ElectroLuminescent Bumper Sticker




About: With 21 Featured Instructables, and Over 1 Million Views, I think I am doing pretty good here, with my wacky ideas!

[Featured in the February 4th Newsletter]

As you folks know by now, I am a Geek (and proud of it)
who has added a computer to my car;
Today I am going to show you how to take EL panel from a tee shirt
and convert it and install on your car as a EL Bumper sticker
and geek out your ride.

I predict that  EL bumper stickers will become popular in a year or two

WOW - Gizmoto featured me!

Now EnGadget!!

I'm being picked up by alot of tech blogs!

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Step 1: The Materials

I was looking thru a geek gear catalog and came upon this tee shirt
(best price $19 with free shipping)  www.bestofferbuy.com/WiFi-Detector-Shirt-Size-XXL-p-26584.html

you also need some double stick tape for fabric (sold at craft shops)
a 12v to 5v USB car adapter and some industrial double stick foam tape
(we ALL have that already!)

12v access in the back of your car (ignition switched power is best)

The design is animated, and shows Wi-Fi signal around the area
the less wi-fi the less bars display, also no wi-fi will turn the tower icon off

Here is a link to the shirt animated

Step 2: Building the Power Supply (part 1)

The unit is powered with three AAA batteries (4.5v) so I am pulling out the battery
compartment and incorporating a 12v to 5v Power converter (any USB power outlet will do)
adding leads to attach to my tail lights (so it lights up only at night)

Here is the case opened up (Picture 2)
I removed the EL power supply (Picture 3)
and snaked the 5v power leads into the battery compartment (picture 4)

Step 3: Building the Power Supply (part 2)

I bought a 12v to 5V converter at a auto parts store ($3.00)
you can use MOST cell phone adapters for this, there pretty much all 5v, but use a VOM meter to check the voltage just to be on the safe side,

Opening up the 12v to  5v converter (picture 1)
using a small Phillips screwdriver, remove the small screws and take apart the

Removing the board (picture 2)
Just gently pull out the board, make sure you don't yank the wires out

Adding longer wires to the board (picture 3)
Solder about 6" of red/black wire, so you have plenty of room to hook
up to the wires in your car

Drilling the case for the 12v leads, and for the LED indicator (picture 4)

attaching the wires to the board (picture 5)

Gluing down the module, and tucking the wires in place (picture 6)

The finished product (pictures 7 and 8)
[Notice the LED]

Step 4: Preparing the EL Display

Taking fabric double stick tape, I put three strips of tape so the whole piece is covered.
this will give a nice even adhesion to the glass, and the tape is clear, so there is no real
degradation of the image to the outside. Plus my car has a bit of a tint in the back window
so it really did a nice job hiding the fact there was anything there.

Step 5: Mounting in the Car

Since this IS high voltage, and I don't know enough yet about waterproofing
I mounted the EL display on my back window, with the power supply / wi-fi sensor
mounted behind the rear panel of my hatchback

Because everyone's car is different, These pictures may not be helpful,
But I posted a few anyway

The unit mounted to the Glass, and the High voltage wire, mounted to the frame [Picture 2]
Another picture of  the EL Display [Picture 3]
The Power unit mounted in the door [Picture 4]
(I may have to relocate it, or add a antenna to get a better wi-fi reception)

Step 6: The Finished Product

It's amazing how lame the Apple sticker now looks,
My next project, I will make a EL apple logo! (DONE!)

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    89 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 6

    This is really cool. Maybe I'll leave my T-Mobile hotspot always on, put a sticker above it that says Free WI-FI and let anyone connect who happens to drive next to me :-)

    These panels are sold at http://www.LightupDecal.com for $12 no need to buy the shirt and the try to get the panel out.

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 6

     You, sir, are an inspiration.  I'm blatantly ripping off your idea, but the vehicle I'm installing in is a Toyota Tacoma.  My shirt is in transit from ThinkGeek, my soldering iron is at the ready, and I'll steal some fabric tape from the wife.  I'll have the nerdiest truck in Maine, that's for sure :)

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

     Will do.  Quick question, though - does/did your t-shirt power supply (pre-hardwire, mind you) emit a high-pitched tone?  Mine does, and it seems to change pitch with the strength of the signal displayed.  Odd...I shouldn't hear it in the car, but still.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    yea, it does have a high pitched tone, if its in the back of the car the ambient road noise hides it.

    it's annoying for about 5 minutes, then it blends in with the other noises.
    (just like me!)



    9 years ago on Step 5

    Im curious as to how one would go about learning how to wire it like you did but for my car. I have a GMC 2010 Terrain. Are there wiring information one can find online or do you need to just go in there and check it out for yourself?


    9 years ago on Step 6

    very nice!! i ll try it in my mitsubishi L200


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I have a stupid question, does it actually work to producing efficient enough wifi? if so does it work while driving or running the engine/accessory power?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    why-fry destroys your geeky brains, don't you know that?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the instructions! I made a few changes for my situtation. First I used 3 half inch double sized tape squares. I put the decal on the window behind the driver seat. This way the cord reaches the cigratte ligter port on the dash board. I use an 5v a/c adapter that plugs right into the power supply box that came with the decal. The a/c adapter is plugged into a power inverter that is plugged into the power supply. I then bought a DLink access point that plugs into the USB port of my laptop for power. The access point broadcasts a WIFI signal that keeps the decal alive. I park my car in front of my local Mcdonalds (that does not have a hot spot or any nearby). I also have an empty computer monitor mounted on the back of my car with the guts removed and a "Computer Repairs" sign where the screen was. That gets a lot of attention and with the decal animated at night, even more. Especially between 7 and 9 pm when people are using the Redbox to return their DVDs! On the inside deck behind the rear window (to the left of the monitor), I have an red LED sign that scrolls a "Computer Repairs" and my phone number too!


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I'm from Ireland so this might blow some people minds....but just a quick question, does this wire into your lights or did you wire it back to the usb power adapter?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    it's wired into my lights.. and no that doesn't blow any minds
    (or fuses)




    9 years ago on Step 3

    The guy at my local auto parts placed looked at my head askew when I asked for a 12v to 5v converter. I'm guessing yours had some other purpose in life.  Was it built for some other purpose in life?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    Poor auto guys, they don't have two brain cells to rub together.

    ANY Cell phone charger will do, the cheaper the better
    a 12V "USB" plug will also do