Introduction: How to Make an EL Wire Hula Hoop

Picture of How to Make an EL Wire Hula Hoop

I've been wanting to make something with EL wire for a long time and I've wanted some sort of glowing hoop for a while so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do both!

Step 1: Collect Materials

Picture of Collect Materials

Finding the materials for this project was quite a hunt. To power EL wire, or electro luminescent wire you need a driver. There are some small drivers out there, but I needed to find one that could power enough feet of wire and be small enough to fit inside a tube with a 1 inch outer diameter.

-a length of polyethylene irrigation tubing with an outer diameter of 1 inch for the hoop. I think I used about 9 feet. I use PSI 100 weight
-a connector for the tube
-heat gun
-heat shrink tubing
-soldering iron and solder
-electrical tape
-black gaffer tape
-hand held power drill
-bubble wrap
-wire cutters and wire strippers
-RC-2KN 12 Volt 2000hz driver for 3-15' of wire (It searched everywhere to find the smallest, most powerful driver I could find and I found the one I used here)
-8 single AA battery holders and batteries
-2 15 foot lengths of EL wire. If you make a bigger or smaller hoop you might need less or more. It comes in different thicknesses, I think mine was just general purpose. Don't get too thin or delicate wire, or it will break when you use it.

A voltmeter was also very helpful for this project

Step 2: Cutting Tube and Soldering the El Wire and Battery Cases

Picture of Cutting Tube and Soldering the El Wire and Battery Cases

Cut the tubing for your hoop and use the heat gun to heat one of the ends so you can out the connector in one side.  Don't close the hoop yet though!
There are other really good instructables about how to solder EL wire so I won't go over that here but it can be found here:
I wanted to distribute the weight of 8 AA batteries around the hoop to the circuit is literally a circle.  Solder the EL wire to the driver and solder the 8 battery holders together in series with enough wire in between each one so that they will be about evenly spaced around the hoop.  Don't solder the driver to complete the circuit yet!  Make sure your circuit is working either with a voltmeter or by using the driver with the EL wire to close the circuit.   A voltmeter is way easier.

Step 3: Drill Holes for the EL Wire

Picture of Drill Holes for the EL Wire

Since all of your circuit will be inside the tube of the hoop, you need to drill holes to thread the EL wire to the outside so you can later wrap it around the hoop.  Using a hand held drill, make two holes big enough for the EL wire to fit through (but not too big!) on the inside of the hoop about 1 inch apart.  Drill on the side of the hoop with the connector already in, but make sure you don't drill through the connector.
Thread a stiff wire through the hole from the outside of the hoop to the opening and tape the wire to the tip of the EL wire and pull it through the hole so the EL wire is on the outside of the hoop and the driver is on the inside.  Repeat or the other wire.

Step 4: Put the Circuit Inside the Hoop!

Picture of Put the Circuit Inside the Hoop!

This part took me a few tries to get right, but be patient.  I used electrical tape to tape the batteries into the holders, just to be safe, but they seemed pretty secure.  Use a long, larger gauge wire threaded through the tube to pull the circuit into the hoop.  As you pull it though, wrap the circuit in bubble wrap to keep it from rattling around inside the tubing.
Make sure your soldered connection points are VERY secure before this step.  I had to redo this part three times because my connections kept breaking or coming loose.

Step 5: Attach EL Wire, Driver and Switch

Picture of Attach EL Wire, Driver and Switch

Once you have the circuit threaded through the tube, solder the driver leads to complete the circuit.  Make sure you are connecting positive to positive and ground to ground (I always make positive red and ground black, just to be sure).  This should be obvious since when you have the correct wires soldered together, your wire will be glowing.
It was important for me to make an easy way to turn the wire on and off without taking the entire hoop apart so I added a switch.
Use the drill to make a hole and file it out to make it big enough for the switch.  Make a hook out of stiff wire and pull the positive wire though.  Some switches are different, but for mine, I cut and striped the two ends and connected one to the middle lead and one to a side lead, making sure they don't touch.  Heat shrink can be helpful here.  Check and make sure your switch it working and then tape it down securely with the black gaffer tape.

Step 6: Close Hoop and Wrap and Seccure Wire

Picture of Close Hoop and Wrap and Seccure Wire

Close the hoop by heating the end of the tube with a heat gun and connecting it with the connector (or do what I did and just have really strong friends).  Tape over the seam.
Decide How you want to wrap your wire.  The possibilities are pretty much up to you.  I opted for a crisscross patterns where the wires wrap in opposite directions and forms Xs on the hoop.  Secure the ends with black gaffer tape and tape every few feet along the inside.  Depending on how tightly you wrap it you may need more or less tape.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Hoop!

Picture of Enjoy Your Hoop!

Now go have fun!  Because of the batteries, this hoop may be heavier than hoops that you're used to, so be careful and start slow at first.  It's a great workout, lots of fun, and it looks awesome!


DarkerStitches (author)2015-12-09

Sooo, I was wondering how a hoop similar to this would turn out if you just thread the EL wire through transparent tubing that we have these days. Also, maybe changing the battery would be easier with a push button hoop.

СергейС6 (author)2015-06-14

saw come up with a new control system with ipad might be useful for you

element32d (author)2014-11-11

How did you fit the driver inside the hoop? The driver would have to be less than 5/8" width right? Does one of those even exist?

Yeah, it was really hard to find one that small and I searched far and wide to find it! I got it from this site.

I'll update this Instructable as well. Hope that helps!

Would that 12 volt driver work with only 2 1.5v batteries? I'm assuming the el wire just wouldn't last as long or be as bright? Thanks!

I'm not sure? I used 8 AA batteries, which is the maximum amount this driver could take.

dcrosby1 (author)2013-07-07


sosaerica18 (author)2012-01-29

i was just wondering though does everything stay intact? like nothing moves around or anything like that? i totally wanna try to make one of these!

Everything stayed in place pretty well with just some pieces of tape around the inside. However, if you're new to hula hooping or are more rough with your hoops you might need to attach it more securely!

sosaerica18 (author)2012-01-29

hey this is really awesome! and i love your middle name :)

blinkyblinky (author)2011-09-26

I like your middle name.

This project is awesome.

Dea della Luna (author)2011-06-17

Oh I am loving this! Thank you (=

fermi1137 (author)2011-04-17

Great job! I have made a few LED hoops and am thinking about making an el one. Where did you find the driver small enough?

I got it at
They don't have the best website design ever, but they have the largest selection of drivers I have ever seen and good prices.

Mike Begley (author)2011-04-10

Nice instructable!

I would consider encasing the whole thing in clear heat shrink tubing. That would both help to hold the wire in place and give a bit of protection to the wire.

How much of a chore is it to change out the batteries?

It's pretty annoying, but it's doable.

jatb28 (author)2011-01-10

Great job! Thanks for sharing it with the community :)

I was thinking about doing one with a shorter length of wire which would take less batteries, maybe 3-4 and AAA's. From your experience, do you think that fewer batteries would make the weighting strange?

I was also thinking about putting the wire in a clear HDPE or polypro tube ( with clear bubble wrap. Good idea with the bubble wrap!

Fewer batteries should be fine, as long as you are able to space them out inside the tubing sort of evenly. That sounds like it will be awesome! You should make an instructable about it!

savvymercury (author)2010-11-09

i'm very new to electronics, so forgive me if this comment is a little less than intelligent. what will happen when the batteries in the hoop run out? is there a way to wire in a recharger (i.e. the rechargeable LED hoop?) thanks!

I didn't have rechargeable batteries when I was putting this together, so unfortunately, when the batteries run out I'll have to open the hoop and replace them. Since the circuit is already put together, I'll just have to pop the old batteries out and put new ones in. If you have some way to just plug the hoop in and recharge it, that would be way easier!

Demon_Darkchild (author)2010-08-18

Awesome! I might make some for bellydance, or some such.

I do belly dance also! Hooping and belly dance go together so well!

meerbot (author)2010-08-18

Great Instructable, beautiful hoop! Question: Have you tried protecting the EL wired with something in case the hoop is dropped? I would be tempted to put a layer of clear hockey tape over it.

I was actually going to do that originally, and I would recommend it but because I wanted the wires to cross, the tape was getting weird and wrinkly at the points where the wire intersect. If you just wrap the wire around like a barber shop pole, I would definitely put clear tape over it.

tandemquadrant (author)2010-08-18

That's fantastic!!! One question: How are the batteries secured inside the hoop? The way I saw it was they're just wrapped in bubble wrap inside the hoop. Wouldn't they shift around and cause your hoop to become lopsided?

The bubble wrap has kept them in place so far. Also, there is not a lot of excess wire in between the batteries and having the switch also holds that one spot in place and the driver fits very snugly inside the hoop. I've been using it quiet a bit and haven't had a problem :)

SHIFT! (author)2010-08-17

Excellent Job as always Danger is my middle name! I'm not that big on Hula Hoops myself, BUT I have an idea on how to work this into a large scale RC Car.

Thanks! You totally should! EL wire is awesome and the possibilities are endless!

For sure! I'm more over an umbrella man myself, than a Hoola Hooper, so as soon as I get mine in the mail, I'll probably work on something like that!

Batness (author)2010-08-16

That. looks. Awesome. A couple of questions! 1. About how much in materials did this cost you? I'm attempting to guesstimate. 2. Couldn't you use clear tubing and then adjust the lights inside the tubing?

If you have some of the electronic equipment already, this project would be a lot cheaper. I had to buy the wire strippers, voltmeter, soldering iron, etc. I needed them anyways for engineering school, but they all added up. Not including all that, I got 30 feet of EL wire and the driver for about $40. Battery holders, the tube connector and those small parts were all under a dollar each. The irrigation tube is about $35 for 100 feet at Lowe's, which will make about 8 hoops, depending on what size they are. I know there are places you can get smaller amounts of tubing, but I knew where to get this, and on such short notice, it was the best I could do and I use it to make more hoops and musical instruments and stuff. Assuming you already have the tools you need, the supplies themselves are way cheaper than any LED hoop I have seen for sale anywhere, even if you do have to buy 100 feet of tube, haha. Like you said, you could definitely use clear plastic tubing and put the EL wire inside it but like I said, I knew where to get the black tubing, but for my next version I might try to find some clear tube. The one problem I could foresee with putting the wire in the tubing is lack of space, but I'm sure with some thinking, it could all be squeezed in. thanks for the questions! Let me know if you have any more!

izzyinsf (author)2010-08-16

super freaking awesome hoop!

Thanks! I'm so excited to finally have a light up hoop! haha

noclothes (author)2010-08-16

This is so cool! Awesome job! :)


About This Instructable




Bio: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among ... More »
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