Neon Kicks - EL Wire Shoes




Introduction: Neon Kicks - EL Wire Shoes

I bought some super sweet shoes in Tokyo earlier this year. Very cool shoes. But I found myself wondering how much cooler could these shoes be?

Step 1: Parts and Tools

What you decide to attach your EL wire to will ultimately dictate what tools and materials you will need. That said, the three main items in an EL wire project are the EL wire, the inverter, and the battery. The EL wire is a phosphor coated wire that illuminates when an AC voltage is attached to it. The inverter converts a DC voltage into the required AC voltage. The battery provides the DC voltage.

These all need to be matched. For instance, I needed 50cm of EL wire for each shoe and the inverter I used needed to be able to work with this length. If the inverter is not powerful enough, the wire will be dim. Too powerful and it will damage the wire. Where you get your inverter from should be able to tell you the lengths it is rated for. The battery also needs to be the right voltage for the inverter.

Bits and Pieces:
   - Battery Charger (for charging the batteries if using LiPO batteries)
   - Fishing Line
   - Sticky-Back Velcro
   - Inverter (converts the low DC voltage from the battery to high AC voltage for the EL wire)
   - LiPO Battery or CR2023 CMOS battery (
   - Extra Wire
   - Connectors
   - Heat Shrink Tubes
   - EL Wire
   - Solder
   - Wide Elastic (not pictured)

   - Soldering Iron
   - Needle
   - Dremel
   - Scissors, Screw Drivers, Pliers etc 

Step 2: Prepare EL Wire

I used this guide for soldering the connectors onto the EL wire:

The image shows the end product.

Step 3: Attach EL Wire

Make the hole to thread the EL wire through. I started with a needle and built up to a screwdriver to make the hole big enough. Then thread the EL wire through.

Next, stitch the EL wire to the shoe with fishing line. I found I only needed to stitch it in a few places; the stiffness of the wire helped it keep its shape.

Step 4: Modify Inverter

The inverter I chose uses a regular cmos battery, but I wanted to be able to charge the battery so I used a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. If you are concerned with the perceived dangers of LiPO batteries, then I suggest you do not do these modifications and use whatever battery is specified for your inverter (in this case, a CR2023).  

To connect the LiPo battery to the inverter, I took it apart and soldered wires onto the inverter pcb. So that I could put the battery cover back on the inverter, I cut slots in the inverter case for the wires.

Step 5: Attach Inverter and Battery

I could have hard wired everything together and permanently attached the inverter and battery to the shoe, but I may want to reuse these parts on other projects, so the method I used was based on non-permanence.

To attach the inverter, I used sticky-back velcro. it holds the inverter really firmly and I don't think it will fall off in use. To keep all the wires and battery out of harms way, I made a patch using wide elastic and more sticky-back velcro. The sticky back velcro didn't stick to the elastic very well, so I ended up having to sew it.

Step 6: Dance!

There's only one thing left to do, and that's dance.

That's not me dancing btw (not my strong suit). I made the shoes, and Reh made the moves.



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    25 Discussions

    Great Instructable. This information will really help me with my project :)

    Tell "Reh" to put an instructable onnhow to dance! I'm Serious!

    Ya srsly!
    I like these a lot. Im not even a stylish dude but I'd order these if they were $35. What is that about 200Million Yen?


    Dude, I wanna ask something about the li-po battery.
    Isnt that dangerous ? I mean they can easily burst and burn in your shoe. Since 40 degree means "danger" for em... If you wear that shoe for a whole day, you probably lose one of your feet.

    4 replies

    nah dude, not dangerous. the lipos i used are rated to 60 degrees C and it won't get anywhere near this hot next to my ankle. The battery itself doesn't get hot in use either. I've worn these shoes for a full day and had no hint of a problem with heat. I think the dangers with lipos comes about when they're improperly charged. Make sure you use a charger intended specifically for lipo batteries.

    Yea jsut charge them with a LiPo compatible charger...and cahrge them in aLiPo bag...and if it's more then once cell make sure you balance charge them.

    and don't run the battery below 3.3-3.1v per cell or it'll kill the battery...literally you won't be able to charge it after...the voltage per cell at max charge should be 4.2v.

    also be careful if/when you see the LiPo cell can be dangerous...mine have puffed after use..and when they puff i jsut throw them away..(disposed of properly though of course)

    I run LiPos in all my R/C cars....and i've only ever had LiPos puff on me..but still I tkae the precautions...

    also if you don't have a LiPo bag..a Military Ammo box woks just as well...or a terracotta pot...or anything thatwon't catch fire.

    Lol i use lipos in all my RC planes. And they are dangerous. And they can be easily ignited at 40 celcious. Anyway ok, your furneal..

    If your LiPOs are igniting, then something is seriously wrong. Check your charging method and don't use any that are showing signs of puffing.

    To allay any concerns with safety, I have edited the instructable to suggest sticking with the CR2023 CMOS battery that the inverter is spec'd to use. On reflection this actually makes the project a little better in that it would save a step and reduce the amount of parts in the shoe.

    that's an amazing idea man! :D

    but from the inverter inside of the shoe, will that not increase some heat inside?
    just asking $:

    Could you tell me what size of El Wire you used? I'm looking online and I see several different wire sizes.

    2 replies

    I used 2.5mm el wire. The most important dimension of the wire though is length, which needs to be matched to the inverter you use. In my instructable the length of the wire per shoe was 50cm, and the recommended length to match my inverter was 50cm. Happy days! It doesn't need to be exactly the recommended length, but the longer you go over this the dimmer the wire will be. Go too short and you run the risk of burning out the wire.

    One thing for the lipo batteries, well in my country, the usual day temp is around 45 degrees Celsius, and there is a possibility for the battery to heat up, so any other alternatives?

    2 replies

    ouch! 45 is hot! Any battery that gives you around 3.7V will work fine. The little inverters that I used are supposed to be powered by a CR2032, which is a standard lithium battery often used as the CMOS battery in computers. You could definitely use this instead.

    Hahahaha, i know its burning hot , even my pc is hot when i am only writing this!! and for the battery I guess i have an old motherboard somewhere that i could make use of it battery :) Great 'ible

    You should really make a video tutorial!
    Especially the battery part were you change it so it can use a rechargeable battery.
    I know plenty of people that would be interested in a vid like that

    Oh man! This is so cool! I'm going to go and buy some EL wire right now and do this :P thing is, I'm going to find it hard to put holes in my beloved kicks D: Where did you get them in Tokyo? I'm going back there at the end of the year, I need cool shoe shops to know! :P Thanks for the Instructable dude!

    1 reply

    yeah, it took me ages to work up the courage to poke holes in mine! I picked them up from a store in Shibuya (where else!) called "Panty". Despite what the name may suggest, it was not an underwear store, although they did sell some far out threads. Don't ask how to find the store cause I don't remember! Like everything cool in Japan, it was up some alley and then a flight of nondescript stairs. The shoes themselves are a brand called "jump", which is actually a taiwanese company ( If you take the plunge and modify a cool pair of sneakers, I'd love to see 'em.