Somewhere, on a YouTube channel far, far away, an intrepid maker created a lightsaber that burns blue, crackles and can light up a cigarette.
Electrical engineer Allen Pan already has experience turning fictional weapons into functioning objects in the real world. You might remember the "working" Thor's hammer that only he can lift.
Let's take a closer look at this build. The shiny lightsaber hilt hides an interesting array of technology and chemicals. There's a nichrome ignition, like you'd find in model rockets; a syringe valve in a 3D-printed enclosure; and a mixture of methanol and acetone for fuel. Pan loads the device with butane (found in lighters) as a propellant. More importantly, a button triggers lightsaber sound effects.
Pan got his inspiration for the functioning lightsaber from a blog called Tesla Down Under and a post on building tiny flamethrowers using a needle, butane torch and tubing. Pan's version, posted to YouTube on Thursday, is essentially a small flamethrower with a focused "beam."
The DIY sci-fi weapon looks best in the dark, when the light really shows up well. Pan also experimented with making a different color blade using boric acid for a green hue.
A set of balloons decorated with Stormtrooper helmets meet their demise at the hands of Pan's lightsaber. I won't spoil the final test for you, but it involves a picture of Jar Jar Binks and some gleeful giggling.
Pan's lightsaber might not be the Holy Grail of all lightsaber builds -- the "blade" is thin, variable in length and a bit on the wavy side. But it's still quite a design feat. You're not going to fool Luke Skywalker; he'll want to know where his real lightsaber is.
This also isn't the sort of DIY project most people will want to tackle. Even Pan declares the gadget "scary" during a test of the device. To stay on the safe side, you'll want to stick with the plastic toys you can use to engage your buddies in friendly, non-burning battles.