Magic Cane Is The Secret Behind Lightsaber

Everyone has a lightsaber or two lying around the house, but not everyone has a lightsaber that extends and retracts automatically. And that’s because, in the real world, it’s not an easy design challenge. [HeroTech]’s solution for the mechanism is simple and relies on an old magician’s trick: the appearing cane. (Video, embedded below.)

An appearing cane is a tightly coiled up spring steel sheet that springs, violently, to its full length when a pin is released, but they can’t retract while the audience is looking. This is fine for magic tricks, but a lightsaber has to be able to turn off again. Here, an LED strip does double duty as source of glow but also as the cable that extends and retracts the appearing cane spring. A motor and spool to wind up the LED strip takes care of the rest.

There are still a number of to-dos in this early stage prototype, and the one mentioned in the video is a tall order. Since the strip doesn’t illuminate out the sides, the lightsaber has two good viewing angles, and two bad ones. The plan is to rotate the LED strip quickly inside the sheath: an approach that was oddly enough used in the original movie prop, as demonstrated in this documentary. Doing this reliably in an already packed handle is going to be a challenge.

If you’re thinking you’ve seen a magic-cane lightsaber before, well, maybe you saw this video. And if you want a light saber with real lasers, check out this build that brings its own fog machine. Take that, Darth Vader!

23 thoughts on “Magic Cane Is The Secret Behind Lightsaber

  1. You could avoid a solid part entirely by using an electron beam. 100 keV electrons have a range of about one meter in air before they thermalize and just stop. Use a collinear positive ion beam to neutralize and make the beam stay together, and choose the ion for your desired color. Argon is nice.

    Now, at 100 keV you’ll even get a goodly dose of X rays off it, so make your tsuba (guard) larger and made of lead, so only your opponent gets that benefit.

  2. I actually have seen this before. There was a toy lightsabre released to tie in with the movies that worked exactly like this. The old magician’s trick is indeed old.

  3. Nice job team and congratulations on graduating. I am sure you seen the one Disney made for the Galaxy Edge – at WDW. check out Lanny Smoot and his light saber designed for the Hotel experience. Keep up the great work. Most impressive. Way to go. Omar Fuentes

  4. Now poke holes in it and let plasma shoot through the middle and out the different tips.
    Combine semi-real lightsabers with this new design to make full functional lightsabers.

  5. A power car antenna with led strips on it. I normally like his builds but this one missed the mark imho. Overengineered and slow in both directions. Just amazing what people come up with though.

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