This DIY Lightsaber Is a Star Wars Dream Come True

This DIY Lightsaber Is a Star Wars Dream Come True

Sure, you’ll probably never get your hands on that infamous extending lightsaber last seen at the now-defunct Galactic Starcruiser hotel, but—like The Force—hope is always there for Star Wars fans if they know where to look. A few DIYer tech YouTubers have crafted a fully extending and retracting lightsaber that’s as exciting to watch as it is to swing around.

The YouTubers at HeroTech created their own lightsaber with a flexible 12 V LED strip and a magician’s cane. The cane is made of a flexible material meant to spring out once you release a pin and contract down to a size so small it can fit in your hand. Of course, it’s not meant to extend at a slow pace, but that’s where the LED strip and the motorized parts come in.


How We Built a Real Lightsaber

The flexible LED strip acts as tension against the cane, slowing it down to a much more controllable degree. Otherwise, all the hardware hackers needed was a motor and spool attached to the strip to control the extension rate. That’s easier said than done, considering the team wanted to keep the size of the hilt to just 2 inches in diameter, the same for most lightsabers you can build and buy at Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge.

HeroTech initially tried Lego gear pieces and treads from the Technic series and a few extra 3D-printed parts for a rectangular-shaped spool but eventually found a circular spool offered much less friction. The rest was finding a quality motor and board to fit within the hilt. HeroTech used a Proffieboard found in many other homemade lightsabers, which also facilitates using the custom sound files to offer the real “snap-hiss” so iconic to the lightsaber design.

The unspooling is relatively slow compared to the movies, and it can look more like the iconic Darksaber from certain angles. HeroTech said they plan to test some systems that spin the blade to give it a more 3D effect.

The engineering team mentioned they tried multiple retraction methods, including a motorized tape measure. Funnily enough, that’s the mechanism the now-famous Disney Parks lightsaber used for its design. It’s been three years since that was first revealed, though you’ll probably never get your hands on one.

As much as we all like those PVC pipe-based lightsabers that can hit with enough force to break finger bones, there’s something pure about the old telescoping plastic lightsabers of our youth. Yes, they’re safer, but more importantly, you can flick them out of the hilt and shout your own “snap-hiss” sound effect before wading into battle with your friends and inevitably stabbing one of them in the eye.

You probably won’t be about to hit your friends with a hot LED strip, but this latest build has the look and feel you’d want from your laser sword.

Image: HeroTech/LucasFilm

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