Materials List: Glowing Pokémon Go Patches with EL Panels

Each group needs:

  • EL (electroluminescent) panel, white, 10 x 10 cm (~3.9 x 3.9-inches), for $15 from SparkFun; this is a flexible plastic sheet with a phosphor layer that lights up with a neon-like glow when the correct amount of voltage is applied
  • iron-on fabric patch, 5 x 5-inch piece (needn’t be bigger than EL panel size); needs to be thick enough to block the light from the EL panels, such as denim or twill patches from a fabric store; alternatively, create your own using an iron-on adhesive with your own fabric, such as by using Heat’n Bond Ultra Hold iron-on adhesive (17 x 12 inches) for $3 from JoAnn Fabrics
  • clothing or bag—something to put the patch on that will be worn at night, such as a hoodie, jacket, backpack, bag or hat; make sure it has enough area for the patch and can be ironed without melting; items made of leather, waterproof fabrics and nylon are not recommended; ask students to bring items from home in advance or buy inexpensive items at second-hand stores
  • 4-6 pieces of heat shrink, each ~1 inch, such as from the $8 heat shrink kit from SparkFun
  • EL (electroluminescent) inverter battery pack, for $5 from SparkFun
  • (2) 1.5V AA alkaline batteries, such as the 1500 mAh alkaline AA battery for 50¢ from SparkFun

To share with the entire class:

  • craft knives, 4-5 per class of 30
  • (optional) binder clips, paperclips or clothespins, to secure the paper design onto the fabric for cutting
  • (optional) a piece of cardboard the size of the fabric patch, to protect the tabletop when cutting with a craft knife
  • (optional) sharp/strong scissors, to help cut the stencil and/or cut the EL panel (if necessary) 
  • lighting gel or colored plastic, in assorted colors such as a set of 8 for $12 from Amazon, to add color to stencil designs; alternatively, provide thin colored fabric or felt that can handle the heat from an iron
  • (optional; if using laser cutter) scrap cardboard and clear tape, for securing and easy removal of the patch fabric in a laser cutter
  • electrical tape
  • (optional) a way to insulate newly soldered exposed wire connections and/or to seal exposed edges if EL panels are cut, such as by coating in epoxy, hot glue or electrical tape
  • iron; a small, wand-style craft iron or mini iron works best because it can get into detailed areas of the fabric’s cutout design without directly touching the EL panel, such as the Clover Mini Iron for ~$23 from Amazon; using the hot pointed tip of a “regular” clothing iron also works
  • ribbon cable, cut into 1-foot pieces, such as 15 feet of 6-wire ribbon cable for $3 from SparkFun
  • sewing supplies, such as scissors, needles, thread
  • (optional) sewing machine
  • soldering iron and solder
  • safety glasses, for when soldering
  • wire cutters
  • wire strippers
  • paper and pencil, to draw stencil designs
  • (optional) computers with Internet access, to find existing public domain vector line drawings of logos and images to print out (otherwise, students draw their own designs)
  • (optional) heat gun, for use with heat shrink
  • (optional) cutting machine, such as Silhouette or Cricut personal cutting machines or laser cutters
  • (optional) graphics/drawing software such as Adobe Illustrator®, CorelDraw® or (free and open source) Inkscape (a vector graphics editor) to trace an image and export for cutting machine use
  • (optional) glue, if the iron-on patches need some extra adhesive
https://www.teachengineering.org/activities/view/spfun-2176-glowing-pokemon-go-patches-el-panels-circuit