Galloping Horse Electroluminescent Display




This instructable was made for the January Build Night with Cool Neon.

Original idea was to make a display with a sense of movement. Trying to find some good inspiration, passed up on neon-animated movie posters, and ended up somehow at Eadward Muybridge's race horse photographs. Those were used to inspire the display, basically being two frames out of this this film.

Required parts:

  • Board to mount the display (cardboard works well)
  • See through sticky tape
  • Arduino (we've used Arduino Leonardo)
  • Cool Neon EL wire, a few of those
  • Cool Neon Arduino Shield
  • Power driver + AAA batteries
  • USB cable (to connect the Arduino) / Computer (Arduino programming)

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Step 1:

Take the original series of photographs, and pick two well distinguishable stages of the horse's run.

According to the image, lay out the horse outline on the board, with the sticky tape holding it down. We started from the tail and finished up at the tail. The line leads then can be hidden under a cut in the board (threading them through to the backside of the board).

Do the second layer similarly, but with an offset and trying to minimize overlapping regions. In those parts the front layer would hide the light of the back layer, resulting in appearant gaps in the outline.

If you want, can add more than two frames, using more electroluminescent wires.

Step 2: Light It Up!

When the wiring is done, use the Cool Neon Shield to power them.

Have a small Arduino program to switch between the two frames:

Each of the layers are turned on in turns, with a suitable delay. 400ms delay seemed to be good speed that the horse doesn't look like "in fast forward", but not too "sleepy" either. The result is shown in the above animated GIF and a video taken.


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    12 Discussions

    Depending on the length of wire, it can use up to 600V (not totally sure, the Cool Neon website is not completely clear about the voltage output of their drivers). That's why we have to use this Arduino shield that steps things up: And it can be run blinking without Arduino, but only in sync, not it this pattern.

    And yes, probably high voltage step-up and 555 circuits can achieve similar goal with more work put into it (we did worked with 555s at last summer's Instructbles build night ) but this time the Cool Neon Build Night that this was a part of required us to use Arduino

    So I agree that it is likely overkill for the project. We had to work within the tools and time limits of the event.

    I found this:

    Electroluminescent wire is this really neat, flexible cord that emits a florescent light. Some times referred to as 'cool neon' because the cord does not heat up. The kicker is that EL wire runs on high voltage AC - about 125V at 425Hz. While EL wire requires very little power, you can't use normal transistors to turn on/off a string of it. The EL Escudo was created to make it easy tointerface EL wire to an Arduino board.

    From what I can tell, the boards use triacs to control the 125 volts AC required. May need more for longer lengths. Triacs act like transistors or SCR's but they can supply AC instead of just DC control.

    Thanks for your project! I'll have to try it out!

    Cool, thanks for the more info!

    We mostly just used the Arduino shield at the moment, so not *totally* sure what's going on inside the wire, just know that it's pretty and this way it's relatively easy to use. Definitely need to dig further down, and make something even cooler :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, that was my first thought too... ppl seem to have no idea about electronics anymore, audrino it seems is the "go to" for everything

    1 reply


    We had to build within the limitation of the "Instructables Build Night" that this build was a part of, and one of the requirement was using Arduino for the builds. The time we had was also limited, and decided to focus on the visual design part of the display instead of the electronics.

    Simple blinking is not the only thing you can build, I think you would find our other project created that night suitably more complex.