High-end artwork mod #2: Electroluminescent Panel

Part 1 here (laser engraved stick)

At first glance, this is just a TRON-inspired stick with a top-access mod:

…but, flip the little switch on the back, and:

That’s right, the artwork itself lights up. I was inspired by the 1980s TRON arcade cabinet - with artwork that glowed under a blue light.
So, I had to figure out a way to backlight it, which seemed impossible due to the metal control panel.

I stumbled upon something called Electroluminescent Panel (EL Panel). It’s a paper-thin, flexible plastic sheet that lights up with its own power supply.
It’s the same stuff as in those thin, green nightlights, except I found an 8.5" x 11" WHITE version on eBay for $50.
Best of all, you can cut the button holes in this stuff and it still works, as long as you don’t cut through any wires.
You also need to add lamination to seal off the cut edges (about 1mm overhang). It’s all very difficult to do precisely.

This stuff allows you to keep the metal control panel, and simply sandwich the EL Panel between the metal and the artwork.
The artwork, however, needs to be printed on backlit film (a thin, WHITE plastic sheet). Then just add a plexi panel on top.

The art is based on the TRON 1980s arcade panel art - I took a photo of it, then drew this vector-based art from scratch to fit the HRAP.

Here it is in complete darkness; it works well in daylight, too. Runs on a 9V battery.

I Dremeled a few holes for internal wiring. This ribbon of 2 wires runs off the EL Panel down into the HRAP.
It’s pretty seamless after Dremeling out the HRAP’s insides in that corner, and power sanding the metal plate in that corner, as well.

Closeup of my cutting job. After cutting the EL Panel, you need to re-laminate over the holes, then cut that lamination out AGAIN leaving a 1mm overlap.
This is to ensure none of the bioluminescent goo leaks out and touches the metal. Although, it didn’t seem to want to leak or flow at all; it’s pretty solid.
I don’t ever expect it to short out. What sucks is that you get one chance to cut the EL Panel. Mess up and it’s $50 down the drain.
Luckily, I didn’t screw up. I did all that with a cheesy compass cutter, not a laser. Damn, it was hard.

View of the power supply & EL Panel wired up to the DPST Rocker Switch.
9V battery isn’t visible - it’s in the main compartment next to the JLF.

After peeling off the OEM HORI vinyl sheet, the leftover adhesive residue is perfect for the EL Panel to cling to, and is repositionable.
This view shows the EL Panel on the metal control panel, powered OFF, then ON (in daylight).

This mod is very difficult, kind of expensive and takes a load of time. The results really knocked my socks off, though. Any questions?

Just one:


that is so damn cool. freaking awesome.

:crybaby:I want that:crybaby:

That stick is the best ive seen.

Excellent job and idea !

very nice artwork there! wish i have that kind of time to spend

Wicked to see something completely new and different.
Fantastic work :slight_smile:

Great idea and perfectly implemented. I’ll go ahead and say that the end result is nothing short of orgasmic.

What a fantasic idea! Great to see something really original and done so well.

So good stuff.

So you now got it done?
It took more than a month than you said.

That was from May 2009.

Nice job.
Haven’t seen that before.

Am I right in thinking this would be great for showing up engraving in plexi??

I would like to be alone with that for a short time… my god its incredible !

Damn you, now I HAVE to do this. Fortunately, I’m modding an Agetec; the surface area is smaller, should be cheaper. Is there a special laminating process you have to use? Can I get it laminated at Kinkos? How can you tell where the wires are? Would a light box or something similar work?

EDIT: You should put up the artwork for us Tron lovers!

This is fantastic. Excellent work.

This is such a unique stick that I’m tempted to become a Premium Member just so I can rep you. :pray:

That is sooo cash bro. Fucking fantastical stick. You’re in the fucking future, man.

This is the cheapest 8 1/2" x 11" I’ve found so far.

"Parallel electrode electroluminescent panels have a copper power bus along the edge of the panel. Power connections can only be made to this bus. Some of our Parallel Electrode panels are available without the rear laminate allowing them to be subdivided into smaller panels.

When you cut a large Parallel Electrode panel into smaller panels, the cut panels must retain an original outer edge, so you can make a electrical connection to the front electrode."


Hmm. I am confused about the backlit film paper. Is it better to print the image on top, or “reversible” i.e. the bottom. Looks like you might need special UV inks. Some of the paper is UV resistant. I’m assuming this wouldn’t glow under a blacklight?

Here’s the cheapest backlit film I’ve found. Looks like you’re better off using special UV inks, at least for the HP brand. Although, it’s probably cheaper to pay someone else to print it.

Ohhh what the heck duuuuuuude +++

That’s amazing. You should do something similar with the Astro City artwork.