Declare yourself !!! Show team pride by making and wearing a glowing Pokémon Go badge on your chest (or hat or backpack).
Plus it makes yourself much more visible at night - a good thing for everyone.
The project is super simple, just make an envelope and cut out your team's logo. Then put an EL-panel in the envelope and turn it on. No programming or soldering required - it's all plug and play.
These EL-panels and Inverters seem a little pricey at first, but remember, you can re-use these in a variety of projects - I've made several projects re-using the same EL-panels and Inverter. Per project it's actually pretty cheap. And since the same Inverter works on the wire, strips and panels you might only need to buy one for all your projects. Also, these Inverters have two outlets, so you can power two colors of electroluminescence at the same time.
Step 1: Materials and Methods
Basically you are making a square envelope that has the team logo cut out of the front side. You place a cardboard stiffener in the back of the envelope and a thin connective sheet behind the cutout logo area. Then a square of electroluminescent (EL) material is inserted into the envelope. Attach a lanyard and a battery inverter box and you are ready to go.
Construction Paper - You will need one sheet of paper at least 8.5" x 11". I used thick black construction style paper, but I made the prototypes from regular white paper. The white paper lets the light show through. This could be fine depending on the look you want.
Tissue Paper - You will need a 4.3" x 4.3" (10 cm x 10cm) square of thin paper, like tissue or rice paper or even flexible plastic. This is not completely necessary, but it keeps the cut points and edges in the logo from curling. I used a fancy paper that had subtle gold curlicues to add a little texture. (Do not glue directly to the EL-panel unless you are certain this is your final project with it.)
Cardboard - You will also need a 4.3" x 3.5" (10 cm x 10cm) rectangle of thin cardboard or chipboard like from a cereal box. This rectangle is used to stiffen the back panel so you an attach the inverter without its weight distorting or ripping the envelope. Be sure that the closure tabs can fit past this part before you glue it in.
String/Cord - If you want to wear this as a pendant you will need some string for the lanyard. The Inverter pack has a built-in belt clip, so you can also use that to attach your glowing team-logo device tour belt, neckline, hat or backpack.
Adhesive: - This is a simple, and probably very temporary, paper project. So anything from tape to a glue-stick, white-glue or hot-glue will probably survive for an evening or two. Use whatever adhesive you are comfortable with and have on-hand. Some Velcro might come in handy too.
Cutting Device: I used a Craft-Cutter machine, but an X-acto knife or scissors will work too
Envelope Template - Make your own - or download the picture - or the Silhouette cutting file.
EL-Panel: I used the red one, but Sparkfun has every color you will need. These panels are 10cm x 10cm (about 4x4 inches) and light up with an even glow when power is applied. We make the envelope just slightly bigger (4.3 x 4.3) for convenience and a margin of error.
Battery Inverter: I used the 2xAA version from Sparkfun. These give the EL-panel a bright glow. And these models also have three modes: steady on, slow blink, and fast blink. The inverter converts the DC voltage to the AC voltage that the EL-panels require. They do hum or whine slightly so don't be shocked when you turn them on the first time.
Team Logo Image: Just look online for the image of your choice.
Image Editing Software: or use a pencil and sketch it yourself. I used the Silhouette cutter's free software. It excels at tracing bitmap images and turning them into quality cutting paths.
- You could buy a white color EL-panel and use a color gel to get the appropriate tint for your team.
- Instead of cutting out a shape, you could print on the paper to provide the silhouette and colors.
- You could use thin paper and apply a vinyl decal to the outside.
- Use the "negative" cutout and apply to a thin paper so the logo becomes the silhouette (instead of the background.
- Or just hand draw your team symbol and tape it to the square.
Here is the cutting file for the Silhouette craft-cutter:
Step 2: Assembly
- Cut out the team logo and the envelope template
- Cut the square of vellum or tissue
- Cut the rectangle of cardboard
- Pre-bend and crease the envelope
- Attach the cardboard stiffener to the inside of the back panel with adhesive
- Attach the tissue square to the inside front (logo side) with adhesive
- Fold the back panel onto the front panel so that the cardboard and tissue are touching
- (Optional: Attach the string at the inside crease of the side tabs)
- Fold both side tabs over the back panel and adhere them to the back panel
- Insert the EL-panel into the envelope with wires extending from the open (top) edge
- Fold the two top tabs over the back panel and insert them into the slots on the back panel
- Adhere the two top tabs to back panel (if desired)
- Insert batteries into the Inverter pack
- Attach Inverter pack to back of envelope. Orientation depends on how it will be used. Velcro makes a good temporary attachment
- If using as a pendant, you could put a loop of string throught the "belt-clip" on the Invereter
- Plug the wires from the EL-panel into the Inverter
- Turn the inverter on, click once more for slow blink, a third click makes it blink quickly
- Go hunting with your new, wearable, glowing team logo.
You might notice that the example photos use white paper and show a slightly different shape than the provided Silhouette cutting file. The changes to the envelope template provide and improved fit and easier assembly. I used white paper in the example because it is easier to photograph.
Tips and Tricks
Use a straightedge to get clean bends - or - score the fold lines to make them easier to bend. I left the score lines in the attached Silhouette cutting file. They are set to "non-cutting" so they will not be used when cutting out the basic shape. How to Score with a Craft Cutter provides instructions on how to mix cuts and scores in the same file. Bend the scored line so the "crack" is on the outside.
You could also adhere the string to the envelope itself, cut two holes in the corner of the envelope - or - fold the side tabs over the ends for an even stronger build.
Do NOT glue the paper directly to the EL-panel unless you are absolutely, 100% certain that this is the last time you will ever use it in a project. I have used this same panel in numerous projects, so I never glue it to anything.
Since this battery Inverter has two outputs, you could also add some EL-wire to your project (say as a belt or attached to a string. A second EL-wire can also improve your 360 visibility at night.
Attaching the battery Inverter is probably the trickiest part of the build. The switch and battery access is on one side, and the belt clip is on the opposite side. You can click the button "through" the flexible EL-panel though, so I mounted the Inverter with the button facing onto the back of the badge. I also used Velcro because hot-glue kept breaking loose and E6000 is too permanent. Also, with Velcro I can detach all the components easily and re-purpose them in other projects. You could also tape the box to the badge.
Use paper creatively. I like the way the light shines through the white paper at night, but I like the look of the black paper during daylight (The white looks cheap.) The design on the vellum tissue adds a nice look to the lit portion. So if you have some nice translucent papers then I encourage you experiment and to come up with your own designs.
This assembly can also be worn under clothing, on a hat, clipped to a belt, or on a backpack or purse.
Step 3: Using the Badge
Now clip the badge to your shirt or belt or backpack (or hang it around your neck) and go hunting.
The battery box has three settings:
- Always on
- Slow Blink
- Fast Blink
Select the mode by clicking the button to cycle through them.
You can even use the different modes as a secret signal between team members or to declare your rank.
Now get out there and have some fun!!!