Alex Burkan (Russia), the man behind the Alex Lab YouTube channel, created the first retractable lightsaber.
The lightsaber produces a blade of plasma measuring over 1 m (3.28 ft) in length. Reaching temperatures in excess of 2,800°C (5,072°F), the blade has the ability to cut through steel.
“I’ve been a huge Star Wars™ fan all my life and the lightsaber was my most wanted gadget,” said Alex.
“Of course, it’s a great feeling to enter the Guinness World Records with something you just created with your own hands. The only wish now is to do something more epic!” – Alex Burkan
“Since 2013, the main area of my research and work has been hydrogen generation equipment, so I decided, maybe, I could build something.”
However, replicating the Star Wars™ inspired lightsaber was no easy task.
“Every step during [the] the development and construction process was a challenge.”
“For many years I collected ideas and spare parts for my lightsaber and electrical equipment from the internet and [from] scrap yards.”
The first step for Alex was to design and build high-pressure equipment that could then be fitted to his lightsaber.
“The key component of my lightsaber is an electrolyzer. An electrolyzer is a device that can generate huge amounts of hydrogen and oxygen and compress the gas to any pressure without a mechanical compressor.”
Alex also uses this electrolyser, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, as a hydrogen booster for his motorcycle.
After hundreds of experiments and bench tests, Alex was able to adapt the hydrogen and oxygen burner to form the shape and length required for his lightsaber.
But Alex’s quest for a realistic lightsaber was far from over. He then had to create a compact but powerful hydrogen and oxygen burner that could fit in the handle.
“Finally, the hardest job was to squeeze the entire gas delivery system into a lightsaber hilt.”
“It’s the starkiller lightsaber of The Force Unleashed Game!”
Besides cutting through metal, the lightsaber has other interesting qualities.
“Plasma is a stream of high iron particles, so this lightsaber can also attract lightning and other high voltage charges,” Alex said.
“The most impressive thing this gadget can do is give you a real feel of a real lightsaber in your hand.”
Despite all the work that has been done to bring his lightsaber to its current state, Alex has a lot of improvements he wants to make to refine his design.
“It’s an early prototype, so it has a lot of limitations. It only works for 30 seconds at full power, the hydrogen torch isn’t as stable as it could be, and you can easily see when it moves. Sometimes the lightsaber just explodes in your hand from the hydrogen flashback.”
Alex plans improvements to the prototype such as upgrading the nozzle and replacing the fuel tank with a carbon tank system.
“I think the science will help us and finally we can bring the lightsaber closer to the movie version.”
Alex isn’t the only person – or even the record holder – to have tried to create a real-life version of the iconic Star Wars™ weapon.
Hacksmith Industries (Canada), the mastermind of YouTube creator James Hobson, has also created its own lightsaber, which broke the record of first retractable proto-lightsaber.
Unlike Alex’s lightsaber, the one designed by Hacksmith Industries requires an external power source. Their lightsaber is powered by tanks of liquid propane gas and oxygen gas that are attached to the lightsaber from a small backpack.
“I know I’m not the only one trying to fulfill the dream of a Jedi lightsaber, and that’s cool,” Alex continued.
“The craziest thing is that we created them almost simultaneously. Isn’t it cool that two guys from different parts of the world are dreaming up something that doesn’t even exist?”
“The Hacksmith version is much more powerful, it definitely runs over 30 seconds. Our duel would be extremely fast and furious, as I only have 30 seconds to win!”
Despite inventing rival lightsabers, Alex says he and James sometimes talk to each other about their upcoming or ongoing designs.
“Sometimes we discuss our current projects. Sometimes we threaten each other with our new inventions, but we always support each other.”
“The things and ideas that unite people around the world are great”
After earning a Guinness World Records title for his retractable lightsaber, Alex is now working on other exciting projects.
“Right now I’m working on an Iron Man suit and other gear that also runs on hydrogen. Hope to see you again and break a few more records!”
You can see what Alex is up to on his English and Russian YouTube channels.