Instructables
Picture of How to Solder EL (Electroluminescent) Wire
EL wire039.jpg
EL Wire (electroluminescent wire) is a flexible, easy to work with, low power consumption light source that you can use to light up just about anything from skirts to sculptures. The wire is made from two different sets of wires that are coated with phosphor and plastic that light up when you hook it up to an EL wire driver or sequencer.

This Instructable is a collaboration between leonardo ismael (aka Oscar - Instructables' newest intern) and noahw that was made possible by the good folks over at Cool Neon. In addition to the step-by-step instructions that are in this Instructable, you can also check out the easily printable/portable .pdf directions that are attached to this step.
 
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Step 1: Prep the End of the EL Wire

In order to make your El wire light up you will need a driver or sequencer of some sort to power it. No need to be afraid of these terms - the drivers and sequencers just delver power to the wire similar to how a power brick delivers power to your laptop. You can buy a driver or sequencer from the same place you get your EL wire. You will also need either a harness or some kind of connecting wires to attach the EL wire to the driver or sequencer. Assuming you have these components, you're ready to start putting the EL wire together.

Some wire may have its' ends already stripped and prepared for you. If your wire has already had its' ends prepped then just skip this step.

First you will start with the bare EL wire pictured below. There are lots of different pictures in each step so click on each of the images below and follow along with the numbered steps.

Second picture:
Now grab a wire cutter and strip off the colored PVC sleeve around half an inch from the end of the wire. Make sure that you do not cut all the way in, just strip off the colored PVC covering.

Third picture:
Now you will see a thinner clear PVC sleeve covering the core wire.

Fourth picture:
Cut the clear PVC sleeve off, but be very careful not to cut too deep because two very small and fragile wires called angel wires are right underneath it.

Fifth picture:
Now that you have both sleeves off, you will notice that there is phosphor coating on the thicker center wire. This is not a skin so do not cut it off. Instead, carefully scratch or sand it off with some sandpaper or a razor blade.
696969697 months ago

Hey i was wondering is i can run this off the power from a LED light in my keyboard (i have a razer blackwidow) and i'm plainng to use El wire to back light do you know if it would work from that power

JohnBPrice1 year ago
I thought EL wire was AC? There is no positive or negative.
Thank you for this instructable! Great pictures and easy to follow.
Heat gun AKA hair dryer! LOL
Alturgrey3 years ago
hello! Where can i by this EL Wire ? and tell me please, what else materials need for execute this work ?
-max- Alturgrey3 years ago
online, and catalogues
A late reply, but check out http://www.coolight.com/ - I've bought all my el wire/drivers from them in the past, and they're really friendly if you need to call up and ask for advice on a specific project.
harvey6394 years ago
Can you cut the EL wire to any length?
yes, as long as your battery pack can power the length you have
What is the ratio for length and voltage?
-max- TechKid673 years ago
the voltage needed is the same. its like 3V led strip in parallel, the more you have, voltage doesn't rise. current draw does.
i dont know, i didn't ask the question
Uh, OK, I guess you really are serious.

http://www.amazon.com/JVCC-CFL-5CA-Copper-Conductive-Adhesive/dp/B000UZ8SJK

So you know how I found it, I used this website:
http://www.google.com/search?q=amazon+copper+tape

If Amazon.com is not available in your area, you will need to improvise. ..

I noticed this tape is often touted as "slug repellent tape" so you may also find it at a local gardening or nursery store.
where do i get copper tape no store seems to even carry it, the guys at home depot had never heard of it and i was talking to people who helped me go through each isle to find it but no results
where can i get EL wire without having to order it or buy it online???
Well it's been four months since you asked; you've probably already gotten an answer but I'll throw my two cents in anyways...

Have you tried any of the big box hardware stores (homedepot or lowes)???They sometimes have things like that in the electrical section...Or maybe a car parts store that caters to the high end upgrading; EL wire is often used in cars...Then there is always (if you live in a town big enough) an electrical supply store (the kind of place that has plugs and switches that can fit anything)...

If none of these places have what you are looking for...They might be able to point you in the right direction to the place that does...

I hope you have already found your wire and if you haven't I hope this helps...

Happy building and good luck...
i just got this el wire dog leash from a friend just the el wire part, so i opened it up to remove some of the extra leash parts and i noticed most of the wire inside is not lit up and if i move it in any way it will short out. so i had to hot glue it all in place so i couldn't move. now my question is if i clip that not lit part off and then solder a wire to the good part will this still work and will it pretty much fix that shorting issue
some hot glues aren't resistant to electricity
so? the wire was still intact and i was just bending it into the right posision, so you comment has nothing to do with what i said
ok. forget and forgive.
i did i posted that over a month ago
zack2474 years ago
now to find some el wire...
JJWord5 years ago
I've read that the other end of the EL wire doesn't need to be terminated in any way, just sealed to prevent exposure to elements. But I've found (with various drivers) that my EL wire will not light unless I short the thin wires to the copper wire, hence closing the circuit. Should I not be doing this? Why wouldn't it work without shorting the end?
Hey, you beat me to it! lol. I was basing mine off of Kalani's Soldering EL Wire at: http://burningman.rengeekcentral.com/elwire.html. I love this stuff!
gamer7 years ago
where do you buy this wire and its driver? very cool, i have to say! -gamer
try elbestbuy.com
dwdavis72 gamer5 years ago
look at: www.elwirepros.com
leonardo ismael (author)  gamer7 years ago
you can buy the ELwire at cool neon, 1419 Mandela Parkway in west oakland or go online to coolneon.com
imrobot5 years ago
simple question. can el wire get wet?
how do i make something to make it flash to the sound of my stereo, like for my car, or can i buy a sound controlled potentiometer type thing
look at: www.elwirepros.com
also what voltage should i use
next xbox mod
Great Instructable! I didn't have any copper tape, so I cut a two-inch (5 cm) piece of multistranded lamp cord wire, and pulled out three or four strands. I wrapped these around the outer insulated jacket with the fine wires underneath, and twisted the wrapped wire in a pigtail so it wouldn't fall off. Then I soldered the copper wire together, and cut off the pigtail. It's not as nice as the copper tape, but it works.
dose it ever burn out?
Bandgeek6 years ago
So say I had two pieces of EL Wire and one driver. Could I connect the two pieces together, then connect one end to the driver? Could this be done with two different colors of wire? Very nice Job by the way. I'll definitely use this if I get some for Christmas.
Nice! Congrats on your internship!
Very Cool! Good skill to know. Thanks