Justin

Building an Outdoor Ice Rink No Liner, for Free (Part 1)

Family Chaos Ice Rink 2021

We only moved into our home in September, but I could already imagine the awesome ice rink that we were going to build around the fire pit in our backyard. I’ve never built an outdoor rink of any kind before, but I knew that I was going to have a significantly more time on my hands. I wanted to give myself something to do, and also an outlet for the kids to burn off some energy and get some exercise. We were not able to spend a dime on this thing so a $4,000 rink kit was out of the question, so I set out to build an outdoor ice rink without a liner, and it cost us absolutely nothing!

How to build an outdoor ice rink, no liner

Over the next several steps we’ll take you through building an outdoor ice rink without using a liner. This is done in two phases, 1) we use snow to create a slushy base that will freeze and become our “liner”, and 2) Flooding it and getting it smooth. Let’s get into it.

minimum requirements

Before you start building your outdoor ice rink, you should make sure that you can meet at least the following minimum needs.

– Cold weather (At least 0°C, but preferably colder)
– Snow (Around 20cm is good)
– A reliable water source
– A safe and appropriately sized location
– Shovels
– Garden hose and Nozzle
– Patience

Steps to building an outdoor ice rink without a liner

BEFORE YOU START

You only need a few basic tools to create an outdoor ice rink and can easily save yourself up to $4,000 on backyard ice rink kits. Once you know that you meet the minimum requirements above you can go ahead and get started on Step 1 below.

1. PREPARING THE AREA

Select an area in your yard that you wish to make your ice rink and then go a little bigger. The edges are always tough without a liner and boards so you’ll end up building up the snow “boards” quite a bit
You can begin preparing your ice rink before it gets cold enough, as long as you have some snow. You can begin by compacting the area of your ice rink in any way, shape or form. You really want to have a firm base of snow to start your rink. It doesn’t have to be completely level, but it should be relatively so. Water is self-level as it pools and freezes, but you don’t want a significant difference in grade or you won’t ever get it very flat.

This is a perfect time to elevate those low areas of your rink with snow and compact it down to make as level a surface as possible. Ideally 10 – 20 cm of snow will compact down to about 1 to 2cm of snow.

2. start spraying water… slowly

Patience is key, especially in the beginning. Start the first few sprays by just waving the nozzle around the entire area so that just the very top most millimeters of snow get wet. Each time you add a layer of light sprays, the water will sink through the top layer onto the next layer until the compacted snow is frozen. Mother nature is going to do most of the work during this stage.

You are not going to have a flat, shimmery surface for a while so don’t be dreaming of that. We’re attempting to use the snow to create the ice so that we’re not using as much water. Since we’re not using a rink liner, the water doesn’t have any place to go if we add too much.

If the weather is closer to 0°C then you’ll want to wait a few hours between each spray. If you find you are losing too much snow, then ease up. The water will freeze fast with colder temperatures and you should be okay to go out every hour or so.

go low and go slow

Too much water, too quickly will melt the snow as opposed to turning it to slush for mother nature to freeze it. Until you’ve created a solid bed a ice, with no holes, you simply won’t be able to do any significant flooding (where the water pools and moves around). It really and truly is important for you to go low and go slow with the water at this point. Don’t rush it or you’ll hate yourself later when you need to be adding more snow back on to the ice to patch holes.

3. Keep It Clean; Build up Your Walls and Patch Some Holes

You’ll appreciate keeping it clean as even the smallest droplet of snow could freeze and be something to trip over. Take the time to push the snow out towards the sides of your ice rink. This gives your rink some definition, but also creates a bowl-like structure whereby water will eventually be able to collect without running off of the sides.

It’s going to be worth patching any holes or building up low areas as you go. Your future self will appreciate you. You patch holes exactly the way that you created your rink; add some snow, make it slushy and let it freeze.

Water will self-level itself so you only need to worry about creating enough slush for mother nature to freeze into a solid (without holes) piece of ice.

Stay Tuned. In Part 2, we’ll talk more about patching and flooding…

Our Family Minecraft Server Setup

If you haven’t heard of Minecraft you may want to check and make sure that you are not under a rock. All three of the kids in my household enjoy playing Minecraft, but I really don’t like them joining some of these random online servers. With some research it wasn’t difficult to put together a nice, safe, alternative that we host ourselves.

Server Info

VPS Specifications

We currently have a VPS setup on Digital Ocean with the following specifications:

  • Ubuntu 18.04 (LTS) x64
  • 2 GB Memory
  • 50 GB Disk Space

CLI Arguments for Minecraft Java on Digital Ocean

java -Xms1024M -Xmx1536M -d64 -server -XX:+AggressiveOpts -XX:ParallelGCThreads=3 -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC -XX:NewSize=84m -XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -XX:+UseParNewGC -XX:+ExplicitGCInvokesConcurrent -XX:MaxGCPauseMillis=10 -XX:GCPauseIntervalMillis=50 -XX:+UseFastAccessorMethods -XX:+OptimizeStringConcat -XX:+UseAdaptiveGCBoundary -XX:NewRatio=3 -Dfml.readTimeout=90 -Ddeployment.trace=true -Ddeployment.log=true -Ddeployment.trace.level=all -jar /<path>/<to>/<minecraft>/papermc.jar nogui

Server Software

In order to run the Minecraft server (and keep it running) we employ some additional software that was pretty easy to install.

PaperMC

There are plenty of different servers available for Minecraft Java. We went with PaperMC due to its stability and its mods compatibility with Bukkit and Spigot.

Crafty Controller

We’re also using an open source, secure by default software called Crafty Controller for the administration of our Minecraft worlds. I love the app, although I’m having some issues with keeping my world from crashing. I suspect this is because I setup the world outside of Crafty. I’ll create a new server and move over the save, eventually.

Plugins

We’re not doing much with plugins yet as I don’t take much time to set them up properly, but here are the plugins that we currently have running on our server.

Essentials
LuckPerms
Multiverse-Core, Multiverse-Inventories, Multiverse-NetherPortals, and Multiverse-Portals
Vault
WorldEdit
Dynmap
Epic Quest

In total, it costs us about $15 a month to operate a pretty custom Minecraft server with very little maintenance.

How To Get Every Android App for Free by Using Google Opinion Rewards

You too, will never have to spend a dime on apps with a little bit of time and a little bit of patience. By completing surveys in the Google Opinion Rewards app, you’ll be able to collect Google Play Store credit (or actual moola if you’re an iOS user) that will be completely usable for everything available in the Play Store including apps, books, movies, and in-app purchases. No more buying Robux for the kids!

So How, Exactly, Does It Work?

Google collects our data. Yeah, sorry to be a downer, but this is one occasion where we can get some value back out of that data. Our Android phones collect location data, search data, and even videos that we watch on YouTube. This data is sent to Google where they use it to provide you with better and more personalized services (except when they don’t, I recommend reviewing the privacy and security on your Google Account every year.)

You’ll be receiving surveys based on that data so an example might be that I receive a survey because my location was set close enough to a Home Depot, and Home Depot contracted with Google to obtain opinions from its customers.

Getting started

installing and setting up google opinion rewards

Step 1

From your mobile device, open the app store and search for Google Opinion Rewards. Install the app once you find it.

Step 2

After installing the app, run it and you’ll be asked to login to your Google account, as well as fill out some basic information. You’ll also want to have Location History turned on in order to take the most advantage of opportunities.

Step 3

Wait for surveys. The app will notify you when you have a survey available. Most of the surveys that I’ve done have come from locations that I’ve visited. So start living your life.

Conclusion

I’ve been using this method to not pay for Android apps for many years now. I’ve earned more than $100 in Play Store credit since I started doing these surveys back in 2016. That’s money that I didn’t have to spend, while providing a little bit of Dopamine for my beautiful brain. Isn’t it satisfying getting to itch that Dopamine scratch without wasting all of your money? It’s a literal two-for-one!

Mixed-Member Proportional vs First-Past-The-Post Voting in Prince Edward Island

Mixed Member Proportional

I was reading an article in my local newspaper, and I realized how much that I appreciate and consider myself very lucky to live in a free and democratic society. It isn’t uncommon in countries such as Russia and China where governments want to silence views that don’t match that of their own.


Putin is in his third of a maximum two terms (Yeah, you read that right). Electoral reform isn’t just a conversation here on P.E.I., but all over the world. The people will be heard.


I’d like to see mixed-member proportional (MMP) representation replace first-past-the-post (FPTP). Other than being easy to understand, FPTP has so many disadvantages including being unrepresentative of what the people actually want, and can be unknowingly manipulated by tactical voting.


There is an idea (Duverger’s law) that constituencies that use FPTP will lead to two-party systems, given enough time. Wondering why we keep seeing the same two-parties being elected in our elections? That’s FPTP. There ends up being a lot of wasted votes, so our elected officials are actually only receiving a small percentage of the vote. How is that “representative”?


MMP would almost certainly lead to more consistent majority reversals. Diversity in our government is important, and doesn’t lead to more difference. Our, former, minority government was still able to get decisions done because our representatives are able to put aside indifference and make decisions those that they represent.


Wow… That article really got me thinking. 😅