I now need to work on them to optimise the print process
First draft also of the emitter part with my solution for blade attachement (also more on that later)
I have found a local DIY workshop where I will be able to mill the emitter and guard
And close to the end for the general wiring, I wanted to complete that part to be clear in my mind on what I need for the chassis and how to integrate wires in the chassis


As the battery will be removable, and thanks to deepsleep feature from the CFX, I think I will skip kill switch or kill key, which make it easier to integrate in my existing design ...

As for Bluetooth module : I was thinking to put power switch on it, but now, I'm thinking that if I used the Auxiliary 3.3V from the CFX, that is off in deepsleep, i could also get rid of that ...

If anyone has some advice to share on that, I would be glad to hear !

Soon, more posts on the mechanical design !



Offline scott

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2020, 05:35:24 PM »
You clearly know what you are doing and have come up to speed with the latest tech quickly. My only concern is if you can get 2 neo strips in a 3/4 in blade with proper diffusion. I use 7/8 thin wall blades and duel (not hardcore but with my 7 yo son) all the time. You can get 2 neo strips in diffuser foam for that blade without too much trouble.

Saber looks great!

Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2020, 10:40:34 AM »
Hi Scott,

Thanks for your comment !

Actually, it took me quite a while to figure out everything I want to put in my saber ... But there is nothing like 2 months of "social distanciation" to come to terms with new tech !

I have to say, hardest part is that there has been so many good idea that I want to integrate !

Anyway, concerning the 3/4 blade, it's a bit of a challenge ... But I have also a plan B

I contacted at least one saber manufacturer that was offering them, but a bit out of my budget right now ...

So, I'm trying to do something that would allow me to revert to a more standard 7/8 or 1" blade in the future if needed.

The saber hilt will have a shouldered hole with the upper part adapted for a 1" blade and the "all through" hole for a 3/4 blade


That way, If my 3/4 blade give good results, it's done. Otherwise, I will be able to insert a 3/4 tube inside the 1" blade ...

Also, I'm trying to avoid the blade screw to secure the blade ... The hilt design does not really allow a knob screw to be used, and I find it too bad to have to use a tool to fix the blade in place ...

So what I'm trying for is a baionet mount system with a piece like that :


And there will be 2 pins in the bronze part of the hilt to retain the blade. I was wondering if the pogo pins of the NPXL will provide enough spring effort for that, but I'm starting to think that they won't ...

So I will have to design a custom NPXL connector holder with an outer spring to provide the right level of compression for this baionet system to work ...

I'm currently waiting for the parcel from Saber Armory to arrive to check how I can integrate my spring around the SCW LED lens cover ...

Offline jbkuma

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2020, 02:09:43 PM »
I would only allow the pogos a mm or so of travel. If you keep your tolerances close it might work. But if the connector isn't held tight it can lose connection in some of the pins and you might end up running current through less pins than you should like.

I've made what I call "pixel core" using a 3/4" blade with 1" sleeves. It works, but diffusion is difficult to get right.

With these things in mind, I've done some testing with a threaded blade socket that works well enough.  I didn't have any issues, but I also didn't try any dueling.



Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2020, 11:10:24 AM »
Very good point : from what I measure on the TCSS connector I received (I'm still waiting for those from ShtokCustomWorx to arrive), the travel of the pogo pins in LONG version is about 2 mm and I suppose it's better to have them depressed of at least 1 mm to ensure proper contact ...

So, new idea : I think I will put the Hilt side NPXL connector on a "springy" mount. This should let me use a more confortable travel distance, like 3 or 4 mm, with less stringent build margins.

I'm not sure yet if I should use a standard compression spring, or if I could try to do something 3D printed ... I'll try to do some CAD of both options tomorrow

For the 3/4" blade, I was thinking of the following material :
3/4 transwhite blade
corvin film
Agro fleece like RCManiak did (Neopixel blade assembly - an experience exchange board)
transparent heatshrink tube
transparent gift wrap

Not sure yet in which order or proportion maybe the heatshrink first around the pixel strip to hold them together and stiffen them ...

Offline jbkuma

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2020, 09:50:46 PM »
 You could try using a compressible material, even craft foam may be sufficient, although it will permanently deform after a while, something like silicone might be more resilient.

I'm glad to see someone around here thinking outside of the box!  I personally dislike the pogo style connectors and prefer using aviation style connectors.  An added benefit to the aviation connectors is a bit of extra friction for sabers I don't want to drill for a blade screw.  Maybe not for full hearted swinging, but sufficient for being pretty and carrying around.

Offline Rogue9

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2020, 06:07:53 AM »
Yep, I have been thinking about it, but as you mention, I was not convinced on a long term point of view ...

After looking at Thingiverse for design ideas for a springy mechanism, I have fall back to a standard steel spring with 3D printed parts to hold it.

very rough idea of the concept, I will do it with SolidWorks ASAP :


In the mean time, first test of my switchs chassis




This is a very quick draft for proof of concept. There are 3 micro switchs inside.

The one in the middle is for the activation, and will use the already existing external part of the saber, this is working very well, I'm not even sure if I will add a spring on it ...

The 2 on the sides are for either Auxiliary switch if I manage to have something satisfying in terms of "click feeling", or otherwise as Bluetooth switch (latching function will be perform by screwing a bit more or less to have a permanent state ... still thinking on this one ...

And while I had the 3D printer running :


First try of a baionet system, for 2mm pins (here a M2 screw). It needs some sanding, but it should work ... and as I could design something "bigger" with the schematics above, I'm feeling confident on this ...


Offline scott

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2020, 10:15:58 AM »
I hope this works and like the spring for blade retention concept. I do think it will me mandatory that the inner part of the emitter above the springs will have to be VERY snug on the blade to prevent it from moving when you swing since there will likely be some give on the bottom spring part.  Always annoying when the blade moves even a tiny bit in the emitter, which neos can do since they are heavier.

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2020, 07:33:43 PM »
I was just thinking, what if you make your bayonet fitting with a somewhat angled cut so it has some flexibility for future adjustments and it would allow for some wear on the parts.

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Re: My dear ol' EL lightsaber conversion
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2020, 01:36:24 AM »
I was just thinking, what if you make your bayonet fitting with a somewhat angled cut so it has some flexibility for future adjustments and it would allow for some wear on the parts.

mmh, not sure to understand what you mean ... could you share a quick pic ? I have the 3D printer @home for a few weeks, so I can try things ...

I hope this works and like the spring for blade retention concept. I do think it will me mandatory that the inner part of the emitter above the springs will have to be VERY snug on the blade to prevent it from moving when you swing since there will likely be some give on the bottom spring part.  Always annoying when the blade moves even a tiny bit in the emitter, which neos can do since they are heavier.

Yep, I see what you mean. But I think it should be alright, as the spring will push in the same direction as the blade will tend to move in a swing ... I would say the only time the blend may tend to move "against" the spring would be by "piercing" strike ... and I don't intend to do a lot of them  :azn: