Soldering chasing or flow EL wire

Flow or chasing Electro Luminescent wire is the next thing past basic EL wire because you have a cool flow motion. However the wiring is more complex to repair when it breaks.

 
chasing EL wire
 

I tried to follow this instructable but it is poorly written and did not help much fix it.

To simplify the process I’ll recap what needs to be figured out to repair flow EL wire:

  • One wire is connected to the silver pair of wires outside the EL.
  • Three copper wires are interchangeable inside, and are coated with phosporous surface, unlike regular EL wire which has only one.

To fix flow EL wire, you must identify which lead from the power supply needs to attach to the silver wires. There is one and only one. For my case, it was not the + nor the – lead, but the x lead!

To make sure I had good contact I tinned all the leads with flux prior, making sure I scraped the copper wires.

To identify which lead needs to connect to the outside silver wires I used a process of elimination:

  • solder one wire to the silver wire
  • test all the other wires to see which one lights the EL (make sure the battery pack is on, it will buzz, and it will likely turn off on you while you test).
  • If all the wires work, you found the lead to solder to the silver wire, solder the others.
  • If only one wire works, unsolder the old wire and take that one to solder on the silver lead.
  • Try again and all the leads should light up when you connect them.

Once you’ve ID’ed the common lead, and soldered it, solder each other copper lead to a spare power connector wire.

For a solid bond, I did as follows:

  • shrink tube each solder joint
  • epoxy everything that is close to the soldering area to protect the weak spot, all the way to the EL wire plastic tube.
  • two shrink tubes over all the solder joints and epoxy, to hide it all, and protect it. Also extend it a ways to help the flexing of the wire and reduce flex hot spots that would fail again.

EL wire doesn’t like to flex too often, so it’s likely to fail when sewn on fabric from the strain. However the most frequent failure point is the solder joint from the EL itself to the battery connector.

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