Bottle Lights

In later life Gloria was not a fan of hot drinks, she used to say that, combined with her tablets, they left a horrible taste in her mouth. She did, however, remember liking shandy. (I think fond memories of cricket match teas with her twin sister, Gilly, and grandad as a child helped.) And so began the hunt for “Lemonade” and “Beer”.

Budweiser hit the spot, and when she discovered they made alcohol free “Prohibition” she was sold. However, It was difficult to find and when we went out her second choice was usually “Becks Blue”.

The summer I lost her I found a multi-pack of Becks Blue in one of the kitchen cupboards, I put a few in the fridge and the next time I barbecued I drank to her memory with a couple. I couldn’t face throwing the empty bottles away because things were too raw, so I tearfully put them back in the cupboard.

A few weeks later I was invited to a barbecue with Terry, an old “occasional drinking” buddy and his wife Maralyn. He introduced me to Adnams “Ghost Ship”, a citrus flavoured pale ale which wasn’t particularly to my taste but it did have an attractive bottle. I started to get the inkling of an idea and brought a couple of “empties” home with me.

Later again, I found some LED string rechargeable “bottle lights” on Amazon, designed, I believe, for use in table decorations at weddings, parties and the like. and purchased a pack of four to “play with”.

I liked the effect of the LEDs in the green and brown bottles but it needed to be softer with a third smaller bottle to complete an attractive “trilogy”, but the clunky white plastic “corks” would have to go.

I found my third bottle in my local supermarket, I can’t even remember what was in it, but it was small, clear glass, and had a pretty moulding.

Then work began in earnest. I “wet-blasted” the bottles to create a rough frosted finish (as if they’d been rolling around on the tide line of a beach for a while), then glued them together and dressed the bundle with garden string.

The “corks” were more of a problem. The actual cork tops were fine they nicely hid the USB plugs used to charge the lights. However, the bodies were far too big for my bottles.

I carefully removed the case from the spare LED string and discovered the electronics was smaller than I imagined and easily slipped inside the neck of my smallest bottle. Kapton tape and heat-shrink sleeving were used to attach the battery to the circuit board, and new cases were designed and 3D printed to hold the electronics down inside the neck of each bottle.

Once the fit in the bottles had been checked two more of the original cases were removed and batteries attached. Each set was then inserted into its new printed case and held in place with a dab of silicone.

Click to open the Fusion 360 Viewer
Click the image to open the Fusion 360 Viewer

The Fusion file is generic because it was necessary to tweak the size of the stopper for each bottle. Parameters for the top and bottom diameters and the height make it easy to adjust the size of the stopper and create a slight taper to improve the fit.