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Upgrade the foam sword fight with an interactive LED health meter on the handle. It's like laser tag, but with swords!

Official Website: http://www.sabertron.com

This Kickstarter campaign is ending, but the production of Sabertron continues. We will be back! Sign up on our website at http://sabertron.com to enter our Sabertron Limited Edition sword set giveaway and stay informed with updates as we progress towards our late April or May 2014 relaunch of this campaign. We will make improvements in every area, including: 

  • Production-ready prototype 
  • Significantly lower funding goal 
  • Professionally developed video 
  • Better reward structure, with clear international shipping support 
  • Professional marketing help 
  • Swords will ship in late summer, so it will be a shorter timeline too 

Please send all project feedback using the "Contact Me" link above or directly to info@sabertron.com. Thanks for your support!!

Inventor David Lynch was recently on the Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet TV show for "Invent This!" week.  Click on the picture below to see the video (after the commercial, of course!):

Sabertron on Daily Planet's "Invent This!"
Sabertron on Daily Planet's "Invent This!"

Links to Press Articles:  

Engadget TechCrunch IGN Cnet Yahoo Recode Geekosystem GeekyGadgets SlashGear LarpExchange Gamebreaker Gizmag

Interactive foam swordplay gaming

Lightsaber and Medieval Version Sabertron Drawings
Lightsaber and Medieval Version Sabertron Drawings

Sabertron is a wireless multiplayer foam sword fighting game. For the first time ever, you will be able to have a foam sword fight and let the swords keep score electronically, without any additional equipment.  A sword-to-sword hit is ignored, and simply makes a clash sound, but a hit anywhere else will remove points from your opponent's health meter. The health meter is integrated into the handle of the sword. Come as your are, Sabertron requires no special clothing or vests for two-player mode.

How it works

Health meter in action
Health meter in action

Sabertron employs an accelerometer, a tiny little chip that detects changes in acceleration, to know when a sword has impacted another object. Wireless communication allows the swords to determine whether they hit another sword, versus a player. LED light strips in the handle of the sword act like a health meter. Each valid hit decrements health and the first player to run out of health loses.

Three Generations of Prototypes

proto1 (left), Arduino, accelerometer, & proto2 (middle), proto3 (right)
proto1 (left), Arduino, accelerometer, & proto2 (middle), proto3 (right)

As in life, it all starts with a trip to Home Depot!  PVC pipes and foam were used for the first prototype, which was super heavy, but it worked!  We realized that we needed to lighten it, so we ordered some "off the shelf" swords from Nerf.  These worked great, but the electronics could not fit inside the single-handed handle.  So we had to wear fanny packs and the lights could only be seen at night.  Not cool.  Finally we generated a proper 3D printed enclosure, found some lightweight plastics, ordered lots and lots of LEDs online until we found ones that would be bright enough for daylight viewing.  We also printed a PCB and moved to the Arduino Fio so that it would fit inside the enclosure.

Quality Construction

Universal core construction for lightsaber/medieval version
Universal core construction for lightsaber/medieval version

Sabertron swords will be as light as possible, sturdy, well balanced, and will make appropriate sci-fi sounds.  We are dedicated to excellent quality and attention to detail!  These are not just for kids.  We are building these reward products to be appreciated by adults, similar to high-end lightsabers.  The reward products will be made of polycarbonate, impact resistant plastic, rubber handle grips, tough lightweight foam and be thoroughly quality tested. Our prototype had to be a bit larger than desired to fit all of the electronics inside.  The reward product will be sleek.

We will make every effort to keep the final designs as close as possible to the designs shown.  However, mass manufacturing requirements may force us to tweak our plans.  We will keep the community informed and involved in the process.

Multiplayer "Melee Mode" and LARP

Artists conception of active armor
Artists conception of active armor

For the initial reward product, only two players can play at a time. However, a multiplayer "scoreboard" health meter that mounts on the chest and back of each player will be available in 2014 to allow more than two players. We call this "Melee Mode" and will allow for virtually unlimited number of players. These scoreboards will allow us to fully support the LARPing community by adding active shields, helmets, body armor, and more to the mix. We can't wait!!

Early prototype for multiplayer body-mounted health meter
Early prototype for multiplayer body-mounted health meter

Two sword types will be supported -- the Light Saber sword and the Medieval sword. Players can mix these different types of swords. There are five game modes, and each player can use a different game mode and sensitivity settings, to allow players of different skill levels to compete on a level playing field.

Totally new sword fighting game modes

The menu screen is used to control the game mode.  It is protected from saber strikes because it is recessed in the foam guard around the electronics enclosure.

We have developed some interesting game modes to go along with all of the advanced electronics that resides inside your Sabertron. We have more ideas in this area, but here are the five game modes that we have developed so far:

Game Modes
Game Modes

1. ONE HIT TO WIN IT

This is the most basic game. If a player gets hit on any part of their body other than the sword, that player loses. Note that the hit has to be stronger than the sensitivity setting in the options menu. For sword fighting purists!

2. COUNTDOWN

Each strike on your opponent takes off one health bar, as long as that strike is stronger than the sensitivity set in the options menu.

3. METERED DAMAGE

Each hit depletes one to three bars of health, depending on the strength of the hit and the sensitivity setting in the options menu. Ranges from two hard hits, to six small glancing blows will win the game.

4. ETERNAL STRUGGLE

Each hit depletes the health of an opponent depending on the strength of the strike, as in Metered Damage mode. However, both the passing of time and defensive sword clashes will restore health bars. After a period of successful defense, a sound will signal the return of health, and your health bar will be back! Go ahead, run away and hide to restore your health! Or play defense to avoid another damaging blow to knock you out of the game!

5. HOPELESS

This game may never end! It builds upon Eternal Struggle, but each strike generates less damage the closer a player gets to zero bars. And, a player's health is more quickly restored the closer the player is to zero bars. It might take ten back-to-back strikes to finish off your opponent before the health is restored! This game will shed off some calories!

Options and Game statistics

Upon powering up the Sabertron, players can choose to initiate a new game, or join in a game already set up by their opponent.  The game starts when the swords clash.

Sabertron will record the number of strikes, both successful and unsuccessful, and display those statistics during and after the game.

Sensitivity settings allow for a sensible range of strike force to be seen as a valid hit.  

Rewards

All pledges come with our heartfelt thanks.  You will be remembered in our company forever as our first supporters.  Beyond that, here are the goodies...

Tshirt Designs - $25, your choice of white or black

We think that our Tshirt designs are pretty cool. The white Tshirt is a cautionary tale of the power of sophisticated weaponry. The black Tshirt demonstrates our future plans for active armor.  Of course we will use high quality 100% cotton and high quality inks, because that is the way we roll.

Medieval Gray Sabertron Pair - $99

NEW!  - We added this set thanks to your feedback!  This is a basic medieval Sabertron model with gray foam blade and red/yellow/green LED lighted health meter, as shown above.  Keep that feedback coming our way!

Fixed Color Sabertron Pair $125

You will get your choice of lightsaber and/or medieval style Sabertrons.  Lightsabers have a colored blade (green, red, or blue) while medieval style Sabertrons have a gray blade.  All blades in this tier (including the medieval blade) will glow in the color of the blade color choice.  The blade glow will not be very noticeable in bright daylight, but the health meter will be visible in direct sunlight.  

 Color Changing Blade Set -  $199

The color changing blade on this pair of Sabertron swords is controlled from the menu screen to any RGB value between 0 and 255.  The sword blade will appear silver in bright daylight, but glow the programmed color in dimmer light.  Available as lightsaber or medieval version.  Each sword is individually programmable.  In addition, the health meter is upgraded to dynamically change color of all bars based on player health.  So all bars will start out green, then drop down to four bars of yellow, and then drop down to two bars of red. NEW: NOW AVAILABLE FOR INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING!

Blackout Collector's Edition Sabertron Set - $249  

NEW! - You will receive TWO Sabertrons, a color-changing blade described above PLUS a very special Blackout Edition Sabertron soft-touch interactive sword with blackout effects instead of chrome.  The color changing blade and color changing health meter on the Blackout Edition will include special profile that will allow you to choose all lights of a single color, for example, all purple lights like the blackout saber shown here, or any color from the color spectrum.  The blade will appear gray/silver in sunlight.  The Blackout Edition will be Individually numbered with certificate of authenticity. Display stand included.   AVAILABLE FOR INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING!

BBQ Backer - $299

A pair of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords with color-changing blades plus dinner with the creators at the Salt Lick, the world-renowned BBQ restaurant in Driftwood, Texas. You will get a special event Tshirt. They have a big lawn with lots of room, so let's host the first-ever Sabertron Melee sword fight before dinner!  EDIT 2/6/2014: This INCLUDES A GUEST!

Ultimate Gold Backer Collectors Set - $999

You get it all!  A pair of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords and an invitation to the BBQ dinner event, but your Special Edition Gold Member Backer Sabertron swords will be gold plated on the chrome effect areas. Display stand included. The blades will be color changing, as well as the upgraded health meter. Individually numbered, with a certificate of authenticity.  

Goals

We have a goal of $195,000 in order to start manufacturing swords.  If we double that goal, to $400,000, all Sabertron swords will receive rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries with MicroUSB charger.  

Where the money goes

Non-recurring engineering (NRE) charges come from consulting firms, design services firms, plastic mold machines, regulatory testing, packaging design, etc. The list goes on. These are one-time charges that we must cover with our project goal.  We don't want to set an unrealistically low goal, barely meet that goal, and then get stuck trying to manufacture Sabertrons without enough money to finish the job. We want to produce a high quality reward.

Manufacturing Plan

Our timeline is a function of our manufacturing plan.  We know very well that with manufacturing, things seldom go according to plan, so we have padded quite a bit.  We will keep the backer community updated as we pass the milestones below, so that backers can see our progress.

Resources

Meet the extended team:

  • Produktworks - Austin, TX - www.produktworksdesign.com - Overall consumer product design consultants
  • Basler Plastics - San Marcos, TX - www.baslerplasticsllc.com - Injection molded plastic design and manufacture
  • Phil Jacques - Elance - Mechanical Engineer & 3D draftsman
  • 3Degrees Askew Engineering - Austin, TX - 3D Design & 3D Rapid Prototypes
  • Printivity 3D - Kalamazoo, MI - 3D Rapid Prototypes
  • Sierra Circuits - protoexpress.com - PCB manufacture and assembly

Production Timeline Overview

  • February - Kickstarter live - Finish design prep for production
  • March - Kickstarter funds arrive - Reward development commences
  • April - Development, test, and redesigns
  • May - Large sample product test before production
  • June - High volume manufacturing commences
  • July - Base level rewards start shipping to Early Bird backers 

NOTE: This is the best case schedule for the base level Sabertron.  However, each reward states its expected ship date, which allows for delays that are typical for the manufacturing process.

LED Distribution layout, LED array on flex PCB, Optoisolator Circuit, 3D Printed Hilts, 3D Design of Hilt
LED Distribution layout, LED array on flex PCB, Optoisolator Circuit, 3D Printed Hilts, 3D Design of Hilt

About the LevelUp team

David Lynch has 16 years experience as a computer engineer. In that time, he has designed, manufactured and tested many computerized circuit boards, from the beefiest servers that run the internet, to power sipping mobile devices. His ultimate goal with LevelUp is to bring interactive gaming into the real world.  You will not need to be glued to a display screen to to interact with this line of products!  You will move through 3D space.  The world is your videogame.

Tim Reichard is an electrical engineer with specialized experience in design validation and test automation.

Joe Mandy is a computer engineer with over 10 years of experience testing highly complex computer assemblies at the manufacturing facility.  He is also an MBA student pursuing a degree in Business Management. 

Michael Lynch built the prototypes seen in the videos (and worked on some spectacular failures too) and can fix any electromechanical thing on the planet that malfunctions.

Many others helped with critical project advice or design and deserve our sincere thanks. Ben Cochran, Tim Steckler, David Berumen, Phil Jacques and Brian Sloan, this is mostly for you guys!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Since we have a prototype that works, and works well, we feel confident that we have proven the design. There are schedule risks of course, but we have tried to use conservative estimates to allow for "Mr. Murphy" to make an appearance or two (or three!) We truly hope to beat our published schedules, and we will pride ourselves on that.

The manufacturing of products is always a challenge and we are prepared for that challenge. We have done it many times before in our past corporate jobs. We have also partnered with design firms that we know and trust, based on those previous work experiences. These firms have proven themselves capable of designing consumer products for manufacturing and they are our trusted advisers and will carry out much of the work on our behalf.

FAQ

  • Yes! We are using polycarbonate blade cores, which we are told are unbreakable. We find that hard to believe too, but we do know that they are super tough, very light and stiff, as well as translucent to produce the nice saber glow. We haven't finalized the foam wrap that we will use, but it will be "soft touch" with progressive stiffness while also the lightest, most durable stuff we can find. We have backgrounds in QA test, and our QA testing will help us decide if the foam needs to be replaceable or if it will stand up to a lifetime of (ab)use. Hey, we like to go full force too! Is there any other way?

    Last updated:
  • A cardboard shield won't work unless it has a shield adapter or is an "active" shield within the Sabertron system. With an active shield, your shield can be impervious to all hits, or have its own health just like a player has a health meter. Therefore, your shield can become useless over time, or you will need to give it time to regenerate. These are just some of the ideas we are considering. But we are really excited about the possibilities. Just think about body-specific armor too...same thing. These are the kind of ideas that really get us going. Perhaps most people will be content with just a simple sword fight, but anything that can "LevelUp" your game experience is what we are all about.

    Last updated:
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    Your choice of either white or black Tshirts

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    CANADIAN BACKER MEDIEVAL SET - A pair (2) of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords in medieval style. This is the same reward as the other $99 medieval set, but with the additional shipping calculated for Canada. If outside Canada, pick another reward that ships international or use the "Contact me" link on the project page for more options.

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    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL SET: A pair (2) of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords, in your choice of color, with matching blade illumination color.

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    MEDIEVAL SET - A pair (2) of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords in medieval style. This is a new reward tier, added after Early Birds were gone.

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    FIXED COLOR SET - A pair (2) of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords in your choice of color, with matching blade illumination color.

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    BLACKOUT COLLECTOR'S SABERTRON SINGLE - A single special edition Sabertron soft-touch interactive sword with purple blade, purple health meter and blackout effects instead of chrome. Individually numbered with certificate of authenticity. Display stand included.

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    COLOR CHANGING BLADE SET - A pair (2) of special edition Sabertron soft touch interactive swords with a selectable color blade. The blade is silver/gray in sunlight, but glows selectable colors indoors and at night. The health meter is also upgraded to dynamically change color of all bars based on player health.

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    30 backers

    COLOR CHANGING BLADE SET - A pair (2) of special edition Sabertron soft touch interactive swords with a selectable color blade. The blade is silver/gray in sunlight, but glows selectable colors indoors and at night. The health meter is also upgraded to dynamically change color of all bars based on player health. This tier was added only to allow both US and international shipping options.

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    Add $29 USD to ship outside the US
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    BLACKOUT COLLECTOR'S SABERTRON SET - A color-changing blade described above PLUS a very special Blackout Edition Sabertron soft-touch interactive sword with blackout effects instead of chrome, and a special unicolor profile. Blackout sword is individually numbered with certificate of authenticity. Display stand included.

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    BBQ BACKER - A pair of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords with color-changing blades plus dinner with the creators at the Salt Lick, the world-renowned BBQ restaurant in Driftwood, Texas. You will get a special event Tshirt. They have lots of room, so let's host the first-ever Sabertron Melee sword fight before dinner! Swords will ship in September.

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    ULTIMATE COLLECTORS GOLD BACKER SET - A pair of Sabertron soft touch interactive swords and an invitation to the BBQ dinner event, but your Special Edition Gold Member Backer Sabertrons will be gold plated, only on the chrome effect areas. Display stand included. The blades will be color changing. Individually numbered, with a certificate of authenticity. Swords will ship in October.

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