A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

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A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby Alligatorz » Sun Jun 17, 2007 5:48 pm

Hi Everyone, I was wondering if someone would be willing to share the basics of creating an El-Wire set-up. I’ve noticed that it’s rather overwhelming trying to figure out what exactly you need to purchase, what is involved, etc. Thus, I think it might be incredibly helpful for those of us who are a bit confused over the process, if someone could share the basics of it.

Specifically, I’m looking along the lines of:
(1) What are the components that make up a functioning el-wire strand?
(2) Do we have to build it ourselves or are there places online that sell it already connected? (Do you have any suggestions of places to get it online)
(3) In your past experience, how much el-wire did you find you needed (in feet)?
(4) How did you wear your el-wire (ie did you make shapes out of it, or physically connect it to your clothes?
(5) What other advice would you care to share based on your experience with el-wire that those of us, who haven’t dabbled with might value knowing?

Thanks a lot, I apologize if there is already a post on this, but I looked through and did not see one.

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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:23 pm

Aligatorz - heres some vids I came across on Youtube all about elwire -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPDpl72RAhQ
soldering and the electrical end of el

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie27HgzG4Nk
just a vid on cool elwire effects and colors

http://www.elwirecheap.com/
cheap elwire supplies

http://www.vibelights.com/eznewi.html
the place where the chep place above gets their stuff


you can get all the elwire components you need online, hit up google for suppliers. You can get it premade, but it is so cheap and easy to do yourself. You can bang out a dozen el wire circuits from the parts in 90 minutes of whatever length you want.

Parts to an elwire circuit:

1. Elwire - in whatever length and color desired
2. Wire connector (looks like the wire connector for a cordless house phone battery) (50 cents)
3. El wire battery pack and controller - 1-9 bucks I use the 9V connectors.
4. some labor, shouldt take more than 15 minutes to do it from start to finish, - even you first time

Thie video link above constructs an entire circuit in under 10 minutes as he explains every step. He even heat shrinks connections, in less than 10 minutes.

later
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:57 am

Hey AlliGZ

In Denver check out "Things That Glow" a brick-n-mortar retail store off Santa Fe. They have el-wire, ready to go.

918 W 8th Ave
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 751-4569

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All About ELWire

Postby scotto » Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:31 am

http://azburners.org/elwire.htm

There are several places online, as well as retail stores to purchase ELWire from. I've bought AA-powered inverters from AutoZone (they sell EL-ELWire for auto-trim). I've seen ELWire at Wal-Mart (again, in the auto section). Not only should you not buy *anything* from Wal-Mart, but you shouldn't buy ELWire from an automotive place (unless you *have* to). The reason is that they charge you way too much. Oh, I've seen a decent display at Circuit City too... it's way too expensive though.

Sites:
http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/solderfaq.htm
http://www.coolight.com (used by me)
http://www.coolneon.com (used by me)
http://livewireneon.com (used by Mutatyor?)

Tooling around on the internet I found a site that sells surplus gear.
http://www.allelectronics.com Page 4 of their "miscellaneous" section has 3 different ELWire kits for sale. 20 dollars each gets you just under 5 feet of wire and an AA-inverter.

But better yet... and this is where I've bought my ELWire in the past. Cool Neon sells stuff for decent prices and they are burner friendly (the first picture on their main page is a picture from burning man). They have kits very similar to the ones at All Electronics but for 5 dollars less!!

Of course, there are many many more places on the internet where you can buy ELWire , and several others are burner friendly, and/or offer burner discounts. Feel free to shop around.. or if you're lazy just buy it from Cool Neon.

Things to think of when you are buying ELWire ...

What are you trying to do?
How long does your light need to be?
Can several small pieces work instead of one long piece?
How portable does it need to be?
Do you need several colors?
Etc...

You could put ELWire in the spokes of your bike. You'll need to tape an inverter to the hub or something. That inverter can't power anything else obviously. For that reason, I only use elwire on the bike frame so I can use one inverter to power it all.

Can you use a 12v battery or do you need to have the inverter fit in your pocket?

This year on my bike, I had many feet of wire and different colors (I think). I used a 12v inverter hooked up to a small sealed lead-acid battery. On my old bike, I only had 3 feet of wire so I hooked it up to a AA-inverter.

AA-inverters use two AA batteries and create the voltage and frequencies to power your ELWire .
They also have 9v inverters, 12v, and 110v AC inverters (plug them into your house outlet)

Okay.. now you're confused enough.. just what do you need to buy???

There are two basic things that you *NEED* to get your ELWire project of the ground.

1. ELWIRE
2. INVERTER

Never pay more than 2.00/foot for ELWire . You should be able to get this much cheaper than that. I'd recommend the 3.2mm size. It handles fairly well and doesn't break real easy. It's about the same price as 2.3 and 5.0mm sizes. Please note that it's just the external size of the wire. The insides are all the same. It's not easier to solder the 5.0 than the 2.3mm. Just buy the 3.2 and you'll be happy.. the color is your choice...

Get the inverters that suit your needs. If you want to use it to power a hat or something else to wear, you'll probably want a AA or 9V inverter. Those are the smallest and you put the battery inside the case so it's a nice little package. Unfortunately, these power the shortest amount of wire. They power upwards of 5-8 feet of wire (plenty for a hat).

If you are lighting up a bike, art-car, tent, etc... you'll probably want more ELWire , so you'll need larger inverters. This is where the 12V inverters come in. In 2K2, I went overkill on my tent-marking ELWire inverters. I had three 12V inverters running off a regular car battery. The inverters had light sensors so they turned on automatically at dusk and turned off at dawn. (real handy so you know your tent is lit up even if you are too "busy" to remember). I was probably only powering about 6 feet of ELWire total with them though. I could have used one single inverter. (overkill) The entire week of usage didn't even dent the charge on the battery.

If you need to light up several hundred feet of ELWire (buy it by the roll and it will be under $1.00 a foot) then you'll want to have several inverters and a big hefty car battery. Consider using several batteries and dividing the ELWire into several units or sub-systems. If one part dies, your entire project isn't dark...

Other things that could be useful are a soldering iron, solder, small vise, wire cutters/strippers, clear shrink tubing (1/8" expanded, shrinks to 1/16").

I'm going to TRY to bring some small pencil-type soldering irons. The small vise isn't needed, but could be handy to use as a 3rd hand. I'll try to bring some extra wire cutters/strippers too. A sharp x-acto knife or razor blade is useful too.

Also, one thing that I do that is a lot of extra work, but saves a bunch of money. I used ELWire to mark my shade structure guy-wires, and this is how. I took several feet of Elwire and cut it into short (6 inch) bits. I staggered the 6inch bits with 1-2 foot pieces of 24awg speaker wire. 24awg speaker wire (bought at Home Depot, or elsewhere) is super cheap. Like 15 cents a foot. So... on my guy wire was 6 inches of elwire, 1-2 feet of speaker wire, 6 inches of elwire, 1-2 feet of speaker wire (etc...)

With this, my 10 foot guy wires could be lit with only 2 feet of ELWire !! That got rid of 8 feet of elwire.. and at 1.50 a foot ($12 per guy wire, 4 guy wires). Of course, each one of those speaker wire to ELwire connections is a possible point of failure.... and on the playa... heh.
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Postby Alligatorz » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:22 pm

Thanks everyone for your input...I've found it all really helpful. That how-to video was great.


Teo Del Fuego - Thanks so much on the local Denver advice, I will definetly check out that place on santa fe. I am not sure if I've met you before or not. I did not attend apogaea (I'm not even sure what that is - was that a mountain party or something?)
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Postby Toolmaker » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:18 am

viewtopic.php?t=4053

There are also some links in that thread about EL wire. I bought some of the ready to go stuff to put on my hydration pack and hat.
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Everything in 1 Solar El Wire Bike and Costume Kits

Postby 1luv » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:17 pm

El Wire Kit to light up your Burning Man bike, bag, art piece, or costume with solar power!

http://store.modernlocal.com/

:D
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Postby robotland » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:54 am

To append Scotto's earlier post regarding automotive EL sources:

You should never buy EL wire from Pep Boys and the like AT RETAIL PRICE. Every once in a while I drift in and check their closeout kiosk, and have found fun toys at very reasonable prices. The other day at Auto Zone I was able to score several nifty blue LED dome light modules and a color-changing module for TWENTY CENTS APIECE. Of course, this IS Michigan...

The other issue with automotive EL is that it's all 12 volt, so you need to either carry a big six-cell battery pack or (in the case of LED blinkies) use a 9V battery which tends to be more expensive, at least for a decent one. (Much 12V LED stuff runs fine, if a trifle dimmer, from 9V. I have a Thinking Cap with tons of blinky auto stuff on it that runs for hours on a single 9V.)

This is also assuming that you just rip off the cig-lighter plug and slap a battery pack on...You can ALWAYS just pirate the wire from the car kit and attach your own lower-voltage driver. I have several orphaned 12V drivers which I only use for larger installations- "Sugar", the wearable dinosaur puppet/suit has a few in him, far enough away from my head so that I don't hear the annoying high-pitched whine.
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Postby bs bob » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:31 pm

there is a website i have used playacracks dot com that sells el wire ready to go-5 foot sections are 9 dollars and they take aa batteries-or a 20 foot section 9 volt one
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Re: A Beginner’s Guide to El-Wire

Postby Bexx » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:12 am

imna bump this up - because I was actually wondering how to attach the El Wire to my bike, besides just wrapping it around. With clear tape? Fishing line? zip ties? anyone have a method they like? - I've got the wire and the inverters all set. Just need to actually put it on the bike.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby robotland » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:17 am

One more thing about EL wire and other blinky rigs....Be certain that your battery packs are tightly secured. Playa dust likes to eat batteries, and morning condensation compounds the problem. Also, you do NOT want to MOOP batteries and battery-compartment covers onto the playa. Tape 'em up if you can- EL and LED blinkies will often last you ALL WEEK and you won't need to get in there much anyway. Make sure those clip-on or magnetic blinkies won't pop off while you're grinding on that individual in the blue gorilla suit out at the Ten O'Clock Ooontz!
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Re: A Beginner’s Guide to El-Wire

Postby junglesmacks » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:54 pm

Bexx wrote:imna bump this up - because I was actually wondering how to attach the El Wire to my bike, besides just wrapping it around. With clear tape? Fishing line? zip ties? anyone have a method they like? - I've got the wire and the inverters all set. Just need to actually put it on the bike.



Small zip ties work great..
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby Renfried » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:22 pm

I'd also like more info about actually attaching the EL to the bike frame. Mine is an alloy frame, so magnets are out. Zip ties work well, but some bikes (like mine unfortunately) have brake and gear cables running along the frame.

I've debated on screwing clips into the frame, but worry about potential water/rust damages. Have been trying to research on various adhesives that might be weather resistant, but haven't had much luck. Anyone out there have insight on alternative methods to attach EL to a bike frame?

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:55 am

Why would brake/gear cables impede zip ties? Still the best way. Just loop the ties under/around them so that they don't interfere.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby BBadger » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:55 am

In the EL wire kits I got from BikeGlow, they came with zip-ties and electrical tape. Try using electrical tape.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:47 am

BBadger wrote:In the EL wire kits I got from BikeGlow, they came with zip-ties and electrical tape. Try using electrical tape.


Then you're just covering it up.. and if electrical tape works, why wouldn't zip ties? They both go around things.. :lol:
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby BBadger » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:01 am

Yeah, but the zip-ties can be thicker than necessary and the electrical tape doesn't really cover that much.

Overall, after last year I kind of became disillusioned with EL wire. It's just not that bright out there, and it chews through batteries unless you're willing to settle for blinking or things going dim.

I'd probably go the fiber optics route instead next time, even if the buy in is more expensive initially. At least then I can use some bright LEDs and sequence them without much fancy hardware.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby junglesmacks » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:05 am

No.. I fully agree with you personally on the EL wire. I mean.. I guess it's what you are trying to accomplish. If you are going for the sublime effect, then it does have it's place. One thing I do think is pretty cool with it is when you do intricate designs and then sequence them on at least 4-5 channels. I've seen some super cool creations like that..

..but as an addict of colored light.. yeah.. LEDs have me hook line and sinker.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby remi » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:25 am

I got the elwire kit for my hat (see avatar) at:
http://www.elwirepros.com/portalights.html
On that home page, scroll to the bottom left. You'll see custom kits where it comes with everything you need. You just select the colour and length of each strand of elwire.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby BBadger » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:27 pm

junglesmacks wrote:No.. I fully agree with you personally on the EL wire. I mean.. I guess it's what you are trying to accomplish. If you are going for the sublime effect, then it does have it's place. One thing I do think is pretty cool with it is when you do intricate designs and then sequence them on at least 4-5 channels. I've seen some super cool creations like that.


You're right about that; people have done some pretty cool stuff with it.

Maybe that's the problem I have with it: I also want to do cool stuff with it, but to do much more than the standard bike wrap, you need to spend quite a bit on that EL wire and all the supporting hardware. For all that, what you get is something that is relatively dim, power hungry, and ultimately will lose its brightness over time. I'd rather just spend the money on a bunch of LEDs or something else that gets more lumens for your buck.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby garyt » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:27 pm

I want to add el-wire on my bicycle rims in a circle. Does anyone have a suggestion on what the best kind of adhesive to use?

High Temp hot glue will not work. Tried it.
Zipties will not work cause it will wrap around the tires and will break.

I was thinking goop or an epoxy of sorts?

Thanks!
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby AzJames » Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:16 pm

I would think goop would work better as it would still be kind of flexible when dry. Just make sure it will not interfere with your brakes.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby garyt » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:29 pm

AzJames wrote:I would think goop would work better as it would still be kind of flexible when dry. Just make sure it will not interfere with your brakes.


There are no brakes. :shock: It's a beach cruiser. :D
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby SnowBlind » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:24 am

If you use zip ties or something like that, you could attach them to the end of the spokes, rather than around the wheel.

Fishing line also works good, since it's transparent.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby winebuff » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:28 pm

Great idea. I just bought the wire, hadnt thought about how to install. Love this group :D

SnowBlind wrote:If you use zip ties or something like that, you could attach them to the end of the spokes, rather than around the wheel.

Fishing line also works good, since it's transparent.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby knowmad » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:29 pm

winebuff wrote:Great idea. I just bought the wire, hadnt thought about how to install. Love this group :D

SnowBlind wrote:If you use zip ties or something like that, you could attach them to the end of the spokes, rather than around the wheel.

Fishing line also works good, since it's transparent.

you might also want to thread the wire through come clear tubing, this will give the zip ties or fishing line something to grasp and protect the wire from kinking. I saw this done with colored tubing and the effect was a more pastel color and not the same color as all the other EL wire on the playa.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby MacGlenver » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:22 pm

knowmad wrote:you might also want to thread the wire through come clear tubing, this will give the zip ties or fishing line something to grasp and protect the wire from kinking. I saw this done with colored tubing and the effect was a more pastel color and not the same color as all the other EL wire on the playa.


I played around with this method a fair bit last year trying to make an EL wire whip. Decided I didnt want to destroy my EL wire, so I bailed on the idea after far too much testing. Anyway, if you want to thread the EL wire through a thin plastic tube, I recommend the following method. Tie a long piece of dental floss very firmly around the end of the EL wire strand (wrap over itself several times). Put the floss in one end of the tube, put vacuum cleaner on the other end. Suck, grab thread, pull, profit.

For the tubing, check Home Depot. They have several types, including surgical tubing, which gives a nice effect (though exceedingly expensive). Test 4 or 5 types of tube, pick one & return the rest.
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby Ratty » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:59 pm

I'm getting dizzy. Everything's spinning. Elllllllll Wirrrrrrrrrrre.

I need somebody to trade talents with me. I'll sew. You hook me up. (To the El wire that is). I never should have come here. I'm over my head. Out of my element. Feeling humble.

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby junglesmacks » Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:24 pm

Whas' wrong, Ratty? It's super duper simple. Heck.. you can whip stitch some EL wire to anything quickly with some fishing line and call it a day. What don't you get?
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Re: A Beginner's Guide to El-Wire

Postby Ratty » Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:51 pm

I can't solder. Trust me, it will fall off onto the workbench. This many feet of wire for this battery, (for how many hours?). This thickness, that thickness. Sub woofer atomizers with attached toggle generators and extra booster engine capasiters. Humm.......


I guess what stops me is, the El wire it's self. Is it a series of tiny bulbs or a solid lightup tube? Do you buy individual bulbs? (Or whatever they are called). Does it even HAVE bulbs. Is it that floor strip on the airplane that guides me to the potty or is it more like a glow-stick necklace? Why can't I just keep using my battery op leds? They are color changers and last about a week if I only use em 8 hours a night.
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