The SparkFun EL Sequencer is a board that contains an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, and circuitry for controlling up to eight strands of electroluminescent wire. EL wire is flexible plastic cord that glows brightly when high-voltage AC is applied to it. It's available in numerous colors (see the related products below), runs cool, and requires very little current, but can be difficult to work with because of the high-voltage requirements. The EL Sequencer can safely switch high-voltage AC on and off, allowing you to easily create animated displays or whatever else your imagination can come up with.
In addition to this board, you will need an inverter (a component that generates the high-voltage AC needed by EL wire), EL wire/tape/panels, and a 5V FTDI BOB or cable to load your own programs. The board also has headers for XBee and NRF24L01+ radio modules for wireless projects. SparkFun carries two inverters, a 3V-input version that can drive a few feet of EL wire, and a 12V-input version capable of driving dozens of feet of EL wire. Choose the one appropriate to your power source and driving requirements. The EL Sequencer possesses zero-crossing optoisolated triacs for noise-free operation and full isolation between the AC and DC sides, and includes a 1.5A adjustable linear regulator to supply regulated DC to an external inverter (not included).
Note: We have fixed the silkscreen error on this board; the FTDI "black" and "green" labels have been fixed.
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Rookie - The number of pins increases, and you will have to determine polarity of components and some of the components might be a bit trickier or close together. You might need solder wick or flux.
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If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Rookie - You will need a better fundamental understand of what code is, and how it works. You will be using beginner-level software and development tools like Arduino. You will be dealing directly with code, but numerous examples and libraries are available. Sensors or shields will communicate with serial or TTL.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Competent - You will be required to reference a datasheet or schematic to know how to use a component. Your knowledge of a datasheet will only require basic features like power requirements, pinouts, or communications type. Also, you may need a power supply that?s greater than 12V or more than 1A worth of current.
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Based on 9 ratings:
3 of 5 found this helpful:
With a plastic bin of Cool Neon wire, I was hoping to whip together a quick animated Yule wreath with this. I didn't realize from the picture that while these JST connectors are very similar to the ones I find attached to most Cool Neon / EL wire, they are a slightly smaller form factor. It would be really nice if you guys offered a 12 pack of the correct connectors, as a recommended accessory to this board. So, at the moment, this board is sitting on my desk waiting for the right connectors to arrive.
As a follow-up, right after I posted this review I noticed that SparkFun had designed in wondrous pass-thru solder points for each and every connector on the board. I was able to quickly solder in a set of Cool Neon compatible connector cables, giving this board dual functionality with a minimum of effort.
QC isn't great, the board randomly has strands turn on. Inconsistent features (FTDI/Xbee switch) and incomplete documentation. Also limited pins for buttons. Also no insulation. Only reason I use it is because it's the only microcontroller that drives el wire.
Each board is hand tested for functionality on each EL line. The power cycling of the random lines may be code related. The hardware should not behave that way on it's own.
Well it works as expected..
Would be neat if had a barrel Jack for powering it and further more the inverter of a wall-wart.
I bought this to help a friend add flashing EL wire to a costume. This worked out great because it allowed us to have a single board that fit nicely into the costume and provided a wide range of effects. We used FTDI header to program the micro from Arduino and used a couple of the spare analog inputs to control the effects. There are a LOT of features on this board we did not need, but using this was still simpler and cheaper than creating our own out of an Arduino and discrete components. My only complaint is the JST connectors. These are really not the right thing for this application, and they just make the board bigger than necessary. Most EL wire you buy comes with a different style connector anyway, so I would have been happier to have them left off the board. But on the plus side, providing the downloadable STL file made creating a custom enclosure much easier. The mounting holes helped too, but they are VERY close to the header components in a couple places. This made it a little tricky to mount this in a way that would allow easy reprogramming after assembly.
This sequencer is extremely stable. I use this in my work for my clients and I have never had a single issue out of the 11 I have used. Thanks SF
Seriously thought of giving this only 4 stars due to issues with documentation, but the device itself is solid and has done everything i needed it to. the documentation shortcomings were handled by Sparkfun technical support, although that itself has some issues.
i have two of these and have made several projects. One of the projects required two boards, one that triggers the other. Each project required my own custom code and the arduino interface for programming it was very nice. No issues what so ever and the code I needed was not simple (one over 400 lines!)
I bought several crimp connectors and male and female connectors from Digikey (455-1127-1-ND, 455-1165-ND, 455-1704-ND) because I needed to make removing the EL wires easy. (I built my own "8-port junction box" to facilitate that.)
The documentation is lacking, especially dealing with the A0-A7 pins... The connections aren't labeled correctly on the board nor in the documentation. It took several emails back and forth with tech support to get that straight.
All in all though, I'm very pleased with the boards that I have and Sparkfun overall.
You guys did a great job with all the extras. Code sample, instruction for someone new to Ardunio. The only thing that could have made this better would have been to bundle all the stuff! Had to purchase the AC power from someone, didn't know I need a header to program the board it had to get that also, DC power for the board to run and all the connectors in one package would have been awesome.
Thank you for your help at making our Halloween Jacob's Latter a successful project. I could not have pulled if off without your great docs and a nice product.
Edit: The boards I received initially didn't have boot loaders, so they weren't programmable. Sparkfun took care of that issue very nicely. They now flash as before. That said, for a $35 board, why am I soldering my own headers on it to program it serially? I have to believe the target market for this board would be more artsy-fartsy types like myself who probably don't even own an FTDI cable. It's a great board otherwise.
It looks like we had a batch of these go out without bootloaders and given the timing of your order, you almost certainly have boards from that batch. Give our support team a shout and they can get you all fixed up.