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A question about light sabers...
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Vebb Baraka (Ben Moy)
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Joined: 24 Nov 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone who started with lightsabers which led me to costuming (as opposed to the other way around) I figured I'd chime in on this topic.

I've never seen/used a PVC hilt. I would imagine this would be a good first place to start as PVC is pretty easy to work with and doesn't require a lot of special skills/tools. Obviously the more elaborate you want to get the more skills it will require, but if you just are looking for a static "belt hangar" it can be a good option. With paints and other finishes, you can make a PVC hilt look metal.

Which brings me to...

Static metal hilts. - if you're looking for a belt hangar made out of metal, there are lots of options available to you. You can get a custom machined hilt (which will look sweet but often get pricey... And IMO aren't really worth it unless you're going to stuff an LED and electronics in it... But that might just be me). The custom saber shop has lots of great components for building your own saber... And if you're just looking for a static hilt, you can pick up all the pieces for a great looking custom hilt for a good price... And because of the Modular Hilt System (aka MHS) the only skills required are the ability to order the parts from the site, and screw them together when you receive them. Custom powder coating for different colors or requests for custom machining are also options (for a price of course). It's a really great way to get a sweet metal hilt though, and if I was just looking for a saber prop for a costume, an MHS hilt from TCSS is the way I would go.

Stunt or "light only" hilts. - this is the next step in the light saber hierarchy. If you take a static hilt and add a battery and an LED to it, you get a stunt saber. Light up sabers can either have lights in the blade (ala force FX LED blade string sabers) or they can have a high powered LED in the hilt. These will usually have a removable polycarbonate tube "blade" that captures the light from the LED in the hilt forming the lightsaber blade. I prefer the LED in the hilt to LED string blades, as they are generally easier to deal with (I.e. Blade removal) for trooping. Plus, invariably, somewhere down the line you or someone you know will want to bash the lightsaber against something (a person, a tree, another lightsaber, etc) and LED string bladed lightsabers can sustain damage to the LED string, and then you have a dead spot in your blade... Which sucks. As someone who has no electronics experience, I am wary of dealing with LEDs and power supplies... But in essence all you're building is a high powered flashlight... So if you can wire up your own flashlight, you can probably wire up your own light only saber. There's lots of resources and helpful people available. Don't be afraid to look/ask for help. The last thing we want us to read about someone who burnt their house or garage down because they improperly wired a Lion battery and made it explode...

Lastly you have the full bore saber with light and sound. These are the most expensive option out there, and they can range in price from around $300 for a "basic hilt with LED and soundboard, to full customs with crystal chambers that sell for over $2000. The electronics in these can get very involved and complicated, but there is nothing quite like hitting the button on a saber, and having it blaze to life with that characteristic "snap hiss" before settling into a glorious throaty hum that is identifiable the world over as a lightsaber. For something like this, unless you are an electrician/used to working with small circuit boards, I would leave this to the "pros". You can find information on how to wire up boards and plenty of helpful folks that are willing to share info... But it's an expensive area to experiment in... Since I don't have the experience, time, or credits to dabble in learning to wire up a saber, I rely on others much more skilled and experienced than myself. Would I like to learn one day... Sure... But it's not in the cards right now.

So hopefully this long post helped... Just know there are lots of different levels and options when it comes to sabers. Generally, identify what you want your saber to be able to do, and proceed accordingly. Ask questions, learn, and do your research before jumping in to anything. Lastly, remember that generally you get what you pay for... So be wary of apparent "bargains". This again goes back to doing your due diligence as far as research goes.
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