Introduction: EL Wire Skeleton Costume Lights Controlled by an Arduino

Picture of EL Wire Skeleton Costume Lights Controlled by an Arduino
Project Summary:
EL wire was sewn to a shirt and pants in a skeleton configuration.  A sensor at each elbow turned that arm's EL wires on/off.  A sensor under each heal  controlled the corresponding leg EL wire.  A fifth sensor controlled the heart.  In normal operation the body (and pelvic bone) remained always on.  A glow stick was used for the head and the gloves were bought from Amazon.

We made a short video of the costumes in action.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V08YkzYr2R0&feature=share&list=UUWQb6wHqZLVbt8TnRJsPrHw

Project Part Details:
A) EL Escudo Dos is the Arduino shield that allows for control of the 8 EL wires.  (under the EL Escudo Dos is an Arduino Uno board)
B) An 8 AA battery pack was used for power (1.5V*8 = 12V).  We hooked the battery pack to the Arduino using a barrel jack connector.
C) On/Off Switch for the battery pack
D) A 12V EL inverter which hooks up to the EL Escudo Dos using jst connectors
E) 3 pressure sensors using the Pulsea Conductive Thread Pressure Sensor instructable.  We did not attach our sensor using the snap and we also wanted both sensor wires to hook-up at the same side.
F)  Conductive Ribbon was used  between the heal sensor and the wire to allow for a comfortable connection inside the shoe  and up the back of the ankle.
G) 2 flex sensors using the Pulsea Neoprene Bend Sensor instructable .  This was modified to have both connections at the top end.  The sensor was sewn on to a tight shirt which was worn under the EL wire skeleton shirt.  Keeping the sensor tight to the arm so it bent with the elbow was the challenge.
H) Cover for pressure sensor.  We covered the heart sensor  (which  just tucks in under the shirt near their hip) as we managed to get zapped by the sensor touching bare skin.  Our best guess was that a little piece of conductive thread was hanging out the side.  A polar fleece cover was the "band aid" solution to ensure we didn't have that problem again.
I) All 5 sensors were wired into the analog pins on the EL Escudo Dos (which is hooked to the Arduino pins).  The sensors were wired with a simple voltage divider circuit each using a 10K ohm resistor.  The ground and power wires were connected together to go into the Arduino pins.  On the larger skeleton suit we ran into an interference problem.  When the EL wire was off the sensors worked great.  When the EL wire was turned on stray signals messed with the values.  We added a few capacitors into the circuit and it worked, but we are not sure that this was what solved the problem.
J) The Escudo Dos / Arduino was placed in a plastic container.  The  container, battery pack and inverter are then tucked into a fanny pack pouch.  Yes, a bit of a rats nest and not very "professional" looking  but hidden from view under the back of the shirt.
K)The EL wire was sewn to the shirt/pants using clear thread.  Seven  6' to 10' lengths of wire were used to complete the 2 skeletons.   Cutting and soldering the EL wire is finicky but very doable.  In order to plug the EL wires into the EL Escudo Dos, you will need to terminate them with JST-PH connectors.  When the whole suit went dark (which happened a few times) the cause was always an EL wire with a bad connection.  If this happens to you, remove the EL wire one circuit at a time from the EL Escudo Dos to see which EL wire is the cause.

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