How to Make an EL Wire Hula Hoop

I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, s...

Intro: How to Make an EL Wire Hula Hoop

I've been wanting to make something with EL wire for a long time and I've wanted some sort of glowing hoop for a while so this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do both!

Step 1: Collect Materials

Finding the materials for this project was quite a hunt. To power EL wire, or electro luminescent wire you need a driver. There are some small drivers out there, but I needed to find one that could power enough feet of wire and be small enough to fit inside a tube with a 1 inch outer diameter.

-a length of polyethylene irrigation tubing with an outer diameter of 1 inch for the hoop. I think I used about 9 feet. I use PSI 100 weight
-a connector for the tube
-heat gun
-heat shrink tubing
-soldering iron and solder
-scissors
-electrical tape
-wire
-switch
-black gaffer tape
-hand held power drill
-pliers
-bubble wrap
-wire cutters and wire strippers
-RC-2KN 12 Volt 2000hz driver for 3-15' of wire (It searched everywhere to find the smallest, most powerful driver I could find and I found the one I used here)
-8 single AA battery holders and batteries
-2 15 foot lengths of EL wire. If you make a bigger or smaller hoop you might need less or more. It comes in different thicknesses, I think mine was just general purpose. Don't get too thin or delicate wire, or it will break when you use it.

A voltmeter was also very helpful for this project

Step 2: Cutting Tube and Soldering the El Wire and Battery Cases


Cut the tubing for your hoop and use the heat gun to heat one of the ends so you can out the connector in one side.  Don't close the hoop yet though!
There are other really good instructables about how to solder EL wire so I won't go over that here but it can be found here:  https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Solder-EL-Electroluminescent-Wire/
I wanted to distribute the weight of 8 AA batteries around the hoop to the circuit is literally a circle.  Solder the EL wire to the driver and solder the 8 battery holders together in series with enough wire in between each one so that they will be about evenly spaced around the hoop.  Don't solder the driver to complete the circuit yet!  Make sure your circuit is working either with a voltmeter or by using the driver with the EL wire to close the circuit.   A voltmeter is way easier.

Step 3: Drill Holes for the EL Wire


Since all of your circuit will be inside the tube of the hoop, you need to drill holes to thread the EL wire to the outside so you can later wrap it around the hoop.  Using a hand held drill, make two holes big enough for the EL wire to fit through (but not too big!) on the inside of the hoop about 1 inch apart.  Drill on the side of the hoop with the connector already in, but make sure you don't drill through the connector.
Thread a stiff wire through the hole from the outside of the hoop to the opening and tape the wire to the tip of the EL wire and pull it through the hole so the EL wire is on the outside of the hoop and the driver is on the inside.  Repeat or the other wire.

Step 4: Put the Circuit Inside the Hoop!


This part took me a few tries to get right, but be patient.  I used electrical tape to tape the batteries into the holders, just to be safe, but they seemed pretty secure.  Use a long, larger gauge wire threaded through the tube to pull the circuit into the hoop.  As you pull it though, wrap the circuit in bubble wrap to keep it from rattling around inside the tubing.
Make sure your soldered connection points are VERY secure before this step.  I had to redo this part three times because my connections kept breaking or coming loose.

Step 5: Attach EL Wire, Driver and Switch


Once you have the circuit threaded through the tube, solder the driver leads to complete the circuit.  Make sure you are connecting positive to positive and ground to ground (I always make positive red and ground black, just to be sure).  This should be obvious since when you have the correct wires soldered together, your wire will be glowing.
It was important for me to make an easy way to turn the wire on and off without taking the entire hoop apart so I added a switch.
Use the drill to make a hole and file it out to make it big enough for the switch.  Make a hook out of stiff wire and pull the positive wire though.  Some switches are different, but for mine, I cut and striped the two ends and connected one to the middle lead and one to a side lead, making sure they don't touch.  Heat shrink can be helpful here.  Check and make sure your switch it working and then tape it down securely with the black gaffer tape.

Step 6: Close Hoop and Wrap and Seccure Wire


Close the hoop by heating the end of the tube with a heat gun and connecting it with the connector (or do what I did and just have really strong friends).  Tape over the seam.
Decide How you want to wrap your wire.  The possibilities are pretty much up to you.  I opted for a crisscross patterns where the wires wrap in opposite directions and forms Xs on the hoop.  Secure the ends with black gaffer tape and tape every few feet along the inside.  Depending on how tightly you wrap it you may need more or less tape.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Hoop!


Now go have fun!  Because of the batteries, this hoop may be heavier than hoops that you're used to, so be careful and start slow at first.  It's a great workout, lots of fun, and it looks awesome!



EL wire contest

Runner Up in the
EL wire contest

Share

    Recommendations

    • Plastics Contest

      Plastics Contest
    • Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge

      Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge
    • Audio Contest 2018

      Audio Contest 2018

    35 Discussions

    0
    None
    DarkerStitches

    2 years ago

    Sooo, I was wondering how a hoop similar to this would turn out if you just thread the EL wire through transparent tubing that we have these days. Also, maybe changing the battery would be easier with a push button hoop.

    saw come up with a new control system with ipad might be useful for you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8c6u_P4lUM

    0
    None
    element32d

    3 years ago

    How did you fit the driver inside the hoop? The driver would have to be less than 5/8" width right? Does one of those even exist?

    3 replies
    0
    None
    sosaerica18

    6 years ago on Introduction

    i was just wondering though does everything stay intact? like nothing moves around or anything like that? i totally wanna try to make one of these!

    1 reply

    Everything stayed in place pretty well with just some pieces of tape around the inside. However, if you're new to hula hooping or are more rough with your hoops you might need to attach it more securely!

    0
    None
    fermi1137

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great job! I have made a few LED hoops and am thinking about making an el one. Where did you find the driver small enough?
    Thanks

    1 reply

    I got it at http://www.glowire.com/
    They don't have the best website design ever, but they have the largest selection of drivers I have ever seen and good prices.

    0
    None
    Mike Begley

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable!

    I would consider encasing the whole thing in clear heat shrink tubing. That would both help to hold the wire in place and give a bit of protection to the wire.

    How much of a chore is it to change out the batteries?

    1 reply
    0
    None
    jatb28

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great job! Thanks for sharing it with the community :)

    I was thinking about doing one with a shorter length of wire which would take less batteries, maybe 3-4 and AAA's. From your experience, do you think that fewer batteries would make the weighting strange?

    I was also thinking about putting the wire in a clear HDPE or polypro tube (http://www.sacred-flame.com/shop/regular/) with clear bubble wrap. Good idea with the bubble wrap!

    1 reply

    Fewer batteries should be fine, as long as you are able to space them out inside the tubing sort of evenly. That sounds like it will be awesome! You should make an instructable about it!

    0
    None
    savvymercury

    7 years ago on Introduction

    i'm very new to electronics, so forgive me if this comment is a little less than intelligent. what will happen when the batteries in the hoop run out? is there a way to wire in a recharger (i.e. the rechargeable LED hoop?) thanks!

    1 reply

    I didn't have rechargeable batteries when I was putting this together, so unfortunately, when the batteries run out I'll have to open the hoop and replace them. Since the circuit is already put together, I'll just have to pop the old batteries out and put new ones in. If you have some way to just plug the hoop in and recharge it, that would be way easier!