Okay all... so more than a few people have asked for this Instructable. I hope I am able to explain enough. Sadly I didn't completely document the whole process, but here it goes!
Step 1: Electroluminecent Tech
EL for short, comes in many different forms. Sheets, strips, tape, ribbon, even flexible fabric (although I didn't discover this version until after my suit was made.) The version I used was a cuttable form I first saw on a webseries on Revision3 internet TV. I found it on the site: http://electroluminescence-inc.com/
Attached are some photos. The checked pattern around the perimeter alternates the connection points (anode + / cathode -) which allows the sheet to be cut so long as two opposite contacts are connected to the sheet.
Step 2: Shapes and Things
I designed the pattern on a computer after many measurements. I cut them out on paper and layed them on the suit to ensure everything fit right. It probably took 5 tries to get the shapes just right. I was also trying to use as little of the EL material as possible as the sheets are almost $50 for an 8.5" by 11" sheet.
Once I was confident that:
1. the shapes were just right.
2. I had two contacts (+/-) connecting to each shape.
3. I could wire them all together easily in the suit based on the current configuration.
I had my girlfriend cut them out! haha. Seriously, she's good with a blade.
Step 3: Wire It Up!!
This section is missing some images and detail because I was so rushed to finish before Halloween. I will update by middle of March.
First step is too attach all the wires to the EL shapes. I used solder and copper tape, along with binder clips to hold everything together. This step is by far the weakest part of the costume (and why at the end of this instructable I say what I say). After attached the wires I fed them thru small holes in the suit so all the wiring is hidden inside. This made things incredibly difficult, but it is awesome when people don't understand how the suit works because everything is hidden!!
I wired the shapes each in 5 sections, each of which are in a parallel circuit.( Front Right Torso and Legs, Front Left Torso and Legs, Back left torso and legs, Back right torso and legs, head and arms.) It is important to keep everything in parallel as the brightness of the lights depend highly on voltage and current remaining consistent. All the wiring met underneath the 'vanson' text in the back center of the suit. I plan to hide the inverter and power pack for the EL tech in the holder for my disc.
The shapes were then taped to the suit using very clear packing tape. Sounds cheap, but I knew I would be painting the suit and the paint would hide and hold the tape on the suit. Be sure to test the shapes as you work and especially before taping everything into place!
Step 4: Disc Holder
I designed the disc holder using Solidworks and printed it on a rapid prototyping machine. This was quicker and easier for me since I had these resources at my fingertips (the only thing a corporation is good for).
I made two pieces. Attached are pdf drawings of the parts. *Note, if you copy this design it will fit almost perfectly with the Deluxe Toy Disc. I printed the parts and used a dremel to dig out some notches for the 4 nubs on the interior of the ring. Directly underneath these divots I hot glued magnets. I also hot glued matching magnets on the inside of the toy disc.
(Pictures to come)
This made the disc easily removable.
Inside the holder I hid the inverter and battery pack for all the EL sheets.
I screwed the back cover from the inside of the suit, thru the leather and into the back disc holder. Having the back plate on the inside of the suit added stability to the holder.
Step 5: PAINT!
Probably the simplest part of the costume. I removed the disc holder to paint it separately and ensure that all parts are painted evenly.
I covered all the parts of the EL that I wanted to light up. Here is also the chance to fix any mis-alignments since the paint will cover up the edges. I painted the edges of the tape with a plastic coating paint normally used to coat handles of tools, "Plasti Dip". It is flexible yet strong and won't crack upon bending. I used a brush for these parts to make sure the tape was held down.
The rest of the suit is a mixture of a spray version of "Plasti Dip" for the leather parts and matt black paint for the fabric parts.
Finally remove the tape!
Step 6: Re-test...uh Oh...
As always nothing is perfect and some wiring needed to be redone, but eventually it worked!!
Step 7: Epilogue
It was a rough ride and I was rushing all the way until Halloween, but it was fun.
For next year I think I am going to recreate the costume using a more flexible and reliable EL technology.
After a night of partying some of the EL panels stopped lighting up where they were bent multiple times.
Finalist in the
Halloween Epic Costumes Challenge