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splitbrain.org - electronic brain surgery since 2001

Hacking an EL-wire Inverter

I recently discovered electroluminescent wire or short EL-wire. It's this cool wire that glows when you apply a current. I had the idea to illuminate our Whiskey cabinet (which really is an old ammunition crate) when you open it.

elwire.jpg I bought a meter of orange wire off eBay for about 7 Euro. EL-Wire requires an inverter that converts DC to AC power. My wire came with a simple one that takes two AA batteries.

Unfortunately that EL driver has a push button that switches through three modes when clicked: on, blinking and off. Since I only need on and off controlled by a DPDT switch, I had to figure out how to hack that onto the controller. Turns out it isn't too hard:

  1. Unscrew the one screw at the back and open the controller
  2. Use a screwdriver to gently push the battery contacts out of the plastic to get access to both sides of the PCB
  3. Flip the PCB upside down and desolder the push button
  4. Add wires through the holes and solder them onto the two contacts on the side of the switch that's closer to the battery (A+B)
    • this overrides the three mode behavior controlled by the microchip under the white blob
    • if you want to keep the three mode behavior but just need a longer trigger cable you can also use the original switch solder points (A+C)
  5. Move the new wires back through the switch hole
  6. Optionally apply some hot glue to the transformer in hope of muffling the high pitched noise a bit
    • didn't have much effect for me
  7. Solder your switch to the other end of the new wires
  8. Reassemble everything

Here are the steps as photos again:

Tags:
electronics, elwire
Posted on Monday, April the 9th 2018 (8 months ago).

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