Introduction: BUOY

Picture of BUOY

My parent's cabin does not have drinkable tap water, so we use a lot of water bottles, juice bottles and all kind of bottles (my father prefers beer bottles). There is also no recycling system in this area, so we have to bring all these containers back home. I found a way to reuse them (using only my father's tool box) by turning them into a useful, good looking and entertaining buoy for the lake. They can be used as seats for exhausted swimmers, anchor for your kayak or rock warning... It is also really fun to try to run on them like in a Japanese game show...

p.s. Read the comments to learn how to make it a floating tray, a lantern, a water distiller, an electricity generator (solar or wave motion), a clock, a raft, a floating island, a fishing rope...

Thanks for all your great ideas, Jeff-O, iSmack, Btop and all the others.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

You will need:

-A board of wood or plastic at least 0.5 inch thick (no fiberboard)
-A saw
-A plastic rope
-A lighter
-A knife
-16 Pan Head screws
-16 water bottles and their caps
-Paint (the color you want)
-A piece of flexible foam (1/2 inch thick and more), like a square of Play Mat (I took my little sister's)
-Teflon tape or silicone tube (optional)
-A drill
-A hot glue gun

Step 2: Step 1

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With a drill or a punch, make a hole (the size of your screw in the middle of the HDPE caps.

p.s Do not use a nail, it would stretch the plastic.

Step 3: Step 2

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Cut a circle in your board. The diameter should be about the size of your foot. If you don't have feet, (sorry) make that 12 inches. You can sand or cut 16 equal flat surfaces around the circumference. Drill a hole in the middle, the size of your rope.

Step 4: Be Precise

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Make sure to mark your board correctly

Step 5: Step 3

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Drill 16 holes at equal distance. Make sure the drill is in line with the center of the circle.

Step 6: Step 4

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Screw the caps to the center piece. (Adding a drop of silicone in the midle of the hole will it make is water tight longer)

Step 7: Step 5

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Paint it!

Step 8: Step 6

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Cut an 11 inch circle in the foam board. Make a hole in the middle (two times the size of your rope).

Step 9: Step 7

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Glue the foam on the board. (Perfectly centered please)

Step 10: Step 8

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Make a tight knot in the rope after passing it through the hole. Melt the strings together (do NOT breathe the fumes).

Step 11: Step 9

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Adjust the length of the rope depending on where you decided to anchor the buoy. Tie the other end to something heavy but easy to carry (like a bike lock that lost its key).

Step 12: Step 10

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Screw the 16 bottles to the center piece, adding silicone or Teflon tape if you notice any leak, and you got a wonderful multipurpose BUOY. Once you finished and tested the first one, you can keep saving your bottles to make new ones varying in size, shape and colour.

Step 13: Dimensions

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Doesn't it look like an uploading icon?

(Just early enough for you to make one this summer!)

Step 14: Make a Lot of Them!

Picture of Make a Lot of Them!


cj12mccullough (author)2014-06-26

CAD- maybe Solidworks? For the last image , I mean.

phucall-fitz (author)2009-06-04

didn't someone make an island, complete with house and garden. Thought I saw a program about it, he used recycled plastic bottles captured in nets.The possibilities are endless,great instructable. all the best from england uk

codegamc (author)phucall-fitz2013-09-21

im trying to do that. just dont want to spend my days collecting bottles from people on the street ( he was homeless when he started, so it wasnt as problematic). im using a wider variety of floating products eg. wood, bottles, foam

matrix43547 (author)phucall-fitz2009-06-08

ya that was awesome, he even had trees growing on it

kcls (author)2010-04-17

You could make fifty of them, and put solar panels  on top of each.Then, wire 'em all up to a central battery, and power something! Then it would be truly green. Are most wires waterproof? could you run them underwater for a long time?

codegamc (author)kcls2013-09-21

wires with a plastic cover certainly are, but regardless, the wire would be the path of least resistanc in the water, uncovered ( assuming the AMOUNT of electrcity wasnt very high, like if it was a power cord to house-outlets )
also, the more electricity you have, the farther it will run. think, household extension chords are hundred(s) of feet long, But potoentially not waterproof.

wic1 (author)2013-06-03

Good thing to point your 'region' of the beach if you have private one. Otherwise... would be better to make it as some solar lights or sth :)

facklere (author)2011-09-04

I think this is the first project I ever viewed on Instructables, and 5 years later it still stands on my top 3 list, if not my favorite. I would love to make one, but the only place I have to use it is my neighbor's very small pool.

dombeef (author)2011-07-26

Hoe much weight can it hold?

SaffronDawn (author)2009-01-30

sweet .. now if you put led lights in it .. would look amazing at night.

kff96 (author)SaffronDawn2011-06-06

Im thinking Throwies!! Cheap, small, axposable.. Although you probably dony want the batteries all over the lake..

KT Gadget (author)kff962011-06-06

Maybe a water proof solar garden lamp would work, just swap out the White LEDs with a different color and resistor if needed

knexguns656 (author)2009-03-24

well nice idea and a good idea for recycling bottles.they would work good as platforms for drinks in a hotspring.and im just curious but can you sit on them without making them sink if they were big enough and you were light enough?. again nice idea cheers

Merci! You would need a lot of them to sit without sinking at least a few centimeters. The platform would actually be so big that you could almost sleep on it. With 18 bottles, an average man (sitting) has water up his bellybutton, wich is not that bad (but a part of you will be a bit cold).

sjoobbani (author)Samuel Bernier2009-06-21

Tres bien, tres bien ! ! ! I took a cot, with an aluminum frame and clothe "matress" and put water bottles all around it, and then another "layer" there are so many, no I can sleep on it, when I go to the lake in the summer and I use the buoy I made to anchor me and hold my drinks, merci beaucoup, c'est un invention qui est necessaire! :P

meanbean (author)sjoobbani2011-05-15

C'est la vie!

pgm8693 (author)2011-05-01

Paint the bottom vertical half of each bottle black ... the half that sits in the water.

Float a few of these in a small swimming pool.

solar heat for the pool.

maurice1993 (author)2010-07-19

this just gave me the idea of a crazy trap for fish

just in the place of the good looking red rope, put some heavy duty fish rope, with a fishook on tip.... must work like a charm! hehehe

next summer I'll try that! (it's winter now here... not much fish to do fishing... )

TechDante (author)2010-04-17

very nice idea. you say swimmers can sit on this, how boyant is this then as 16 2litre botles must be able to hold up a person

knektek (author)2009-10-25

you can build about 15-20 layers of BUOY and get some pvc piping to connect the Buoy's together and the bottles to make a water butt (obviously with a huge funnel to collect the water). and did the word BUOY come from the word buoyancy...

timebandit00 (author)2009-09-28

Love the idea, but I can't try because I don't have a pool or lake nearby.

james.mcglashan (author)2009-09-11

What is this made for? What does it do? How much does it cost? Is this used to collect water?

The answers to all your questions are all in the project's explanations.... but I'll make it quick -Buoy -Buoy -Absolutly nothing -No Thanks for your interest Have a nice day.

what is a buoy? Buoy is a floating devie used for many purposes.

aahh ok

is this just for looks?


Patented (author)2009-08-10

Vraiment cest une bonne idée! Mais est que a la longue les bouteilles vont pas devenir verte? (a cause des algues)

Samuel Bernier (author)Patented2009-08-10

elles se salissent un peu, mais pas autant qu on pourrais le croire.

peoplerstupid (author)2009-02-26

i saw this featured a while back, i love the idea it looks cool and while it may put plastic in lakes it is still better than a landfill

You don't leave it in the lakes!

ElectricUmbrella (author)2009-04-27

So many uses, so little time!!! This is brilliant! Nicely done.

L a n a (author)2009-03-13

hey, just wanted to say congratulations, you deserve it! This project is really great. I can't wait to try it out keep up the good work :)

eRosinski (author)2009-02-28

Try spraying a color that contrast with the water on the inside of the bottle in a fluorescent color even. But I agree with some other about junk in the lakes but maybe if its kept in top condition its okay.

leufreitas (author)2009-02-27


scouttster (author)2009-02-21

No offense, but keep the plastics out of the lake. Will you be there to recover the buoys when they break free and float across the lake and end up tangled up on some beach? The sun degrades plastic and your project only adds plastic particles / dust to the lake.. Those buoys lay low in the water, and I would be pretty darn peed off if I hit one in my boat.. I know your intentions are good, but no offense - I don't like your project.

No offense, but boats probably is the first cause of pollution on your lake... first step would be to stop driving one. Second, if you take a look at the embankment buoys already on your lake, you'll notice that most of them are already made of HDPE and PET, but I agree that plastic particles could be a long term problem because they take centuries to biodegrade... but it's nothing compare to your boat (unless you were talking about a catamaran). Have a nice day and thanks for the constructive comment.

jeff-o (author)2009-01-23

Well I suppose someone has to suggest it eventually: How about a solar powered LED-lit version? They would look so pretty floating out there at night, and would be helpful for navigating boats when it's dark...

casey321b (author)jeff-o2009-01-24

lolz electricity and water... hey whats that extension cord in the water :) ok thats kinda random but good idea and it wouldn't do much harm if the water leaked in just some lost leds and wire maybe a rechargable batery if you didn't seal it in something and no shocks. (my stupid extension cord in water wouldn't work) still good idea

jeff-o (author)casey321b2009-01-25

Yep, that's why it has to be solar powered. Once all the electronics are hooked up, they should be sealed in for good. Perhaps they could be encased in cast acrylic resin... Hmmm...

Oscelot (author)jeff-o2009-01-30

I've found a number of people encase their throwies in hot glue to make them waterproof.

casey321b (author)Oscelot2009-02-20

thats good but its not as bright i would just wrap a few layers of plastic wrap or some flexable plastic and seal with a soldering iron. remember not to get it too hot.

cloner (author)jeff-o2009-01-26

you can use that wind generated electricity to power the led (from an instructable) and have the LED blinking using astable multivibrator. it would be cool to watch at night eh? and add buzzing sound using piezo speakers :D

hurtzmyhead (author)cloner2009-01-27

Or a tide/ wave powered one for the ocean!

cloner (author)hurtzmyhead2009-01-27

exactamundo! :)

hurtzmyhead (author)cloner2009-01-28

YA!!! I live near a beach :) itll freak out people tho i bet atleast one person will think its a man-of-war jellie

thepelton (author)hurtzmyhead2009-02-17

What if someone shot it with a pistol because of mistaken identity?

jeff-o (author)thepelton2009-02-17

It would keep floating until they shot holes in the other 15 bottles.

thepelton (author)jeff-o2009-02-17

I suppose that's true. Multiple buoyand compartments would make sure it floated.

About This Instructable




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