EL Wire Suit

We learned a lot from our build and feel it is important to give the community access to what we tried and how it worked or failed. Below are questions that I have received followed by video, photos, and some general comments. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about this project.

1) Where did you get your el wire from? i.e. do you have a trusted place you like to order from?

I ordered from ThatsCoolWire.com. Do a google search first for their discount code. We found one online and got 5% off our order. There are a lot of providers online, but this company seemed to be well established and had exactly what we wanted.

2) What controller did you use? I know yours went to the music and I’d like to do the same.

They have a section dedicated to sound activated inverters. We ordered the one that matched the amount of wire we planned on using.

3) Roughly how much el wire did you use? I know the sites say I should measure it out first, and I will; but I’m still curious.

We used roughly 25ft of wire. It went surprisingly quickly, particularly for the detailing on the hat and vest.

4) Lastly, did you have to cut into the clothes much or just basically use fishing wire to trace it around? Did you use black tape, etc. to hide some of the el wire sometimes as the websites suggest?

We didn’t cut or modify the clothes at all. We simply traced the seams. We didn’t use black tape to hide the el wire, instead we either folded it underneath the clothing or cut and soldered it. Because of availability we used white and black thread. If I went back to do this project again I would make the extra effort to use fishing line. The thread isn’t bad, but it is somewhat noticeable.

The build process for these suits was time intensive because of the sewing. Neither Adrian nor I could sew. Because you will be doing so much of it, you will quickly learn. With that being said, the biggest hurdle was the soldering. We used 2.2mm Blue-Green EL wire. Cutting it and isolating the ground wires was tedious and difficult. These ground wires are thin and fragile. We did not follow the exact directions posted on the sellers website, found here, and as a result our suits were delicate. We have since revised our connectors and they have proven to be robust. With our initial connectors the process of getting into the clothes would often break our solder joints or snap the grounding wires. I highly encourage you to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Despite the extra materials and time, it is worth it to avoid headaches down the road.

Another flaw with our design, one that was a result of our deadline and available materials, was using single strand wire. Single strand wire works well for most applications, but is not appropriate when flexibility is needed. This is one of the reasons why our connections broke. We replaced our wire with multi-strand wire and our connectors have been swapped out for smaller profile ones. Don’t worry when you are making your connections to keep track of which wires are ground and which are positive. The inverter is sending electricity both ways, and as a result the wire is blind to what is positive and what is ground.

We swapped out the large connectors seen in the images below with male/female headers. The headers seem to be reliable and I have not noticed any issues with them coming undone. The images also show how we connected to the ground wire, creating a hook. This is shrink-wrapped in place, alleviating tension on the thin ground wires. We then tied a knot to hold the positive and negative wires together. This helped to clean up everything and also distributed the load to the stronger, positive, connection.

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