Summer is almost here and it's time to start gearing up to cool down. Yes, yes, I know summer has been in full-swing for many of you, but here in the Pacific NW, it's just as likely to be cool and cloudy with a 40% chance of showers on the 4th of July as it is to be 90 degrees and sunny. For us, summer unofficially starts on July 5th. Regardless of when it starts to heat up, a key goal during the summer months is keeping cool and that means one thing: Water wars. Luckily for this geek, there are an unlimited number of fun, inventive ways to beat the heat. Here's a few you might like to try…
No self-respecting geek would ever be caught unarmed on a hot summer day. Having the right water weaponry is the key to dominating the enemy, even if the enemy happens to be that four foot tall kid who looks more than a little bit like you and all his neighborhood friends.
Squirt guns come in all shape and sizes. For years, Super Soaker has been my go-to brand when it comes to winning backyard water wars. Hasbro, which owns both the Nerf and Super Soaker brands combined the two brands within the past few years for some strange reason. The Super Soaker water guns also now carry the Nerf name and are compatible with most Nerf dart gun accessories, which makes almost no sense, but there you have it. An annoying result of this merger is that some of the models now run on batteries. I'm sorry, but as a water war purist, that's where I draw the line. First, batteries and water don't mix well, especially in toys that are routinely soaked. Second, and most importantly, squirt guns are meant to be powered by people, not Duracell. No one should get the same level of satisfaction from a puny stream of water accompanied by the annoying "whir whir whir" sound of a battery-powered motorized squirt gun as they do from spraying opponents with a jet of water you had to put some effort into creating. Given that, enter my weapon of choice, the Nerf Hydro Canon!
Yes, folks, bigger IS better. No batteries here either. With about 15-20 pumps of air this thing fires a massive stream of water sure to soak the opposition into surrender. Hell, just the sight of this cannon alone is intimidating…and, yes, I look very much like this when using it during our battles. Hasbro does have several other, smaller, non-battery-powered gun models in their water-based arsenal, so there's likely a gun for everyone. One of the things I do really like about the Nerf Super Soaker line is the fact that the younger soldiers in our battles can easily operate them, which is not always the case with "pump & fire" water guns.
Prepare the Battlefield
The goal of a good water war is not to try to stay dry. Start one with that thought and you'll quickly be frustrated and disappointed. It's really all just about staying cool and having fun on a hot summer day and, if you can completely soak your opponents along the way, well, so much the better. In order to add an extra twist to your water war, as well as make sure everyone starts things off a little wet (so as to avoid meltdowns), I discovered an incredibly fun project that can transform any yard into the envy of the neighborhood: The home-made water park.
This is a project where the sky is the limit, customizations are virtually unlimited, and the little geeks in your life can help with both the planning and the assembly. You can easily build the water park/sprinkler of your dreams for as little as $50, and best of all, it snaps together as easy as LEGOs. You can find most everything you need at your local home improvement mega store. First, start by drawing up a rough sketch of what you want your creation to look like. That will give you a good idea of the supplies you'll need.
Here are the basic supplies to get you started:
- Several 10' lengths of 1/2" white PVC pipe
- PVC fittings (elbows, couplings, T's, caps, etc.) based on your plans
- PVC threaded female hose adapter
- Hacksaw or PVC pipe cutter
- Rubber mallet (optional)
- Foam pool noodles (optional)
- Sponges / Mop Head (optional)
- String (optional)
Start by cutting your PVC pipe to length based on your plan. Push the fittings into place, using the rubber mallet if necessary. No glue is required, which makes disassembly and storage, as well as future customization, a snap. Be sure to attach the threaded hose adapter to one of the bottom corners to keep the hose out of the way while the water park is in use. You can also make things even easier on yourself by attaching a PVC shut-off valve between the hose fitting and water park. Slide the pool noodles on to various sections of the PVC pipe before attaching the fittings.
Once construction of your water park is complete, use your drill to put several holes throughout the lengths of PVC pipe. Don't use anything larger than a 1/8" drill bit, even smaller if you're drilling a lot of holes. Any larger and your lawn will be underwater in a matter of minutes. Also, be careful not to drill completely through to the other side of the pipe. It helps to think about where you want the streams of water to be shooting before beginning assembly, but these things are so easy to build it really doesn't matter if you mess up, because fixing or replacing sections of the park are incredibly simple. You can make things even more interesting by drilling the holes at different angles, criss-crossing streams, creating "water curtains" using several holes in a row, etc.
That's all there is too it! Once the holes are drilled, turn the water on SLOWLY. The water park will take a few moments to fill up, so don't worry if all the jets don't start spraying right away. Turning the water on quickly, or too high, will result in joints popping apart. It's easy enough to fix, but delays the enjoyment of your (not so) hard work.
Geek Tip #1: Consider buying multi (contractor) packs of the more commonly-used PVC fittings. They are inexpensive and will allow for maximum customization while avoiding multiple trips to the store.
Geek Tip #2: Want to eliminate frustration during re-assembly next Summer? Use colored Sharpie markers to draw matching shapes, letters, or numbers on the pipes and fittings where they meet. Then it's simply a matching gaming for putting things back together when the sun starts shining again.
Have fun and stay wet!