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Description: 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).

Nate has used EL wire to make amazing interactive costumes; check out his Heartbeat Straitjacket and demo video.

Note: We have fixed the silkscreen error on this board; the FTDI “black” and “green” labels have been fixed.

Features:

  • ATmega 328p running at 8MHz, with Arduino bootloader
  • Eight opto-isolated, zero-crossing EL control channels
  • Headers for XBee and NRF24L01+ for optional wireless control
  • No library needed - control is as easy as turning a LED on and off
  • Integrated 1.5A linear regulator (LM317) to supply regulated DC power to external inverter
  • Linear regulator preset to 3.3V, but can be changed via PTH resistors, or bypassed entirely
  • Can be powered by a 3.7V Lipo battery (using 3V inverter), or an external 3.3V to 16V supply (using 3V or 12V inverter)
  • 5V FTDI BOB or cable required for reprogramming, not included
  • External EL inverter required, not included

Documents:

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Customer Comments

  • Cool design, i’d love to see a version that ditches the atmega/xbee in favor of an esp8266 for wireless and processing.

  • the specs aren’t clear about what’s voltage is provided for the nrf24. Is it 5V? or 3V? (the breakout board supports both) I"d like to use that pin to provide power for a different device. Is there anything stopping me from using it in such a manner?

    Unless of course, i missed another pin that provides when reading the sheet.

  • So if I want to use a 12v inverter I need two different power sources, right? Will the sequencer only work at 3 or 5 volts? Thanks

    • Nope, the Sequencer has an on-board regulator, so you can run both the sequencer and your inverter on 12V. Give the Sequencer 12V at the “batt in” connector. If you put a drop of solder on SJ1 to close it, the input 12V will also pass through to the “DC to inverter” connector for your inverter. Have fun!

  • I have connected to EL wire, 12v EL Inverter to SparkFun EL Sequencer but it does not work (no battery is connected). The connections are the same like in Hookup Guide (https://cdn.sparkfun.com/assets/learn_tutorials/3/6/9/ELSequencerHookUp_bb.png). Furthermore, there is no light indicating that it works but I hear a noise/whistle from the Inverter.

    Do I have to program the EL Sequencer or does it automatically turn the EL wire on?

    • You need to have a power source connected to your board in order to run the board, as well as the 12V power source connected to the inverter. If you want to run the system off one power source, then you should go with the 3V inverter and run the whole system off of the board battery.

      The EL sequencer is preloaded with code to run the EL wire when you receive it.

  • Do y'all have any code for this product to use with chasing EL wire (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12930)?

    I looked around the Sparkfun account on Github, but did not see anything for chasing EL wire.

    • Here is a video of the project we made for our high school that uses this product. The EL sequencer is running the code linked below with the blue chasing EL wire (the plum on the knight’s head).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h0d6na3S3o

    • You can actually use the standard code and play around with the timing of the strands turning on/off to see how the chasing wire will speed up or slow down.

      • Here is a link to the source code for chasing/flowing EL wire, using this sequencer: https://github.com/onebeartoe/electronics/tree/master/el-sequencer/chasing_el_wire

      • Yep. That was the plan, if there is no source code available that demonstrates how to use this with the pigtail (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/12934). Thanks, anyhow! I’ll update if I figure out the sequence to make it look like the EL is chasing.

  • I’d really like to see a ten channel version. Any possibility of bringing one out?

    • We don’t currently have one in the works, but the circuit/schematic could be modified easily enough to create one.

  • This is a really cool idea for a board. Any chance this could be shrunk down? It’s a big board in a world where boards are getting really small.

    Maybe a muti-connector or something smaller that go out to pig tails with JST to the EL Wire to reduce size? Update the 328P to at least a 32u4 to remove other componets. Wireless with 8266 (or replace the full controller with your THING board) or bluetoothLE. Oh, I just noticed it doesn’t have a USB port as well. An FTDI cable is fine but a micro USB would be better.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of this board a lot. If the concept was thought of more in the realm of a wearable sized item it would have so many more uses. The board can only get so small, but with newer microcontoller, wireless, USB, and possibly combo output connector to the EL Wire it might be half the size.

    All just idea’s…

    • It’s definitely worth looking at. However, a lot of the board size comes from the required TRIACs that actually drive the EL channels, and the required PCB space for proper functionality of those. You could certainly go smaller, but you’d likely have to cut out a few channels of EL wire.

      • Hey Toni, thanks for the reply.

        I hear you on the TRIACs…I was guessing that was some of the size. I do howver think the connectors could be off boarded. I’m not sure the correct engineering to make that work but sometype of cable bundle. Maybe the power requirements cause havic with this idea as well?

        What about ditching the controller side all together like your sheild, I think that’s still for sale, but make the board as small as technically possible. Then use a stacking method with your thing board or other smaller sized boards. The arduino headers make things simple but projects get kind of big. I’ve been digging the new set of mini boards out (from SF and others) that stack.

        This is a very cool idea and I’ve not seen many baords that handle EL Wire to sequence. But this would be so much cooler if it was wearable and wifi. If nothing else just update the microconroller and add micro usb. That would make it simpler to use as well. I could see this as a fun MakeyMakey-like board but for EL.

        Again…excellent stuff and these are just ideas.

  • Schematic and Eagle files links are 404 Not Found!

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5

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3 of 5 found this helpful:

Why the tiny JST connectors?

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.


Works well, easy to use, flexible.

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.


Eh, could be better

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.


Does what it says on the tin

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.


Related Tutorials

EL Wire Light-Up Dog Harness

October 30, 2015

Learn how to create a light-up dog harness using EL wire for when you need to take your four-legged friend for a walk in the dark.

EL Sequencer/Escudo Dos Hookup Guide

December 3, 2015

A basic guide to getting started with the SparkFun EL Sequencer.

Heartbeat Straight Jacket

June 4, 2009

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

Sound Reactive EL Wire Costume

December 31, 2015

Learn how to make your EL wire costumes sound reactive in this project tutorial.