Building a bug-zapping lightsaber

I have heard the joke several times that a light saber would make a great bug zapper. However, when [Ricky Sumbody] requested it on Facebook, I thought “why not?”. [Ricky] made a common mistake, he thought the bulb was the part that actually zaps the bugs. A quick google search revealed that many people had the same thought. I decide that, even though building a functional bug zapping light saber might not look as cool, I was going to do it anyway.

If you’re going to follow these instructions, be aware that this is a device that is literally designed to shock things to death.  It is dangerous.

I happened to have a retractible light saber lying around, so all I needed was a portable bug zapper. They’re easy to find and pretty cheap too. These portable bug zappers are shaped like a tennis racquet and function by having the bug short between two screens. To build my light saber, all I needed to do was to adapt the screens to my toy.

I tore apart the zapper, cut the fine or “inside” mesh in half and wrapped it. I overlapped the two parts so there was no need to solder them. I then cut some pieces of electrical cord to use as a spacer and mounted the larger “external” screen. After inspecting to make sure that there were no bits touching, I finally wired it to the controller and duct taped it all together.

It works surprisingly well for such a fast hack. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes to create.

If I were to do this again with a goal of making it nicer, I would do the following.

  • -use a higher quality light saber that actually lights up. sound effects wouldn’t hurt either.
  • -stuff the circuit into the light saber handle. It would look so much nicer.
  • -find some new screen material instead of re-using the material from the racquet.

24 thoughts on “Building a bug-zapping lightsaber

  1. Nice job reusing those screens.

    I’ve never used that style bug zapper before, is it supposed to self-arc like that when nothing is in the screens? Or did you insert a “bug” for demo purposes?

    I agree it would definitely be more impressive if it lit up. Especially if it were to really contain a blacklight and attract bugs. :) But not bad at all for a twenty minute gag.

      1. I’ve got a zapper that looks to be the same as what you used in the demo. And it certainly doesn’t arc like that! The only time I ever hear that sound is when a bug comes into contact, otherwise it’s silent.

        It’s a cool idea. Tidy it up a bit and start a kickstarter :p

        1. yep, it shouldn’t arc. However, I found it was really difficult to show it working. The little arcs don’t stop it from working and it has now served its purpose. can’t wait to see if someone does a much cleaner one!

    1. I had one that used AA batteries, rewired it to use a 9v battery. It would knock wood bees out of the air. Long enough to take them out with the dust buster.

  2. Cool project. That clicking sounds means you have a short between the meshes. It’s not going to work so well for killing bugs if it can’t hold a charge.

  3. For a cleaner look, put the lightsaber blade right on the end of the bug zapper handle, and spiral a couple of bare copper wires around the blade, a couple of millimeters apart for your conductors. The only reason they use layered wire mesh is so that a human can’t touch both conductors at once, but the old models of the electric fly swatter used a grid of parallel wires, and had a ‘don’t touch’ warning. In this case, I think it’s common sense (yah, not too common these days) not to touch the blade, and if you do, you’ll get a painful but not permanently damaging shock. (these are used for play in the fetish community. They give one hell of a spanking, but no one dies)

    I’ve got a couple of these laying around, as they make decent and cheap power supplies and capacitor chargers. Now I’m tempted to go hack something together and post a response video.

  4. i think it look nice but it work not good.
    you have now only a tiny spot to hit the bug and zap
    it dead. the racket have a big area to hit a bug.
    and why not put the driver board in the lichtsaber not it ugly tape on it.

  5. A quick and dirty mod, but does look pretty kludgey (if that is a word).

    It looks like a fun project to design from scratch.

    I used to work on mass spectrometer designs, so combining fluorescent and high voltage switching supplies is not too difficult.

    Sound effects would be a very cool addition.

    Certainly not something I would market to the general public.

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