Kitchener YouTuber and engineer creates hyper-realistic lightsaber prototype


Kitchener YouTuber and engineer James Hobson has worked for months with his team at Hacksmith Industries to create a working hyper-realistic lightsaber prototype.

More than 500 hours of work later, they revealed the final product on their YouTube channel earlier this month: A retractable, plasma lightsaber that can reach a scorching 2,200 C.

The video has generated more than 19 million views so far.

“Lightsabers are one of the most iconic, the pinnacle of sci-fi tech for people wanting to exist in real life,” Hobson told CBC News.

“So we wanted to try and see what we could use with existing technology to actually be able to make something similar to what a lightsaber looks like in the Star Wars movies.”

James Hobson and his team spent hundreds of hours to create a retractable plasma lightsaber. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

That’s what he and his team at Hacksmith do, Hobson said. They take fictional ideas from comics, movies and video games and make real working prototypes for their YouTube series, Make It Real.

That includes prototypes like Captain America’s shield or Thor’s Hammer.

Hobson said this latest lightsaber prototype is the team’s fourth revision and the first prototype with a retractable blade.

“The previous models featured a fixed solid blade, which is easier because it doesn’t have to retract or extend, but that’s the most important part of the lightsaber,” he said.

Hobson explained that this version uses a glass blowing torch to achieve that.

The lightsaber is attached to a power pack seen here. Hobson said he and his team use existing technologies to create sci-fi and movie prototypes. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

“It’s basically a oxygen propane torch that goes through a fancy nozzle that produces laminar flow,” he said. 

“What this means is that you can get a blade of 28 inches of solid fire with a little bit of ionized plasma in there too.”

Hobson said that this probably won’t be the last lightsaber he and his team try to recreate. 

He hopes to be able to make a double end lightsaber, or the Kylo Ren lightsaber. He also wants the next prototype to be “wireless” so that it doesn’t need to be connected to its power pack, which holds the propane tank.