Pool Lilly Pad Solar Cover

A week ago i wrote about how Karrie and i got a new used pool.

After putting up the pool we quickly realized that it was too cold.  It was just in too much shade from the trees and the sun didn't have time to warm up the water.  After we take down the pool in the fall we plan on cutting down a lot of branches.  But until then we began looking into some cheap options and i saw this really cool idea.  It's a great combination of simplicity and effectiveness.  Basically you pump the water from your pool through several hundred feet of black hose pipe.
diy homemade solar pool heater

By the time the water flows through the hot pipe and back into the pool, the water temperature can rise up to 150 degrees, depending on the amount of sunlight.  I thought this was genius.  The problem we had was that we didn't have a great place to put the pipe where it would get sun all day long.  Some people put it on the roof of their house but that seemed like too much work.  Also the cost for all that pipe and a submersible pump was over $100.  So that option was out.

Our next option was a solar cover.  But the cheapest cover i could find for an 18 foot pool was $60.  And i wasn't really happy with the material.  It's basically just blue bubble wrap that floats on the water.
 blue solar pool cover, heat pool

I thought it would be some sort of heavy duty corrugated plastic that would create a greenhouse like effect.  Solar covers are basically just blue bubble-wrap.  Also after talking to the guy at the store, the main purpose for the cover is to keep the heat in the water at night, not to heat the water up during the day.  I was looking for something that would do both.

So i continued to look online for ideas and i saw theses Solar Rings. They are 5' in diameter and cost around $18 each.  They give you the option of adding more or less to vary the amount of heat that is kept in the pool.  Here's what they look like.
solar pool rings, heat pool, cheap pool ring

I figured that i could make them for practically nothing.  Just go to the dollar store, buy a couple of hula hoops and wrap them in a black garbage bag.  (Needless to say we have a very classy pool)

But then when i went to the dollar store, the only hula hoops they had were real small, cheap and looked like they would fall apart.
dollar store hula hoops, fun hoops, cheap

So instead i went to Lowe's and bought 100' of 3/4" sprinkler plastic pipe for $17.  Then instead of garbage bags i remembered that i had 2 rolls of landscaping plastic barrier material.  It was a little thicker material and i thought it would hold up better.

The real solar rings are 5' in diameter and for our 18' pool i would only need 8 rings.  But i figured that 5' would be too difficult to handle and store over the winter.  4' diameter would probably be the best, but the roll of landscaping plastic comes in 3' sheets.  So i decided to make the rings 3' in diameter so that it would fit perfectly on the 3' sheets, it would mean less cutting and less wasted material.
autocad measurements pool rings
After drawing this on AutoCAD i realized that i would need 21 rings to fill a pool 18 foot in diameter. 

Here's the materials i used.  The 100' of 3/4" irrigation pipe, 10 connectors and the black plastic.  (it's actually a weed barrier material) 
homemade pool ring material, how to

I measured and cut first ring to be just under 3' in diameter.  I needed to have an inch or two on either side so that i could fold it around and attach it to the ring.  And at the bottom you can see the gray connector piece that connects the two ends into a ring.
how to make cheap pool heater rings cover

 Here you can see how i cut the black plastic.
diy pool ring heater cover solar, make

I tested out several different ways to attach the plastic sheet to the pipe.  I was hoping that i could just use the hot soldering wand and melt the two plastic parts together.  But the plastic sheet was too thin and it just melted away.  Next i tried different types of tape which ended up working alright.  I ended up going with hot glue.  It was fast, cheap, held together the best and looked good too. 
best way to melt plastic, glue, join, together

So i cut and joined up 10 rings using all of the 100' pipe.
make solar pool rings, solar cover

Here they are all done and hot glued together.
finished pool lilly pad solar covers

I threw them in the pool and realized that my sketch was right.  10 rings meant i was only half way to filling the pool.
floating pool cover lilly pad solar heater

 Long story short, this is only a good idea if you can get the building materials FREE.  If you have to buy the pipe and plastic, then you might as well just buy a $60 solar cover.  The 100 feet of 3/4" plastic pipe and 10 connectors cost $25.

I ended up having to go back and buy another 100' and connectors.  I had enough black plastic sheets for another 5 rings.  But before having to go back and buy more plastic for the last 5, Karrie brought home some bubble wrap from her work.  I had to use clear packaging tape to make the pieces of bubble-wrap big enough but it ended up working great.
solar rings, diy bubble wrap pool cover, solar pool cover bubble wrap

Here's what it looks like now.  It's not the best looking thing in the world but it seems to work.  Typically the pool water was fluctuating between 68 at night and 72 during the day.  After adding the solar rings it reads 70 degrees in the morning and can get up to 78 if it's sunny. 
pool solar cover, homemade pool cover

Karrie is also bringing home more large bubble-wrap from work.  I have been taping the pieces together with the idea of making our own solar cover.  Hopefully i finish it before the end of the year.


Flavor Flav's Chicken and Ribs - Evicted?

A few months ago i found out that a new restaurant would be opening less than 2 miles from my house.
flavor flav's chicken and ribs, restaurant, sign, michigan, sterling heights, evicted

It's Flavor Flav's Chicken & Ribs.  Not sure why a celebrity from LA would open a restaurant in Sterling Heights Michigan.  But it's right by the Ford plant on Mound Road. 
flavor flav's restaurant, chicken, evicted, payment, michigan

Karrie and i decided to go there a while back for lunch.  I thought the chicken was great, super crispy.  The ribs were just ok. 
flavor flavs, chicken, evicted, good, food

Then last week while watching TMZ, which i watch every night at 7pm, i saw that Flavor Flav's was getting evicted.  They reported that the restaurant had never maid a payment.

I hope it doesn't close, it's actually really good.  Though the menu is surprisingly confusing for a place that only serves chicken and ribs.  Also the people working there were talking about filming a reality show, but who knows now.


Switch From AT&T to Comcast

 Last month i got rid of my AT&T DSL internet.  I was getting a great deal for a several years, 6mb/s for just $25.  Most of the time 6mb/s is fast enough for us.  Although we do stream a lot of our shows online and it's annoying when it freezes up.  But we couldn't really go any faster since 6mb/s is the fastest that DSL can offer.

The real reason why i switched is that my promotion expired and they raised the rate back up to $48 per month.  I called in but they would not give me that great deal anymore.  So the one reason why i was staying with AT&T, cost, was gone.  I had been looking at getting cable internet for a while now because of it's faster speed.  In my area there are 2 choices for cable internet, WOW and Comcast.  Lots of people i've talked with say that Comcast is terrible and WOW is great.  The problem is that the best deal that WOW had to offer was 20mb/s for $45 and Comcast offered 30mb/s for just $30. 

I bought a real good cable modem online for around $40, canceled my DSL and signed up for Comcast.  I made sure that i didn't want any hidden install fees, just send someone over and get them to turn on the signal at the box.  When the guy came he did end up giving me a new splitter and making the connections waterproof at no charge. 
waterproof coaxiable cable, water proof splitter, cable, comcast, install

The signal from the pole comes directly to the house, through the brick wall and into the basement.  That's where the cable modem and wireless Linksys router is.  All of the other coaxial cable in the picture is for the fractal antenna which is in the attic.

So far it's only been 2 months but the faster speed is great.  Instead of downloading at 600kbps max. i'm downloading over 1100kbps. 

Here's a screenshot of the speedtest.
internet speed from comcast, speedtest, comcast

I still say that in the future there will be no cable, it will just be internet.  All shows will be streamed to your computer/tv and everything will be on demand.  This is still my setup in the living room, a computer hooked up to the TV.  It is working great and i can watch any show, at any time.


New Used Pool

A couple of weeks ago Karrie and I bought a used pool on Craigslist.  It was one of those bubble pools that doesn't have a frame, just a vinyl liner.  It came with everything we needed, including a heavy duty sand filter, rather then the cheaper cartridge filter.  The guy who we bought it from said it had a couple of tiny holes, but he gave us a kit to patch them.

He also said that it was a 15 foot pool that was 3.5 feet deep.  We didn't realize until we opened it that it was an 18 foot pool that was 4 feet deep.  That was fine with us though, brand new they are usually $450.

There was already a big ring of raised dirt in our backyard from where the previous home owner had a pool.  We wanted to put the pool more by the fence, that way it would be in the sun longer and away from the overhanging tree.  But the ground wasn't level, so we just put it where the old pool had been.  This turned out to be a mistake for several different reasons.
intex bubble pool, how to fill up a pool

After an hour of filling we realized that the 18 foot pool was way bigger then the level ring of dirt.  But thinking it would be ok we kept filling.  10 hours of constant hose filling later and we were only 75% full, but we already realized we had a problem.

Lets just say that next we we will be doing 2 things before setting up the pool.  First is to trim lots of branches from the big tree.  The pool only gets sun from 2pm to 7pm.  Any time outside of that and it's in the shade.  The temperature ranges between 62 and 68 degrees, which is really cold.  Also we found out that 8 billion seeds fall from that tree in early June.  It was full of these seeds every day no matter how much we cleaned it.  The second thing we will be doing next year is leveling the ground.  Because the pool was overhanging the dirt ring, the low side was stretched and the pressure wasn't even on all wall sides.  It's not the end of the world but it looks like it could capsize on that side.

It took us a few days to figure out the pump and sand filter setup.  It came with these strange 1-way valves that screwed into the pool sidewalls.  Once i figured out how to let the water freely flow in the right direction it works fine.  This was us going over all the instructions after we got it home.
instructions to filling up a pool

We are looking forward to some sunny 85 degree days so that we can enjoy the pool.  So far it's been a ratio of 10:1 of cleaning to swimming.


Memorial Day Parade - 2013

 Here's some of the pictures i took at this year's Memorial Day Parade.  In case you don't know the history, here's pictures from years 2012 and 2010.
I've been seeing a lot of the same people, in the same place, acting the same way since 2007. 
Here's what i mean.

Here's some people who sit down by the river.  These were taken in 2008-2010.
parade watcher, memorial day parade

This was from last year in 2012.
2010 parade people

And now this year sitting in the same spot.  If the people around the guy weren't wearing different clothes you might think i was kidding that these were taken a year apart.  Same green shirt, same white socks, same sunglasses and same cigarette pack in the pocket.
funny people at the parade

Here's another family that also sits down by the river.  2007-2010.
white trash family

And 2013
candy parade game

They are wearing matching shirts as well.

best place to see the parade

This guy is one of my favorites.  It's funny but until last year i hadn't realized that i had taken his picture every year since 2008.  When i looked back i was amazed that he was sitting the same way in front of his house.
lonely man

This was last year in 2012.
man sitting all alone

Now in 2013.  Back to the red shirt, but staying on the porch.  And looks like he finally got rid of the old computer monitor.
looking for women, all alone

3-peat winner back in 2010 for the happiest cop.
worlds best cop

In 2012 he went 4 years in a row.

who is the oldest cop, police officer

2013.  No Sunglasses.  Fifth year in a row, no problem.
safety cop, police

I didn't realize i had taken this picture until this year.  Looking back at some pictures i took in 2007 i noticed this group of people.
typical family

The reason i didn't notice them is because the one guy usually is only wearing cut-off jean shorts.  Here's the group in 2009-2010
shirtless and drunk

Last year was the same thing.  2012
fun in the sun

And this year he was still easy to spot.  Although he did have his shirt on.
happy day



He gets my award for the coolest guy at the parade this year.  2013
peace, peace sign

albert einstein

2013.  His mustache got darker.
local neighbors

You might remember this dog from 2012.  It had the little polka-dot coat and it's claws painted pink.
tortured dog

Well that poor dog is forced into wearing that same coat this year.
polka dot dog coat

And in case you were wondering if it's claws were painted pink...yep.
paint dog nails, claws

weird guy

suspicious guy

Safety kid from 2012
safety boy, kids bike helmet

Safety man 2013
safety man, bike helmet

2012.  The bigger guy in the back was in charge of keeping the candy all the kids collected.
candy man

2013.  Same job i'm guessing.
free candy

She got the best hair award a few years back.  With her man and a blue cooler.
oprah wig

2012, same hair, same cooler.
genuine wig hair

2013  This year i didn't see her, but the guy and the blue cooler still showed up.
how to get free food

Here's the ladies who sit in front of Donutown.
donut lady

2013.  Just the 1 lady in the background there this time.  I haven't seen the whole crew for a few years now.
eating a hot dog

2012.  This guy sitting by the road.
happy man

This year he was busy on his cell phone, but sitting roughly 5 feet from the previous year.
cool old guy

This guy reminded me of a combination of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite and Les Stroud from Survivorman

kip, les stroud, napoleon dynomite

les stroud

2009.  Notice the guy in the dark shirt sitting in the back.
man with tiny glasses

2010.  The same little sun glasses.
patriotic man

2013.  Same shirt, same glasses
parade family

Not sure what the kid with the wolf on his shirt is shading his eyes to look at.
spying kid

I'm still not sure
wolf shirt, kid

Back in 2010 there was this family.
weird kid

Here they were in 2012.
round man

Notice the same little kid in red.
government handout

And this year it's them on the right.  Standing under the same sign as they were back in 2010.
waiting for money, food

5 mile and beech daly from 2012.
typical redford township

Here's the same corner 1 year later.  Not much has changed.  Well different color flip-flops i guess.
happy campers

The SWAT member should tell the guy in the orange shirt that the parade's the other direction.
blind man

I didn't notice when i took this, but the lady has a parrot on her shoulder with a leash around it's neck.
parrot pirate lady

I think there's like 4 different people stealing candy here.
candy heist, theft

This year's happiest kid.
happy kid

Most depressed parade watcher.
mr. unhappy

Green shirt got my Most Excited award.
lady way too happy

Guy on the left got the Best Hair award.
cool haircut

The guy on the bike came in 2nd.

God is good
God is Good

And she got the Best Parent award
Mom of the year

smoking and pregnant

This kid looked very suspicious about getting free candy
suspicious kid

suspicious kid candy parade

These are the kids that wish they were with the cool group.
cool kids

These are the kids that don't care and probably have way more fun.
ready for fun, popular kids at school

The lady in back didn't look like she was having fun.
scary old lady

Cool old guy with one of those fake hair visors.
old man with fake hair

Friendly veteran
friendly veteran

Weird haired DJ
terrible scary dj

Just watching the parade for another year.
what is up with her