Intro: Nature-Themed Solar Bottles
I had a few antique soda bottles lying around collecting dust and finally decided to do something with them. This was a fun little project and it turned out very well! Hope you like it!
What you'll need:
-A log (I used cedar)
-A few bottles (I like the look of old soda bottles, but you can use just about any type of bottle for this project)
-An old solar garden light with a 5-6V solar panel in it.
-A few LEDs (one for each bottle)
-Bottle caps (one for each bottle)
-A battery holder (I salvaged this and my LEDs from an old flashlight)
-Rechargeable batteries (I used 3 AAAs)
-Drill and bits (You will need some specialty bits: a 1" Forstner bit, a 5/16" diamond glass drilling bit and a hole saw)
-Soldering iron and solder
-Hot glue gun
-Screwdriver(s) (to take apart your solar light)
Step 1: Take Your Solar Light Apart
This is usually a fairly simple task. There are tons of different types and designs of solar garden lights, so each one will have a different way of coming apart. The top of the lantern is usually a 'twist and lock' type design, so all you have to do is hold the bottom of the light with one hand and twist the top counter-clockwise and it should come apart. Most of these lights have all of the circuitry in the top part that you just removed.
You may need a screwdriver to actually take apart the top cover to get all of the circuitry out of it. Use caution when removing the solar panel itself from the top cover. Sometimes you need to stick a very small flathead screwdriver or blade in beside the panel and wiggle it a bit to free the panel in order to remove it. Be very careful if you do this, as the solar panel is fragile and can break fairly easily if you start trying to pry it too hard. You may also need to snip the wires going from the circuit board to the solar panel in order to separate them from the top cover.
In my experience, the majority of solar garden lights don't fail because of the solar panel. It's much more likely that the batteries are just dead. You may get lucky and have some batteries that you can reuse from the light, but you may have to get some replacements.
Step 2: Slice Up Your Log!
Now you just need to decide how tall you want your bottles to stand. The longer the pieces of log that you cut, the taller the bottles will stand when it's all together in the end. I chose to have mine sit relatively low.
Get your saw out and cut your pieces. I chose to stagger mine, so all three are slightly different heights. I also chose to attach mine together. To do this, I placed one slice offset on top of another, traced the outside of it onto the other log and then used a jigsaw to cut it. I then used wood glue to glue the pieces together.
Then you'll need to cut a fourth piece for your panel to mount to. I chose to cut mine at a bit of an angle so my panel gets more sun, but I'm sure it would be fine if yours is just straight up.
If you have a power sander or even just a piece of sandpaper, you can sand the top surface of your cuts just to make them a bit smoother, but it's not necessary.
Step 3: Make a Recess for Your Bottles and Solar Panel
This step is totally optional. I thought it would look nice to make a little recess in the top of each of my slices of log for the bottles to stand in, but you don't really need to do this.
If you decide to do it, here's how...
Get your hole saw out (I can't remember the exact diameter of the one I used, but it's the size you use to cut a hole in a door for a knob) and just drill down about 1/4" or even less. Then use a grinding bit in your Dremel to grind out all of the wood from the centre of your hole saw outline. I did this for my solar panel as well. For the solar panel, I traced an outline of it on the log and then Used the Dremel to get everything out to recess it a tiny bit.
At this point, you can also go ahead and drill a hole down through the centre of your pieces (right through the area where your bottles will sit).
Step 4: Drill Out Your Battery Compartment
Now, depending on the size of your battery holder, you'll need to drill a hole into the bottom of one of your logs. For this, I used a Forstner bit. Be careful not to drill right through the log, just into it far enough for the battery compartment to fit all the way inside.
Now you can also drill/cut out a section in the bottom of one of your logs for the small circuit board to fit into as well (I just made my cutout right next to my battery compartment hole).
It's also a god idea to use your Dremel with a grinding bit and cut a channel out of the bottom of your logs to connect the wiring for all of the LEDs.
Step 5: Drill Holes in Your Bottles
Please be very careful in this step. I highly recommend wearing thick gloves, not only in case the glass breaks, but to keep the glass dust from getting into your hands. Also, wear safety glasses as well!!!
Grab your drill and your diamond bit. Drill one hole in the bottom of each of your bottles. You do not need to apply much pressure at all with the diamond bit. Be patient and let the bit do the work. It may take a minute or so to get through the bottle. Remember, you're not drilling through wood or metal! Just make sure your hole is big enough to fit an LED in afterwards.
*Note: I would recommend drilling in a sink or in a tub with water. The diamond bits need a lot of water in order to lubricate them. If you don't use water, you'll burn out your bit in no time.
Step 6: Get Your Wiring in Order
Now it's time to wire everything up. Grab your LEDs and wire them together in parallel (+ to +, - to - etc.). Make sure you have a long enough length of wire on your LEDs to go through the holes in your logs. Now feed your wired LEDs through the holes in your logs and into the bottom of your bottles. I used hot glue to secure the LEDs inside the bottles and then put a layer of silicon around the bottom of each bottle to keep the rain from coming into contact with the wiring. At this point you can also put your caps on. I would recommend using a rubber mallet to hammer the caps on to avoid scratching the paint and denting the caps.
Now just solder the positive and negative leads of from your LEDs to the negative and positive posts on your circuit board where the original LED was soldered in.
Solder your battery terminals onto your circuit board.
If your circuit has a switch somewhere, now is a good time to find a good place to mount that as well.
I put a layer of silicon around the bottom of my solar panel before I placed it onto the log to keep the weather out (same idea as with the bottom of the bottles). Feed your wire from the solar panel through the hole in your log also before siliconing it in place.
The way my panel was wired was the negative wire goes to the negative battery terminal and the positive wire goes to the circuit board. Just follow the way yours was originally hooked up and re-solder it.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Put in your batteries and seal them into the log (I used silicon again for this) and also seal your circuit board in the hole you cut out for it.
It's a good idea to seal up the wiring in the channel underneath the logs with some silicon now too just to keep the weather out.
Anything else you feel like adding is fine too haha.
Step 8: Put It Outside!
Now all that's left to do is put it outside to charge and watch it glow in the dark!
I hope you enjoyed this Instructable! Thanks for looking and as always, any questions are welcome!