Introduction: Retro Faux Neon - Valentine Signage

About: Seafarer by profession, When in land I do projects for fun, always curious to learn!

This is a project I made for special someone's desktop using EL wires and 3 animating movements to bring a nice retro feel, we love neon and here's a preview of what it'd look like!


  • Arduino Mega or Uno
  • El Escudo Dos from Spark Fun
  • EL Wire
  • Push Button
  • Wires
  • Male and Female DC Connectors
  • Basic tools for cutting and striping
  • Heat shrink tube
  • Soldering Iron and Tools
  • Wires
  • Wood Plank
  • Table saw
  • Plane
  • Superglue
  • White glue
  • Some nails
  • Wood stain - Optional
  • Linseed Oil

Step 1: Preparing the Box

Had this 12mm thick plank of wood gathering dust, so thought of turning it into a enclosure for the project.

Planed the wood to 10mm and sawed to size from the blueprint.

I wanted the sides to be in red so applied wood stain to the 4 small parts alone.

A coat of Linseed oil to bring out the grains of the wood.

Made an Heart template using a piece of foam board. using that drew concentric hearts.

Using a micro drill made holes for routing the EL wires from inside the box.

Now time to prepare the EL wires.

Step 2: Preparing the EL Wire

First thing would be to measure the length of EL wire required.

Traced the hearts approximately and considering little extra for the wood width and soldering, the EL wire was cut.

Did the same for all heart sized.

Soldering EL wires can be tricky but this is the best part I love to do.

Carefully strip the EL wire's outer sheath there will be another sheath which needs to be removed carefully.

We'll have two silver wires and a phosphor coated core wire.

Twist the silver wires together and solder them with a wire.

Scrap off the phosphor coating and solder it to another wire.

Using masking tape placed the EL wires, and some superglue to hold them in position forever.

Step 3: Preparing the Electronics

The circuit is straight forward, EL Escudo Dos sits on top of Arduino Mega.

EL Escudo dos ports A,B,C,D,E is used and will be controlled by the Arduino pins 2,3,4,5,6 respectively.

One thing I hacked was the EL driver, the one that uses a battery. Instead of the battery I took apart the EL Driver and hooked it to the power supply from the EL escudo dos shield.

A push button soldered with jumper wires connects to the interrupt pin 18 on the Arduino Mega, this is used to toggle the modes or switch off the device.

Soldered the male and female DC connectors, this acts as an extension outside the box.

Step 4: Animation and Code

The animation i want was to be very simple,

  1. Growing hearts
  2. Shrinking hearts
  3. Random flickers

With a couple of "for" loops and tweaks with the delay timing it was perfect finally!


Step 5: Assembly

Placed everything on the front part and secured them using a double side tape.

Closing the box was complicated since I lacked larger clamps, so had to use a few nails to hold them in place.

Step 6: Finishing Up

I slightly grind the side rear side so that the button and DC socket could come out. and its Show Time!

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