Introduction: Electric Bottle Garden (LED Grow Lights Mk 1.5)

As a kid, me, my brother and my mum used to make bottle gardens, the idea was to plant a load of plants in a bottle only through the neck (think of those ships in a bottle).
Anyway i was thinking of building an update to this: when i got bored and thought i'd put together an electric bottle garden in old water bottle i had lying around.

Although this is kinda similar to my other instructable i figure its different enough to be worth posting. Its also not really an entirely sensible project, loads of light leaks out the sides (but it looks pretty) so its more of an LED assisted bottle garden, and it would of been a hell of a load easier to just cut up the bottle, but i liked the idea of doing it just through the neck.

Step 1: Building the Lighting Rig

I wanted to fit everything through the neck of the bottle, and i also wanted the LED's to cover as much of the soil as possible. So i figured some kind of expandable lighting rig that would fit through the neck of the bottle was the way to go.

To do this you'll need:
12 red LED's
1 blue LED
a square bit of plastic
thick copper wire
13 220ohm resistors

you should also have a fair bit of experience soldering and making electrical circuits.

Firstly solder 3 LED's along a piece of copper wire at about one inch intervals, making sure they are all soldered the same way around.

Step 2: Constructing the Lighting Rig 2

Then cut the other leg of the 3 LED's a bit shorter and solder on a resistor between the shorter leg and a second length of copper wire (the image gives a better description, just make sure that the second length of copper wire doesn't touch the shorter LED leg)

You should now have a strip of 3 LED's all connected the same way around, all with there own current limiting resistor, try attaching a 5v supply across the 2 lengths of copper wire and all the LED's should light up, if one doesn't try re soldering the joints.

Step 3: Constructing the Lighting Rig 3

Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have 4 strips of 3 LED's.

Then get a small bit of plastic about an inch square and drill a pattern of hole in it as shown below.
The centre hole should be large enough to fit the blue LED through, and the pairs of holes around the edges should be the distance apart that the 2 pieces of copper wire from the LED strips are from each other.

Step 4: Constructing the Lighting Rig 4

Take some thinner copper wire and solder loops onto the ends of each of the LED strips through the holes in the edges of the piece of plastic. Make sure that each of the LED strips can move freely up and down.

You should now have something approximating the contraption in the second image below.

Now solder wires onto the end of each of the LED strips, and glue a blue LED with a series resistor into the centre hole of the piece of plastic. You should now have something approximating the 3rd image.

Step 5: Setting Up the Lighting Rig

Now fold down each of the LED strips (or fold 2 up and 2 down) and gather all the wire up in a bunch above the lighting rig (so it looks like the second image, but with all the wire gathered together at the top) Then holding onto the wire slowly slide it into the neck of the bottle.
Here's the slightly tricky part, first move the wires attached to the centre blue LED until it sits at what you guess to be a good height. Then adjust the wires attached to each trip of LED's until all the arms fold outwards and sit roughly level.
(I had mental images of my lighting rig gracefully unfurling, unfortunately it was damned difficult to get it all to sit right. The thinner the wire you attach to each arm, i imagine the easier it would be)

Its probably a good idea now to go around each of the pairs of wires and make sure they still work.

Now the lighting rig is all comfortable set up you'll want to find some way to keep it like this, tape should work just fine to hold the wire in place, but i drilled a load of holes through the bottle top and fed the wires through there and soldered them all to a small piece of strip board (see the 3rd image)

Step 6: Growing Plants.

Find some way to fill up the bottle with soil ( i recommend using a paper funnel and breaking up the soil with you hands to stop it clogging) then sprinkle in a few seed through the bottle neck and water it a little bit.

Step 7: Plug In, Turn On, and Leave!

Plug it all in, turn it on, and watch you plants grow!, i usually leave the LED's in my one on over night and during the day turn it off and just let the natural light works its magic.

I've chosen to grow edible plants in mine so i'm going to have to cut up the bottle to get to them when they are done, but you should be able to grow near enough anything. you will probably have to air out the bottle a bit everyday to make sure the plants are getting enough CO2, or pipe some in from some brewing beer or wine (i cant remember how we did it when we where kids, but if you put the right mix of plants in you could seal off the bottle entirely and it would happily grow, I'm gonna have to give me mum a ring)
As an added bonus it also give off a fantastically eerie glow when you keep it on during the night.