Introduction: Electroluminescent Signs
This is the ultimate guide to build your own Electroluminescent (EL) Sign!!
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Step 1: Draw Your Design
The first step to a glorious, glowing sign is to draw what you want the sign to be.
Be sure to: Draw to scale
Figure out how you want to lace el wire from front to back in order to form letters without visible connections (hide from back of board)
I have drawn my design to scale and the blue dots represent coming out the front of the board, and red dots represent wire going through to the back of the board. I drew on a dry-erase board to easily change my design before I settled for a final draft.
Step 2: Make a Template
Then, draw your design on paper of you did not already. This will be used to trace your design onto your board that will be your sign. Pick the material of your sign - in my case, wood.
Step 3: Cut Grooves for the EL Wire
After you have traced your design onto the wood, use a dremel or chisel and cut out ‘paths’ for your el wire to lay in the wood (or whatever material you may have). Lay the el wire in your grooves to see how deep you need to make them in order for the el wire to lay comfortably.
Step 4: Drill Holes for EL Wire
After the grooves have been cut, use your sketch of hole placement, and drill holes where you need to lace your el wire using a drill and bit. Use a bit slightly bigger than the diameter of your el wire.
Step 5: Decorate Your Sign
After you have your grooves and holes completed, you can paint or decorate your board if you want to. In my case, I painted my board using bright red and tropical blue acrylic paint.
Step 6: Lace EL Wire
After decorating the board, lace el wire as planned. Reference to pictures as needed.
Step 7: Attach EL Wire in Grooves
Then glue el wire into grooves. I found that super glue works the best. Hot glue DOES NOT work, after about an hour, it disconnects from the wire. Gorilla, wood, or craft glue are alternatives, but may not hold as strong.
Step 8: Done With Sign Construction!
At this point, your el wire should be held in place and your sign should be the way you want it to look.
Step 9: Plug in Your EL Wire.
You can then plug your el wire into your battery/inverter and the el wire should begin to glow.
Step 10: Tada!! Done!
Tada!! You’re done! Now you can place your sign wherever you want, adding a cool piece of art wherever you want!
I was very satisfied with the end result of my sign. Just make sure you have enough wire to lace through your sign!!