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Home alone? No-one to go out for a drink with, but you fancy a glass?

WineTime is for you!


This bottle lights up when it is sent a text message – so give the number to your friends, and if they too are home alone and fancy a glass, they can easily let you know and you can drink together, but alone, but together …

And, just in case no-one sends a text – there’s a secret switch on the bottom, so you can pretend you’re not drinking alone.

This project was inspired by Les Pounder’s Invent Advent challenge – “Buy something from 'a pound shop' for less than £10 and hack it using stuff you have at home.”

I bought a light-up wine bottle. It cost, unsurprisingly, £1.PoundlandBottle2_69ab2e84335fc23f52233c8d1d7dfc6976c5d2df.png

As my home also houses my lab and workshop, I was at a slight advantage with the restriction of using stuff at home – I had an Adafruit Fona Feather that I had been meaning to play with for a while. The blurb about it says it’s an “'all-in-one' Arduino-compatible + audio/SMS/data capable cellular development board, with built-in USB and battery charging.”

I only wanted to be able to text the bottle and the lights turn on. The Fona Feather has a lot more capability than I needed for the project – but I felt I had to start somewhere.

Cost of Project: Approx. £75



The stages:

1) Remove base from bottle

After a little wiggling, I managed to break the glue seal and remove the plastic base containing the battery compartment, a string of LEDs and a resistor.




2) Program FONA to receive text messages and turn a GPIO pin high

The Adafruit tutorials are excellent:

I programmed the FONA using the Arduino IDE. I adapted a couple of the Adafruit examples to get the FONA to do what I wanted – the code is available here on GitHub – and can also be downloaded here: (FONA_SMS_LightUpWineBottle.ino)

I used a GiffGaff Sim and put £10 of credit on to the card.

3) Connect LEDs to FONA

Thingatron3_403a060a9faeb5c7cf297d467cd91316fa6515d0.jpgThe original setup uses three AAA batteries (4.5V) to power the LEDs. They draw more current and higher voltage than can be delivered from the Fona board. Extra electronics were required to allow the port on the Fona to switch the power to the lights on and off. I used a Thingatron for this.

With a bit of cutting of wires, soldering in new ones, I connected the lights and battery compartment to the Thingatron, and the Thingatron to the FONA. I also connected the switch on the bottom of the original wine bottle base so it could bypass the new electronics, and turn the LED string on and off, even if no text message was received.



4) Battery for FONA

Battery1_1d3fe5d20ef2932dc58218d429a7c9d0cb7babe6.jpgI didn't want the FONA to be on all the time, but I also did not want to pull the JST battery connector out. So I made and used a Battery Switch.

5) Test and Play!

Then I had great fun texting the bottle!

Lessons Learnt

  1. Text messages can take up to 15 minutes to arrive – maybe longer!

  2. 2G is being switched off around the world, so a few years ago this board would have worked for a bottle anywhere in the world, nowadays it doesn’t. And the new replacements are location specific – American Version, European version etc.

Related articles

As mentioned above, you can expand your WineTime project with the addition of two mini projects:

I am an inventor, engineer, writer and presenter. Other stuff: Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Engineering: Creativity and Communication at Brunel University London; Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and have a PhD in bubbles; Judge on BBC Robot Wars.
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