I have seen a lot of creative projects which utilize the popular “Bawls” bottles. Other projects had two features which I wanted to improve on;
1: The common use of batteries instead of a more permanent power source
2: The intensely bright spots which LEDs often produce
I based some of my design off of other projects and modified the points I wanted to improve on, this resulted in the Bawls Blue Crystal LED Light seen bellow.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
*If you have not worked with LEDs before I would recommend reading the LEDs for beginners guide before proceeding.
For this project you will need the following;
-Hot glue gun
-Heat gun (or a lighter)
-Glass drill bit ( Black and Decker Model # 16903 )
-Some scrap wire
-A resistor (Proper resistance to match your LEDs)
-Empty glass bottles (3 or 4 empty Snapple bottles should do)
Step 2: Drilling the Hole
*Before you start drilling consider wearing a face mask to filter the small glass particles out of the air you breathe.
Once you have washed out the bottle and gotten the glass drill bit you are ready to go. I would not recommend trying to drill a hole in the glass with anything except the special bit, I attempted my first hole with an old dremel bit and the bit melted.
Start by placing your bottle in a vice, this drilling will take a while to do so you don’t want to have to hold it the entire time. When putting the bottle in the vice be sure to add cloth cushioning, this will prevent scratched and the unintended shattering of the bottle. I found that the best approach is to clamp the base of the bottle; this avoids undue pressure on the thinner walls.
After placing the bottle in the vice with the logo down you are ready to drill. This hole will later be an inlet for the power supply wires. Start drilling right above the base, keep the bit
centered in between the two lowest rows of dots. This is very challenging when starting the hole, so long as you don’t drill directly into the thick base you will be alright.
While drilling apply light pressure and maintain a high speed. The process will be slow. Every 30 to 60 seconds brush away the dust and check your progress. Continue drilling until you breach the inner wall. After 5 to 10 minutes hopefully you will have punctured through, as soon as you notice that you have done so slow down your drilling. At this point you must continue drilling slowly until you have a hole big enough to fit your wires through. If you drill to fast once you have punctured the inner wall the bottle begins to vibrate and then shatters. (I found that out the tough way.)
Step 3: Soldering
Be sure to wash the bottle out after drilling, while it dries you can solder the LEDs together.
In the following schematic I used a 100 ohm resister if your power supply is different than mine please use the proper resister.
Simply follow the attached schematic. You will be building four parallel circuited which are then wired in series followed by a resister. Build the string of lights so that it is approximately the height of the bottle, if anything make it a bit shorter. As you construct the circuited be sure to put the heat shrink on before you solder the wires together. (This may sound stupid bit when you forget it is a Paine to get the cover on after.)
Step 4: Connection and Testing
By the time you finish soldering all of this together the bottle should be dry.
At this point feed the power supply wires through the hole and out the mouth of the bottle. Don’t forget to tire a loose knot in the wire, later on you will tighten this up so that it provides a sturdy point incase the wire is ever tugged on. Connect the power supply wires to your newly completed circuit and give it a test run. If it works then solder the connections and feel the entire thing into the bottle. Adjust the knot so that the lights go from the base to the bottle neck and there is little or no extra wire in the bottle.
Do a final check to make sure you have no loose connection anywhere.
Step 5: Glass Time
*Wear safety goggles when necessary
*Don’t cut yourself
Now that all the lights are working and you have everything soldered together you are almost done.
In order to disperse the light a little and avoid directly seeing the LEDs I chose to add glass shards. Filling the bottle with these does a great job at hiding all of the wires and making the bottle look great with the LEDs on.
I found the best approach to be as follows;
1. Peel paper off bottles
2. Place bottles in an old pillow case
3. Swing pillow case firmly into pavement or cement
4. Repeat 3 times
After this your pillow case will be slightly torn and more importantly filled with small shards of glass. Pour the glass into a box and carefully fill your bottle with the shards. As the bottle fills be sure to have the wires hidden. Keeping the wire directly in the middle of the bottle yields the best looking results when done. If you run out of shards that will fit into the bottle simply repeat steps 2 through 4 and continue filling the bottle. Once the bottle is full shake and tap the bottle, this will cause the glass pieces to settle and usually makes room for more shards to be added. Repeat this shaking and adding process until shaking and taping has no effect on the glasses level.
Your almost done now.
Step 6: Almost Done
Now all that is left to do is some simple stuff.
Put the bottle cap back on.
Add a bit of hot glue around the hole.
Take a damp cloth and wipe off the bottle.
Step 7: Your Done.
You now have a very cool looking light to show off to your friends,