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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Electroluminescent wire?

I guess I'm a little behind the times. I discovered this stuff as a result of "America's Got Talent" contenders Team iLuminate. A little googling and asking around led me to coolight.com(posted on this forum a couple of years ago by .id.).

Who here has played with EL wire? I've got ideas bursting out of my ears for using it, and if anyone else has any experience, I could always use some advice before my wallet and I jump into a new medium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Aw, thanks very much. I should have searched a little more diligently before starting a new thread :zombie:
 

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I've worked with it... it used to be the "hot ticket" for making lightsabers. I've tried a few tried and true things with it as well as some expirements. (None of which led to any great discoveries... LOL)

But I have a decent working knowledge of the stuff... if you have questions I will take a crack at them.
 

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I searched Ebay for a neon palm reader sign--- and OMG ---way out of my budget. I stumbled upon EL wire, and it got me thinking. it seems to be relatively affordable. I think I could use this in a few projects. has anybody else used this? what kind of skill level would it take to make something like this?
 

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It not hard at all... a basic understanding of electricity will help but even that isn't required. Heck, there are pre-wired kits available that require no more knowledge than how to change batteries.

For more advanced projects some soldering and basic wireing will be involved.
 

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thanks TroyO. I had run across this link- http://elwirepros.com/el-wire-info.html i'll have to do some comparison shopping. It seems the possibilities are endless with this stuff. I'm not all that mechanically inclined, this seems to be pretty simple. I haven't found any useful tutorials so if you run across something, please share.
 

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Dead easy. Use small staples or cable clips (even low temp hot glue) to hold it in the shape you want it and paint the areas you don't want lit in black and/or the same colour as the background.

The kits are generally pre-wired so nothing to do apart from plug in the battery pack or wall wart.

I've bought from Ikea (battery and mains but only 2 colours) and eBay - good selection of colours.
 

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There are actually a few tutorials on YouTube. Just do a search on soldering EL wire and a bunch come up. I've never used it myself, but after watching a couple of the videos it does not seem too difficult.
 

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Here's a few tips I learned while playing with it....

Using a larger/higher rated inverter will make it brighter, but it will also fade/wear out faster. For props, as with the lightsabers I used to make I say Burn that Sucka! Really, with the hours we are putting on things the longevity isn't a big concern. That being said.... after about ~10% you really can't tell any further difference.

You can multiply the area, but not the brightness. That means you can use say 2 wires side by side to make a wider stripe. It will not make the stripe much brighter. I did an expirement with EL wire used in lightsabers... which usually just had a single or double strand that ran up the length of tube. (Or EL sheet was also common.) My thinking was that more wire=more bright so I wound many meters of wire around an aluminium core thinking I would get something blindingly awesome..... ehhh. Nope. Nice and even sure... but not that much brighter.

And lastly... although they try to make you think it as bright as neon it isn't. It's best in situations where there is at least some way to dim the lights.
 

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I've watched some of the YouTube vids. I still can't get my mind around the how this stuff actually looks...You know how they say a camera adds ten pounds? what would be a comparison? the size of glow bracelets? thin as spaghetti? thick as a pencil,,,maybe like rope lights? can I hot glue it too black poster board? or should I use plywood cut to the shape I need? Does the wire get hot? Can I purchase a long wire and cut to desired lenghth? I am extremely curious about this stuff and kind of hesitant to purchase, I'm afraid i'll spend the $ and not be able to do what i want to use it for.
 

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Wow, lots of questions... LOL, I'll try.

Thickness... will vary depending on the wire you get. Generally you are looking at spaghetti thickness, on up to about pencil thick. I *think* but haven't verified lately that the thick wire is the same inside and only has a thicker cover.

Brighness wise a glow bracelet is probably a good match.

Poster board/foam board would be fine. You can even sew it to clothes if you want.

It doesn't get hot. If you use a high brightness inverter it will maybe get slightly warm.

You can get long wire and cut it to legth with no other mods. Extending it is harder than regular wire. If you take the time/effort to learn how to solder the wire you can join wires of different colors together and have one inverter run somthing like that whole sign instead of one for each color.

Construction wise the EL wire is made of a bunch of layers... a wire core, covered by a phospher layer, covered by a clear plastic layer, then a few strands of the outer wire which is covered by plastic on the outside.. and once you get a bite of that sandwich EL only really comes in one color. White/Blue/Green. If you want another color that is done by putting it inside yet another layer of colored insulation.

In practice... soldering it just takes some practice because you are dealing with so many layers and those really fine outer wire layers. Get a few feet of practice wire and just keep trying it.

Ohh, and last note... they make wire with a "tail" on it. (Cross section looks like a P )You could maybe use thicker craft foam and cut a groove where you want the wire and stuff the tail in to the groove.

My advice is just get some cheap kit from ebay and play with it.
 
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