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Easy way to solder EL wire!

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I'm working on my first EL wire project and I read lots of guides on how to solder the EL wire, all of them warning about cutting through the very thin radial wires that run outside of the phosphorous layer.

I tried a few times and it can be tricky, but I think I have a much easier way of doing it.

I'm not going to go into much detail about how the wire works or about the various layers that make up EL wire - I'm sure you will have read this elsewhere.

A couple of things that I found made this process easier (other than the usual EL wire tools) are:
 - Solder flux pen - helps the solder take to the wire and copper tape
 - Old computer CPU heatsink - by moving some of the fins closer together, it makes a perfect clamp for holding both wires while soldering, much better than croc clips because it doesn't damage the wire
 - Sharp craft knife - I use a knife to cut through the EL wire outer coloured coating (but not for the clear inner coating)
 
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Step 1: Cutting the outer coating

Picture of Cutting the outer coating
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I need my solder joints to be as small as possible for my project, so I only cut of 7mm off the outer coating, but you can cut more if you want to.

Measure what you need to cut and gently roll the EL wire with the blade, using just enough pressure to cut through the outer coloured coating.  If you cut slightly into the inner coating, this isn't a problem, so long as you don't go completely though both.


FANTASTIC instruct ! it took me over an hr. to do 2 splices the old way.

PS; where did you get the copper foil?

Bluelux (author)  number 1 usher24 days ago
Copper foil came with my EL wire, but you can find it on eBay from EL wire sellers.
Let me know if this method helps. Good luck with your project.
Tim
boocat3 months ago

You are so clever!

forte19941 year ago
Amazing job!!! VERY well done.. i was thinking of doing these mineature joints and evrywhere they use up so much of the el wire its crazy:P
tobychan1 year ago
What fantastic photographs as well! Highly detailed! Well done.
Spokehedz1 year ago
Wow. This should be a model for what Instructables should be like.

Clear pictures, showing more than one angle for each step. Each step showing a single step in the process. Explanation as to why you should do it this way, but also exploring other options. And finally showing the completed project as photographed--not another one that they made up ahead of time.

100% nailed it.
100% agreed! Your comment says everything that my tired mind couldn't put into words tonight! The Ible is a great example of what an Ible should be!
Agreed, again! I've voted this a 5 star instructible based on my concurrence with SpokeHedz comments. This is well done.
t.rohner1 year ago
Very nice instructable. 5*

The idea with hot glue shavings inside the heat shrink is very clever.

I used to work on El ribbons.
Most of the time, i had to repair the inverters after the FET's smoked away.
DieCastoms1 year ago
Although I have never handled EL wire before, I HAVE handled plenty of heat-shrink and plenty of hot-glue, and am getting better with soldering now that I have learned the secret ways of the Flux Fairy. I've never thought of using both the hot glue and the heat shrink together, that is such a great idea!

You ible is very well put-together and based solely on it, I think I could confidently handle soldering wires to EL wire (especially if I started with heavier stuff first..). Your pictures are well done (Would you mind telling us what you used? Cellphone with home-made macro lens?)

Thank you for taking the time to post this Ible.

Mike, from "DC".
Bluelux (author)  DieCastoms1 year ago
Thanks Mike,

The photos were taken on a HTC Mozart with a cheap 10x eye loupe in front of the camera lens for the close up pics.

For example: http://www.amazon.com/3PC-EYE-LOUPE-3X-10X/dp/B000XGGF0U/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1337332126&sr=8-12
abraxas11 year ago
why apply hot glue while hot, give it a shave first! great idea for such delicate work.
is the finished project going to be an instructable?

thanks so much
Bluelux (author)  abraxas11 year ago
Thanks for all the positive feedback!
Not sure that I will make an instructable out of the final project - it's overly complicated and I wish I could start it again.
I promise to do one for the next EL wire project - by then I will have learn from my mistakes!
robbied1 year ago
You have made it all so simple. The website I have looked at to purchase some El wire made it sound like they had some difficult method or special tools to solder it. A well written, and high quality instructable.
agittins1 year ago
Really nicely done - some great tips there and not just for EL wire!
killbox1 year ago
Love your use of a old socket A or 378 heatsync as your helping hands!
djimdy1 year ago
Love the heatsink-as-helping-hands trick.
sharpstick1 year ago
You can get heat shrink tubing with hot glue inside it.
Another alternative would be squirting silicone sealer on before sliding the tubing on. Another layer of tubing over all with a stiff "batten" to prevent flex would also help. EL wire is very fragile if exposed to any movement.
verence1 year ago
Very nice 'ible.
Genius, thanks for sharing your hacks. The hot glue shaving bit is really brilliant.
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