I was never a huge Star Wars fan. I had seen all six movies, but was more interested in the props and technology. I liked the look of the lightsaber, so I decided to build my own.
I looked at the various lightsabers from the six movies, and decided to build Luke’s lightsaber from the original Star Wars (which is now Episode 4, A New Hope for those of you playing along at home).
It’s called a Graflex 3 Flashlite, 3 referring to the number of batteries required.
Here is a picture of the Flashlite broken down into two pieces. You can see how it looks more like a lightsaber now.I did my research on the web and there was no shortage of sites explaining the steps to creating a lightsaber.
Once I had the flash unit, the first thing I needed to do was to clean it up and polish it a bit. It made a huge difference.
Now that it was clean, it was time to start gathering the pieces I would need to convert the flashgun to a lightsaber.
The first piece I needed to recreate was the handgrip.Sources around the web indicated the handgrips were made from windshield wiper blades, although the exact type and model is not known.I managed to find a website that sold two-foot lenghts of blade that they claimed was the correct type to use on a lightsaber, so I purchased it and cut it down into six 3 1/2″ strips.
When the original lightsaber sold recently, it was learned that there were actually seven strips of rubber, not six. In the next movie, The Empire Strikes Back, the lightsaber had six handgrips and a few other minor changes.
As it turns out, I never ended up using them. I ended up purchasing a kit that had all the final parts I would need, although I did use a few of my own.
This was an old LED calculator from the 1970’s. The bubbles covered the numerical display and enlarged them for easier viewing. The display was seven digits, so seven bubbles.
The center piece was now complete!
I reassembled the three parts, locked the clamp in place, and voila! – I now had a Luke Skywalker ANH lightsaber.
Since I enjoyed building Luke’s lightsaber from A New Hope, I decided to try my hand at building his lightsaber from The Empire Strikes Back, which was almost identical, but had a few small modifications.
- The handgrip now had a rivet on each strip.
- The bubbles had been replaced by a piece of circuit board.
- The shiny metallic tape had been replaced by a wider piece of tape that was textured.
- The D-ring clip was a bit different (It was based on a slide piece from another flash unit).
- The “glass eye” on the front of the flash unit was replaced by a second red button.
I then cut out a notch at the bottom of the strips where I would drill through the body and place a small rivet.
As for the circuit board, most of the websites I’ve visited agree that the circuit board came from an HP computer card. Based on the fact that the bubbles originated from a Texas Instruments calculator, I think the circuit board may have actually come for a Texas Instruments RS232 PHP1220 circuit board (this was an early serial interface card).
While I was scanning eBay for one of these flash units, I ran across a guy who had already purchased four flash units to make his own lightsabers, and he was selling one of the converted clips. It was kind of expensive, so I stayed with the kit version.
For this particular piece, it looked as though the only way I would get one would be to purchase another Graflex flash unit. I didn’t want to spend another $100 just for one button, so I checked through the various Star Wars newsgroups and websites and found someone selling replica buttons and picked one up for about $15.
One day I may try my hand at a Darth Vader lightsaber!