Sound Reactive EL Panel Dimmer

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

Let me tell you a tale. 8 months and 18 days ago, on March 25, I was sent an email requesting a commissioned piece of electronic clothing similar to my DJ jacket for a musical performer to wear on stage. I mulled it over for a bit, and came up with the idea of a sound-reactive EL panel dimmer. Unlike most cheap `sound reactive` stuff that just bli

Sound Reactive EL Panel Dimmer
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

nks to music, I wanted my dimmer to allow for a more appealing pulsating effect. EL panels are just like EL wire except instead of having a phosphorescent insulating tube wrapped around the inner wire in a coaxial pair, it has a sheet of the same material placed between two conductive sheets. They operate on the same principle: need 100V-ish AC input at EL wires, panels, and other materials don`t seem to be generally well understood by the sources provided to me by the internet. I couldn`t find any good sources explaining how to make a dimmer, so I set out into uncharted water to come up with my own solution. Almost two months after that email, I had created my first sound-reactive EL panel dimmer. While it was probably one of the most educational projects I`ve worked on, it was also the biggest disaster I`ve ever blogged about. The dimmer didn`t work very well. The panel wasn`t getting bright enough. I decided not to mail the dimmer to my client and instead try to figure out how to improve it (note the FAQ where it says that I don`t work well with deadlines). Since then, I`ve been writing a ton of posts detailing my experiments with EL wire: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Well, I think I FINALLY HAVE IT! Okay, it`s not perfect. There were numerous ugly reworks required to make this work, and it still has some room for improvement, but as a proof of concept, it is totally done. I will probably only need one more short blog post after...

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