View Full Version : 1-1/4" Sink tube LED tutorial

05-25-2007, 03:04 AM
Here is a tutorial to create a basic stunt lightsaber(no sound) that is brighter than any MR saber and will actually stand up to some serious dueling. This is the saber I will be describing:
Almost all of the parts used in this tutorial were obtained from www.thecustomsabershop.com.

Any other parts can be found online at various sites, or your local hardware and electronics stores.

To begin, here is a list of parts and tools needed.


12" long 1'1/4" sink tube
End cap to fit
1-1/4" sink tube blade holder kit (holds 1" blades or 3/4" blades using a reducer)
LED (in this case a K2 Royal Blue)
LED optics
Switch (rated for at least 1.5 amps
4AA battery cage
22 gauge wire
Appropriate resistor
#8-32 Thumbscrew
Approximately 10 yards of leather lacing(optional)


Drill and drill bits
Soldering iron
Rosin core solder
Wire Strippers
Dremel tool with cutting wheel and polishing wheel(optional)
Thermal compound(not necessary, but recommended)
Sheet of paper (if doing cutouts)
Sharpie marker
Allen keys(come with the blade holder)

Pic of parts:
A note on the parts shown: During construction, the switch I was originally using shorted out, so I got the rocker switch shown in later pics. It wires up the same.

Here is a close up of the blade holder. The ribbed piece is the heatsink which the LED sits on. The white nylon screws secure the LED to the heatsink. The headless socket screws secure the heatsink to the blade holder. The button head screws secure the blade holder to the sink tube. The thumbscrew secures the blade within the holder. The thumbscrew is not actually part of the kit and must be purchased separately.

To start out, if you wish to do any cutouts to the emitter end of the saber I recommend making a stencil on paper first. This way you can get it just the way you want before cutting up your saber. Mine looks like this:

Place the stencil over the tube and trace the image on with a Sharpie or other permanent marker. You want to be careful when doing this as any stray marks are not easy to remove without marring the chrome surface of the sink tube.

Once you have the image on the saber, cut out the necessary sections with a dremel cutting wheel. Use the polishing wheel to remove sharp edges. I also used the polishing wheel to remove the chrome finish on this one, revealing the brass underneath. Once your cutouts are done, hold the blade holder next to the sink tube positioning it so that the top of the blade holder is just below the lowest cutout. Mark postions of screw holes with the Sharpie. Drill out the holes and test fit to make sure the blade holder slides in and out easily. If not, check the inside of your cuts and screw holes to make sure there are no burred edges sticking out.

You will also want to cut down your thumbscrew to the appropriate length at this time. You only want enough coming through to the inside so that it will tighten up against the blade. I recommend holding the thumbscrew with pliers, as it will heat up considerably if cutting with a dremel.

Drill a hole in the end cap large enough for your switch. If you don't have a bit large enough, you can use the dremel and a grinding stone to widen the hole.

Mount your switch.

You are now ready to begin with the wiring. Make sure that you have enough wire to allow the battery cage to be pulled out through the bottom of the saber. Connect the negative lead from the battery cage to one of the negative poles on the LED. The positive lead runs to the switch. Most switches used for this application have three posts on the back. Hook the positive lead from the battery up to one side and the wire from the positive pole on the LED to the center(or vice versa)

It's not pictured, but it a good idea to include a resistor on either the positive or negative line between the switch and the LED. Tim has a resistor calculator on the store page that will tell you wcich one you need. I personally have been running a couple of K2 sabers off of 4AA, no resistors for a while, and while they do get a bit warmer, its not ridiculous though and I've had no other problems. Be forewarned though, that pretty much everyone you ask will recommend against doing this.

Using the nylon screws, secure the LED to the heatsink. Test to see that the LED comes on and will stay on for a few seconds.

Assuming everything works you now want to solder all your connections. If you use the rosin core solder, you eliminate the need for applying rosin to the parts being soldered. Be careful when soldering the wires to the LED. If you accidently touch the iron to the "bubble" on the LED you will probably kill it. With K2's, the pads can be a little tricky to solder to, so i suggest getting a little solder on your iron and transferring a layer to the pad before you try to put the wire on, then solder as normal and it should hold fine.

Once everything is soldered, you can go about assembly on the bladeholder. Many people recommend using a dab of thermal compound between the LED and heatsink. This allows for better transfer of heat to the heatsink. From my experience, as long as you have the LED snug up against the heatsink, the heat transfers pretty well anyway. Go with what you feel safe with.

Now that the LED is mounted, test to make sure that the optics assembly sits flat on the LED. You may have to trim some of the material on the base of the optics to fit around your wiring.

Once everything fits test again to make sure everything works.

Assuming everything is good, slide the entire assembly into the blade holder. Make sure that the wires coming off the LED sit in the little grooves on the side of the heatsink so that you don't sever them when tightening. Push the assembly in as far as it will go. The optics should be snug up against the lip on the inside of the bladeholder. Tighten the headless socket screws using the provided allen keys. Your setup should now look like this:

Slide the bladeholder up through the pommel end of the saber, position it and secure using the two button head screws.

Wrap hilt with leather lacing(or however you want to decorate your saber).

Insert blade and tighten thumbscrew. Test it out.

Congratulations on building a saber!

06-14-2007, 02:06 PM
Are sinktubes a requirement or more of a preference? Are they basically used when you want to make more of a custom piece as opposed to just ordering parts through the MHS?

06-14-2007, 02:32 PM
Are sinktubes a requirement or more of a preference? Are they basically used when you want to make more of a custom piece as opposed to just ordering parts through the MHS?

There are some things more easily done with them. It's just another option. Sinktubes are usually just cheaper and easier to work with for the tool challenged.

06-14-2007, 03:18 PM
One thing that slightly bothers me is that you didn't mention anything about insulating your solder connection between the wires of your battery pack and LED.

I did see some electrical tape over that connection in one of the pics.

K2s don't need any resistors when direct driving them?

06-14-2007, 04:13 PM
uhhh my K2 is resistored... haha

06-14-2007, 06:34 PM
Good call, J-Lo... he did not mention a resistor on the list of parts.

Darthdan, that would be a good idea to include (edit the post). UPDATE: He edited the post, so there ya go! :)

You really only need to use a resistor when your total battery voltage exceeds the LED's forward voltage in a decently large way.

For example:

Lux III Red-O @ 2.95 fwd v
with 1.5 x 2 wired up to be 3.0v...
= you don't really need a resistor.

Lux III Cyan @ 3.85 fwd v
with 1.5 x 4 wired up to be 6.0v...
= you DEFINITELY need a resistor!

In fact, in that final example you are better off just going 4.5v. The volts "over" what the LED needs get wasted through the resistor.

However--when using a DRIVER (Corbin's, Ultra's, Erv's, or some kind of puck)... current regulation becomes an entirely different ball of wax, and you can give a circuit a wide range of voltages, and that energy will NOT be wasted (well, not nearly as much). :)

For example, I have a K2 (1500ma) wired up with Erv's board. It's fwd v. is something like 3.9v or whatever. But I'm feeding it 7.4v Li-Ion (effective 8v)... but Erv's board simply turns the "extra" voltage into more current... which is why it can run for like 3.5+ hours--along with the fact that Erv's board ALSO allows the "flickering" option, which essentially turns the LED on and off, lowers how much current it draws making it brighter here, dimmer here, all in a matter of milli-seconds repeatedly. This also extends battery life.

11-04-2007, 05:19 AM
Minus the resistor part, great tutorial. I now realized I have assembled my blade and lens holder incorrectly.

06-17-2008, 10:07 PM
A couple quick questions for a first-timer like myself...

First, where would the resistor for this go, in relation to this build?

Second, what would you guess the cost of this project was, start to finish? I only ask because I need to make multiples, for a stage show, and need to keep the price to a minimum...

Thanks, and again, great tutorial!

06-18-2008, 12:51 AM
the resistor should between the batt. pack and the LED..

as well as any accent LEDS should have some too..

as far as pricing.. the parts list IS supplied.. go tot he store and add it up.. they have whole LED kits in there...

the tools would have to be what you have or dont have

07-10-2008, 03:54 PM
To add to that, the resistor should be on EITHER the negative OR the positive line... not wired "across" both... in case any new folks were to be confused.

By the way, if people were using rechargeable cells, they might want a recharge port... which WOULD be wired "across" both + and -, preferably right after the battery pack, and therefore before the LED switch.

Finally, here's at least a recent video I made regarding sink tube sabers with the TCSS 1.25" blade holder. Granted, my video shows the "older" black anodized TCSS part, which is no longer available I believe.


07-13-2008, 01:22 PM
Updated. That sound about right?

10-15-2008, 07:26 PM
If you did a direct drive using the 3.6v lithium ion cells, wouldn't it be better to have them in parallel, then no resistor or buckpuck?

What am I missing?

10-15-2008, 11:41 PM
Yarddog... first of all, you would likely only need a single Li-Ion cell, seeing as it provides 3.7v of power (4.2v on full charge under no load).

Secondly, you CAN indeed run without a resistor... but you do need to know what you're doing. For a project where the forward voltage of the LED very very closely matches (or is slightly higher) than the 3.7v Li-Ion cell... you're good--you will not likely need a resistor.

However... again... if you DO NOT KNOW what you're doing--always use a resistor. A good example would be a red Luxeon III. It's forward v is around 3v, and 3.7v (or 4.2v) will probably not make it happy... this much voltage will likely destroy it.

Finally, regarding a buckpuck... a puck is generally all about "current driving". In other words--it regulates current. Overall, this is better for an LED. A resistor does NOT regulate current. There are advantages and disadvantages to both... like so many other things in the world.

10-16-2008, 02:46 PM
Yes, I accept all that as true and good.

My question is really (even though you may not need but a single cell) would it hurt anything if you connected two or more in parallel so as to enjoy longer "bright blade" time? The forward voltage shouldn't change so you should be good to go, right?

I apologize if my original question was muddled.

Oh, and I've seen your site. Good info. Great resource.

07-22-2009, 09:02 AM
I'm also building a sinktube saber. I got the 1-1/4 sinktube and i was wondering if that blade holder kit would be able to fit that, the 1.25 sinktube blade holder kit from TCSS. i'm getting a LUXIII royal blue with the resistor and AA batts. I had plans to use the whole sinktube cause it has kind of a cool look to it. This will be my second saber because i built a pvc saber first to see how it went. the sinktube saber will be better. Also, how would i insert the blade retention bolt on this type of saber? by the wider area of the sinktube? thats where i'm gonna have the blade coming out. like where the twist off part is. the crown. anyway, thanks for the help.

07-24-2009, 05:53 PM
I'm not sure what you mean regarding "how" you would insert the blade retention screw. In general, the 1.25" blade holder here @ TCSS (along with Tim's other holders) would simply require you to drill a hole in the side of the holder... then tap the hole (tap = create threading for a screw to fit), do a little sanding to remove rough areas where the drill & tap was done... insert the blade... then tighten the screw.

If your blade holder is going to be completely covered by your sink tube... all you need do is drill a hole at the correct position in the sink tube to allow for the blade holder's BRS hole to show through.

07-27-2009, 05:11 PM
I got it figured out Nova. I'm just gonna use the sinktube blade holder/heat sink kit from here. it'll be alot easier. and I also thought about giving my saber a "punk" color scheme to it. white p4 led, black switch, and black graflex style grips. i'm getting color filters too and probably will use the purple filter most of the time. cool idea huh? i might cut the side of the opening where the blade comes out at too. what would be the best length of the graflex grips to get?

also, i'm gonna be using the resistor in the led kit too since its the correct one. sorry, forgot to mention that part.

02-17-2018, 01:38 PM
Does the 2 AA battery holder fit in the 1 1/4" sink tube? I know in the store and tutorial it only mentions the 4 AAA holder as a fitting option.

Jay-gon Jinn
02-18-2018, 06:51 PM
Does the 2 AA battery holder fit in the 1 1/4" sink tube? I know in the store and tutorial it only mentions the 4 AAA holder as a fitting option.It's a loose fit, but yes.

02-20-2018, 06:12 PM
Thank you for help :D