A New Space Iteration

    Lighting Ideas


    Posts : 104
    Join date : 2011-05-31

    Lighting Ideas

    Post  Admin on Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:52 pm

    Talk about lighting props here!


    Posts : 19
    Join date : 2011-06-19

    EL wire

    Post  YardleyCole on Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:35 am

    I wasn't sure whether EL wire is better classified under sprops or lighting, since it is kind of both.

    EL wire demo is a luminescent phosphorous that glows when you put an alternating current into it. It is an all-or-nothing glow, so you can't really do cool effects with different light levels like you can with LEDs. However, you can plug a bunch of separate EL wires into a board that can be programmed to distribute power in sequences to the wires in patterns. You need to have a certain minimum length of wire not to overload the battery, and there's only so much length you can light up before it starts to dim - usually two AA batteries can light up 10 feet of EL wire pretty well for about 10 hours. EL wire only works with alternating current, and batteries only provide direct current, so the power has to go through an inverter before it can be connected to the EL wire. There is a slight audible ring from the inverter if you put your ear up to it, but not something that isn't drowned out by a bit of ambient noise.

    Inside the EL tube are two wires and a glowing filament, and you have to do specific things with the wires and keep them in place with copper tape and it is a bit of a pain in the butt. Fortunately, depending on where you get your EL wire from, they can take care of the hard parts for you.

    I get my EL wire setups from two places - SparkFun and Adafruit. SparkFun sells the wire at about a dollar a foot in a variety of colors, and the best part is they take care of the messy business for you and terminate the EL wire strip with an easy-to-use two-pin end that you just stick two wires from an inverter into.

    However, I didn't really like SparkFun's inverter. I don't see an on-off switch on it, so you can't turn it on and off without messing with the batteries, and they are oddly shaped and meant to be screwed into a surface.

    Adafruit sells EL wire that isn't nicely terminated, but she sells really nice inverters that have two batteries, a clip to keep it on clothing, and a switch that goes from off to blinking fast, blinking slow, and steady glow. The inverter has a certain end connector that you want to pair with a
    female connector to make separating the battery pack from the EL wire even more painless.

    For the crimson suit, I put the SparkFun wire through the holes of the suit, shoved the loose wire ends of the female connector from Adafruit into the connector on the end of the EL wire, and then connected the other end to the Adafruit inverter. The packs sat at my side and the switches were easy to get to.

    Here is a video of my future wife on the right making a Tron laptop bag with EL wire that shows both how useful it is and how much of a pain it can be if you don't get the SparkFun terminated EL wire. The downside is that you pay for shipping from two different places. Adafruit also sells an EL wire starter packthat has all the pieces needed to put EL wire together when it isn't nicely terminated like the SparkFun wire.

    So that's EL wire! With all its components and trouble, it isn't so suited (har har) to small projects, but fantastic for large ones. Total costs for the wire and inverters and such is about two dollars per foot. The crimson suit took 20 feet of EL wire with two inverters.

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