EL wire class! Make a glow toy / hat / glove / etc. (19 Jul 2014)

Greetings hackers, I’m going to run a class on electroluminescent wire! Build your own toy, hat, glove, or anything else that you always thought should glow at this EL wire class! Come along and make a UFO with us, or bring your own design and something to attach it to.


Just call it “EL wire” (pronounced “L-wire”). Think of it as flexible, room-temperature neon tube. It can be bent into just about any shape, and is bright enough to see whenever the lights are out. It’s flexible enough that it can be attached to clothing and worn plenty of times without breaking. Lengths up to 5 metres will look bright for around 10 hours running from a pair of AA batteries.

What can you do with it?

So many things! Here’s someone’s shoes:

One Etsy store sells masks:

I’ve made two bigger pieces myself, a hat and a vest:

What will the class cover?

The class will cover the end-to-end process of making something glowy:

  • Making an EL-compatible design
  • Suitable base materials (the stiffer, the easier)
  • Electrical basics (matching inverters to your wire)
  • Soldering power leads to EL wire (this is the hard part)
  • Attaching the wire to your base

What materials are provided?

Everything you need to make an EL-lit UFO:

  • 3m of EL wire
  • Power leads, copper tape, solder, heatshrink and such
  • Battery-powered (2xAA) inverter
  • Plastic bowls, glue, etc.

I have a design in mind already, can I make that?

Sure. You’ll need to keep a couple of things in mind, though:

  • Soldering the power leads takes a while (it’s finicky with the small parts), so you might not be able to finish a complex design during the class.
      - This is fine, of course! Just don’t expect to finish your complicated line-art – or two-metre-wide UFO complete with aliens in the cockpit – in one morning.
  • Stiff or rigid base materials are easier to work with, especially for beginners.
      - Plastic masks work well, as do stiff hats or bike helmets.
      - If you’re planning to attach wire to fabrics, the best attachment will be by sewing. Note: Sewing is not covered by this course.
  • 3 metres of wire may sound like a lot, but once you start making shapes out of it you’ll notice that it’s not as much as it sounds like!

Keep in mind that soldering the power leads takes a while, especially if you haven’t done it before. If it’s complicated, you might only get a bit done. That’s cool too!

Alright, alright, how much will it cost?

The price is $15, which is just enough to cover costs. The tiny amount of profit made will be donated to HSBNE.

I’m totally down for it, where and when are you going to run this?

The class will be held on Sat 19th July 2014 at 10:30AM. We’ll be using the classroom and the soldering station in the green room.

You can RSVP either in this thread, or using the Eventbrite page. Please RSVP sooner rather than later so that I can buy enough inverters and wire for everyone.


I will be there! I assume cash on the day is OK?

Yep, cash on the day is fine.

Hey guys, is there any chance there would still be a couple of spots spare for tomorrow?

Chances are yes, however people who have paid first get priority – those who have paid via Eventbrite are automatically reserved, and whoever turns up with cash first gets the remaining places.

PS: I’ve decided in the future to just pay the piper their fee for ticketing, and keep all the reservations in one place, because I realise this isn’t the most fair solution.