We’ve seen all the very very cool lightsaber toys, ranging from the very cheap to the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” price range, but nothing we’ve shown you so far compares to what you are about to see. It’s a real lightsaber that is active over the entire length of the blade.
This marvel of engineering was built by a YouTuber and fiendishly clever geek engineer named Allen Pan, for his YouTube channel Sufficiently Advanced1. This isn’t something you can necessarily hack together in an afternoon. It contains precision machined parts, and more than one that had to be 3D printed.
Unlike other attempts to build a working lightsaber, this one doesn’t use a laser, so Allen doesn’t need safety goggles just to look at it. Instead, it amounts to a miniature flame thrower in a handheld form factor. The blade is actually a stream of flame, powered by a burning mixture of methanol (commonly available as lacquer thinner) and acetone, with butane added as a propellant. Ignited by a small coil of nichrome wire — the same wire used in igniters for model rocket engines — Allen’s lightsaber produces a blade of flame about three feet long. Interestingly, the blade has a wild, ragged quality to it, much like the blade of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The blade itself consumes little power to sustain, apart from the glow plug igniter and the sound effcts, and runs as long as his thumb is on the switch. The casing is the classic Anakin / Luke Skywalker design, but with a trigger guard so it can’t accidentally activate while hanging from his belt.
Allen spends a lot of his time taking things from the movies and making them work in real life. His YouTube channel has a lot more crazy stuff in it, all of it impressive and achingly cool.
1a reference to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement,”Any sufficiently advanced techology is indistinguishable from magic,” from a 1973 revision of his original 1962 monograph entitled Hazards of Prophecy.