Connecting EL Tape is a very similar concept to connecting EL Wire. There is essentially a positive and negative channel which needs to be connected in order to light up properly. To do so, the following tools are recommended in order to have a quick and painless connection process:
1. Battery Pack (Inverter) - This will help you test the tape to make sure you completed the steps properly and your tape glows when finished.
2. Wire Cutters/Knife/Razor Blade - Basically anything sharp will do.
3. Soldering Iron - This will fuse your connection to the tape for a solid bond.
4. Third Hand Tool - This nifty little tool helps hold all your items in place while you solder. This product is not necessary, but helps a TON.
5. EL Tape (Electroluminescent Tape) - You wouldn't be doing this without it!
6. Heat Shrink Tubing - Colored looks cooler, but black is just fine.
7. Solder - Leaded or unleaded...
8. Crimp Connectors
9. Hot Glue/Hot Glue Gun
At first, this connection process may take between 20-30 minutes, however once you get the hang of it, a new connection can be done in less than 5 minutes.
The information below is all correct, but we have had numerous customers ask, what happens when I want to cut in the middle of the tape, then solder more connectors on to the center? This new video shows how it''s done. The main thing that makes all this easier is a few Crimp Connectors which can be purchased from our store, or also at many big box retailers.
Step 1: Peel back the 3M Tape layer. This will show you different layers that makes the tape operate. The green layer is a semi-non conductive layer which is what you will see as you pull the tape layer back. At the initial connection point, you will notice the scribe line (white line that separates the positive and negative) is split down the middle 50/50. As you start to move into the middle of the tape, the scribe line moves nearly all the way to one end (about 90% to one side), however keep in mind, this is still separating the positive and negative fields. Whether working on the end where there is a 50/50 Split, or in the middle of the tape where there is a 90/10 split, the technique is the same, however if this is the first time trying to connect EL Tape, you may find it easier to start on the 50/50 portion until you get the hang of it.
Step 2: Solder Lead Wire to your Crimp Connectors. First break off two crimp connectors from the strip, or if you have individual connectors, you may want to use the third hand tool. By soldering these lead wires on first, it may make it easier for some. This can also be done after the crimp connectors are attached to the tape. Don''t forget to put some heat shrink tubing on your lead wire before you connect to the tape. This will make your connection point clean later on.
Step 3: Crimp Down! Where you are making your connection, find where the scribe line is on the end of your tape. Place the crimp connectors on each side of the scribe line, making sure NOT to be ON the scribe line. Once strattled on each side of the scribe line, be sure to crimp down with pliers so each connector pierces the laminate. You will notice small pin holes on the opposite side of the laminate. This is completely normal and expected. NOTE: The position of these connectors are VERY important. If these are placed incorrectly, your tape will NOT light up. Please see below for high resolution images of the correct positioning.
Step 4: Test 1. At this point, your connection should be live (although we''re not quite finished). Go ahead and take your battery pack (or inverter) and make sure your newly made connection is working. If it is, you will notice the tape lights up as you would expect! Let''s move on, we''re not done yet.
Step 5: Hot Glue. By using hot glue over the connection point, it ensures that you don''t get shocked by your tape, it also makes your newly made connection extremely strong and waterproof. If you have any metal blocks, shelving units, or any squared off metal pieces, this handy little trick is optional, but highly effective. Take the hot glue and give a healthy portion on both sides of the tape, surrounding the connection area. Then compress hot glue with the metal blocks for a few seconds. What this does is super cools the hot glue allowing for a clean, but rigid joint.
Step 6: Clean Up (on aisle 6). Your Hot Glue may look a bit messy at this point, especially if you didn''t use any metal blocks to cool and clean. Don''t worry though, this is just aestetics. Simply take a razor blade, scissors, or sand paper to make the hot glue look a little better.
Step 7: Heat it up. Take your heat shrink tubing and pull it over the connection area with hot glue so it makes a nice clean look. You''ll notice that the heat shrink tubing is a little big still, so once you get it in place, use a lighter (or heat gun if you have one) and heat up the connection on low. If using the low-tech lighter method, make sure the flame does NOT come in contact with the tubing. Your goal is to simply heat up the tubing, so it shrinks down to form an even more solid connection joint.
Step 8: Test 2. Plug the battery pack back in and make sure you didn''t mess anything up. By now you should have a professional connection joint, and working EL Wire.
If we missed anything in this tutorial, or you have additional questions, please write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: This is NOT a good idea to hold wires onto the crimp connectors. It''s a great way to get shocked however! Make sure you solder wires onto connectors and do not touch exposed crimps when inverter is plugged in.