ANH Motorised stunt Saber experiments (& blades)

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
Hi Guys
Wanted to start this thread before I do so much that I'm faced with a backlog.

As far as I have been able find only Kurtyboy has posted anything on making these (his is a graflex type).
Do post links to anything else.

If you have done anything along these lines (blades too) then please join in.

To start I'm doing the graflex stunt like Kurtyboy.


So far I'm upto the MK1b motor core.

MK1a was a single sintered bronze front bearing/bush (often known as Oilite) 1" od & 3/4" id, with small geared motor (400rpm at 6V) in 1.5" aluminium sleeve. Bearing was a light interference fit in the core/sleeve. Motor was slip fit into core/sleeve but I had to shim this by gluing on some paper. It was retained & stopped from rotating in the sleeve by a single screw that fitted into a blind hole I drilled in the gearbox, that did not exert any pressure on the motor/gearbox.



* *
Drive was via 5/16" shaft fitted to 3/4" front socket, attached to motor shaft with 2x grub screws as was front socket.
The holes in the sides of the core were to allow me to get at these screws.
I used 2 opposing screws so I could adjust the pressure these exerted on the motor & drive shaft & keep everything on axis.
Socket was drilled & reamed full length 5/16" so I could retro fit a longer shaft later if nec's & have a stud instead of a socket for blade attachment.


* *

I made up a battery pack (2 x 14500 lipo's) switch, Buck converter (to regulate voltage), & leads with 4mm, white, banana connectors to red banana connector panel sockets (with nuts removed).


Unfortunately I'd decided to use cheap 2 core speaker cable ( as this looked most like what's in the photo's) but this just kept breaking wherever there was a join so I reverted to some braided lighting cable I had originally bought but had decided was too thick (I wanted to press on) so it now looks like this.


Closer showing the buck converter hot glued to the back of the switch for neatness.


* *

This core arrangement didn't work well. It was OK-ish on it's own but as soon a blade was in place & held horizontally everything ground to a halt. I got it going, sort of , a couple of times but things always slowed & stopped. Too much leverage was being transmitted to the motor/gears bearings which couldn't cope (the front bearing acting like a pivot point). Kurtyboy's saber suffers the same problem for the same reason but he is using a large roller bearing. Oiling the bearing with WD 40 helps his but just made matters much worse for me.

Mk1b: Decided to use 2 bearings with as much separation between them as I could get to eliminate this torsion problem.
I removed the bronze bearing, counter bored the core to take a 27mm od roller bearing (with separate inner sleeve 15mm id). I had bought 2 of these originally for this project (as Kurtyboy was using them & they seamed a good choice ) but had decided there was just too much internal clearance on the rollers - single bearing version
Counter bored the motor end to take the 2nd roller bearing (in front of the motor).
Made a new 15mm bright mild steel drive shaft, drilled 4mm one end for motor shaft & drilled & reamed 5/16" other for blade attachment. The inner sleeves that came with the bearings were a nice slip fit to this shaft & hence needed fixing in place . I did this by raising a little metal with a knurling tool, seen here in the position for the 2nd (motor end) inner sleeve. (Front bearing & a collar fitted - collar is to make it look right.)


Did a test fit with the above pictured set up to see how much slop I had & the answer was lots, several mm deflection at the motor end (see below).


* *

Arrangement is now this.



This has totally eliminated the torsion problem & no matter what angle or how I swing it there is no slow down that I can detect. The motor is free floating now, as I had to counter bore that end of the core to get the bearing in. The previous screw to retain the motor still works to stop things from falling out & stop the motor rotating in the core but as it exerts no pressure all the stress is being taken on the much more capable roller bearings.
There is some slop & it sounds a bit rattly, the blade I borrowed from my V2 isn't very centered so I don't know at this stage if this going to be new problem but this where I am now.

I have a short video to upload but I need to get my dinner so I'll do that later. Catch ya later folks.
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Well-Known Member
Wow. This is great. Such a detailed commentary. Out of interest have you seen Halliwax on You Tube 'Igniting the V2, Guinness Style' ?

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
I have now. Thanks.
I was aware he was doing something with a V2 & he kept saying he was immanently about to tell all but that was months ago & I've not seen anything. He's not talking to me any more either so pointless me asking him.
I'm not doing production runs or the like which is why I'm showing as much detail as I can & things I tried even if they didn't work so that others can use the info if they want to do their own build (inc production runs) without wasting time going down routes I've already trodden.

I was hoping more info would surface & it's good to see.

I notice in this video there's not much horizontal action going either - same problem?
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Master Member
Well done, J. Your hard work is paying off and I'm looking forward to redoing mine... and not having to compromise on the swinging action!

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
Here's the promised short vid.

This is the blade I borrowed from my Solo's Hold V2. Reflective fabric covered golf club shaft.


It was made for this as a static so I wasn't that bothered about having everything concentric. As you see in the vid it's making the core wobble about. For most of it I'm holding the core fairly lightly. At about 0.17, I grip it much more tightly & the blade starts to oscillate & overall vibration goes up. Interesting effect.

Next on the agenda is a properly concentric blade. I want to see what effect the play in the bearings is having if any.
I also have a MK2 planned using ball race (ball bearing) bearings. Not so much play it them so shouldn't rattle. Should also be a little simpler to make.
Oh yeah this core is designed to just slide into a tube which gives the graflex ( or MPP ) form. I also want to motorise my V2 but that's a different kettle of fish entirely.


Master Member
Well done! It's hard for me to picture/think up ways to turn a little motor shaft into this, really cool to see. I wonder how they decreased the handle wobble for the on-set thing.. its amazing the bushings and sleeves you need!

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
I wonder how they decreased the handle wobble for the on-set thing.
This is why I think it's so important to try & put theory into practice as it answers certain questions & raises new ones. This blade wobble shows that the blades have to be made fairly precisely and be on axis, even if it's a blade that fits onto a stub, as Haliwax's does, the hole needs to be a close fit & on axis.

I ran tests between centers on the finished drive shaft to check run out (concentricity). Front bearing was out by 4 - 5 tenths of a thou (mil) the rear was out by 1 - 2 tenths of a thou. which I am very pleased with - no wobbliness here. I haven't checked how much the rollers are giving but it's enough to see visually & hear. I put a concentric test load in too & this does give some wobble but nowhere near as much, so now I need to try a well made blade to see exactly what happens.

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
New bearings arrived today. 26 x 15 x 7mm apparently for mountain bikes. I've already removed the internal grease to get them as free running as possible. Can't detect any slop at all so I'll try just the one at the front to start with just to see how it works but as two made such a big difference & to compare I will fit the second right after.

They slip fit the 15mm bright mild steel bar a treat so no extra fitting work to do either.


Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
Made a new golf club blade today. Aluminium insert drilled & reamed for 5/16 silver steel stud. Run out on od of golf club about 1.5 thou when mounting in lathe, run out on stud when fitted just under 1 thou (mil). insert & stud super glued in.


Made a couple of videos of it running in the Mk1b but only found the one when I transferred to the laptop.

Missing one was showing some wobble that was transferring to the hilt esp when I gripped hard. Nowhere near as much as the other one though.
I thought this maybe due to the single grub screw pushing the small run out further out, so re-positioned the blade in the socket by about 180 deg, & sure enough wobble was completely gone & running really nice. I'm gripping the hilt as hard as I can at the end of this video & the blade is running true. May add a second opposing grub screw later. MK2 build next.



Well-Known Member
Great stuff! Can't wait to see your motor setup running inside an ANH "Graflex" stunt hilt. Unfortunately I had to quit my plans of building one myself - lack of time and workshop. Are you plannung to test with a balsa blade, too?

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
Testing the blades is sort of why I'm building this - sort of. I'll be doing balsa both square & round, as well as golf sticks, maybe other wood later- to see how they look in motion; how they sound when striking eachother; how robust they are in action ie to destruction; what happens to the fabric during all that - as well as how easily made (or not) these things are - so plenty to do.

It's going to be interesting getting the balsa as accurately made as this golf stick.


Master Member
I'll be very interested to see these tests too. this is amazing seeing all the fitted pieces, with the motor. What's the OD of this beast?

especially the fabric.

I've gotten 3 call backs and emails from industrial estimate places about reflective paint. No go, at least nothing concrete.

Basically it is looking like either reflective powder or beads are dusted onto wet paint whatever color, or a clear reflective paint is painted over a white primer. Not sure how the second one reflects, those folks are in india and have been trying to get me to call them, a little too desperately. There is ONE aerosol can of reflective coat that I think is clear but there's really no good info out there about it.

It does looks like they used tape in ANH at least for vader's blade that Brandon posted.

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
The main tube is app 35mm & an easish push fit into the 38mm stainless 1.5mm walled outer tube I intend to use. Yes I know it should be ally but I'm making it & I prefer stainless as more durable (& shiny - mmm). I can hear the cussing from here.
Base diam of new golf stick blade is 15.2mm (not covered yet).
I'll be including a balsa blade with the interesting numbers 5/8 base 1/2 tip 1 1/2 wide tape just to see what it looks like.

Fabric on the borrowed V2 blade is the Chinese stuff I put you onto, for the test blades I shall be using the knock off M3 stuff you put me onto as the base material is different.

I'm sure it's fabric in ANH as I 'm sure I see it peeling off in the duel on OB1's blade as well as the 'wonky' lines in the stills from the hut scene. Part of the tests is to get it to peel & see what this looks like.

Only vader's blade I think is a possible for paint but you say Brandon says vader's was tape. Can you link that thread?
Part of tests is to see if just fabric on fabric will produce the dust clouds we see.

Kurtyboy mentioned M3 used to make scotchlite reflective paint for turning walls into screens but no longer do so. I'm in no rush to go down that route, ESB blades do look painted to me.

I was wanting t o get more done today but no luck.

Mouse Vader

Well-Known Member
I've still got a duff joint somewhere as every now & then it cuts out briefly so I'll have to do a complete remake of the wiring loom with better stuff ( I left a short portion of the crappy speaker cable in it which is probably the culprit).

Have ordered some more (beefier) motors & variable speed controllers from Banggood, usually takes a while to get here. A couple of these don't have gear boxes (low K's rpm) as I have a feeling these weren't used ( at least on the 'V2' - I'll explain later) so hence they need to be more powerful as they will be running well below rated Volts.

Hope to cut more metal tomorrow.


Well-Known Member
I have just learned a few new things from a phone conversation with Jon this morning. Please bare in mind that Jon does his best to remember the details. Those lightsaber hilts were constructed more than 40 years ago.

- the emitter on the OB1 spfx hilts were not spinning. The blades went through the emitter right "into" the motor
- (some) OB1 spfx hilts were probably constructed differently, i. e. the emitter was a machined part and not cast aluminum
- Jon used a long and thin "Märklin" motor with gearbox, approx. 70mm long including gearbox (approx. 20mm was gearbox), ca. 25mm in diameter
- Ratio approx 20:1, 6V - 1V
- there was a "push fit roller bearing" at top
- they used a front projection setup on the camera
- they experimented with different blade "speeds" in combination with camera shutter to get the best flicker effect
- the spfx saber hilts were quite noisy
- blades for OB1/Vader duel were round wood (some hardwood, some balsa, some tapered, some not)
- blades were painted black first, after that strips of scotchlite from a sheet were glued on
- there were also square/triangular shaped blades used (probably on Lukes SPFX hilt in Ben's hut)
- they experienced wobbling/vibration and tried to eliminate it by the choice of wood of blades and varying the length of the blades

Bert Hamilton was the main responsible guy for the construction of the SPFX lightsabers.

Jon told me he will do a little "construction" drawing of the inner workings out of his memory.


Master Member
thank you so much!!

Marklin makes trains I think

That might be why Obi1 and Vader ended up with vastly different blade lengths, in order to experiment and reduce wobble