What you decide to attach your EL wire to will ultimately dictate what tools and materials you will need. That said, the three main items in an EL wire project are the EL wire, the inverter, and the battery. The EL wire is a phosphor coated wire that illuminates when an AC voltage is attached to it. The inverter converts a DC voltage into the required AC voltage. The battery provides the DC voltage.
These all need to be matched. For instance, I needed 50cm of EL wire for each shoe and the inverter I used needed to be able to work with this length. If the inverter is not powerful enough, the wire will be dim. Too powerful and it will damage the wire. Where you get your inverter from should be able to tell you the lengths it is rated for. The battery also needs to be the right voltage for the inverter.
Bits and Pieces:
- Battery Charger (for charging the batteries if using LiPO batteries) http://www.adafruit.com/products/259
- Fishing Line
- Sticky-Back Velcro
- Inverter (converts the low DC voltage from the battery to high AC voltage for the EL wire) http://www.elec2go.com.au/prod38.htm
- LiPO Battery or CR2023 CMOS battery (http://littlebirdelectronics.com/products/polymer-lithium-ion-battery-110mah)
- Extra Wire
- Heat Shrink Tubes
- EL Wire
- Wide Elastic (not pictured)
The inverter I chose uses a regular cmos battery, but I wanted to be able to charge the battery so I used a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. If you are concerned with the perceived dangers of LiPO batteries, then I suggest you do not do these modifications and use whatever battery is specified for your inverter (in this case, a CR2023).
To connect the LiPo battery to the inverter, I took it apart and soldered wires onto the inverter pcb. So that I could put the battery cover back on the inverter, I cut slots in the inverter case for the wires.
I could have hard wired everything together and permanently attached the inverter and battery to the shoe, but I may want to reuse these parts on other projects, so the method I used was based on non-permanence.
To attach the inverter, I used sticky-back velcro. it holds the inverter really firmly and I don't think it will fall off in use. To keep all the wires and battery out of harms way, I made a patch using wide elastic and more sticky-back velcro. The sticky back velcro didn't stick to the elastic very well, so I ended up having to sew it.