Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The force is with him: Taiwan’s one of a kind lightsaber maker

By Joseph Yeh  /  CNA

He discovered, however, that it was not as bright as those in the movie and broke easily when used in a pretend sword fight. So he decided to build one for himself using the handle of a broom.

It took six years of trial and error before perfecting his design, and he even changed his university path during the process and chose to major in optoelectronics in pursuit of his lightsaber dream.

After countless experiments, he found that LEDs were the best light source for a lightsaber.

His creations use a string of small LEDs that extend over the full length of the blade. The string is divided into several individually powered segments that can be turned on in sequence to create a scrolling effect similar to the lightsabers in the movies.

To make these weapons even more realistic, he installed a soundboard in the hilt of his lightsabers, giving the devices the motion sensor-controlled sound effects that simulate clashing and battle impact sounds.

Tsai originally built the lightsabers just for fun, but that changed when short clips of him and his friends playing with them appeared on YouTube.

The videos were an immediate hit, and people from around the world started to e-mail him hoping to buy one, starting a business that has become a full-time vocation.

His lightsabers are a little more expensive than those sold on the official Web site, but that has not dampened demand due to the high quality of his product and his ability to tailor the device to customer requests.

The lightsaber maker said it usually takes him one and a half days to make a laser blade and he now gets about a dozen orders a month, with 70 to 80 percent coming from the US and European countries.

LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE

As a person who turned his favorite toy into a long-term career, Tsai said Star Wars has changed his life. Now, aside from building lightsabers, he also regularly organizes Star Wars fan meetings each month with cosplayers dressing like Star Wars characters. They also regularly visit hospitals for charity events to inspire kids with rare illnesses. Tsai admitted there is a challenge that could be daunting — finding a way next year to top the success of this year’s Star Wars Day at the Presidential Office.

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