EL-Wire, What is it?
Generally pronounced "E" "L" Wire, it's short for Electro Luminescent Wire. EL-Wire is thin, like a USB cable, when electrically charged and glows like a little neon sign. It's very flexible, and can be sewn into clothing. There are even waterproof versions of EL-wire!
For good background on the inner workings of EL Wire, (how AC Current causes phosphor to glow, and how to solder EL Wire), take a look at this award winning Instructable:https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Full-How-Too-Manual-For-EL-ElectroluminesceHow Do I Control My EL-Wire?
The Cool Neon EL-Wire power adapter includes a corded, or battery powered power supply which has the options: On, Off, or Flashing, so if all you want to do is flash your glowing wire, you are all set. But we wanted to play with other options, including lighting up different sections of the sign at different times, flashing only the eyes of our logo, varying the speed of the blinking, etc. In order to do this I used an Arduino and the Cool Neon Shield
. The good thing about this project is there is a very flexible and powerful driver (see the Cool Neon Sketch below) available and that means little to no programming required (but you'll still need to set up the software to load the driver)Setting Up The Cool Neon Shield
Prior to creating the Wall-Art, you may want to get the software set up and see what can be done with the EL-Wire. There are 10 Channels on the Cool-Neon shield, so you can boost, blink or dim up to 10 different sections of your project independently. I ended up using 4 different channels: the rabbit eyes are one channel, the rabbit head is one channel, the upper left and lower right wrench are the third and the upper right and lower left wrench make up the forth channel.
To set up the shield you'll need to
Running the Arduino Shield:
- Download the Arduino IDE
- If you've never used an Arduino, you may want to try one of the included Example pieces of code in the Getting Started Guide
- Download the Cool Neon Code Sketch by Tully Gehan of www.SamuraiCircuits.com
- Plug the Cool Neon EL-Wire into the channel sockets - be careful plugging and unplugging these sockets, it's easy (but not fatal) to snap off the little plastic clips that secure the EL-Wire
- Choose the "Run" arrow on the Arduino IDE and the code will load and begin running on the Arduino Shield
(as shown on the video on page 1)
- Press the the button labeled "F1" to choose the number of channels you want activated
- Press the button labeled "Pattern" to cycle through the available patterns
- Adjust the potentiometer wheel to a speed or slow the flashing of the EL Wire