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Electroluminescient (EL) Cable PC Modding Kit Review

Bosco    -   November 28, 2002
Category: Modding
Price: $27 USD


Introduction

So you just bought your new case with really big windows on top and on the side panel, and you're wondering what to do with it? If interior case lighting isn't your fancy, then you can consider getting some neon glow wires and create some wireframe art for other people to see. What's so special about neon wire is that it can be shaped to just about anything, and the light is visible from any angle, so you can really let your creativity shine.


The packages!

The guys at Xoxide Modifications sent us some EL-Wire to play around with. One of the packages contains a simple "always-on" inverter, while the other one includes a built-in microphone. When the mic detects a "sufficient" level of noise, it will cause your neon wire to light up briefly.

Specifications

  • Input Voltage: 9-14 VDC
  • Input Current (with load): 45-70 mA
  • Output Frequency: 2.72-3.82 KHz
  • Output Voltage: 82-150 Vrms
  • Lifetime of EL Cable:

  • Output Frequency2000Hz4000Hz
    Continual: 6 hours on, 18 hours off4000 hours1600 hours
    Continuous: 24/71000 hours300 hours

    I'm quite concerned here... since the inverter can reach a frequency of about 3800Hz, in the worst case scenario, if I leave my computer (and the EL-Wire) turned on for 24/7 every day, it'll be dead sometime on day 13 of its operation! 6 hours/day is very little time for the computer enthusiast as well. This means that the always-on inverter isn't a really viable option at all, and the user should probably stick with the sound-activated inverter. However, even the sound-activated one has its own set of problems. More on that later.

    Although not stated in the specifications, the wire we received is around 1.5m (60") long, and you can always shorten it if necessary, and the cuttings can be reused.


    The package contents

    This particular package includes the aqua-coloured EL-Wire, an instructions sheet, some adhesive, and the standard inverter itself. The other package is identical, except it includes the sound-activated inverter, which is slightly larger than the regular one shown in this photo. Notice that the inverter does not include a Y-adapter. This means you will have to use up one of your molex plugs to accomodate this product, unless you can supply one yourself.

    Installation

    Not knowing any creative wireframe art, I did the unthinkable: Wrap it around the perimeter of my case window, thinking that it will light up the case! What a dumb idea on my part. However, I honestly couldn't think of another method of getting the wire to show, without the tape getting in the way, but I did take a picture of my results in the dark to show how bright the wire is.


    The wire wrapped around the window


    Another view.


    I thought it would be bright enough to light up my case, but I was mistaken.


    The other side of the window, where the wire is placed

    The wire may not be bright enough to provide light to other objects, but it glows pretty nicely on its own. I'm sure someone who is artistic with EL-Wire can make some really special shapes to it. Or, using the sound-activated inverter, shape your wire into the form of "BOOM" and let it go from there.

    Regarding the sound-activated inverter: Because I have 4 fans running in my system, just the amount of air flowing through my system is enough to trigger the unit, so I ended up turning the microphone sensitivity dial to a very low level. Because the level is so low, only when I turned up my speakers did it trigger the inverter. At a LAN party it would be odd if someone else's shots in a game "triggered your lights" now, wouldn't it? Using headphones pretty much makes it useless, so you'd want to go for the "always-on" option, but with such a short lifespan...

    Conclusion

    The wire itself glows very nicely, and a little creativity can go a long way into shaping it for really nice looks, but if what I'm interpreting is true, the wire won't last for more than half a year at most, and can potentially burn out as quickly as 13 days. If someone knows that I am clearly mistaken on this, please send me an email and enlighten me!

    Pros

  • Neon wire is very bright
  • Can be shaped into any way you like it
  • Cons

  • The lifetime on it is WAAAY to short!
  • Microphone inverter not very useful in a heavy fan environment



    1. EL Wire Review
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