Has anyone tried out EL wire for lighting in their cockpit, specifically to light the instrument panel?
Good article on it a couple months ago but I'm not sure how to use it.
I haven't used it in an aircraft, but I can tell you a little about it. EL comes in many shapes and sizes. I've seen it as wire, rectangular panels, and flat strips of tape in various widths and lengths. You can get EL elements in a rainbow of colors.
It won't run directly from 12V or 24V DC like an LED will (with appropriate resistor). EL requires a special power supply that generates high frequency AC. Current draw is very low. These power supplies are available with 115V AC or low voltage DC input. EL is dimmable, I believe by varying the AC frequency (I could be wrong on that -- I'm working from memory).
Look here for some examples of what's available. More searching might net you more selection or better pricing.
One potential problem you might have is with electrical noise. If the EL power supply isn't properly designed and shielded, you might experience some interference with avionics. I have no evidence to back this up; just a hunch that high freq AC in a low voltage DC environment might have unpleasant side effects. But hey, you're building an experimental plane, right?
Let us know how it works out for you. I'd be very interested in what you come up with!
I plan on using an EL strip for instrument lighting. Here is another source.
Originally Posted by flyingriki
You will need a power converter (available at All Electronics), and probably a dimmer from the same source. It does work.
Thanks guys. Have been reading up on the subject and see it's many uses. Am going to try it out, somehow, to light my panel. Would prefer individual instrument lighting rather than a strip to light everything from the glareshield or the sides. Can't figure out how to do that yet but when I do I'll share the results.
Ideas at this point are:
1. loops around each cutout on the underside of an overlay, could be how the author suggested (without details) in the article.
2. strips around the perimeter of a clear plastic overlay so that the edges of the cutouts glow with illumination. Then paint the top face of the clear overlay.