Building a Real Lightsaber (2500° of Destruction)
“You can feel the heat radiating from across the room; It is scary how hot this thing is!”
Earlier this year, we embarked on an ambitious project: making a functional lightsaber; capable of epic destruction. Well, we have done it! We made a 2500 degree Fahrenheit glowing yellow hot protosaber that even produces the classic swoosh and hum sound effects.
Why build a glowing yellow-hot lightsaber? For destruction of course! Most materials, including many metals, will melt at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit or less, making this truly functional protosaber capable of cutting through almost anything!
It was definitely a challenge deciding which type of metal to use. We wanted something that could handle the immense heat without melting or oxidizing! Initially, we used tungsten for the blade of the saber. Although tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal, over 6192 degrees Fahrenheit, it rapidly oxidizes at higher temperatures. We discovered this when the first saber spewed smoke and spit tiny chunks of metal after being heated. Finally, we settled on Kanthal heating wire which is stable up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Does it Work?
Lightsaber sound effects
There is a sound effects module hidden in the handle of the saber. This module is an off the shelf component from SaberExperts that turns motion into realistic lightsaber sound effects. It uses an IMU (accelerometer) to detect movement and then translates that movement into an appropriate sound.
The handle is actually a repurposed antique flash handle; the same kind used in the original Star Wars movies. By gutting the flash handle, adding some switches and a mounting point for the saber, you’ve got a perfect lightsaber handle.
Glowing hot saber
Anyone can build an aesthetically pleasing lightsaber but the Hacksmith will never settle for anything less than functional and destructive. We took a stainless steel threaded rod and covered it with high temperature fiberglass insulation to electrically and thermally protect it. Then wrapped it with 37’ of Kanthal heating wire. By passing an electrical current through the Kanthal wire, it heats up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit and glows yellow hot!
To power it, we are using 12 x 24V 4Ah Lithium polymer batteries connected in series (288V). The heating coil only draws about 20A so switching can be done with a single MOSFET. Check out the design in the schematic below!