Introduction: Beer Bottle Color Organ

This is a beer bottle version of the classic color organ, where different color lights are triggered by different frequencies of sound, resulting in a display that flashes along to music.

Please bear with me as this is my first instructable, and I didn’t start the documentation until after the project was finished.

This was one of those projects that just kept changing. I originally only wanted to make an interesting light for my little corner of the garage where I relax with a secondhand TV, a vintage pop machine full of cold drinks, and an old stereo. 

I began with inspiration from the “popcorn lamp” made by “i_make_stuff”.

Then I saw the Wine bottle accent lights made by “KEUrban”.

So I decided to put lights into a few beer bottles, and mount them to a wood base. I don’t know where the idea to hook the entire project to a color organ came from, or how it changed from a string of lights to one large bulb, but I think it turned out nice.

Step 1: The Light Kits

I began with 2 ML1 light kits from Ramsey electronics. I bought them on sale for $36.00 each. I chose these over less expensive light kits because they were the only ones that I found that came with an outer case. Each kit took about two hours to assemble with about 70 electrical connections being soldered.

Step 2: The Finished Base.

This is what the finished base looks like. Unfortunately, I did not take many photographs during the assembly. In fact, most of the photos included here are of a smaller lamp being built, but it was made from the same piece of wood as the beer bottle color organ, and the technique that was used is the same. The beer bottle organ just has 6 light sockets, instead of the 1 that you will see in the rest of the illustrations.

The dimensions for the wood base are 3 inches, by 1 inch, by 21.5 inches. The center of the first socket is 2 ¼ inches from the edge. The sockets are then each 3 ½ inches apart from each other. 

Step 3: Drilling the Wood Base.

I drilled a vertical hole where I wanted each light socket to be mounted. I really don’t know the diameter, as all of my drill bits are sloppily stored loose in an old ammo can. I just matched a drill bit with the lamp nipple that I wanted to use to secure the candelabra base to the wood. I then drilled a horizontal hole from the back of the wood base intersecting the vertical hole.

Step 4: Base Assembly

The electrical wiring was inserted, and a lamp nipple was placed over the wire.

Step 5: Securing the Wiring

The nipple was then secured into the vertical hole in the wood base with superglue gel.

Step 6: Wiring the Base

I drilled a hole in the center of a wooden nickel blank (available at the local hobby store.) and placed it over the nipple. The hole in the wooden nickel is a little oversized, and it is not glued down. The 1 ½ inch diameter of the wooden nickel fits almost perfectly into the hole drilled into the bottom of the beer bottles that will be placed over the blight bulbs. The nickel keeps the bottle from coming in contact with the light bulb. Keeping it loose allows the bottle to be adjusted slightly. This is needed because none of the holes drilled into the bottom of the bottles are centered perfectly.

In the final assembly of this single socket base I left out the wooden nickel, as I will not be using a glass bottle on this lamp.

A simple keyless candelabra socket is screwed onto the lamp nipple. The ends of the wires are stripped and soldered to prevent fraying.

The soldered wires are then screwed onto the appropriate sides of the socket and the enclosed cardboard insulator is slid down over the screw and exposed wires.

Step 7: Drilling the Bottles

Now to prepare the beer bottles.

I used a 1 ½ inch diamond hole saw to cut out the bottom of the bottles. I chose that size of hole because it would allow the bottle to fit over most candelabra based light bulbs.

The hole was cut under running water with a cordless drill. The water kept the drill bit cool and washed all of the glass dust away. I certainly did not want to inhale any of that. Each bottle took about five minutes to drill through. I applied almost no pressure, and just let the hole saw slowly do it’s work. I tried rushing one bottle and it shattered just as the saw cut through.

The glove came out of my tackle box. It is like chainmail, and is made so that you do not cut yourself while cleaning fish.

The finished cut looks rough but is actually pretty smooth, with no sharp edges.

Step 8: Choosing the Bottles and Adding the Bulbs.

I chose bottles with clear plastic or painted on labels. I tried a couple of bottles with paper labels, but the light did not shine through as nicely, and the label ended up just looking like a black square when illuminated from behind.

To compensate for the different darkness of the bottles, I used 25 watt amber colored light bulbs in the clear bottles, 40 watt clear bulbs in the green bottles, and 60 watt clear bulbs in the brown bottles.

The bottles are not permanently attached, but instead just sit on top of the wood base and are centered by the wooden nickel blanks. So I can easily experiment with different bottles, or different bulbs.

Step 9: The Finished Product!

The finished product. There are two music kits with three channels each. One is hooked to the left speaker and the other to the right. From left to right the bottles are 1. Left speaker - Low tone, 2. Left speaker - Mid tone, 3. Left speaker - High tone. 4. Right speaker - High tone, 5. Right speaker - Mid tone, 6. Right speaker - Low tone.

The two light kits sit neatly on top of my garage stereo for easy control of the light organ. Another feature of these kits is that each channel can be individually adjusted.

Step 10: The First Video of the Color Organ in Action.

Step 11: My Second Video, a Better Illustration.

The first video did not really display the fact that each bottle was on a separate channel. So I tried again.

Step 12: Not to Waste the Demonstration Lamp Base.

I used the single socket base that I assembled for this illustration on a popcorn lamp similar to the one made by “i_make_stuff”.

Thanks for looking! I hope my first instructable was not too unbearable.


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