Vol. 21: Electroluminescent (EL) Wire

Bring glow into your projects by learning how to work this flexible, durable material.

+ Downloads & Extras:

+ Schematic (slight variant)

+ Schematic


This is a simple lightwire driver and strobe circuit based on a 556 dual-timer chip (or two 555s), a TIP120 Darlington transistor, and a small transformer. One potentiometer knob sets the frequency of the driver’s AC, which will change the color of plain aqua lightwire from pale green to blue, and the other knob sets the blink rate of the output. This circuit will power about 10' of wire, but changing the capacitors near the transformer will enable it to drive more. You can also tweak the resistor and capacitor values to change the light’s appearance.


556 timer IC chip (1) or 555 timer IC chips (2)
1:10 step up transformer
TIP120 Darlington transistor
2N222 transistor
Triac, 0.8 amp, 400 volt Digi-Key part #MAC97A6OS-ND, digikey.com
100kΩ potentiometers (2)
Resistors: 0.15 5W, 1k (3),
Capacitors: 1µF (2), 47µF, 1,000µF
9V battery and snap
Breadboard and hookup wire
Segment of EL wire with lead attached

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