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EL wire for bike, scooter and skate board Answered

I was looking at some Instructables in regards to EL wire and how to use it on bikes and similar.
Some look quite interesting, while there was one using the high voltage generated and stepped up from a stepper motor.
So it is is either batteries or risking electric shock - not my liking.
I finally got my hands on an old dynamo, output is around 6V and I want to combine it with some EL wire.
My thought is to fully convert the bike to run on the dynamo rather than on battery lights.
For the EL drivers that run on 3V I will use a voltage regulator with no batteries inside the driver.
The front and rear lights should run on rechargeable batteries, but only small ones to provide the juice when stopping at the lights or similar.
I am quite good at getting stuff working they way I want to but no so good in putting all of it into a readable and easy to follow tutorial.
So I was wondering if there is some interest in some old school mods to get some proper light on the bike (or scooter)?
If so I would take some pics on the way and try create something others might be able to follow.
Of course like usual I will stick mostly to recycled parts for the project, except for EL stuff that is.
Might even include some instructions on how to refurbish a stuck dynamo as I had to face this problem too.
Let me know what you think....


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5 years ago

EL wire doesn't seem as bright in real life, at least the battery driven ones I've seen.

Do share though.


Reply 5 years ago

There are different types available.
The standard one comes in three diameters, the bigger, the brighter.
And there is the ultry bright variation...
Biggest problem for most is the simple battery driver.

On Fleaybuy they will sell you up to 5m with driver using 2AA batteries.

In this lenght you only get "good" light for about 2 hours before it does dim.

Maybe I explain a bit further:
EL wire is not like a LED or a flouroscent tube, it is essentially a capacitor with a quite bad series resistance.

Which makes sense checking the Wiki page on how it is made.

To make matters worse these tiny drivers don't work with a fixed frequency, it changes with the length of the wire, often causing audible squeeks during operation.

It also exlains why these drivers tend to burn out if there is no wire connected or the lead had a break.
By using a fixed frequency driver, running at around 2kHz, most problems can be avoided and only the lenght of the wire affects the brightness if the driver can't be adjusted in the output amps.

If a suitable inductor is connected parallel to the EL wire the efficiency goes up quite well but sometimes at the cost of the life span of the EL wire, so one must make sure the voltage does not go over the limit.
When I get the time I will try to put all into an instructable together with some pictures.


Reply 5 years ago

It would be good if you could expound on the EL sheets or EL tape if you have worked with that too. Thanks.


Reply 5 years ago

They are basically the same like the wire, only difference is that they are flat and have one electrode as the bottom layer and the other either as fine wires, as a wire mesh or as a substrate layer.

Still work as a capacitor.

The biggest difference is that without a data sheet it is quite hard to work out the power for anything but a full sheet.

For example those little, flat EL night lights for your wall socket are next to impossible to work with.

You can cut them smaller but getting the off cuts connected to anything is really hard.

But those made to be cut into shape are relatively easy to work with.

One thing people often forget is that the phosphorous material inside does not like moisture, same for copper wires.

I usually use some acrylic paint to co over the free edges and cuts or for EL wire put a closed piece of heat shrink at the end.

Waiting for a new batch of EL wire and have no sheets left to include in an Instructable but will do once I get some.