Glow Rod II

An Electroluminescent Stick

The Rod

November, 1998

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The first glowing rod I made was an internally illuminated lucite rod. It was pretty cool, but in the past year I have been experimenting with an electroluminescent material and decided to revisit the Glowrod concept. This glowing stick is a three foot wooden dowel with fifteen feet of EL pinstriping spiralled down it.

The EL tape is a commerical product called "Californeon" that is meant to be used as auto detailing. It comes with a transformer that produces the high voltage AC power needed to power the tape, so you can actually run the stuff off of 12V DC (recommended) or even a single 9V battery. I used the 9V option because of its compact size.

The Rod in the dark

The photo at the top of this page was taken with the illumination of a 40W light bulb, so you can see the glow pretty well. In very bright light, the glow washes out easily, so it's not the best for daylight conditions. In the dark, however, it's impressively bright. In a dark room, you can actually see well enough to walk around.

The Rod close up

In this picture, you can see how the tape spirals down the rod.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get the tape to overlap any more than it does. When it's lit up though, you have to be fairly close to tell it's not a solid stick of light.

Even just running off of a single 9V battery, the glow lasts for several hours before beginning to fade a bit. The material may wear out eventually, but it's not likely to be soon. It's basically the same stuff as in "Indiglo" and "LimeLight" nightlights, and the reliability claims made by those two manufacturers are phenomenal. It is relatively easy to damage the tape, though, so I would not recommend getting into "light saber" battles.

The Rod close up, illuminated

The material is actually one quarter inch wide, but it is attached to half inch wide clear adhesive tape. The extra tape overlaps, it really is solid plastic the whole way down, and completely safe, even to lick. The black ball at the tip is a wooden knob, which hides the tape end, and makes the whole thing a little safer. I resisted the urge to embed electrodes into the knob and turn the thing into a cattle prod.

I carried this around at PhilCon '98, and even got famous movie special effects guy Tom Savini to ask me about it. I forgot to give him my business card, though. If you were at this PhilCon, you may have also seen my friend Zarf and his cape. The cape was pinstriped in the same material, which better showcased the flexibility of the material.

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