How to Attach (or Reattach) EL Tape (Electroluminescent Tape)

Picture of How to Attach (or Reattach) EL Tape (Electroluminescent Tape)
When trying to connect EL Tape, if you have worked with other electronics or EL Wire before, then this should come very easily to you. If you are familiar with most electronics but have never worked with EL Wire before, it still may come fairly easily for you as this concept is actually easier than EL Wire in most respects. Basically there are a positive and negative channel which runs the entire length of the tape. These two channels act like most electronics where you have a positive and negative and the two cannot touch. The main difference is most electronics need to have a closed loop system where the ends double back around and make a consistent flow of energy to make the electronic device work properly. For Electroluminescent products, you MUST have an open loop where the positive and negative channels (or wires) do not touch, otherwise it will short out the tape.

The following tools are recommended for this project:

1. Battery Pack (or Inverter) - Without this your tape won't glow, so it will be handy to have one available so you can test this along the way.
2. Wire Cutters/Knife/Razor Blade - Basically anything sharp will do, but a razor blade is the easiest to use.
3. Soldering Iron - A must have. Without this, your connection will be shotty and may not light up.
4. Helping Hands - This nifty little tool is a must have in any electronics grab bag.
5. EL Tape (Electroluminescent Tape) - You wouldn't be doing this project without it!
6. Heat Shrink Tubing - Colored looks cooler, but black is just fine. You can pick this stuff up at Frys, radio shack, etc.
7. Solder - Leaded or unleaded... I like the unleaded stuff just because I know lead is horrible to breathe in.
8. Oops, where's 8?? I accidentally left out a lighter (or heat gun) AND copper tape (or circuit pen).
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say i wanted to connect a force sensor/receptor to the tape to make it light up when i apply pressure, how would you say i go about doing that? would it take the place of an inverter and i just connect it to the battery pack?

Love that plastic surgery glue I use it for almost everything I work on. I digress. When gluing the copper tape to the surface doesn't the layer of glue prevent the electrical flow?

rcroft2 years ago
Does it matter which lead you solder to? Is one positive and the other negative or does it just matter that you have solid connections on both?
Kushy04 rcroft6 months ago

Inverter convers DC to AC, so in your EL wire/tape/panel, both leads are running with AC, there are no positive negative because both are alternating from positive to negative to positive to negative to positive to negative to positiveto negative to positiveto negative to positiveto negative to positiveto negative to positiveto negative to positive... you get the idea...

technicaly no it shouldnt matter. el wire/tape works by forceing electricity to move from one wire to another through a phosoresent material that glows when energiezed. it's not polarized, electricity will go either way. however, while i dont know about el tape, el wire uses a thick wire core as a positive and then wraps a very thin wire around the outside for the negative. i do not htink it would be wise to run the power backwards in this case.

it probably depends some on the el tape you have and how it's constructed
What is the trade mark of the EL tape you are using in this specific tutorial? I tried to follow these steps with the one made by ADRAFRUIT ELETRONICS and did not work..
febert1 year ago
I am using EL Tape for the first time and wonder if I doing things right. I have pulled back a clear layer of plastic from the end of the tape. But underneath that is anoter very tough layer of plastic. Is that something I also have to peal back? Putting copper tape on that layer does not activate the light. But it appears so thick that I doubt it would curl back like it appears in your photo. Have I got an oddballtype of tape? Who manufactured yours? I go mine from Adafruit that referred me to your page.
vanwerneck1 year ago
Hello, my name is Vanderlei, I'm from Brazil and first want to give you the "CONGRATULATIONS" the explanations you posted.
Now I want to ask, is it possible for you to publish, how to JOIN TWO OR THREE, DIFFERENT SIZES OF EL TAPE.
Example, if I apply the FITA in a closet, I have several clippings, HOWTO, all these clippings have POWER and finish in one wire to connect.

I wonder it takes only REMOVE the layer and protective plastic and apply COPPER TAPE? longer be able to light up all the clippings?
Could you please help me?

Best Regards

joining two pieces of el tape SHOULD be as simple as connecting the two tape's positives and negatives together. positive to positive and negative to negative. in effect this just makes a longer piece of el tape. so, do what the instructable suggests, but instead of soldering one end to a connection plug, solder it to another piece of el tape

(i'm going on theory here. i've never used el tape but it's simple stuff)
Laia_bee2 years ago
Hi! I just made a video making small parts thanks to what I read of this tutorial. It is made in spanish but has subs in english.

: )
nonoe3 years ago
I have white EL tape with a 50/50 split, but there is no green or gray layer. It is black throughout. Might be a lead coating? But, anyways, would 24-gauge copper wire be enough to connect two EL tape pieces together? Or do I need absolutely copper tape?
ElectricFeel (author)  nonoe3 years ago
I like using copper tape, but it's not the easiest thing to come by. If you use wire, it should work just the same. All you need is something that will run the current through.
fangelini3 years ago
Hi, if i need cut in small parts el tape is possible soldering ?

ElectricFeel (author)  fangelini3 years ago
It is possible to make very small pieces of tape glow, however it all comes down to how much labor you want to do. Each connection (for me at least) probably takes about 5 minutes.
akolafa3 years ago
How would you recommend making the attachment if you only have sections that are from the middle of strips? I Have a few strips of orange tape that only have a 90/10 split and I am afraid the copper will be too big or the solder will melt the outside tape layer.
ElectricFeel (author)  akolafa3 years ago
If you have a circuit pen, it makes it the easiest to stick to the tape's surface. The copper tape sometimes has a tough time sticking to the charged surface. As such, you may opt to use a circuit pen which sticks a bit better.