Introduction: Vase of Ice and Fire

About: Electrical Engineer
Make functional vase using vitrage (glazing) technique with embedded LEDs. The vase can be filled with water and used as a regular flower vase, also LEDs can be light up when placed on the stand. The vase can shine in one of two possible colors, switching colors only by rotating the vase on the stand.

Step 1: Making the Platform

First make the platform as it can be later used to test the connections during building the vase.
You will need:
- plain PCB-board (plain single sided copper on pertinax)
- etching solution (I make mine from household hydrochloric acid (diluted 20%) + hydrogen peroxide (diluted 12%) in solution 3:1)
- color resistant to the etchant (nail polish is really good, also a permanent CD marker can be used but I had some difficulties to get 100% coverage with the marker)
- plastic case
- hot glue
- soldering iron and solder
- saw (for cutting the PCB and the case)
- some sanding paper and acetone (for finishing work and cleaning the nail polish)
- black spray paint (for painting the yellow PCB after etching)
For the circuit
- AC transformer 220VAC to 12VAC, 10W at least (you can get it from cheap adapters)
- 2 Capacitors (1000uF 63V, 1000uF 16V)
- 4 diodes for the rectifier (1N4007 or similar)
- 1 voltage regulator 10V (7810)
- 1 potentiometer 10KOhm
- 1 trimer potentiometer 10KOhm
- 1 resistor 10KOhm
- 1 tansistor BC141-16 (or similar up to 1A)
- 220AC switch, cord, and some wire
- PCB drill if you don't want your components on the solder-side

Step 2: Making the Platform

First you cut the case as it is shown on the picture, my case was from four pieces (two same pieces for bottom and top, and two same pieces for the sides). Cut the upper piece in half, and don't cut the down piece all the way through, because you should leave some space on wich the vase will stand.

Cut the PCB in three pieces as is shown in the picture. One piece is the contact on the stand (I draw some lizards - if you wonder what the picture is), one piece is the contact of the vase and a small piece for the circuit (you have to plan to fit it in the case along with the transformator).

Draw your picture on the stand with the nail polisher. Be careful to make the contacts of the vase smaller than the separation between the lizards in order to prevent short-circuiting.

The circuit is simple enough that you can draw it with the nail polisher, the trimmer potentiometer is there to limit the maximum current drawn by the base-emitter. The trimmer and the potentiometer set the voltage of the base, thus setting the current across R1 and maximum current that can be drawn from the BE junction - that is the transistor here works in the active region. You can probably get more current by choosing smaller R1 (say 6.8KOhm) but I found that this configuration works fine for me as I get current through R1 up to 1mA and I didn't burn my LEDs in any position of the trimmer and potentiometer. By lowering R1 you will risc burning the LEDs.

Adjustment to the light intensity is made with the potentiometer. The output of the circuit (stand contacts - lizards) goes from couple of volts up to about 9V which sufficient to run three LEDs in series.

When you draw it all etch it and be careful not to inhale the vapors coming from the etching (i.e. put it somewhere outside and watch a movie - time needed to complete the etch).

Step 3: Making the Stand

After etching you can drill holes for the components, however it is not necessary as you can solder components directly on the copper side. Solder the components taking care to leave the trimmer free space so you can reach it for adjustment and the potentiometer to stick out of the case.

Make holes on the back side of the casing for the cord, the potentiometer's knob and for an ON/OFF switch. Solder all wire conections together and check if everything works, before applying hot glue. For testing the circuit you can connect three LEDs in series and attach them to the wires that should go to the lizards or use an LED tape instead of the three LEDs (this is somewhat easier and you cannot burn the LEDs in the tape as it is made to operate on 12V). You can drive up to 1m of LED tape with this circuit.

If everything works drive out the wires for the lizards (make little holes on the front plastic if needed) and glue everything inside.
Solder the wires to the lizards and glue the stand to the bottom of the casing.

Cover the lizards with some adhesive tape to protect them from spraying. Spray-paint the pertinax...and you're finished...for now

Step 4: Making the Vase

Second part of this instructable is making the vase. First find two bottles such that the small one can fit inside the big one.

Beside the tools from the first part you will need:
- glass cutting knife
- butane torch
- protection (goggles, gloves)
- a little experience in cutting bottles (probably if you haven't done it before you'll have some troubles the first time getting it as you planed. Anyway plan to destroy a bottle or two but keep the pieces as you will need them later). Check this instructable for some tips:

And for the making of the vitrage:
- adhesive copper tape (I bought it in some shop for vitrage and glass handmade, probably can be found elsewhere)
- LED tape (1m blue and 1m yellow or other colors) about 60 LEDs from each color
- soldering paste
- rubbing alcohol (for removal of the paste residuals and cleaning of the glass before applying the copper)

Cut the small and the big bottle near the top so they have opening of the same size, because later you will need to solder them together. You don't cut the small bottle anymore. Start cutting the big bottle: first the bottom, then make a strip/ring, then cut the ring into six pieces. However, it is not necessary to get every separation of pieces along the cuts.
Before breaking the glass, make all the cuts. Beware, the glass will probably not break where you want it, but anyhow you will end up with pieces that fit together as a jigsaw.

Cut the ring to six pieces, cover it with the copper tape, plan ahead the circuit. Make circuit breaks with carving knife by cutting the copper tape and after that you can solder pieces together. Be careful, the circuit break must be cut on both pieces that stick together. 

Step 5: Making the Vase

Make contact with the bottom and start building the 3D circuit around the vase. The LEDs are soldered with different colors facing different directions, that way in one connection only the blue ones are on and in the opposite direction the yellow ones are on.

I got my LEDs desoldering them from a comercial LED tape/strip. You can buy them separately as SMD components, but it is cheaper to desolder them.

LEDs bellow the smaller bottle are soldered on a strips with 9 LEDs (6 in one color 3 in the other). You will need 8 such strips (4 with dominantly blue LEDs and 4 with dominantly yellow LEDs). Start building the circuit as it is shown on the drawing. This strips are to be soldered in two layers, the first layer is on the bottom of the vase.

It is very important to plan circuit breaks as there will be a lot of them that can easily short-circuit the "blue" with the "red" wire. After soldering the 4 strips check if everything works, turn the vase on the stand and check if all the blue LEDs shine, and if all the yellow shine. Now you can make use the glass from previous unsuccessful bottle cutting attempts (if you had any, or just break one bottle and gather the pieces). Cover the LEDs with the broken glass using hot glue so to make a firm construction that doesn't move or crackle.

There will be a lot of solder paste, so wipe it with alcohol immediately after soldering while the paste is still hot (it is a lot easier). Use the paste to fix the diodes before soldering them.

Step 6: Making the Vase

Cut another ring from the big bottle, as previously. Cut it at six places and repeat the same from the previous step. The layer is a bit different than before, a schematic view is given to help you plan the circuit.

After soldering don't forget to check the circuit by putting the vase on the platform. You also fill this layer with glass but take care not to overfill it as the small bottle should sit on this pile of glass. If everything is ok, hot glue the pieces.

Step 7: Making the Vase

Here you proceed cutting strips, than cutting them on six and reassembling them. You will have to change the circuit topology once more because in the inside goes the little bottle.

Make little strips with two LEDs facing oposite directions and solder them in series along the rings, as it is shown in the drawing.
So on the end you will have two bottom layers with 18 LEDs from each color on every layer that is 36LEDs + (I have made here) 4 rings with LEDs that is 4X6=24 all together 60 blue LEDs and 60 yellow LEDs.

Repeat the process up to the end after which you will insert the small bottle with a copper tape on its edge. You can hot glue the small bottle and in the end solder the two bottles together.

On the last picture it is the changing of the light intensity by turning the potentiometer. The small bottle is "a real bottle" so you can put water in it and flowers. I used some bamboo and blue silica looks nice, it shines and it holds water.
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