Over the winter and the first portion of the new year, I was pretty well inundated with commissioned saber builds. Most of those were stunt sabers that to be perfectly honest, got a bit boring after a bit. Fortunately, one of my customers asked for a basic saber with sound and even better, a purple blade. I’m calling this one the Republic Defender and let’s take a closer look.
The parts breakdown is as so:
- Ultrasabers Apprentice V4 hilt
- TCSS Modular Pommel System (MPS) Style 8 pommel
- Custom powder coat finish
- Plecter Labs Pico Crumble soundboard
- Tri-Cree XP-E2 Red-Green-Royal Blue (RGRb) LED
- Veco 2W bass speaker
- Brass anti-vandal (AV) switch
- TCSS Modular Hilt System (MHS) V6 Chassis
- Li-ion 18650 battery
- Ultrasabers Heavy Grade Ultraedge blade
Like many of my other sabers, this one is based on the Ultrasabers Apprentice V4. For a budget hilt, Ultrasabers’ Apprentice is an excellent choice. It has a superbly-placed choke point and the aesthetics comfortably fit any Star Wars era. It is primarily a one-handed saber, but can be used with both hands if needed. The only thing that’s a little disappointing about the Apprentice (and many of Ultrasabers’ entry-level hilts) is that it’s pretty bland. In order to spruce it up a bit, I added a custom powder coat finish (more on this later).
The story behind the pommel is a little interesting. When I first purchased this hilt, it was originally going to be built as a stunt lightsaber replica. However, when this customer came to me with a build request, I decided to re-purpose it for a sound-enabled saber. The problem with that choice was that I only had a solid pommel and such a part would need to be machined and hollowed-out to make room for a speaker I don’t own a mill, so doing that sort of modification was out of the question. Instead, I hit up The Custom Saber Shop and grabbed one of their Style 8 MPS pommels. The Style 8 is a little different than anything offered by Ultrasabers, but beyond improved aesthetics, it also lengthens the hilt enough to make it a really excellent two-hander.
The Republic Defender was quite literally the first item I ever powder coated. As soon as my oven and powder arrived (I already had the gun), the hilt was hanging from my makeshift cabinet and ready to be dusted. For the powder coat, I opted to use a silver and gold scheme. Gold just seems perfect for a purple lightsaber and the contrast between the light gold and the darker silver turned out excellent. Aside from some striping and other accents, I added a Jedi emblem opposite the brass AV switch. All stenciling was done with Oracal 631 vinyl that I pre-cut using my Silhouette Cameo. Oracal 631 is listed as having a maximum temperature of 176-degrees Fahrenheit, but will actually remove cleanly at up to 200-degrees. I first did a full cure application of the silver before applying the stencils. With the stencils on-board, I coated the hilt in the gold and put it in the oven at 200-degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or just long enough for the gold to transition from powder to liquid (also known as flow-out). I then pulled the hilt out and let it cool to where I could handle it. Next, i carefully peeled the vinyl and placed the saber back in the oven for a final 12-minute, 400-degree cure.
Inside the hilt is a Plecter Labs Pico Crumble riding in an MHS V6 chassis with an 18650 Li-ion battery, all from The Custom Saber Shop (TCSS). The Pico Crumble is Plecter’s most affordable board at around $10 less than the Nano Biscotte. It only comes with two swing sounds (fast and slow), a clash sound, a boot sound, and activation/deactivation sounds, all of which are pre-loaded into the Pico Crumble’s firmware. Picos are available with light or dark sounds and since this is a lightside saber, I went with the light version. If you’re used to other boards from Plecter or NEC, the Pico’s sounds can be a little repetitive. That said, it’s far, far better than the soundboard inside the Hasbro sabers with higher quality sounds and superior responsiveness. The lack of track variety notwithstanding, the Pico Crumble is a fantastic board.
The other thing the Pico Crumble has going for it is its ability to easily support color changing and RGB LEDs. The customer in this case requested a purple blade. To get there, I chose a Tri-Cree XP-E2 RGRb (Red-Green-Royal Blue) from TCSS – royal blue because it produces richer purples. The customer also asked for a true purple and not a pink. This required that I heavily resistor (10 ohm) the red die, but it took a heck of a lot of experimentation to get there. Mixing the royal blue die at full power (1 A) with the weakened red die made for a nice amethyst blade color. Based on photos I have seen, it’s probably quite close the Dark Violet Amethyst (DVA) color offered by Ultrasabers. I explain how to use the Pico Crumble’s service menu in the video below, but other colors that can be selected on this saber include red, green, royal blue, ice blue, and lime green.
Like pretty much every other sound-enabled saber I’ve done so far, the Republic Defender features a Veco 2W bass speaker. These 28mm speakers offer respectable sound quality and are very loud when given enough resonance. Mounted to the MHS V6 chassis and inside the Apprentice V4, the bass speaker sounded superb.
Finally, I included an Ultrasabers Heavy Grade Ultraedge blade with this saber. Blades aren’t typically included with my builds – they add to shipping costs and most enthusiasts own several. But since this customer was local, shipping was a non-factor. He also doesn’t own any extras and requested a heavy grade so he could duel with his kids. Though it’s probably overkill given their ages, he certainly won’t have to worry about breaking the blade.
That pretty well wraps up this saber reveal. If you have any questions, please be sure to post those in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!