There's something magical about fairy lights in bottles. They evoke dreams of endless summer nights: catching fireflies at the bottom of the garden, telling ghost stories by firelight, or cuddling up with a book while a thunderstorm rages outside. 

This project uses a Circuit Playground Express to control nine beautiful, crafty fairy bottles hanging from the branches of an indoor tree sculpture. Capacitive touch metal buttons select color modes based on the four seasons: a relaxing rainbow for summer, flickering candlelight for autumn, raindrops and lighting for winter, and a beautiful energetic and colorful animation for spring.

This is a fairly advanced project with a lot of tricky wiring and soldering. The coding is also fairly involved, creating four different modes and switching between them.

None of the steps are terribly difficult in-and-of themselves, but there are a lot of steps and a lot of things that can go wrong. But the end result is stunning in its beautiful simplicity, so with a bit of patience and plenty of time, you can make something wonderful.

Parts

Circuit Playground Express

PRODUCT ID: 3333
Circuit Playground Express is the next step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've taken the original Circuit Playground Classic and...
$24.95
IN STOCK

Adafruit Mini Skinny NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip - 60 LED/m

PRODUCT ID: 2964
So thin. So mini. So teeeeeeny-tiny. It's the 'skinny' version of our classic NeoPixel strips!These NeoPixel strips have 60 digitally-addressable pixel Mini LEDs per...
$99.80
IN STOCK
1 x NeoPixel Dots
4" pitch NeoPixel Dots
3 x Splitter
4-1 JST Connector Splitter
20 x 2-Pin Connectors
2-Pin JST Connector Set
1 x 4-Pin Connector
4-pin JST Connector
3 x Wire
26 AWG Wire in Various Colors
1 x USB Cable
2m USB Cable
1 x Power Supply
5V 2A Power Supply

Materials Needed

Bottles

  • Small glass bottles of various shapes & sizes
  • Corks to fit in the bottles
  • Iridescent cellophane or fantasy film
  • Leather or rope scraps for hanging

Controller Pad

  • Conductive metal charms (buy or make your own)
  • Galvanized wire
  • E6000 glue

Tools Needed

  • Soldering iron & accessories
  • Heat gun
  • Wire strippers & snips
  • Scissors or utility knife

Wire Connectors

There are a LOT of wire connections in this project. For the connections to the bottles, I used the traditional soldering-iron-and-heat-shrink attachment method. For the connections that needed to be made in place up in the tree, I made really good use of a new type of heat shrink connectors.

These connectors come in varying sizes and are really cool! They've simplified the process of connecting wire to one or two steps, and eliminated the need to use a soldering iron for wire-to-wire connections. The colored lines are hot-melt glue, and the silver bit in the middle is low temp solder. 

I found them on Amazon here.

Twist your wires together securely, then slide the heat shrink connector over your twisted wire. Heat the whole thing with a heat gun and you've soldered, sealed, and glued your connection in one step. These things are a game-changer for in-place installations where a soldering iron is impractical to use. Magic!

This guide was first published on Feb 08, 2020. It was last updated on Feb 08, 2020.
This page (Overview) was last updated on Oct 24, 2020.