Neon tube signs radiate an irresistible charm, which has been keeping them alive to this day. The vintage, orange glow is hard to substitute with modern means of illumination, but never trust a neon sign that you didn’t forge yourself. [NPoole] shows you how to build remarkably realistic faux neon tube signs from plastic tubing and EL wire.
After sourcing some polycarbonate tubing from a pet shop, where it’s more commonly used in aquariums, [NPoole] simply inserted some orange EL wire into the tubing. He heated one end of the tubing with a heat gun and twisted it off, sealing one end of the tube and welding the EL wire in place. [Npoole] then went on bending his neon tube to shape, repeatedly heating it up with the heat gun, bending it carefully, and blowing into the open end of the tube to prevent kinking of the tube.
He ended up with a neat ¥-shape of which he treated the unwanted parts with a black sharpie and covered the ends with black heatshrink tubes. Once attached to an inverter, the result looked already quite convincing at daylight, but [Npoole] found that at in darkness, the forgery was just too obvious with only the thin EL wire lit. To add some glow, he frosted the inside of the tubing by flushing it with Acetone. The solvent adds a fog to the clear tubing, completing the illusion. [NPoole] suggest you flush the tubing before inserting the EL wire and bending it, but mentions that the annealing may also undo the frosting at the bends. Watch his first attempt on building an EL wire neon sign below: