Steampunk Cane Build Log

It’s been some time since I made a prop for my wife, and she’s not interested in anything that’s not fully themed to one of her lewks. Steampunk is on the list (also Star Trek, vamp, sith vibes) and there are only a few steampunk items that don’t lead to the full-on HG Wells Time Machine Back Pack trap :slight_smile:

So what to build?

First, hat and goggles. Check. Adafruit basically made sure everyone that wanted the basics could do a really good job with a little time. The NY RenFair also has good costumes. Check.

What form factors remain? Eureka! It’s gonna be a cane! “And what are your requirements, my love?” I asked. Many times just to be sure. Here’s some of them

1 - Light weight
2 - Somewhat dim…it’s not cute to bring a giant laser stick to an office event or private party but
3 - Replacable battery for the NYC Halloween parade (anxiety already building…it’s been years)
3 - Fireflies effect to match the hat
4 - A cool, spooky voice for settings
5 - Cheap - ruled out a lot of obvious steampunky bits
6 - Made from as much “real” junk as possible
7 - Stuff happens when you twist or tap it, but not too much stuff
8 - Controls have to be “super simple”
9 - Sound (hum) should be subtle
10 - It should do one thing really well (not a lot of presets needed)
11- Gotta be skinny
12 - No bright, migraine inducing flashes

And my own rule: it has to be cool enough that I get to enjoy hearing her say “oh, thanks. my husband made it.”

It starts with some parts. Then pics. Wrap it up with a demo vid. And of course I’m excited to share the final results of the help I’ve received already on this fantastic forum.

I’ll begin to list parts here, and carry on the next time I take a laptop siesta.

The blade is a quad blade zig zag. I dont need the tip to illumiate, so i used some of these as the core:

Plastruct Tubes

They’re super light weight and connected with a thin wrap of:

Kapton Tape

The casing is from TCSS - 3/4":

TCSS 3/4 Trans White Blade Tube

And the LEDs and Proffie come from Elecronics123. It’s all about the skinnyz:

Skinny Strips

Pics soon…it’s almost ready to test and I’m still working on proper diffusion in such a narrow blade.

But the handle, the hilt I suppose, took some thinking. I stared at walls of plumbling parts. Real metal was too heavy. I live on a semi industrial block and asked local guys if I could check out their parts bins. Finally I found this:

Slide Repair Coupling

The battery can sit in the expander, which can be pulled out and inverted. The PVC is light and strong, and it looks like a lantern. It’ll need paint but steampunk painting is time consuming (dry brushing, etc) but not too hard. The top is threaded and removable.

More parts started making sense, but I’ll take a break there. Thanks for looking!

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If you want next-level impressive and you have the skillset I have this project in the works. While it’s not necessarily “100% lightweight” I did a fiberglassed cane that will be going to its owner soon. I laid foil over an existing piece of tree branch and layered fiberglass mat until it was thick enough that I could slice down the centerline and created halves so I could then remove the stick. From there I selectively sanded through specific sections of the foil to create areas and pocket sections for light transmission, etc. Then I figured out a way to couple the halves together in a hidden fashion using magnets and torn fabric strips to hide the junctions. *The “bark” sections of it worked perfect to hide the seams. (Yeah I’m particularly proud of that alone.) I’m now at the part where I’m fitting in a specific ProffieSaber assembly and all the lighting is just the wiring and LED’s strategically placed using one of my adapter blade plugs. Yes, aside from the plug connector itself there’s nothing more in it as fas as actual blade tube. I’m where I just have to finish some blending and mild changes on the form to get it where the client and I are good with the visuals and then it goes over to a friend who’s just amazing when it comes to prop painting.

*Wish I could share more, possibly pics, but yeah, you get the gist. :smiley: Maybe it’ll end up seeing some Cosplay and Con social media shares. I think it’s gonna just blow people’s minds.

That sounds dope. Why not drop your own log? I’m putting this here as a record for curious friends once they see this specific prop. It’s a nice way to put a bow on the work, and people always ask questions :slight_smile:

Oh I totally would except I agreed to not share images when I took the commission. Some people prefer their stuff to not be broadcast and I respect that.

Hopefully sharing the way I went about this all inspired you and I wanna see the whole thing when done. :+1:

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Now that I have my o-rings from a local spot, the full parts list is complete. Here’s everything except the switches. Those are inspired by Starfall since Nick uses them quite a bit and they are gorgeous. 8mm copper, $20 a pop but we’re going for a little fancy.


The black TCSS speaker holder drops right into the PVC extender:


And the o-rings hid the threads. The old water service tag serves as a speaker grill and the full stack, with room in the neck for the base of the “blade” and the battery:


Next I’ll set the switch/recharge port arrangement and drill. Although I could use usb, I think the user will enjoy a charging mechanism that is external and hides behind a matching kill key.

The joint between the lantern/grenade section in the extender could be fused with PVC cement, like plumbling, but I think I’ll tap for 10-32 set screws and leave things detachable. Might glue in the blade, and use set screws.

Thanks for reading a mid-build post :slight_smile:

Nice start! :smiley: Remember this is here if any other ideas from that help.

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A process over product day, I enjoyed sanding and cleaning parts. Checked some joints and finished the basic wiring on the quad blade. There’s no light at the tip because it will be capped, which allows for a double zigzag up-down-up-down. That places the (-) and (+) lines comfortably near eacother for splicing. I wanted to use silicone, but the neck that the wires pass through houses the battery and its a squeeze. Plenty of room with PTFE, but I consider it a compromise.




Trying out this KIOXIA SD card after hearing a couple of mentions here on the Crucible.

And here’s my incredibly sophisticated charging station for the new battery:


That’s an old school TCSS variable voltage charger. It’s been with me for almost 10 years and is still my most reliable charger. Sure, you can very easily flip the switch to 12V and set the house on fire (not really the batteries have protection circuits, right?) but it serves as a low cost ‘bench supply’ for nickel plating and other electron based shenanigans. All of my basic 3.7 v chargers wind up just not working after a while.


The speaker set up called out to me today after I found and old silicone wire connector to reuse.


These bass speakers have never fit the V1 MHS speaker holders, so it got a little ugly with the dremmel and some hand files. I still havent bought a decent clamp. This is like my dirty melted lucky clamp.



But rough filing doesn’t matter because the cap locks everything in place and hides it. I’ll use some hot glue to hold the speaker in the mount, but nothing serious incase a wire breaks and some disassembly is required. Which always happens.


The component I found to make into a speaker grill was sitting about 1mm too deep. I tried drilling and dremmeling the base of the cap, but I couldn’t really hold the hand tools steady enough. So I duct taped the thing to a piece of PVC so I could grip it and hacksawed off the downward facing side (with a miter box).




So after some deburring and sanding it sits beatifully and is plenty far from the speaker itself. With a couple of 1.5" o-rings that came out out a box that must have been from 1950s at the local ACE hardware, the speaker section is built and ready for finsihing.



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Looks like solid work, nice!

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