A New Hope Darth Vader Lightsaber - Part 4 - Blade Holder, MPP Replica
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This is the beginning of the bladeholder.  Here you see the stock Heiland bulb spring retention... thing.  I lathed down a piece to just fit inside the heiland body, and that just fits this section of the original flash.  I wanted to retain both the chromed curved lip and the flat spring from the original piece.

I lathed a dip into the front face of the holder, that snugs up against the spring.  I also chamfered the incoming edge, so the blade would be fed properly into the holder.

I also tested out milling the slots into the holder under the original flash connector holes.  Once this piece is anodized black, this will look much better.

I'll also need to add contact fins into the slots to resemble the original piece, and will probably use the opposing vertical slot to put my setscrews for blade retention.

Today, in the mail, I got the MPP replica from Parks. At first glance, I see a few things that bug me about this. Such as the grips don't mesh well with the endcap at all, being pushed away from centerline at the back, giving the flared appearance. Plus the front shroud is a bit clunky.

Visibly unpolished machine lines on both the inside of the emitter shroud and the radiused inner lip of the bulb holder. That radiused lip is perfectly mirror smooth on my heiland, and the spring seems a bit different too.

Shown here are shrouds from a Heiland Synchronar, the Parks MPP Replica and the MR Vader. The knurled bolt is also a good bit different from one to the other. I will allow the client to pick which one he wants for the final build.

Note how thick the walls are on the Parks, and how much less of a "step" there is. I prefer the shape of the MR, or even the Heiland to this. Especially given the machinemarks. The good parts of the Parks shroud are the lack of the notch on the underside, and the preinstalled D ring on top. Overall, I'd rate the Parks MPP replica as "sufficient" but I am positive the real thing is a giant step above this. It's better working material than a Heiland, but I may need to do some mix and match to get what I am going for.

Here's the internal pieces so far, the forend plug section still needs to be hollowed out to fit with the back of the blade adapter, and I still need to shorten the back can to length. One thing I have noticed is that I might not have room for the brass triple battery holder detail that I had originally planned for. While I hate to lose this detail, it frees me up to allow for the proper resonance chamber for the speaker, and more room for detail in the crystal chamber.

Here I am machining out a new crystal holder. I didn't quite like the way the other one turned out, it seemed like an element out of place to me. This new brass one will fit more with the rest of the chamber I think.

An examble of the weathering I might go with, deep ambers in the crevices, and brass showing through on edges and corners.

At this point, after a bit of work and handling, the weathering is coming off, this will be repolished and applied, as soon as I am done with all the brass pieces, so that everything is consistent. I also have the three holes drilled that just fit the LEDs. I'll be doing a bit more detail on the LEDs compared to the previous sabers I've done, so I machined out a bit more deep crevice for the crystal mount to sit in.

Here's the 3/16 copper tubing I am cutting into pieces to pass the insulated leads to the LEDs. I carefully spaced the 6 new holes for these tubes around the cap, and only drilled partway in with the larger bit, then all the way through with a slightly smaller bit, so the tubes will bottom out against the cap, and not push through. The wires, however, will go all the way through the cap.

Here's one test lit. I might go with a black insulation on the leads instead of red, it sort of clashes with the copper when it's off. I might also go brass with these tubes, I have plenty of both metals in this size to test with.

Tonight after dinner, I measured and cut and beveled six half-inch long 3/16 brass tubes for the LED lead guides. I like this brass much better than the copper. I want to make the beveling as consistent as possible, but it won't take much to clean these up.

This is the 10mm ruby I have for the focusing crystal. There's a smaller diameter lip keeping it from coming out the front of the brass mount, and a spring behind it keeping it snug. There's an aluminum LED mount keeping the LED and the spring in place.

My camera absolutely doesn't do this color justice, it's a BRIGHT deep red, very satisfied with how this turned out. I might not even try the other combinations I had planned. Flipping it so the point is out, and trying the Helenite gem, one way then flipped. I might try these later, but I am sure happy with this.

I also shaved a bit off the crystal mount, and tried a new way of fitting the crystal. Since the inside diameter of the mount was too small to really fit this crystal, and I didn't have a drill bit the right size, I used the milling machine to cut slots down into the mount where the outer corners and garnet nodules were keeping the crystal from sliding in. I hadn't ever tried anything like this before, but as I fit the crystal in, any place that stuck out too far to let it go on in, I marked on the mount, and cut a channel.

And now the crystal fits VERY well into the mount.

Today, I machined the brass spacers to go over the threaded rod, and test fit the forend into the Heiland tube with the MPP clamp on. The ruby really catches the light, even down inside the chamber. The colors are really nice, the brass has a lot of the same tones as the smoky quartz, and the red really stands out here.

When it's lit, though, it spills light out in a fan pattern, not just pointed at the crystal. It illuminates the radiator fins really well.


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