It's not often I get the chance to spend an entire day with either of my daughters working on an arts & crafts project, so when Caitlin asked me if I could help her make a Photon Sword (think light saber, for those unfamiliar with the anime Sword Art Online), I jumped at the chance.

This is what it's supposed to look like (except the blue parts are supposed to be black):

Since we don't have a 3D printer or any fancy tools at home to cut and mold shapes at home, we had to resort to found materials, especially since she needed it done in time for Kraken Con next weekend, and we didn't want to spend school nights on it to avoid interfering with homework.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday morning just walking around Home Depot looking for parts that resembled what we needed. PVC pipe was obvious, but she was pretty specific in wanting it to look as close to the real thing as possible so it took us awhile to find the things that would fit together and look decent. 

Caitlin also wanted it to have a switch and be able to light up but I wasn't sure if I could do it. Seemed simple enough, but the only time I ever really built any home-made electronics with lights and switches was back in high school. Good thing I still have my soldering iron and amazingly, some solder hanging around the house. Thanks to Google and a few tips from the guy at Radio Shack, we were armed with all the necessary bits. 

Here are all the parts we bought to build it:

And here's the final: 

Ran into a few snags with not being able to cut PVC cleanly for the middle bars and getting the right voltage for the LED to work, but eventually got it sorted out with popsicle sticks and a lithium 123 battery. All in all, we're pretty happy with the results given the scrappy approach we took. Best part of it for me was just being able to spend the time working on something together.