Introduction: Automatic Neon Bottle Lamp With Arduino


My name is Artur and I would like to share this Automatic Neon Bottle Lamp with Arduino that I made for my bedroom.

The project: it is a Lamp made with plywood and an Arduino that turn on 4 neon LEDS under each bottle, that has fluorescent liquid inside, when you pass your hand in front of a ultrasonic sensor.

The motivation: I have always liked to make some simple projects. I had already done several ones with wood and other ones with electronics devices. Then, I decided to combine these two worlds and make that unique project that I am really proud of and I am happy to be able to share with the open-source community.

If you like it, vote for me =)

Step 1: Part List

In order to build that, you will need:


- 2 Pieces of Plywood 1100x100x15mm

- 5 Pieces of Plywood 100x100x15mm

- 2 Wall Brackets

- 4 Wood Screws 3.5x14mm

- 1 Plastic Box 60x40x30mm

- 4 Transparent Glass Bottles 375ml

- 4 Cork Stoppers (that fit your bottles)

- Highlighters of Different Colors

- Transparent Detergent


- 1 Arduino Nano

- 1 Ultrasonic Sensor

- 4 LEDs UV 10mm 1W

- 4 Transistor BC547

- 4 Resistors 1K Ohm

- 1 PCB copper

- Strip Connector to Arduino Nano

- 8 Connectors to LEDs

- 3 Meters of Wires

- 1 Power Supply 5V 1.2A

- 1 Power Supply Connector


- Wooden Glue (you can use any glue that is recommended to wood stuff)

- Pistol Glue

- Stapler

- Soldering Iron

- Solder

- Drilling Machine

- 10mm Drill

- Retractable Term Tube

About the highlighters: you must buy highlighters that you are able to open the back part and have access to their ink cartridge (like you can see in the pictures). It will be essential to the coloring process!

Step 2: The Frame

To build the frame, first we need to make the holes where the LEDs will be inserted in 4 of the wood squares (100mmx100mm).

To do that, use your drilling machine with the 10mm drill.

Hole 1: Like you can see in the picture 1, start drilling the hole on the side - it must be very close to the border, something around 1mm. Drill it until the bit reaches 60mm.

Hole 2: After that, drill the center of the square until it finds the hole that you drilled in the first step, like it is shown in picture 1 as well. You have a piece of wood with two square faces, right? So, the square face where you should drill the hole is the one which distance from the side hole to the edge is the biggest.

Make that on the 4 wood squares. The fifth will be the top of the frame, so you don't need to drill.

Now, let's glue all the wood parts:

With a pencil and a ruler, mark the big board in 3 parts. The first distance will be marked at 275mm from the edge, the second, 550mm from the edge and the third, 825mm from the edge as well. Repeat the process with the second big board.

Now, apply the glue on the 3 marked measurements and close to the edges, like you can see in picture 2. Do the same with the second big board.

It's time to put it all together!

The two big boards will be filled by our five square pieces that we drilled before. In each "glue line", you will place one of the sides of one of the squares - its side hole should face one of the two surfaces that are not in contact with the two boards. All the side holes and the top holes of the small square pieces have to face the same side as well (imagine that those are the holes where the LEDs and the wires will come out, so they all should be facing one specific side!). One of the boards' edges will be filled by the wood square without hole - it's the top of your lamp frame. At the end of the gluing process, you will have a wood sandwich, like you can see in picture 3.

Step 3: The Electronics

Now it's time to build the heart of the bottle lamp - what will actually make it glow!

Using the soldering iron and the solder, follow the diagram to make your circuit board.

Start with the small components and then go to the bigger ones, it will make your work easier!

The LEDs* will be connected to the circuit using female connectors and that should be made after all the other parts had already been welded on their places. So, you also should solder the male connectors to your electronic circuit.

With the circuit done, we have to cover it from the public view, so we are going to use the plastic box. It must have 4 main holes - one for the power source plug, two for the ultrasonic sensors and the last one to the LEDs wires. I have made several small holes on the top of the box, so the circuit can be aired. It is not mandatory, but if you want to do it, I highly recommend.

*About the LEDs: bend the LED legs 90 degrees to the same side, keeping the bent parts as close as possible to its base. After that, pick a pair of 1000mm wires, solder them to each one of the LED legs and cover the solder parts with the retractable term tubes. Repeat the process with the other 3 LEDs, but the length of the pair of wires will vary (approximately 600mm, 300mm and 150mm, respectively). And be careful! Otherwise you may break your LED (I broke some...).

Step 4: The Program

Using the IDE of the Arduino, upload the program BottleLamp.ino to your Arduino Nano.

You can make a lot of different things with the code, like making the LEDS blink randomly or in a snake game style.

So, you can play with your imagination and you are free to create new things with the program, but there are two basic things that you must know:

- The constant fade is the time it takes for the first LED to turn on and, after that, the next one and so on.

- The constant distance is the necessary distance that the ultrasonic sensor needs to detect the object in cm.

Step 5: Wiring the Frame

With the electronic part at the bottom of the frame and the LEDs at their specific holes, pass the wires through the frame as shown in the picture until they reach the hole next to the electronic device. Then, fasten the wires with the staple clips.

After that, cut the remaining wires leaving around 50mm left and insert the female plug connectors into the wire ends.

With two wood screws, fix the plastic box to the frame to cover the electronics.

Connect them to the electronic circuit and plug the entire system into the outlet through the power supply.

If all it is working by now the LEDs will turn on when you pass your hand in front of the sensor.

Time to finish now!

Step 6: The Bottles

Organizing the bottles and filling them with colors is the funniest part of the project. You can play with your imagination and even your friends that do not understand a thing about technology can help you with that.

You will need translucent glass bottles, transparent detergent and highlighters of different colors.

To prepare the colored mixture:

Get the highlighter and open it in order to find the compartment with the ink cartridge. Merge its neon ink with transparent detergent and fill the bottles with this content. To be successful with the dilution process, squeeze the cartridge with your fingers over the detergent and its ink will slowly trickle - your hands may also get colored! If you ask me the exact quantity of ink drops that you should mix with detergent, I would say that there is no right answer! You have to test. Dilute a little bit, shake the bottle to mix the substances and put it over the little to observe the effect. The mixture must be translucent - the light has to pass through it and make it glow! If you think that the ink quantity is not sufficient, put a little bit more and test it again. Don't put a lot of ink drops at once, otherwise the mixture can get opaque and the substance won't glow with the light.

When your colorful magic potion is done and inside the bottle, you will observe some bubbles on the surface of the it. Don't panic! It is perfectly normal and they will disappear with time. After that, cover the bottle with the cork stopper.

Step 7: Finishing

So, time to shine!

Place the wall brackets somewhere on the back of you frame. I placed mine next to the fourth wood square that holds the LED (like it is shown in the picture). The best place is where is hidden from people's eyes when it is hanging on the wall.

Fix the finished frame at you favorite wall - choose your dearest place, so you can transform it into the coziest part of your house!

Place the bottles over the LEDs, plug into the outlet, pass your hand in front of the sensors and you will see the miracle happening in front of your eyes! Your neon baby is born!

Enjoy it a lot with your friends, family, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog, parrot, whatever!

But, above all things, always make it glow!

Step 8: Almost Failed

Like everything in life, we make some mistakes, but we learn a lot from them. Here are some things that happened to me and will help you not going through the same difficulties:

- The LEDs are very fragile, I broke some of them trying to bend their legs 90 degrees. So, be very careful when doing that. Use a pliers and be patient, they need a lot of love, otherwise you literally break their hearts.

- If you have a pair of wires that come glued together, you have to separate them and pass the retractable term tube through the wires BEFORE you solder them to the LED leg. After soldering, you just have to place the tube at its correct position. If you don't pass the tube through the wire first, it will be impossible to do it after soldering.

- When you solder the LED legs to the wires, you should find a way to remember which side is the positive and which is the negative. Do something to indicate that. For example, I have put a red tube around the positive leg and solder. After that, mark the same way the opposite wire end - where the female connector will be placed. The positive wire should be marked next to the connector, so it will be possible to connect to the circuit in the right way. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time trying to find the right way!

- When you looked the ingredients list of the neon colored mixture, you may have asked yourself: why can't I use water instead of detergent? I also have asked myself the same question and I tried. The result? A fungal colony grew into the bottle. So, if you don't want a weird new pet at home, stick to the detergent.

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016