LED Bottle Beacon




This insturctable will show you how to make an empty pill bottle into a beacon using a few readily available electronic pieces, very little soldering expierence, and, of course, an empty pill bottle.

Why would anyone want to use this?

I thought about this one evening. I am a night owl in my home and am always the last to goto sleep. I try not to disturb the rest of my family the best I can. Sometimes though I need to remind myself to do something before I goto sleep like, put my clothes from the washing machine into the dryer. With this little device that takes took about 15 minutes to make, and is reusable, I can remind myself of something I need to do without waking my family with timers or alarms.

This is a great way to recycle little clear or colored bottles and jars. It is pretty bright in the dark so you will see it when the light is turned out. There are many different little led bottle and jar lights on instructables. Check them out!

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Here is a listing of parts and tools needed.

*An empty pill bottle or another small bottle with plastic lid.
(Metal lids are possible just be sure to have a drill and
bits to make the hole for the switch.)
*One 3v Button Cell Battery.
*One 3v Button Cell Battery Holder.
*One Red Blinking LED (MAX Voltage = 5v)
*One ON/OFF Micro Toggle Switch
*One or Two Small Washers
*One Piece of Tracing Paper or Other Translucent Paper

- Total for parts was roughly $10.00US -

*Soldering Tool
*Small Pliers
*Small Screw about the diameter of the switch neck.
*Screwdriver for above stated screw.
*Suitable Work Surface
*Helping Hands with Soldering Tool Holder.(Not necessary, but

Step 2: Remove Label From Bottle

This is the longest part of completing this instructable. Basically just sit down somewhere comfortable for a few minutes and start pealing away the label of your bottle. Hopefully it will come off very easy unlike the label on the bottle I used here. It can make a mess with little pieces.

After you peal as much of the label off af you can wash your bottle off with hot, soapy water. This will help with the glue residue.

If you have a product called GOOF OFF or other sticker removal licquid I recommend you use it for tough labels. Be sure to rinse your bottle off after you use these products.

Step 3: Installing the Switch

This step is fairly easy. Remove the lid from your bottle. Look at the top and underneath to see if there is a mark right in the center from the molding process. Under the lid of this lid had a small "42". Mark that spot with a marker or pen. If you don't see and marks you can either just eyeball it and mark the center or do a little math and measuring.

Next take the small screw and screwdriver and line them up on the mark you made. (Be sure to have something under the lid to keep from scratching your work surface.) Press down while screwing into that mark until you are completely through. Check your size every few turns at the beginning to keep from making the hole too big.

Remove the small nut and washer(s) from the switch. Install the switch from underneath the lid. Place the small lock wash that came on the switch. Place another larger washer over the other. Install the nut to complete the switch installation. Tighten with small pliers.

Step 4: LED and Battery Installation

Here is where that Helping Hands come in handy. Under the lid solder the positive contact of the battery holder to the outside post of the switch. Battery holder should face outward for easy reinstallation of batteries.


Next measure the LED next to the other post from the switch and the negative post on the holder. You will need to clip part of the NEGATIVE lead on the LED and solder it to the negative post on the battery holder. Solder the other longer lead to the other post of the switch.

Install Batteries.

Please take a look at the pictures to get an idea or message me with and questions.

Step 5: Put It All Together

Next insert a piece of tracing paper cut down so it will fit inside the bottle. If you roll the paper up then insert it, it will unwind easily inside the bottle.

Carefully twist on the lid. Be sure that the LED and Battery holder do not catch on the paper when you insert them.

Add ON / OFF with a fine pen or marker.

Step 6: Test It Out

Give your new bottle beacon a try. This gadget doesn't apply to many people but, if you need something that will get your attention and not make noise. This instructable was made you!

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    14 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 4

    could you post another photo? it's a bit fuzzy and hard to see, great instructable! i'm going to make some of these for a bike light :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I sat here and watched the video that was with the instructable and i thought "What if I didn't use the tracing paper?" i wanted to know if anyone has tried this, and if they could tell me the outcome of their "Bottle Beacon".


    You could save a switch by rigging the bottle cap to twist to turn on or off like some flashlights. It would also work towards improved water-resistance if that mattered for some reason. (I'm picturing a "bread crumbs" in the dark sort of use.)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I been 'trolling' through instructables for over a year and always just imagined doing some of the projects. I've never commented or posted before. Until now. This inspired me to make one. I did it and love it. I decided to use two white and two pink leds in a blue water bottle using three AAAs It gives off a great tye-die light. However, I made the mistake of using a pressure sensitive button instead of a switch. I thought that the on/off would be just flipping it upsidedown on the button using gravity and the weight of the bottle to turn on the light. It works on a table, but carrying it around is a bit awkward. My next one will a switch. Thanks for this instrucable. This inspired me to make more.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hey I tried that its really cool, but I did it with wireS and didn't worry about the battery holder. I just solded the wires to the switch and attached it to the battery and the L.E.D flasher. AND IT WORKS!! I saved my self around $4 AUD (Australian Dollars)

    1 reply

    That is great it worked! The battery holder was a little bit of a splurge while picking parts. Sorry it took awhile to get back. Thanks again

    Thanks! I have been out of town this weekend and spent 20 hours of it driving. Gave me time to think of some new ways to present this idea. Check back!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, it's a bottle beacon. I thought it said bottle of bacon. Well done instructable, good pictures (some were a little fuzzy, but I've seen MUCH worse here) and clear instructions. I would think lightly sanding the outside of the bottle instead of using tracing paper would diffuse the light just as much without reducing the light as much. If your LED is bright enough, this could be used as a more environmentally responsible alternative to a highway flare. Good job, but now I'm wanting bacon.....

    3 replies

    The road service here have things that attach to traffic cones, they're big rechargeable lights that flash, I keep meaning to nick a few... I saw bacon at first and was excited about bacon bottles...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great design! I was looking for something like this on Instructables 2 months ago. I wanted to mark tent stakes in the night. Last time I went camping, every kid who walked by tripped on my tent stake. So I was looking for something water proof (for rain) and crush proof (from feet).

    Very nice, I like it. I've also found that the best way to get the paper of a bottle or jar is to soak it in hot water for about an hour, then it pretty much falls off.