How to Make a Custom EL Wire Extension Cable

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Contributors: bboyho
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Introduction

In this tutorial, we will make a custom EL Wire extension cable as an alternative to splicing wire.

EL Wire Extension Cable Between EL Wire Sewn in Clothing and an Inverter Placed in a Pocket

This is useful if you need to:

  • extend the cable on the EL wire to an EL Inverter
  • easily disconnect the EL Wire if the inverter is in an enclosure or attached to a separate piece of clothing
  • provide additional flexibility for the cable to move around in wearable projects

Required Materials

To follow along with this project tutorial, you will need the following materials. You may not need everything though depending on what you have. Add it to your cart, read through the guide, and adjust the cart as necessary.

SparkFun Snappable Protoboard

SparkFun Snappable Protoboard

PRT-13268
$7.95
11
JST Jumper 2 Wire Assembly

JST Jumper 2 Wire Assembly

PRT-09914
$0.95
3

Tools

You will need a soldering iron, solder, and general soldering accessories.

Solder Lead Free - 100-gram Spool

Solder Lead Free - 100-gram Spool

TOL-09325
$7.95
7
Weller WLC100 Soldering Station

Weller WLC100 Soldering Station

TOL-14228
$44.95

You Will Also Need

  • Electrical Tape
  • Hot Glue
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors

Suggested Reading

If you aren’t familiar with the following concepts, we recommend checking out these tutorials before continuing.

How to Solder: Through-Hole Soldering

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about through-hole soldering.

Getting Started with Electroluminescent (EL) Wire

This guide will help you get started with electroluminescent (EL) wire, tape, panel, chasing wire, and bendable wire to let your project glow!

How to Work with Jumper Pads and PCB Traces

Handling PCB jumper pads and traces is an essential skill. In this tutorial, you will learn how to cut a PCB trace and add a solder jumper between pads to reroute connections. You will also learn how to repair a trace with the green wire method if a trace is damaged.

Hardware Assembly

First, break off a 2x6 grid of plated through holes from the snappable protoboard.

Snap Off 2x6 Grid Snappable ProtoBoard

Insert the JST connector connected to the jumper wire assembly such that the socket's end is flush with the board. This should be 3x plated through holes into the grid.

Insert JST Connector

Loop the wire around and insert the tinned wires on the opposite end so that they are adjacent to the JST connector's pins. To be consistent, connect the red wire's terminals together. Repeat for the black wire. Leave some room with 4x through holes at the end of the protoboard to reinforce the wire connection and provide some strain relief.

Insert Tinned Wires into Protoboard

Add a solder jumper between the pin and wire for the red wire. Repeat for the black wire. When finished, remove the JST connector from the socket.

Add Solder

Remember, EL wire runs on AC power. It’s important to mention that the AC power coming from the inverter is not enough to hurt or kill you. However, it is enough to give you a good shock so it is a good idea to insulate the connection. Start by wrapping a piece of electrical tape around the middle of the JST connector's socket.

Insulate Connection with EL Tape

Add a drop of hot glue in the middle to secure the piece of tape and connection further. Make sure to not get any hot glue inside the JST connector's socket.

Hot Glue Under Electrical Tape to Reinforce Wire to Board Connection on EL Wire Extension Cable

Finish wrapping the remaining electrical tape around the cable. The electrical tape will become tapered as you move away from the JST connector.

Finished EL Wire Extension Cable

Add the extension cable between the inverter and EL wire. In the image below, the EL Wire extension cable provided easy access to the EL inverter battery pack from a hoodie's pocket.

EL Wire Extension Cable between EL Inverter and EL Wire

Resources and Going Further

Now that you’ve successfully made a custom EL Wire extension cable, it’s time to incorporate it into your own project! Need some inspiration for your next project? Check out some of these related tutorials:

ELastoLite Hookup Guide

Everything you need to setup a circuit using ELastoLite super flexible EL Panels from Oryon Technologies.

EL Sequencer/Escudo Dos Hookup Guide

A basic guide to getting started with the SparkFun EL Sequencer and Escudo Dos to control electroluminescence (EL) wire, panels, and strips.

Heartbeat Straight Jacket

An EL project that displays one person's heartbeat on another person's costume.

Prototype Wearable LED Dance Harness

A project tutorial to add an extra effect for dancers performing a choreographed piece. The harness can be added quickly under a costume.