Part #1: Development & Design
During the summer, Monk Park on Versailles Avenue is a quiet, uneventful field located in residential Pierrefonds, QC. This quiet is interspersed by the occasional game of Ultimate Frisbee or the roar of commercial lawn mowers, and one would be forgiven for not noticing the handful of landscaping companies based in some of the homeowners’ parking lots. In winter; however, the excess manpower and vast expanse of snowy field is far from going to waste. In fact, even the garden hoses, gas generators and work floodlights are put to good use, since every year the Leger family (located on the field’s perimeter) is hard at work preparing an impressive and religiously maintained ice hockey rink on the first day of subzero temps.
Being a good friend of this family myself, I have been invited to numerous hockey games and have seen the preparation strategies employed by the younger members of the family evolve over the years. Since the older members of the family are busy running their own landscaping companies (mentioned above), they have become “coaches” of sorts for the younger members, who have themselves taken ownership of the rink (with occasional help from loving parents). Initial setup involves installing 2×8’s around the rink as “boards”, mounting overhead lighting circuitry, and around a dozen rounds of watering.
The youngest family member, Timmy Leger, is a big dreamer and a passionate of many hobbies – longboarding, snowboarding, biking, hockey, Polaroid photography, Jacuzzis, travel and sports in general. He has big shoes to fill with the reputation of his 3 older brothers (he knows), and sometimes his aspirations are just so far-fetched (ex. copper-coil and wood-fire heated hot tub, LED-underlit longboard, Hydro-Quebec-pole hammock zipline, 900km New Jersey to Montreal bike trip etc.) that they never quite come to fruition. But to give credit where it’s due, the last 2 did see completion, and testify to great potential.
I myself also have dreamt of ideas and undertaken projects, mostly in the realm of electronics and computers (ex. C++ and visual C# Windows programming, converting a laptop to a wooden digital picture frame, outlining my 3 basement windows with synchronized multicolor LED strip lights, circuit board soldering etc.). Self analysis: I become totally engrossed in projects that interest me, and often spend many morning hours obsessing over perfection of minor details. This often comes at the expense of personal relations; I can be very cold towards family when I’m laser focused. I’m also very frugal, but money is not an issue when it comes to needs for a project. I can’t begin to describe the satisfaction I get from the “WOW” factor, I’m a showoff and the cooler, the better.
What’s the connection with all these character traits and projects, you ask? Combine a spontaneous and creative idea-machine with a geeky, laser-focused jack-of-all-trades like me, and throw in LED lights into the mix… Having been impressed by my basement décor and knowing that I have experience myself with LED lights, controllers, and Chinese eBay suppliers, Timmy asked me if I could order him a waterproof kit so he could battery-power a few strips and light his longboard from underneath, making for a sweet night-ride. I gave plenty of advice on mounting and powering, but this project fell through the cracks, and Timmy started looking for other creative ideas when winter dawned.
Our million-dollar idea: why not use this 5m long waterproof LED light strip to make a Montreal Canadiens Habs logo with a red “C” and blue “H”, seal it up in clear, flexible PVC tubing, hook it up to a long wire and color controller, and freeze the whole thing right under center ice? The idea proved ingenious, but the technical challenges were daunting. Could one build this to withstand water submersion, winter chills, and weight pressure?