Disclaimer : This is my First Instructable. I appreciate any constructive criticism and helpful advice. Now any of you who just ramble on about “I’m just in it for the money” or “You misspelled instruction” or “He’s trying to control the world” just leave me be and we'll be just fine. (Ok, the World Domination may be true.)
Now I don’t claim to know that I am the end all knowledge on EL wire but I have done my research before I bought anything, plus, I have compiled what it’s made of, what makes it work, some history, and helpful tips to help you out. So let's get started.
Step 1: What is EL Wire?
EL wire's construction consists of five major components. First is a solid-copper wire core. This core is coated with phosphor. A very fine wire is spiral-wound around the phosphor-coated copper core. This fine wire is electrically isolated from the copper core. Surrounding this 'sandwich' of copper core, phosphor, and fine copper wire is a clear PVC sleeve. Finally, surrounding this thin, clear PVC sleeve is another clear, colored translucent, or fluorescent PVC sleeve.
An electric potential of approximately 90 - 120 volts at about 1000 Hz is applied between the copper core wire and the fine wire that surrounds the phosphor coated copper core. The wire can be modelled as a coaxial capacitor with about 1 nF of capacitance per foot, and the rapid charging and discharging of this capacitor excites the phosphor to emit light. The colors of light that can be produced efficiently by phosphors are limited, so many types of wire use an additional fluorescent organic dye in the clear PVC sleeve to produce the final result. These organic dyes produce colors like red and purple when excited by the blue-green light of the core.
Thanks to Wikipedia and Electronics Warehouse for information.
(Picture credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EL_wire )