Picture of Dimming EL wire

Electroluminescent wire is a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor, which glows when an alternating current (100V) is applied. Unlike a LED strip it’s not a series of point but an unbroken line of visible light in all 360 degrees. The brightness of this technique is sufficient for the application and because of the very flexible nature of this material it can be easily incorporated in many different applications.

In this instructable I will explain how to apply fade effects to EL-Wire.

Step 1: Possible techniques

Electroluminescent wire is not easily adjusted in brightness, therefore fading in and out is hard. Two main techniques are used to change the brightness of the electroluminescent wire, one is based on a custom build driver that actually shifts electroluminescent wire brightness by changing the alternating current frequency. The other is based on the same mechanism and uses a 555-timer component to change the current frequency, but this version is a lot simpler.

A problem with changing the frequency is the color change in the electroluminescent wire, above the 2000Hz the wire will quickly change to a lighter color, for example from dark blue to aqua blue. This behavior is not desirable in my application, but a slow fade effect to show the user the device is in progress is.

link to tutorial with 555-timer: http://hackaday.com/2011/07/13/color-changing-el-wire/

next step how does it work

alter-jx385 months ago

Hi. What is the simplest way to fade-in on power ON and fade-out on power OFF? Actually I do not need any arduino compatibility, just fading on power ON/OFF. Thank you.

rikkkurd (author)  alter-jx385 months ago

hmm interesting, A small arduino is still very simple, however what the arduino does is changing the supply voltage over time. if you have a big enough capacitor maybe it could slow down the rise of the voltage level and when powered down slowly fade out on the energy still available in the capacitor. No idea if this can work. if you do it by hand you can use a simple potmeter as a pwm output to use on the triac and switch it off by slowly turning the knob till you reach maximum brightness. Any people with other ideas?

Kompeitoh247 months ago

Hi, ridddurd.

This tutorial is very useful and easy to implement. And also your statement is clear.

I have one question about the schematic. In the schematic, Arduino D9 is pluged into some transistor(maybe).

Please tell me about the detail of this component.

rikkkurd (author)  Kompeitoh247 months ago
it's the triac https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9234
sorry I was unclear about this, the parts list is in the first step.

Hope I could help


Thank you for the reply. I’m going to try to make it.

rikkkurd (author)  Kompeitoh247 months ago
Great let me know if it works out im probably going to rebuild it myself as well upcoming month
Kydasu1 year ago

Can this set-up be used on a costume? Or does it have to be hooked up to a PC in order to (slowly) fade in and out?

rikkkurd (author)  Kydasu1 year ago
It can be definitly be used on a costume the arduino nano will handle all the fading and a simple 9v battery will be enough to power 1 meter for a few hours.
Pulse with modulation applied on the output of the supply with a triac ( and arduino ) can give nice fade effects on multiple el wires. Perhaps I should write it up for instructables if I can find the time, but with the above hints you can probably figure it out.