[Jonathan Thomson] was ruminating on EL wire displays and decided that most he has seen are boring, static fixtures or installations that simply flash EL wire on and off at a fixed rate. He thought that EL wire has far more potential than that, and set off to build something more exciting. Using a graphic equalizer T-shirt, with which we’re sure you are familiar, he put together a slick, sound-reactive EL wire display.
He started off by removing the EL panel and inverter from the aforementioned T-shirt, separating the display into two pieces. He set aside the panel and focused on wiring up the inverter’s ribbon cable to a set of EL wire strands he picked up for the project. Once he had everything hooked up, he put a design together on a cardboard box, which he intended to use for wrapping Christmas presents. With the holiday behind him, [Jonathan] broke down his original display and constructed another to offer up some fun birthday wishes.
While the EL inverter was originally built to display sounds detected by an onboard mic, [Jonathan] added a 3.5” stereo jack to his so that he can feed audio directly into the display using an MP3 player.
Continue reading to see the EL display in action, and be sure to check out his writeup if you are looking to spice up your gift giving this year.
Continue reading “Sound-reactive EL wire box makes gift giving awesome”
[Ch00f] has decided to ring in the new year with some el wire Kanye glasses. Technically the term for the glasses is either “shutter shades” or “slatted sunglasses”, invented around the 80s by [Alain Mikli] and originally given the nickname “Venetian Sunglasses”. Kanye West evidently got his own retro redesign by the original creator and the rest is history. That is enough Wikipedia for now. [Ch00f] has augmented the original design with six multicolor tracks of EL wire mounted to the shutters of the glasses. The EL wire is fed back through several discrete wires around the wearers ear and to two control boxes. As the video shows, the glasses function as a crude V/U meter based on the audio received by the driver circuit.
Instead of the typical microcontroller [Ch00f] (who has some kind of deep seated issues agaist the Arduino) decided to go full blown analog with the entire design. The audio signal is fed through various Op Amp circuits first amplifying the weak microphone signal then filtering with a low pass filter to focus on the bass frequencies. The filtered bass is then sent to an envelope detector to turn the audio wave into a DC voltage signal. Keeping with the Op Amp design [Ch00f] then uses a resistor ladder and six comparator circuits (with TRIACs on their outputs) to tune the trigger voltage levels of the EL bars. The TRIACs get to deal with the 100 or so volts for the EL strips so that [Ch00f] doesn’t have to party with six EL power supplies in his pocket. For those of you counting at home, that is a total of 13 Op Amps.
The results are fantastic, check the video below to see the glasses in action. Reportedly the circuit does freak out and lock all of the TRIACs in an on state, but a covert flip of the power switch fixes the issue for now. [Ch00f] admits that the project was rather rushed due to the impending new year’s eve party, but now that that is all over with we just need to get [Ch00f] to roll out a stereo version. If you need more [ch00f] we have covered a few of his projects before such as his Icebreaker POV toy hack and a ghetto accelerometer using a reflection sensor.
Thanks for the tips [Daniel] and [Sanchoooo], also via [reddit]. Happy new year!
Continue reading “Sound reactive Kanye glasses!”
[LucidMovement] was looking for some crystal-based artwork and just couldn’t seem to find anything that fit the bill, so he decided to build something himself.
The inspiration for his desk lamp came from something we’re all familiar with, a DNA double-helix. To grow the crystals he built a helix-shaped growing substrate out of nichrome and EL wires, submerging them in a warm alum solution. Once he had a nice set of crystals, he mounted it in an acrylic tube, filling the air space with clear silicone to seal off the display. He then mounted the silicone-filled tube on top of a rotating acrylic stand that he had cut for the project. The stand is made from several sheets of acrylic and contains both the gearing for movement as well as RGB LEDs to light the display from the bottom.
The lamp looks great when sitting idle, but when he powers it on it really shines (no pun intended). [LucidMovement] put a ton of work into the lamp, and offers up all sorts of tips, tricks, and considerations for anyone looking to build their own. Be sure to check out his writeup for plenty more details, and stick around to see a short video of the lamp in action.
Continue reading “How to grow your own EL wire DNA helix lamp”
The folks down at LVL1, the Louisville hackerspace, are throwing a Halloween party. To showcase his building skills, LVL1 member [JAC_101] put together a Halloween diorama featuring the inner workings of Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory.
There’s a bunch of really neat pieces that make this build great. First up is the LVL1 plasma sign. This sign is four circuits pumping a high voltage charge through Xenon flash tubes. Instead of a bright flash, a very Halloweeny Xenon plasma shoots though the tubes. The sign is constructed from four disposable camera flash circuits.
A few flickering-LED torches light Dr. Franenstein’s lair while the monster is a McDonalds happy meal toy wrapped in surgical tape and painted with UV reactive paint.
In the interests of repurposing existing materials, a plasma disc belt buckle was taken from
[Seven of Nine]’s regeneration chamber LVL1’s rave supply cabinet and provides a suitable ‘mad scientist’ aesthetic. A bit of EL wire was thrown in for good measure along with some black lights to activate the UV paint.
While Frankenstein’s lab is missing a hilariously oversize knife switch on the wall, [JAC_101] still pulled off a great build.
[Mykle Hansen] is an avid cyclist, and safety is a big concern for him. He says that bicyclists often receive a lot of honks and grief from passing motorists because they perceive them as moving far slower than they really are. According to [Mykle], this misjudgment can result in “right hook” collisions, which kill several bicyclists each year. To increase his nighttime visibility and to give drivers a better idea of how fast he’s traveling, he constructed a bicycling vest that displays his current speed in large 7-inch tall numbers.
He uses an off-the-shelf speedometer to get his current speed, feeding that data to an Arduino tucked inside his vest. The Arduino then lights the appropriate EL wire digits to relay his speed to motorists behind him.
It seems to work pretty well if the video below is any indication, and there’s no denying that it will catch a driver’s attention at night. If you’re thinking of making one for yourself, check out his Make:Projects page for a complete look at how it was put together.
Continue reading “Light up biking vest shows impatient drivers how fast you are going”
All EL wire drivers use a resonator circuit to supply power to the EL wire. It’s an efficient system, but [Paul] noticed that there was some color change when powering different lengths of wire off of the same driver. He realized that this is because of the changing frequency of the resonator circuit, so the only reasonable thing for [Paul] to do was to build a color fading EL wire driver.
The circuit used to drive the wire is very simple. [Paul] used a Teensy board to switch two transistors and produce AC current. This is sent through a step-up transformer which powers the EL wire. It was necessary to use aqua or ‘Tron blue’ EL wire for this build because of the clear wire jacket. Many colors of EL wire have a fluorescent jacket – much like a fluorescent light bulb – that changes the color produced inside the wire to something different. [Paul] says the color change is subtle, but unique.
Of course the build is nothing without a video of the color changing EL wire. Check it out after the break.
Continue reading “Color changing EL wire”
[Paul] wrote in to share a project he recently helped assemble, a huge rolling light sculpture with a ton of computer-controlled EL wire circuits. The sculpture recently featured as a float at the Starlight Parade held in Portland, Oregon.
Working alongside the folks from Hand Eye Supply, [Paul] helped design and build all 114 of the float’s electronic circuits. Almost 1000 feet of EL wire was used to light the massive float, all of which was controlled by 15 Sparkfun sequencer boards. The boards ran custom firmware he created in order to communicate with the lighting software that was chosen to run the show.
In the end, the float came out quite nicely, but it was not without its problems during the construction phase. [Paul] ran into tons of issues when using Sparkfun’s EL wire sequencers, and has put together a detailed list of corrections he made to the boards in order to get them working properly.
If you are interested in learning more about the project, you can check out this behind-the-scenes look at the float’s construction.