Made a glowing rope dart with EL-Wire! A rope dart is one of those spinning-arts props where there's a ball-weight on one end and a long trailing rope. Usually the ball is either glowing or on fire, so the light trail adds extra art to the performance.
A less common way to do it (the way I did it), was light up the rope itself. You still get interesting light trails, but the focal point is on the flow of the rope.
|Zach being badass and testing out the new toy|
|Kris being badass and testing out the new toy|
None of these photos are of me, by the way. I don't know how to spin things, but my friends are really cool and their hobbies prompt interesting presents.
EL wire has a phosphor layer that glows under AC current and really high voltage. Unlike LEDs, this mechanism produces a continuous strand of light and in general can handle tighter bends.
Unfortunately, the physics of EL-wire force the inverters to resonate in audible frequency. So when this stuff is lit, there's an accompanying horrible high-pitch whine. In this project, the whine is made slightly better by stuffing the inverter into a box and into a pocket... but you can still hear it 10+ feet away.
|Exceedingly minimal EE required|
The electronics box was also really simple - inverter, switch, battery pack. It uses AA batteries so it can safely ignore recharging and be forgotten about, which I decided was worth sacrificing weight and form factor. The removable battery pack fits in the bottom half of a 3D-printed snap-fit box, and the inverter and on/off switch were hotglued into the top.
|Got the snap-fit on the second try!|
EL-wire isn't meant to take much load, so the structural rope consists of 1/4" non-chafing braided cotton line. The wire was woven through, and attaches to a connector on the box. The structural rope also feeds into a box and is constrained by a knot.
It ended up being surprisingly bright! The rope itself is also slightly heavier and has more friction than normal, but not too bad.
More photos of playtesting: