[fool]’s entry in the Hackaday Prize competition is a modular and configurable lighting system the purpose of which is to assist seniors and others with limited mobility navigate safely at home. For [fool], this means the quiet steady hum of electroluminescent panels and wire. EL stuff is notoriously tricky to power, as it only operates on AC. The MoonLITE project is the answer to the problem of an easy to use EL power supply. The goal is to create a 5 watt, quiet, wearable EL power supply that outputs 100V at 100Hz.
One of the reasons why [fool] is interested in EL materials is that it can also turned into a touch sensor. This has obvious applications in lighting, and especially in assistive technologies. The MoonLITE project is based around [fool]’s Whoa Board that turns EL wires and panels into not only touch-sensitive lights, but also analog switches that can control basically anything. This unique capability of lighting doubling as a sensor offers the opportunity to make light-up EL grab bars for a senior’s bedside, for instance. He or she is going to be touching it anyway when getting up—why not add light as well as stability?
This is an especially cool project that brings something to the table we don’t really see much of. You can check out a video of the project below, complete with example of EL panels being used as buttons.
Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: Touch Sensitive Power Supplies For EL Panels”
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.
Continue reading “Forge Your Own Neon Signs With EL Wire”
If you thought glowy wearables have had their time, guess again! After a few years designing on the side, [Josh] and [his dad] have created a nifty feature for EL wire: they’ve made it touch sensitive. But, of course, rather than simply show it off to the world, they’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to put touch-sensitive El Wire in the hands of any fashion-inspired electronics enthusiast.
El Wire (and tape) are composed of two conducting wires separated by a phosphor layer. (Starting to sound like a capacitor?) While the details are, alas, closed for now, the interface is Arduino compatible, making it wide open to a general audience of enthusiasts without needing years of muscled programming experience. The unit itself, dubbed the Whoaboard, contains the EL Wire drivers for four channels at about 10ft of wire length.
El Wire has always been a crowd favorite around these parts (especially in Russia). We love that [Josh’s] Whoaboard takes a conventional material that might already be lying around your shelves and transforms it into a fresh new interface. With touch-sensitivity, we can’t wait to see the community start rolling out everything from costumes to glowy alien cockpits.
Have a look at [Josh’s] creation after the break!
Continue reading “EL Wire Gets Some Touching After Effects”
Our favorite Russian mad scientists, [Kreosan], have shocked us yet again with another terribly ill-advised, super bad idea. Home made EL wire that runs off of mains voltage.
From the picture it looks a lot like EL wire, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually just a nickel chromium wire hooked up to the main AC supply in their…. uh, testing house? Doesn’t look like they live there, so we have to wonder why it still has power. Anyway, yeah, they made a restive load using the wire, and connected it directly to the panel. So besides the fire hazard, you could also get electrocuted!
For house decorations it’s a great way to warm the place up, and it might even help start a fire if you’re lucky!
Continue reading “DIY Electroluminescent Wire, Russian Style”
[Bob] and [Aubrey] run the System Source Computer Museum a little north of Baltimore, Maryland. For an exhibit, they thought a visual representation of digital logic and came up with a two-bit binary adder. Yes, it’s just a full adder and exactly what you would find somewhere in the second or third chapter of any digital logic textbook. The way they’re illustrating how a full adder works is the killer feature here: they’re using EL wire for all of the wires connecting the gates.
The full adder is implemented with an Arduino Mega, but the interface is the real show here. On the left side of the display there are four illuminated toggle switches that show virtual electrons flowing through EL wires, through gates and finally out to a seven-segment display. The EL wires are controlled with an EL Escudo Dos shield – a good thing, since there are a lot of lines between switches, gates, and outputs.
You can check out [Aubrey]’s demo video that also shows off how they built it below. If you’re around Baltimore, you can check out the display at the museum.
Continue reading “Visualizing Digital Logic With EL Wire”
Elecrolumiscent displays have seen a huge swing in popularity recently, but only in limited forms like EL wire or flat EL panels. You can, of course, cut and bend these wires and panels to suit any purpose, but custom shaped EL displays are just the bee’s knees. They’re not hard to fabricate, either: with cheap custom PCBs, all it takes to make custom EL panels is just a few chemicals.
[Nick]’s method of fabricating custom EL displays uses an exposed copper layer on a PCB you’d pick up from OSHpark or any of the random board houses in China. The process consists of designing a display – be it a few letters, pixels, or a seven-segment arrangement. The display ‘stack’ is a layer of painted-on dialectric, a phospor, and finally a translucent conductive ink that connects the display segments to ground. It looks like an extremely easy process, and from the pictures it looks like [Nick] is making some EL displays of reasonable quality.
[Nick]’s work was inspired by the grand poobah of homebrew electrolumiscent displays, [Jeri Ellsworth], who managed to make a similar EL pixel on a PCB. [Nick]’s display looks great, though, and with a little work some custom segment displays should be very possible.
In the past we featured many projects that were used at [Bill] and [Mara]’s wedding. However we forgot the most important thing: their electronically enhanced clothes.
As you can see from the picture above, the wife opted for LEDs while the husband preferred Electro Luminescent (EL) wires/panels. The ATtiny based platform LilyTiny was picked to control all the LEDs, and charlieplexing was implemented as only 4 IO pins were available. Animations were made using Vixen and exported via a python script.
To power the EL wires, [Bill] hacked a Sparkfun EL battery pack/inverter. He removed the shell and took out the inverter part, reverse engineered the design enough to figure out how to bypass the onboard microcontroller that generated the on/off/blink function. Finally, he 3D printed enclosures to pack the electronics with one Li-Ion battery pack. A boost regulator was used to supply the 12v required by the EL panel power supply.
Don’t forget to also check out their centerpieces and wedding invitations that we previously featured.