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Author Topic: ANH Obi Wan Kenobi Correct Neck Saber  (Read 25749 times)
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« on: June 12, 2011, 12:17:45 am »

This is the one that started it all for me, my first illuminated saber project...

I had decided to make a Force FX Style illuminated blade ANH Obi Wan Saber.
 
The offerings from Master Replicas and Hasbro have that extra fat windvane piece that is pretty much meh.
 
To start with, I found a section of aluminum tube that I shaved down on the lathe to secure the blade tube to the inside of a RussRep emitter, it's super snug and tight, and with a few set screws on the inside of the emitter, going into a custom machined base on the inside of the polycarbonate tube, it should be sturdy enough to not move much.
  

 
The small aluminum tube is some scrap I had that BARELY fits the light tube. I had to shave it down to fit inside the inner section of the emitter.
 

 
Here's the spacer on the light tube. I will have to trim off the excess light tube, and replace the plastic LED base on the inside with an aluminum base I can screw into.
 

 
Here it is assembled, I think the tiny aluminum spacer will not detract from the look of the saber too much.
 

 
Here's the saber lit. I know I have the wrong color, but this is a broken Vader force FX I scavenged just to see if the parts would fit. The controller board is sitting in the grenade, and instead of 3 AA batteries, I am powering it with 3 AAA batteries. These will fit stacked inside the hollow aluminum booster.
 
I have a good idea how to attach the emitter to the grenade solidly enough that it won't be flimsy, and still use the "correct" windvane neck from Russ. Wiring will have to be changed out a bit to fit inside the neck, but it's doable. Meaning I will have to relocate the clash sensor, and with those two wires not going through the neck, I can feed the rest through a drilled out 5/8 threaded rod.
 
At this point I had it worked out pretty much except for the pommel end, and was still sketching that out, but it was easier to solve than the emitter.
 
To do the emitter end, I decided to create an anchoring piece of metal that really solidifies in the emitter... kind of like this...
 

 
The aluminum plug will really help solidify the blade to the emitter.. I will need to trim out some of the diffuser element from the blade, and thread the plug for 5/8 threaded rod.


 
Here I have it fit together, and see my plug is too long, and has no recess to let the emitter end of the windvane neck to sit inside.  I will shorten the plug and lathe out a recess for the neck section.
 

 
Here is the key to the project, a hollowed out 5/8 threaded rod that I will pass the LED string wires through.  The aluminum plug is threaded for this rod, and will act as a nut to tighten to once it's assembled.


 
Here is the windvane/emitter section assembled... Note the hollow threaded rod keeping it all together and the new recess in the aluminum plug that keeps it straight and tight.
 

 
Emitter end.  The step down is to secure up into the blade to allow the metal to come up a bit past where the internal diffuser plastic tube is.
 

 
 Just about right, as far as I can tell, on spacing for the emitter to windvane neck.   I will drill and tap for screws here forward of the weathring line on the emitter section, these screws will completely solidify the blade, neck, plug, etc.



Here, I don't have the anchoring screws in the emitter yet but this already feels so great to hold.  It looks so much better than an MR saber already, and I can tell there's no wobble in the blade, and it will be much moreso when I get it all screwed down.

I just got two of the rebelscum calc strips!  Once I get them whittled down to fit, I'll post pics.  But for now, LEDS!
 


The first ten LEDs in the ladder string soldered. That was tedious.  

A closeup of the soldering job. I bent the leads over the next LED in the chain, crimped, and snipped the excess, then a very small bead of solder to secure it together, while keeping everything as straight as I could.
 

Preassembled for wire length and fit, and just so I could see what it looked like lit up. I think once I get the LED string moved a bit closer to the emitter to get rid of that slightly dim spot at the base, and the other 54 LEDs soldered up, this saber is going to be one I am very happy with.


I decided to do a little work on this project last night, I found a scrap piece of delrin to attempt the battery holder/speaker housing, and it turned out to BARELY fit. Three AAA batteries fit inside the delrin tube, which is threaded at the end for the sink knob pommel, and widens out to 1 inch to hold the speaker, with enough room for a resonance chamber behind the speaker to pump up the volume a good deal. The graflex clamp fits snug on that wider spot, with cuts for the tabs to lock in. I'll probably go back and make this piece out of aluminum for stability.


The obnoxious switch hanging out of the top of the graflex clamp is temporary till I figure out how to hide a switch in there. I am very happy that I was able to cram all that stuff into such limited space, and still hold true to the accuracy of the saber. I did have to harvest the pommel off my original saber to test, but I think I can come up with a suitable replacement.
The saber is BRIGHT and LOUD, moreso than a stock master replicas Force FX saber. I will wait till I have a bit of extra cash and finish out the LEDs in the blade, and then it will be time to weather it to match my first saber.
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2011, 12:18:25 am »

Hey guys... some progress on this saber now that I have found myself a job.



First off, I needed to strip any rust off the grenade.  There was some light surface rust, and I used a wire brush in my dremel to shine it up for bluing.



I'll be using Birchwood Casey Super Blue on the grenade.  This will be the first time I have tried this particular product.



If you do this, make sure to use rubber gloves and do this in a well ventilated area.  This is some noxious stuff, so it's not for kids.



That white residue is bad news, I blast it off with some high pressure cold water.



After a few cycles through the chemical and knocking the gunk off that is generated, a nice dark blue is left.  I need to let this rust a bit, but it's well on the way to matching my other saber.



Afterwards I will weather and darken the windvane, right now it's too pristine.



Next up is the emitter section.  I have two complete emitters to work with, and I chose the unweathered cleaner outer section to go with.  This will be easier to clean up and then hit with the Super Blue for darkening.



After using the same process from the grenade on the emitter, I chuck it up in the lathe and use some extra fine sandpaper to clean it back down, leaving nice darkened weathering in the crevices.



I left more darkened blued finish on the inside emitter section.



I still may need to work on this area, as it's not quite as close to my other saber as I'd like. 



Also the windvane brass black didn't take hold quite as well as the other saber.  I might have to break it down again and redo that part, but it will work for now.



Much closer to my first saber.  I still need to add some rust and tweak some values, but I think it's much closer now.  The next challenge is hiding the on off switch, and to hide a speaker volume knob someplace.  Probably use one of the transistors as a volume control.

I am also still awaiting my pommel from a run off the RPF.
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2011, 12:18:58 am »

Well, it's the weekend, and I have had a bit of time to work on this saber.

This post, we look at the switch.



It's installed!  Can you see it?  It's hiding in the vertical slot in the graflex clamp.



I found a tiny metal toggle switch in my parts bin that fit that slot perfectly.  I just had to come up with a way to offset it inside the saber so that its arc of movement would be as close to the curvature of the graflex clamp as possible, while still giving me enough to work with to turn it on and off.



To do that I raided my parts bin again, and while looking for a round piece of tubing I could mount it to, I ran across this section of shelf track.  Turns out, it was the perfect distance of offset, and then all I had to do was cut it to fit inside the speaker section and grenade clamp once it was all assembled.



The task of keeping it pushed up against the wall of the clamp was accomplished via a large spring set on a screw tied into the shelf track section.



I also had to solder a plug onto the switch so I could easily remove it for maintenance.  One more trip to the parts bin yielded a three prong blue plug, which is adequate.



I suppose the next step is to think about a volume control for the speaker, and some way to get a rechargeable battery setup.  The temporary AAA rig I have in there is already beginning to lose power.

LDM, I know you suggested a 4 AAA rechargeable setup, but I only have room enough for 3 AAAs in the booster section.  Believe me, I wish I had more room, but this project is putting my cram-fu to the test.

I think I will incorporate a custom machined volume knob and recharge port where the transistors are.  And possibly machine the knob and the recharge port plug to match the contour and diameter of the transistors that were used in this saber.


::::Edit::::

I finally figured out where I can stash my fourth rechargeable AAA battery! 



Now I can start thinking about my recharge port and charging system.  Hey LDM, I need to start working out a recharging setup.  What do you suggest as far as a recharging station?  Depending on the battery I choose, do the rechargers available on the TCSS shop do the job?  Meaning, do they know when to shut off charging for four rechargeable AAA batteries?  I know this has been solved many times here before, but this will be my first one, and I want to make sure I do it justice.

Thanks everyone!
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2011, 12:19:27 am »

Last night, I got the rechargeable batteries and charger in the mail, soldered up my battery pack, three in the hilt, one in the grenade tube, and fired it up to see if it worked..



Yes indeedy, it works fine!  Next step is to hide the recharge port in there, and a couple minor cosmetic things, and I think she's done!



It's SO MUCH BRIGHTER than a stock MR ForceFX.  I am very pleased.  I do have one question though.  Should I place a resistor on the power circuit, or can the MR board handle 4.8 volts instead of the 4.5 it wants without damage?

I am also going to wedge a rumble pak in there.  I found a pager motor in my parts bin that works well without causing interference or static in the speaker.
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2011, 12:20:01 am »

After having the saber complete for a while, I was worried that I had a weak spot in the battery casing, as it was made of plastic, and I needed to move the speaker a bit further back to account for my recharge port, I decided to make a new battery casing from aluminum.



I was able to set the batteries a bit further back, as well as the speaker, which gave me enough room to put the recharge port where the rear transistor is usually located.



The aluminum is stronger, and fits better, both with the booster section, and the graflex clamp. 



I cut the groove for the inside tab of the clamp with my dremel, and it fits it very well.  When I rotate the clamp into place, it has a satisfying snap.



I was also able to make sure my pommel was correctly oriented when tightened down, which is an improvement over my previous battery casing.  This is me machining the threaded rod that holds the pommel to the casing.



As you can see, the batteries are a snug fit, there's a double layer of electrical tape on the bottom, and I will line the top as well to keep any shorts from happening.



I cut two notches with the dremel out and around the speaker, so that I'd have a place to run my wires.



Everything went together great, solid, clean, etc.  Then, Calamity strikes!



I tested the charger on the batteries with the alligator clips that came with the charger, and it worked fine.  I soldered in the port for the charger, and made a plug to fit, tested it, and it didn't.

I don't know if I had my wires crossed, or if there was a short, but about 15 seconds after I plugged it in, smoke started pouring out of the saber, and I quickly disconnected everything and dumped the batteries out.

Luckily, the soundboard is fine, LEDs are fine, but it just melted some wiring and ruptured a couple batteries.

I have no idea what went wrong here, but after about 30 minutes of being discouraged, I think I'll go ahead and order another speaker, and a set of batteries and try again.  As far as I can tell I think I had a short against the recharge port, or worse, completely had my wires crossed.
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2011, 12:20:32 am »

Well, I put in an order for a new speaker and new batteries, and while I wait on that, will attempt to perfect my wiring, as I think that was my problem.  As far as I can tell, I had an exposed wire that grounded out when I plugged in the charger, and it went kaput.

So now, I am going to attempt to harden my wiring job, so that there's no chance of short, make it efficient and clean and try and get it right in hopes of things running smoothly when I get my fresh battery pack built.



Before, I had two or three different plugs, different plug styles, and a confusing array of wires going through the graflex clamp.  Here I have a round PCB from radio shack, (more on that later) that I am passing all my connections through. The stock plug from the Force FX Soundboard had removeable internal tabs, so I lifted those out and soldered them to my header pins on the back of my round PCB.




Here the connections are soldered and heatshrink applied. (not shrunk yet)  This will isolate each connection and make sure there's no shorting.



Here you can see the plug for the LED string, once plugged in, I coil these wires up and fit them further down into the grenade.
I also wrapped the edges of the Force FX board with electrical tape to insulate them from the steel grenade, and provide a snugger fit.

Also underneath the FX Board, you can see my fourth rechargeable AAA battery.  I pass its connections through the round PCB so that I can connect it up with the main battery pack.



The wires for the switch loop through the hole in the FX board, around the main power lines to keep them snug and to one side to leave room for the battery, and then the switch wires go back out the same hole, and over to the PCB header.



Now you see why I have this round PCB from radio shack. After buzzing out only the threads from this end of the grenade on the lathe, this PCB fits right into the recess.



All said and done, it will be a (hopefully) foolproof design, clean and simple, and easy to get apart and back together for any maintenance.

My order for batteries and speaker should get here wednesday, or sooner.  And I hope to be done with this guy by next Monday.

edit:

I need to know if this is correct as far as wiring goes...

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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2011, 12:21:05 am »

Here's a minor update, maybe not so minor.  I got one of my transistors installed tonight...



"But wait, sloth, isn't that kind of boring?  Don't you have something else to show for yourself?"

Why yes, why don't you pull that transistor out.  Give a firm tug.









That's right, it hides the recharge port. I found a vintage transistor, hollowed it out, shortened it, made a non conductive plug out of delrin, and glued it on the inside of the transistor cap.

Yes, I know if I plug it in there it will act as a killswitch, that's why there's a slot on one side.  It is a killswitch if I turn it 90 degrees, and not a killswitch if I insert it with the gap over the switch terminal on the inside of the port.

I also lathed down the nut that came with the port to fit inside a groove I cut into the transistor washer I got from someplace.

Eagerly awaiting my replacement batteries, I am meticulously soldering and insulating all my connections.
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« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2011, 12:21:31 am »

Internal wiring update!

I got everything squared away, unfortunately no batteries arrived in the mail today, so I wait yet again.  But here's my completed internal wiring setup...



Everything is trimmed, soldered, heatshrunk and electrical taped.  In that order.



There is just enough slack in the wiring to allow the wide plug to come out enough to be able to get hold of for plugging into the grenade section, but not so much wire that it binds up on anything once it's plugged in and set back into the clamp.


Eureka!



Today, I got my batteries in the mail and quickly soldered them together to test to see if all the rest of my electro-fu was good to go.  Turns out at this point, so far, it was!



Here is the result of tonight's work.  heatshrunk and insulated the batteries, hollowed out the battery compartment a few thousandths of an inch to compensate for insulation thickness, ran a new plug between battery pack and control box, made that plug out of several others ( I wanted the colors to match, so I interchanges the crimped connections inside the plug till I got what I was looking for)  I also used the stock MR speaker grille, cut it to fit the inside (so the charge port doesn't touch) and made sure all that was nice and snug.

And, set my wires a certain way so that they are retracted when the saber is assembled, but extend when it's not, it's sort of an S coil around the switch, so that when you pull either plug, the wires extend, when you push them in, they retract, keeping everything nice and neat.



And the CHARGING CIRCUIT HASN'T CAUGHT FIRE YET!  I think I am home free, folks.  We're doing a smoke test (ha) right now, but it's not hot, smoking, smelly, etc.



And boy is she beautiful!
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« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2011, 12:22:03 am »

Some more beauty shots.







One more minor update:



I added the volume and rumblepak on/off switch.  The volume is hooked up and works fine (I just spliced it in to the speaker wire on the back of the circular panel) and the rumblepak on off switch is there for when I install the pager motor.

I also cut a notch and tapped a hole for a setscrew to keep the header panel in place.

Minor update...

I added the correct bubblestrip I had laying round, just now had time to shave it down and polish up the places I cut.


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