There are definitely a lot of threads that mention the EL wire on Pinside now with bits and pieces of information (all great by the way!). I had typed up some step by step instructions for a fellow Pinsider, just thought I'd put them in a thread as it might help some fellow Pinsiders:
1) Email Elsie at Coolight ([email protected]) and let her know you want to order an EL wire kit for a Tron Pro pinball machine. She'll know exactly what you're talking about. Note that you only need 12 feet of each colour that you choose (most common colours that most have used are the Blue Green Aqua and Orange in 5.0mm, but you don't have to go with that). A list of everything is below (just click on attachment #5 at the bottom, it says "EL wire.PDF").
2) Go to Amazon and order up a Smart Strip. The model number is SCG3E.
You'll also need some 4 inch cable ties (by the time you're done you'll probably drill anywhere from 30 to 40 holes, depending on how close you put the holes).
So now you've got all of the parts you need . When you get the stuff what you'll see is that off of each coloured EL wire there is a black wire that's been soldered in. You'll see that on the end of the black wire it has a connector, and all you'll need to do is plug the connector into the connector on the black wire that's coming out of this little blue box (it's simple to see as these are the only things you have to connect. The little blue box has a wire leading out and it goes to the white adapter that you simply plug into the wall. So in about a minute you can plug your EL wire into the wall and you'll see it light up. When you actually install it into the machine we know we can't simply plug it into the wall, and we can't use the service outlet that's inside the machine because we'll get phantom disc hits (ie. things just won't work right). So to connect everything you'll do these steps:
- unplug your pinball machine from the wall. If you look in the cabinet you'll see in the bottom right where the power cord comes in (it has a black cone there). You'll unscrew the 4 screws that hold that black cone in place, and now you can pull the power cord into the machine.
- You'll then plunk your smart strip down on the bottom of the cabinet and you'll plug this thing into the wall.
- You'll then take the pinball machine power cord and put it into the blue slot on the smart strip.
- You'll then take the white adapter from the EL wire and plug it into one of the slots on the power strip.
By doing this what happens is that when you turn the machine on it then turns the EL wire on, and when you turn the machine off the EL wire goes off (so that blue slot basically controls the other slots). It's perfect.
Below is a picture of what the Smart Strip looks like in the machine.
So you don't need to know much at all about electronics in order to install your EL wire and get it running. This thing is about as close to plug and play as you can get, it's very simple.
So now the only thing left to do is drill the ramps and install the EL wire using the cable ties. This is the hardest part of the whole adventure. When you're drilling, try to get the hole as close to the inside of the channel as you can (see attached picture). What I did for most of the holes was to drill from the bottom side, that way I could get as close as I could to the channel without drilling into it. I also used a small drill bit as a pilot hole, and then drilled the hole with a larger drill bit. Basically all you need for the hole size is enough to get that cable tie through, so just put your drill bit on top of your cable tie and you'll figure out pretty quickly if the size is too big or too small. As for where to drill the holes, just watch the video BlackRose put together, definitely helps (see YouTube link below).
Some people leave the ramps on and drill them, but I took mine right off of the machine as I found it easier that way. What I did was drill the ramps and install the EL wire as I went along. This worked out well but the only problem I had was that when I went to reinstall the ramps the connector plug on the end of the EL wire was too big to fit through the hole on the playfield where it needed to go (the hole is at the base of each ramp, it's easy to see). So I had to cut the wire, run the wire down through the hole, and then reattach underneath (I bought a set of molex connectors and crimp pins to do it properly, but you can literally just twist the wires together and put some black electrician tape on them if you want to).
If you attach the EL wire with the ramps in the machine, all you'll do is run one end of the EL wire up through the hole at the base of the ramp and then zap strap the wire on (you'll run half of the wire up through the hole, and by the time you are done you'll have a small amount which will go down through the hole at the other end).
Is it worth the $100 and the time to do it? Absolutely. It's very cool.
You'll notice that the little blue box can put out a high pitched whine, and to deal with this I built a box out of balsa wood that the little blue box goes in and now I can't hear it anymore (see picture below). You might find the whine doesn't bother you, but you'll know as soon as you plug into the wall as you'll then hear (or not hear) the whining sound.
Hope this helps to understand the EL wire a little better. It's super easy to do!