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I am not a great person for shopping for gifts for people and for my daughter and boyfriend I wanted something that both of them would like and appreciate. My daughter is a post grad student studying Marine and Fresh Water Invertebrates whereas her boyfriend works with rescue submersibles design. Their interests vary from Lego, belly dancing, basketball, taxidermy, robot building to dead things!

So, what do you give them?

Something different!

Step 1: What Is an EL Panel?

"Electroluminescent Panels are thin (less than 1/2mm) laminated sheets that glow on one side.
The technology has developed a lot since it was researched in the 1950s to be used in early radar monitors. Now, EL Panels have proved to be robust and versatile and have many uses from backlighting displays, architectural highlights, theatrical props and safety lighting

The Core of EL Panels is the glowing paint (or ‘phosphor’) that is spread onto a thin metal electrode. A Clear Electrode similar to those used on touch screen phones is then placed on top. When an Alternating Current is passed through these two electrodes it makes the phosphor glow The main phosphors used for electroluminescent materials naturally glow either blue or blue/green, so the base colour of all EL Panels and Tape is a bluish or blue/green colour. To make the Panels glow white, either a pink filter is applied or pink pigment is added to the phosphor."

The panel I am using for this project is from elwirecraft and is a 150mm x 400mm sized panel. This can be cut into 4 sections as it has 4 supply rails fitted but I am only using one of them so the rest will get the chop.

Step 2: Create a Design.

I was originally going to cut the panel into the 4 sections but decided to leave as is and work with silhouetting to seperate the images on it.

I wanted a few different images and because my printer is needing new cartridges I used an old method of tracing the image from the screen of my laptop onto, of all things, baking paper!

These were cut out and applied to black art paper with a Pritt Stick. I marked a 1cm border on the art paper to account for framing and the 'dead' areas on the edges of the EL Panel. I cut out each design with scalpels and as I was working from the back of the image as what I cut out was reversed on turning the art paper over.

The art paper was then placed on top of the EL Panel and the small details were added for the Lego man and the fish designs. Once I was happy with the placements I used the Pritt Stick to secure everything to the EL Panel - use the minimum of glue and use a cotton bud to remove any excess from the EL Panel.

Step 3: Framing Up the Panel.

Ready made lengths of framing are available from DIY stores relatively cheaply or you can go the whole hog and take it to a picture framer and get a pro job done.

I used a plain wooden edging from the local DIY store and a backing of 6mm MDF for the woodwork and instead of glass to protect the art paper and the EL Panel, I had some 1mm PETg which does the job just as well.

I cut the framing pieces and then sprayed then with black enamel before fitting them. Wood glue and panel pins will make sure they stay where they should.

The power supply is a wall wart and the one shown is the invertor unit you need to power the EL Panel, there are a few options for doing this and are shown on elwirecrafts web site.

Step 4: The Finished Article.

These EL Panels give a really nice glow when powered up and can be used for a lot more ideas than the one I have demonstrated here.

Just let your imagination run wild!

I was happy with the overall effect at the end of this but I suppose printed designs would have given a better finish to it but its hand made and that's all that counts!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I learned to take things apart before I could put them together. Reaonably handy with a screwdriver. Can count to twenty without taking my socks ... More »
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