Introduction: EL Levitation Wand

What's a levitation wand, you ask? Only the niftiest magic trick out there. If you've ever seen the magician's dancing cane trick, the wand follows pretty much the same principles. All credit for the levitation wand's proliferation as a flow tool goes to Prisna of Flowtoys, who made the first (I think) commercially available wands and who produces super rad LED flow-wands, as well as holographic ones. I strongly encourage you to support these guys and buy a holographic wand if you're interested in trying it out--they are super well-made and fun
So..

What do I want? An LED flow-wand.
Why can't I have one? They're $200, and I'm underemployed.
What to do? Make my own from EL Wire of course!




Step 1: Supplies


Lots! Let's see...

1x 27" length of 3/4" acrylic tubing from TAP Plastics (I want to use polycarbonate and will replace the acrylic with it, but I can't find 3/4" polycarbonate tubing... any ideas?)
1x 1/4" acrylic rod, also from TAP, color of your choice
2x 3/4" caps for your tubes, also from TAP
1-2x 3' 2.2mm EL Wire Kit, color of your choice (kits include wire, connectors and drivers which take one AA battery)
2x AA Batteries
Electrical wires, solder, solder wick
Electrical tape
Exacto knife
Dremel or Saw, if you're cutting your own tubing
Soldering iron
Spraypaint/paint
Jewels/decorations (optional)
Hot Glue Gun
Strong nylon upholstery thread (black)
Small swivel
Strip of bike tube, leather, ring or shoelace


Step 2: Cut Everything to Size

Cut your tubes to 27" (or anywhere between 25-30", depending how you like your wand.)

Cut your colored rods to 18.5" (or the length of your tube, minus 4x the length of your driver.)

If you're using an acrylic cutter, score and break the acrylic. Or use a saw or dremel. Sand the ends. Might be a good idea to wear gloves and eyewear, acrylic is sharp when you break it and plastic dust is probably not so good to breathe!

Step 3: Wrap Your Wire

Start wrapping your EL wire around your colored rod. Give it at least 3-4" of extra wire between the rod and the driver. Wrap as tightly as you like, being careful not to bend the EL wire too much--it's delicate. Using electrical tape at the top of the rod helps make this step a lot easier.

If you're using two colors of EL wire, wrap the other color, making sure to position the connector at the opposite end of the wand. When you're finished, you should have a rod with two colors and a driver at each end (to keep the wand balanced).

When you've got it the way you want it, hot glue the wire to the rod with a drop of glue every few inches.

Step 4: Reconfigure Drivers

The goal is for the driver and battery to fit inside our tube, stacked. It will look like this:

1-color:
Tube cap with switch : Battery : Driver : EL Wire lighted portion : Spare battery as counterweight : Tube Cap

2-color:
Tube cap with switch : Battery : Driver : EL Wire lighted portion : Driver : Battery : Tube Cap with Switch

This part requires soldering and electrical skills. If you're going to attempt this, be safe!

  • Crack the top case off your driver and use your exacto blade to pop the glue off where it is glued into its case. Remove the circuit, switch and battery holder.
  • Desolder the short battery post and extend it with a new longer (~2.5") wire.
  • Take the spiral on the long battery post, twist it 180 degrees, and shorten the wire so it sits flush against the driver assembly. Now the battery can sit to the right of the driver.
  • De-solder the three contact points of the switch and extend it with three more wires.
  • Cover it all with ample hot glue. A little electrical tape is nice too, for insurance.
  • Now shorten the connection of your EL wire kit so everything fits in nicely... clip the EL wire just below the heat shrink tubing and clip the connector (black) wire, solder them together and seal. We had to do this twice--you want as little extra wire as possible between the lit EL wire and the driver circuit.

Step 5: Paint


That whole battery/driver assembly is kind of ugly so I chose to paint the ends of my tube to hide it.

Tape off the center of your tube where the lighted portion will be. Spraypaint the ends of your tube and your caps. The caps pictured are for the single-color wand, so only one has a hole for the switch.

Step 6: Add the String

Wands look like they're floating because of the string attached to a ring around your finger. So we need one of those.

Use your drill or Dremel to drill 2 very small holes, about 1/4" from the center of your wand. (It should be almost dead center but not quite... this helps the wand stay vertical when you're manipulating it.)

Cut a strip of leather or bike tube to use as a finger loop--about 1/2"x4". Cut a slit in one end and thread the other end through. Cut a hole in the other end and tie a short piece of strong thread to it. Tie the other end of the thread to your small swivel.

Thread a length of thread through the hole. You'll probably want your string about 2' long, but a longer string also means you can do some different tricks (neck and elbow wraps, etc). It's up to you. Tie the ends of the long string to your tiny swivel. Use a strong knot.

Step 7: Connect and Construct


Connect driver/EL wire to the battery. Slip inside the tube.

Fit the cap to the end of your tube with the switch poking through the rectangular hole. If you like you can affix your second battery terminal to the back of the switch.

2-color wand: Repeat for the other end.

1-color wand (pictured): Don't cut a hole in the second end cap. Shave down a cork to use as a stopper and push it into the end of the tube. Add a spare AA battery. The weight of the cork + spare battery will counterweight the driver/battery on the other end so your wand will be balanced. And you won't run out of juice at your next party!


Step 8: Play!


Congratulations, you have finished! Cupcakes for everyone!

But seriously, if you're interested in learning the wand, just make one and try it, it's pretty easy and fun! You can also search "flow wand" on YouTube for some good videos.

Thanks for reading, hope you liked it! This was a prototype and I plan on making more, so comments and constructive criticism welcome!

Comments

author
learnerboy (author)2016-11-25

Hey guys - how sturdy would that be? Is it prone to breaking if dropped?

author
Figure8Faith (author)2015-08-10

Hey there! Your levitation wand looks awesome. Looking on TAP plastics at the acrylic tubing, I'm having a really hard time telling the measurements on their website! Is it the 3/4 x 6 ft (Outside Diameter) x 5/8 (Inside Diameter) clear 1/16" wall tubing? Thanks!

author
Quester55 (author)2012-08-16

Another great idea, and as never worked with EL-Wire before I have little to add, Except in your power supply, You might try Stacking coin size 3V. Lithium Battery's so the power remains the same 3 Volts, but your wand will be lighter. also you can reduce your switch by gutting an old Game-boy and using it's Micro Switches. Radio Shake use to sell Micro circuits that allowed the builder to get the same results at a fraction of the size. One more hint, Try adding a neon ribbon to change color on the fly.

author
izzyinsf (author)Quester552012-09-05

Awesome ideas! I actually like the heavier weight of the two AA batteries as it helps keep the wand steady--wands need to be as dense as possible or have weight at the ends to remain upright. Plus I can use rechargeables!

Gameboy microswitch idea is so good! I will try that on the next one I make :)

author
jayjayn (author)2011-09-14

great info, could you provide info where you got the small swivel? thx.

author
nav_lexy (author)2010-08-16

So what did it cost to make?

author
salomon1996 (author)nav_lexy2010-08-17

yes, how much did it cost? (I want to make one, so just trying to figure some things out, and VERRY good instructable!

author
izzyinsf (author)salomon19962010-08-17

assuming you have all the tools you need and can scrounge batteries, bike tube for the handle, and electrical supplies (solder, etc.), the base supplies cost me $20 and the EL wire costs $13 or $26 for a one or two-color wand. so, one color wand: roughly $33 two-color wand: roughly $46 if you make one I would love to see a picture!!

author
salomon1996 (author)izzyinsf2010-08-18

Cool! could you give me a link to where you found your el wire? I looked for it on the site that you said before, but coldent find any, THANKS!

author
izzyinsf (author)salomon19962010-08-18

If the link I posted earlier doesn't work, the kit I used is the second to last one on this page: http://www.thatscoolwire.com/store/subcategory.asp?SubCategoryID=119. It's 2.2mm, 3 feet long, and has a driver with a single AA battery.

author
salomon1996 (author)izzyinsf2010-08-20

Thank you VERY MUCH! for all your help! :D You have been MOST helpful! :D

author
salomon1996 (author)2010-08-16

on the acrylic tubing, how thick was the wall? 1/16 in. or 1/8 in. ? thanks!

author
izzyinsf (author)salomon19962010-08-16

1/16".

author
salomon1996 (author)izzyinsf2010-08-17

thanks

author
CyborgGold (author)2010-08-15

http://www.amazon.com/Polycarbonate-Tubing-Wall-Clear-Color/dp/B000OMJ4VU Gotta Love the Interwebz. This came up after a quick Google search. It's the 3/4 Polycarb tubing you want.

author
DabeAltis (author)2010-08-15

McMaster Carr carries a wide variety of polycarbonate and other plastics. I'm reasonably sure they would have the 3/4" tubing you want. How about listing some sources for the EL wire and driver kits. Thanks

author
izzyinsf (author)DabeAltis2010-08-15

EL wire kit is here: http://www.thatscoolwire.com/store/item.asp?Category=168&SubCategoryID=119&GroupID=&SKU=WY-NH-LZ-3V From That's Cool Wire: 2.2mm, 3' length with a single AA driver.

author
xman (author)2010-08-15

That is the coolest thing I've seen in a while. I've wanted one of these since I saw 'em on flowtoys, but it never occurred to me to make one! McMaster has 3/4" ID, 1" OD polycarb tubing. Part # 8585K35. It's kind of expensive ($4.56/ft), but that's polycarb for ya. It also has 3/4" OD, 5/8" ID polycarb (8585K13) and 1/4" ID (8585K54), but by the choice of 1/4" acrylic rod for the core, I assume you want the 3/4" ID stuff.

author
tdetde (author)2010-08-12

Nice instructable! You might try http://www.smallparts.com for polycarbonate tubing.

author
izzyinsf (author)tdetde2010-08-12

Awesome, thank you. I knew someone would know where to find it!

author
Adum24 (author)2010-08-12

AWESOME!!! Just totally amazing! This is a great instructable! Keep it comin'!!!

author
metalman1138 (author)2010-08-11

Going to make one fer meself. Great instructable, and i have to know what song that was in the video, its great, my kiddo made me play it over and over.

author
izzyinsf (author)metalman11382010-08-11

ha thanks! the song is Roustabout (Bassnectar remix) by Beats Antique.

author
godofal (author)2010-08-11

it's amazing! you ask for constructive critism, but i honestly can't think of any, it's well-written, good photo's, great project, just great!

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