Sunday, January 27, 2013

My homemade Ice skating Rink 2013 Frozen bubbles and other icy adventures.

The Ice Skating rink me my mom and sister built. (For video and info how to build one read on)
Skating on Christmas day!

Frozen earth frozen sky
Chilly lights

Me hula hooping on my ice skating rink. The epic fall at the end of this video is really something. :)

Here's a couple more vids


How's it going? This morning I got up to warm weather, warm as in above freezing (which is really good considering) The sun was gleaming, and I saw a patch of blue sky. The air smelled fresh, and balmy. It was a beautiful morning. 

Now, the sky is covered in gray ook. It's starting to rain ice, and I'm thinking we're going to get more snow.

A few days ago it rained, and froze. It was literally Iceland, especially in the city. A lot of people were driving in really super scary conditions. There were a lot of accidents, and people were scooting around on sidewalks because it was so slippery. :) 

Lucky in the country it wasn't as bad. 

Not too long ago my sister was in a accident, and got her car totaled. Luckily she and her boyfriend came out of it okay. I guess they hit a bad patch of ice, and it sent her car spinning out of control. She just missed hitting a passerby, and smacked into the curb.
 Then she and her boyfriend got out of the car just in time because another car hit the same patch of ice, and then smashed into my sister's car. 

Then the story get's really interesting. While my sister and the person that crashed into her car were exchanging insurance info, another vehicle came down the same road, but this time (it was a snow plow) 
The plow hit the same patch of ice and my sister's car was hit once again. 

Crazy, huh! Yes. I still can't quite understand what happened.   But I'm glad nobody got hurt. 

La la la......zoom zoom. I'm kinda feeling sleepy. And hungry for a snack. 

Anywho. Sorry, I get sidetracked. As I was saying, this icy weather has been quite interestin. I honestly don't remember a colder, icyer winter, ever! 

So those of you who want to make a ice skating rink here's what you'll need. 
A tarp. What size? Well that depends on how big you want it. 
You'll need a way to get water into the tarp. 
Something to hold up the edges. 
And something to hold down the edges. 
(Note that the way this ice skating rink is built is very basic, and I'm sure there's a lot of other people out there who spend oodles of time doing it the right way) But as far as time and skill goes, this rink is good. Even if it is built the redneck way. 

So where was I? Oh yes.

Before all this cold began, we had been planning and pondering what we should do about making our ice skating rink this year. It had been warm warm warm for a very long time. So we starting planning the rink with only a small amount of hope that we'd be able to use it. 

I had planned on making it the same size and putting it in the same place we had our rink last year. However the weeds had taken over, so it took me several weeks to get the weeds cleaned out. Then there was the problem of all the bumps and furrows in the ground, courtesy of my mom making her garden on my my smoothed out piece of land. 

Then to make it worse, my fam had put a fence up around it. And we had put goats in there.

So after killing myself off trying to make the same spot of ground (ice rinkable) we (my sister and I) 
decided to move it elsewhere. Even though I had done a ton of work to get it where it was. 
We also decided we didn't want to haul all the railroad ties we had used for the edges to a different spot.
We also decided to move the rink closer to the road, because the ground was the smoothest, and we wouldn't have to spend a lot of time leveling the ground.  And we wanted it bigger. 

We also knew we didn't want to pay for a lot of new boards to build edge platforms, and spend tons of time making the frame. My mom thought we could order a frame for cheap. But nope. Twas too expensive, and not practical for my time frame.  There was also the option of building PVC pipe edges. But I also didn't want all the bother.

The previous year  I had done a lot of research on different types of rinks. And I knew I wanted it to be cheep and simple as I could get it. But I wanted a better tarp than last years. Besides one of my nieces had accidentally slashed holes in the tarp with her skates.

So we decided to go out on a limb and try something that might not work, but would cost very little considering the options out there. The only thing that would be expensive would be our time, the work, and the tarp.

We bought a professional ice skating rink tarp for about $150.00 or so. This is the site we bought the tarp from t

We got one that was about 50'x 20'  
I know that's not huge. But it was what we could afford at the time. 

Our biggest problem was figuring out what to use for the edges to hold the tarp up. We put a lot of ideas out there. Finally we decided to do something we weren't sure would work, but we tried it anway. 
We measured out the length and width of the tarp, and dug two foot dikes all the way around---making sure to heap of lots of dirt round the edges so there would be plenty of dirt to hold up the tarp.  It took as a long while, and I was really sore from so much digging.

The only concern we had was that the dirt might get wet, turn into mud, and wash away, then we'd have zero edges. But we crossed our fingers and hoped that by the time the weather got wet, the ground would freeze, and it would be fine. 

 After we dug the edges we got a bunch of hoses, and linked them together, and made sure we had a nice path from the tap to the rink.

When the tarp came, I wasn't feeling well at the time, so my mom and my sister laid it out, and filled it with water. 

They finished it just in time, because not many hours after they put the tarp out, it started to snow. The only setback was we hadn't put dirt up around the edges of the tarp, so when the wind started to blow, some of the edges drifted over into the water. So my sister and I had to go and rescue the edges and secure them with boards, and rocks. It wasn't the greatest, but it did the job. And after it snowed, we packed it down against the edges. So in the end it was really nice. And because of the nice build up of snow we didn't have to worry about people nicking the edge of the tarp with their skates.

When the rink froze, it looked great. And was tons of fun. 
I ran a long extension cord to the rink and laced Christmas lights around the entire rink, so we could skate at night with lights, and also music. 

I'm so glad we did it. This year has been perfect for skating. I have skated more than I ever have in my entire life. I love it, and will be sad when it does get warm.  Skating is a wonderful endurance sport, especially in the cold. My ankles are getting stronger and I feel like a pretty decent ice skater. 

A note to all you who want to make a rink of your own. You'll need to maintain your rink after you skate on it by using a snow shovel and scooping off the extra ice. And if you want to smooth it out extra nice for the next time you skate, you need to fill a few buckets of water, and then fill them with snow, or let them sit out in the cold so the water is very icy when you pour it over the surface of the rink. Otherwise if you pour the water on it without letting it cool a bit, you'll risk cracking your ice. Believe me, I know. 

All in all, this rink is awesome, and even though it's colder than cold out there, it's like having my own personal gym. There's something fantastic about being outside, in the cold, skating under the sky, and frozen earth. 
Next year I want to make an even bigger rink! 
Here's a video of my niece and nephew learning to skate on our rink. 

Oh yes. I almost forgot. I was going to tell you some fun things you can do in negative 0 weather. 

You can blow bubbles at night, and have them freeze. The bubbles kind of go wacky in the cold. Some of them don't freeze right away, but it's still fun. You have to do it just right so they don't pop.
In the morning. And interesting array of half popped bubbles, and bubbles were on our porch.
Frozen bubbles. If you look closer, you can see the frost forming on the bubble.

Another fun thing you can do in cold weather is boil some water, and toss it out into the cold. It turns to fog instantly. It's freaky cool. I think the temp was negative 9 when we did it. It's not the clearest video, but I'm still going to post it. 

Oh, and here's another video of my fam making music on christmas eve.  My mom might not appreciate me posting this. But awe well. She's taking up drumming, and has a lot of fun doing it. My sister is playing the penny whistle, and my other sister is playing the djembe.

Another fun idea we did this year was fill balloons with water and food coloring and left them outside. Then when they freeze, we took off the plastic, and enjoyed the pretty glass globes they made.
I was writing one day, and this cute little bird was perched outside my window.
Yup. It looks like I live in Siberia
Frozen world.
I got this idea off the web, and decided that our fridge needed to keep up with the holidays.
My mom can fold paper into very beautiful window stars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Building a propane tank drum

The Beginning. Planning the notes.
Add caption

Rough notes cut into the tank (Not tuned yet)

Tuned, and partially panted. Not finished, but sounds super nice.

Not all the way painted, but it sounds great!

Hey everybody! Happy 2013

I've been meaning to write a blog post for some time. Now, I'm going to sit down, and do it even if it kills me. And it might. My room feels like a refrigerator right now. The weather has been icy icy cold. We even reached the negative 20's at night.  Brrrr....

So before I start rambling about my life, I wanted to do a special post on my sister's propane tank drum she has been making over the past month. She is very musical and likes to build things. When she saw a video of one of these beautiful-sounding drums on you-tube, she was determined to build one

I wasn't too heavily involved in the building of this drum. I was mostly a spectator. But it was such a nifty drum, and the process was quite time intensive, that decided I needed to do a short post about this intriguing little drum. 
 My first thought was a propane tank? Who would build a drum out of propane tank? What in the heck would it sound like

To answer that question, watch this video of my sister's drum. I think you will be amazed.


 Just so you get a picture of what had to go into building this drum, I'm going to give you a little insight into the making of it

First she had to buy an empty, stainless steel propane tank. You think that it wouldn't be that hard to find something that simple. But in our small town, nobody sells empty tanks. There were zero tanks here. So we had to ask my sister who was coming down over Christmas to pick one up at Home Depot
They have the cheapest price  for their tanks---around, about $39.00 

Everywhere else is too expensive, and the shipping is crazy.

 We also considered using a used tank. But we were worried because you start sawing on the tank, it makes sparks, and it being a used tank, you don't want to blow yourself up. 

However, my sister did a lot of research how to use used tanks, and now she is working on making her second drum, and for this one she is using a used tank. But it took her ages to clean it out. And the smell is terrible. She brought it into the house, and I thought I was going to die. To prevent blowing herself up, she filled the tank full of water, so if there is any gas left in the tank, she'll be okay. 

Anywho. Once you get the tank, you have to figure out how to pry the valve thingy and the standoff.  

I'm not exactly sure how she did it, but it took her a good while. I think it helps to have a professional valve remover.

Then she had to buy a saw, and saw blades to cut the metal----all of which adds up. Plus because of the angles you have to cut, you'll probably break a lot of blades in the process. (my sister did)

Then she got some plans off the internet on how to space the notes, and how big the cuts should be. Then my older sister, helped to put the plans on a grid paper and transfer them over.  

My sister began cutting the holes in the drum (in the house) because it's too cold outside.  She had to drill a staring hole first in order to to make the first cut Take note, that when you are cutting, you will need ear plugs because the tank echos really loudly.  

After she cut the holes, she had to tune the drum.  To tune the drum, she used magnets, and cut the tongues different lengths. Also the length and the width of the cut also determines the note.  My sister had to sit by the piano, and play a note, and then go back and forth to the drum, to the piano, and to the saw,  in order to tune it. 

There are are a lot of different aspects to making a propane tank drum. And I am no expert, I'll leave that up to my sister. 
My mom and her recorded themselves playing the drum, and I decided to upload the video onto youtube. As of today, my sister  painted over the drum with a some really cool metal paint. So now all my pictures aren't true to what it really looks like now. 
Oh well. 

If you're interested in learning more, for patterns and better details. I suggest you do a google search for tank drums, or Hank drums, or Propane tank drums---or ufo drums. A man called Dennis Havelna first invented these drums a few years ago, so they are still quite new .It's name is halfway between  a hang drum and a tank drum, hence the name hank drum.  

My sister followed a pattern someone posted on their blog. However the next drum she makes is going to be on a scale she made up, so that she can play a wide array of notes.

 I'm very excited to see how it sounds. The exciting thing about these drums is that they are a really cool alternative to steel drums, which cost in the thousands. These tank drums are a lot less complicated to make, and they sound really neat. I like to call them Zen drums. But my sister calls her drum a Luna drum. 

If you don't want to make one, that's fine.  If you want to buy one already made, my sister is considering making, (and tuning them) for about three hundred dollars each. Which, if you consider the crazy amount of time and work that goes into them, is pretty fair. There are a lot of sellers on the net who sell their drums from three to five hundred. Just depends. 

Anywho. That's my plug for my sister's project. For my next post, I'm going to be showing off my awesome homemade ice skating rink. It's bigger, and better than last years. :) 


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