An engineer and YouTuber based in Canada has created a fully functional – and likely very deadly – lightsaber, turning the concept introduced over four decades ago by the first Star Wars film into a reality.
While numerous Star Wars fanatics have tried their hand at creating an actual working version of the Jedi weapon, these “weapons” have largely been combinations of non-retractable metal tubing and light, or glorified versions of the retractable plastic toy lightsabers.
However, for James Hobson – known to his YouTube fans as “The Hacksmith” – such prop-like devices ignore the essential nature of the lightsaber as a fixed-length laser that both glows and can melt through metal.
And because Hobson understands the basic principles of laser engineering, he was able to create his own version of the glowing blade wielded by the Jedi and described in the 1977 film as “An elegant weapon – for a more civilizd age.”
In a new video for Hacksmith Industries’ “Make It Real” series, Hobson demonstrates how he managed to transform a concept previously depicted through Hollywood special effects and CGI into a working device.
The video, which dropped on Thursday, has since gone viral and racked up over 12 million views.
The replica lightsaber relies on a portable backpack connected to a hilt designed to appear similar to those in the films.
The hilt pumps out a constant stream of propane gas which, when mixed with oxygen, creates a beam-like blast of plasma flame that looks similar to the light from the sabers and burns at over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit – meaning that it can make short work of thick pieces of metal and can even slice through steel.
Hobson also showed how a range of different salts can be placed into the plasma stream to alter the color of the beam. For example, boric acid can make the beam green, while sodium chloride (table salt) can turn it yellow. Calcium chloride will produce an amber color, while strontium chloride will turn the beam red.
“Even with all of our new equipment and capabilities, we’re still bound by the laws of thermodynamics,” the Hacksmith explains in the video.
“Well, theories say that plasma is best held in a beam by a magnetic field, which, scientifically, checks out,” he continues. “The issue is producing a strong enough electromagnetic field to contain a blade, well the lightsaber would have to be quite literally built inside a box coated in electromagnets, which turns it into a kind of useless science project.”
The outcome of Hobson’s project is a retractable lightsaber replica that glows “so bright … this actually hurts to look at,” Hobson said.
If you can’t resist owning the epic armament of Jedi knights and Sith lords who engaged in bitter struggles “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” the price tag also matches its intense heat: The laminar nozzle alone cost about $4,000.
“What we’ve made so far are some of the closest representations of lightsabers using real life technologies,” Hobson said.
“They look like a lightsaber, they sound like a lightsaber and at temperatures of over 3000F, they actually cut stuff like a lightsaber.”