Picture of Hanging EL Wire Cassette Display
This project is a fun and easy introduction to EL wire.  It can be done in a day and is quite customizable.  The original idea came from another instructible by MisterM.

Main Body Parts:
clear cassette tapes sealed with screws
shadow box
7/16th in dowel
paint (enough to make the box and dowel the same color)
picture hanging hardware
scrap piece wood

3m el wire 3m any color
battery-powered el inverter

small philips screw driver
small saw
drill and drill bits
masking tape
hot glue gun

Optional Parts and Tools:
plastic polish
soldering supplies
momentary button

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Step 1: Cassette Preparation

Picture of Cassette Preparation
Finding the right cassettes can be difficult.  I found mine after 45 minutes at Goodwill.  It is important that the tapes are both clear (duh) and help together with screws.  Most tapes are sealed with glue making them impossible to open without cracking the plastic.  As an alternative to clear tapes, try running the el wire between the cassette and the shadow box for a back-light effect.

Using a small screwdriver, free the two sides of the cassette from the inner guts.  Do not lose the screws.

The EL wire should fit easily within the body of the tape but prolly won't pass through the lower channel where the tape read head would be.  Use pliers to pick off pieces of plastic until the wire will fit through.  See the third image.

There also needs to be a path for the el wire to enter the back of the cassette.  For this, use a small hobby saw and pliers to cut a chunk out near one of the round openings.  A small knife may work as well, but be careful as styrene plastic is brittle and will crack.  Be sure only to do this to the back of each cassette.

Optional Step: Removing the cassette labels

I intentionally picked bad music so the labels had to go.  There are a few ways to do this but I settled on scuffing the labels off then polishing the plastic.  Scratch the tape with 000 steel wool or progressively fine grades of wet sandpaper (400, 600, then 1500?).  

Afterwards, the surface of the tape will be dull and opaque.  See image 5.  Use plastic polish to brighten it up.  I used a Flitz branc polish which looked and smelled like toothpaste.  Instructions on the bottle will probably include: clean, apply, polish with a cloth, repeat.
KeenaH1 year ago
This is awesome!
mafkeezz1 year ago
awesome idea! gonna look for the cassettes!
PeckLauros1 year ago
Very cool!

thanks for the idea!