EL Wire Hat: Sequenced and Sound Activated with Remote Control - powered by Arduino and Sparkfun

Picture of EL Wire Hat: Sequenced and Sound Activated with Remote Control - powered by Arduino and Sparkfun
Welcome to the Instructable guide of my EL Wire hat with some fun features.

The concept is an EL Wired hat with 8 sequenced EL wires controlled by a wired remote. Multiple speed controllable sequence modes are pre-programmed into an Arduino UNO, including a sound activation feature.

7 sequence modes (speed controlled)
1 sound activated mode (sensitivity controlled)
1 sequence mode that goes through all 7 previously mentioned sequences.

The brain behind my baby is an Arduino Uno Rev. 3 with a Spartkfun EL Escudo Dos shield.

This psychedelic fashion accessory was built for a festival, so it needed to be quite tough. Also it was built in a bit of a hurry, so steps were not documented during time of build. With that in mind, I will do my best to guide you through what I went through in as much detail as possible. 


Step 1: Materials and Tools

A Hat - whatever style suits you and your EL Wire configuration.  We will be concealing our wires on the inside, so keep in mind that we will need to make holes in the hat. I would avoid using your grandfathers trilby :)
Arduino UNO Rev3
Sparkfun EL Escudo Dos
8 x 1m EL Wires 
DFRobot Sound Sensor
1K-Ohm Potentiometer
Potentiometer Knob
Push Button Switch (Normally-Open)
Toggle Switch
220 Ohm Resistor
1K-Ohm Resistor
Green LED
Header Pins
Right angle Header Pins
4meters of Multicore cable (Ethernet)
Prototype Circuit Boards
9 x JST female connectors (2mm pitch)
Cable Ties
Heat Shrink (various diameters)
Gauge waterproof grommets
8 "AA" Battery Holder with Snap Connector
8 x 1.5V AA Batteries
Snap Connector
2.1mm Right Angle DC Power (Solder Plug End Connection)
1meter Spiral Cable Wrap (3/4inch)
Plastic Universal Enclosure 100 x 25 x 50 mm(Remote)
Plastic Universal Enclosure 135 x 95 x 45 mm(Brain
2 x 4-way El Wire splitters
Stackable Headers

Hot Glue Gun and Glue
Soldering Iron and all the stuff that goes with it
Drill and various drill bits
Set of files
Needle and thread

BrandonB3413 hours ago

Hi. This is great!

What if you don't want to use the sound sensor? Can you still use the same code? Will it just do nothing for mode #8? Or do you need to change the code?

Please help. I am a terrible programmer. I can solder and make proto boards like a pro! Just a lousy coder.


gengas1 year ago

I used this guide to make a light suit. Thank you so much for this great information.


dovadil (author)  gengas1 month ago

Yeaaaah - Awesome - it gives me so much pleasure to see people taking this design and making it their own.

tanders01042 years ago
Dovadil, you did an incredible job of detailing your instructions. I built this and it was the first electronic build I have done. It worked on the first go! The only thing I changed was I used CAT 5 connectors from the brain to the hat so I can unplug it from there. My next job is to use the brain on another EL wire outfit and I can just plug that into the CAT5 . Cudos to you. i'll work on getting video and pictures up.
dovadil (author)  tanders01042 years ago
Wow tanders0104 - You have no idea how much pleasure it gives me, and what a complement it is, to know that someone else has built and benefited from this instructable.
I like the idea of using RJ-45 connectors. I really would give you loads more versatility with the concept.
ctuck2 years ago
Holy moly, my EL Escudo looks way different than yours!! Plus you seem to be able to light all the channels. When did you order yours? Nice looking results!
ctuck ctuck2 years ago
Aha it's the Dos! A new model that looks much more improved over the first. Guess I will be making anew SparkFun order! I can finally make my 8 Segment EL Wire project work!
dovadil (author)  ctuck2 years ago
Yeah, from what I have read, the Dos was a huge improvement.
ctuck dovadil2 years ago
Sure looks like it. I ordered one last week, should arrive soon. I have lots of EL projects I was really hopeful for that were all dashed by the week EL Escudo. The Dos should be a pleasant change.
J-Five2 years ago

I want one!!!!!!!!!!
J-Five J-Five2 years ago
Also it’s a great conversation starter!
dovadil (author)  J-Five2 years ago
You have no idea :)
J-Five dovadil2 years ago
Next, try making an entire outfit with them. That would be VERY intresting.
jsargent12 years ago
GREAT idea, i wanna have a shot of making it, but with a more compact remote design, and maybe some light material to cover the lights, so they aren't visible til they are on :)
dovadil (author)  jsargent12 years ago
jsargent1 - Thank you.
Yes, the remote - I find the size to be okay, but this hat was my first full Arduino project and at the time, it was made before I explored wireless and XBee options. Obviously having less cables would be ideal, but with the time restriction of getting the build done before a festival, I decided to go down the route I knew the best, and this was using wire.
Also, if the hat is made quite tidily, it actually looks quite psychedelic, even during the day.
During your recreation, please let me know of any improvements/short-cuts along the way on my Orangeboard.
Q2WERTY2 years ago
Awesome !!! nice detailed explanation.
dovadil (author)  Q2WERTY2 years ago
Thank Q2WERTY. This Instructable was composed and published only after I had built this psychedelic fashion accessory, so I have tried to be as detailed as possible.
I hope you manage to make use of some parts of this build and make something of your own. I have learnt a fortune from instructables.com (without which, this concept would never have materialised)
mnurek2 years ago
This is AMAZING!! Dovadil are you single??
dovadil (author)  mnurek2 years ago
Thank's mnurek - I'm flattered, but this isn't really the right place for this type of conversation ;)
zshaunz2 years ago
This is AWESOME!
I hope you win
pietzeekoe2 years ago
Might wanna put a low pass filter on the microphone otherwise when there is loud music playing its just permanently on.
dovadil (author)  pietzeekoe2 years ago
Thank you for this tip. That is a really good idea. I will probably implement this into mk1.1
Guchiwoochi2 years ago
Nice Hat! I might make one for a party!
dovadil (author)  Guchiwoochi2 years ago
Cool - go for it. Was definitely worth the effort.