Electric Go Cart

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I always liked mini bikes and go karts. I got my first Briggs and Stratton 3hp minibike when I was 6. by the time I was 8 i had shaved the head to make more power. I decided to make an electric powered one. That way there is less noise and more fun. I thought maybe the lack of engine noise would detract from it but it made it better. I was able to sneak up on my wife one night as she came home from work. She never heard it coming....

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Step 1: Picking a Motor

Picture of Picking a Motor

I thought about using a number of different motors but I had this GE 36V motor that had a base mount very similar to the mounting pattern of the gas engine so it made life easy.

Step 2: Picking Batteries

Picture of Picking Batteries

I really the baby Hawkers or the Cyclon for their low internal resistance but I ended up going with large gel cells for range. turns out they are pretty good on power too. plus with only 3 batteries in a nice rectangle configuration I was able to make a frame from old bed frame angle iron and used a single ratcheting strap to secure them

Step 3: Picking a Controller

Picture of Picking a Controller

I wanted good control so I used a Curtis controller from a forklift. I mounted it to an old car amplifier shell as a heat sink.

Step 4: How to Back Up

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At some point you will need to back up. I pulled the reversing contactors out of another golf cart and used some copper battery straps and copper tubing to mate them together in a nice neat small package. too bad the wires are so big...

Step 5: Wires and connections

Picture of Wires and connections

Luckily I had plenty of scrap #2 wire from an old UPS. I use the hammer style crimper tools to attach the lugs. I like to wrap the finished crimp with tape. It doesn't matter what color tape since I then cover that with heat shrink tubing. It makes the ends look really neat. Even better than the "Professionally" made battery cables I looked at. I used good quality battery disconnects to minimize losses in the high current wires.

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Nice build. Congrats on being a finalist!

rjkorn (author)  ContraptionMaker13 days ago

Thanks! this was the most popular thing I ever posted. I still cant believe it....

The whole "Sneaking Up on Your Wife" comment, made this priceless :D

rjkorn (author)  TrollFaceTheMan13 days ago

Thanks!. She had no trouble putting a price on dinner......

12203madman1 month ago

my total budget is around 300$

rjkorn (author)  12203madman1 month ago

It really depends on where you live and how good you are at scrounging. I did it for less but I'll stop the car at the sight of a vehicle in someones backyard that looks neglected. I did that last year and got a sears tractor with a cracked trans-axle. Just had to drag it out of the weeds

You can try motor repair shops too. if you are real lucky they may have a forklift motor or scrubber they got stiffed on and will sell it to you cheap

12203madman1 month ago

what is a good motor to use that cost
less than 150$, and a good cheap motor driver?

rjkorn (author)  12203madman1 month ago

The controller is the hard part. A smooth one like a curtis or alltrax will cost $100 to $200 easy.

For the Motor look for Floor Scrubber or pallet mover parts on eBay and Craigslist.

I live near 2 golf courses so I always see golf carts on Craigslist. Some for $50 to $300. I called the guy who wanted $300 and offered him $100 and he took it. Even threw in a Lester 36V charger just to get it out of his garage.

There's not a lot of deals out htere but if you're diligent you'll find one.

actorboy382 months ago

Nice instructable! I wondered if you can tell me what your minimum speed is, and how much can you vary the speed ? I'm wanting to build an electric dolly for filmmaking, but I don't have access to an old electric golf cart, but what I do have is the frame and motor from our old treadmill?

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

if its a dc treadmill motor it should work great. I used the older curtis controller in this cart but I upgraded my golf cart with the newer curtis programmable controller. I got the controller cheap on ebay. the programming software was another story in itself.

the nice part about these is they have 2 bits for mode control. I used a cheapie computer key switch to make a speed and power mode switch.

essentially you get to make 4 profiles and select them using the binary mode select inputs.

on the golf cart I also made a crawl mode for moving trailers around. you get to set each parameter different for each mode. I'll post some pics for you tonight.

in crawl mode it changes the pedal to only go to 10 % throttle at full depression and limits the maximum PWM amps. this way I can back a trailer down a crowded driveway safely.

then in power mode I can drag cars around with ease. i accidentally dragged a hyundai with its front wheels locked when i forgot to put the car in neutral first.

speed mode is strictly for top end. if you have a shunt motor you can even add field weakening for a little extra go.

I have o do an ible on that too

actorboy38 rjkorn2 months ago

I can try and take another pic if it's hard to read. Basically, it's a 110vdc motor, 4HP, peak duty of 4200RPM 10Amps.

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

looks like a good start. did it have a flywheel on the shaft? the one i have has a heavy flywheel/pulley attached. that helps with smooth acceleration. any thoughts about tires? maybe lawn mower tractor tires?

actorboy38 rjkorn2 months ago

Yes, it has a flywheel and I still have the v-belt. I bought these $20 wagon/trailer tires, but I don't know if they're tough enough? They hold up to 300lbs.(each I presume?). I found a curtis controller on Ebay, but it's over $200 that inexpensive for a speed controller?

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

too many curtis varieties out there to tell. i like curtis for their power but that's probably the opposite of what you need.

you might want to try running the motor on 12 volts. then 24 or 36. you have to get an idea of its power. for a camera truck you might even be able to use a cheapie scooter controller on 24v.

if you want perfect speed control a feedback loop and a home made controller is the way to go. does it have a speed sensor on the back you could use to feed an arduino?

actorboy38 rjkorn2 months ago

Firstly, I know absolutely nothing about arduino, lol! I believe it does have a speed sensor though, but how it all works, I'm not sure really. I still have the electrical component/controller board, but I believe that it's pooched, which is why we replaced it. It was working intermittently, and the Sears repairman said it would cost too much to replace the controller board.

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

That's ok the motor is still a good piece.

did you ever consider using a jazzy or pride electric scooter?

I got one on ebay for $50. I removed the motors and the controller/joystick to make a gangbox that would move itself.

If you got a 500 lb capacity model you could fit it with 2 seats and a camera mount. then the driver could concentrate on his job while the cameraman does his thing.

actorboy38 rjkorn2 months ago

Wow, only $50?? That's amazing! I had considered using an electric scooter, but they are just too expensive. The 500lbs. capacity model you're talking about is exactly the kind I want to build. In fact, a guy in the U.K. did the exact thing, except he installed quieter motors and such. Now he's marketing his own model called the Flyka.

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

wow, that's pretty slick but looks easy enough to copy.

you have to be patient. over the years I've got 3 for 50-100 each. one was an estate sale, one was from a contractor cleaning out a house, and just recently a nursing home was getting rid of 3 scooters that wouldn't hold a charge and were a little beaten up. I offered them $50 for one and they said yes. I'm sorry I didn't grab them all

the trick is to weed through all the people who think because they sell for $5000 new that they are worth $2000 or more used. Most people who get these for medical reasons are having them paid for by their medical insurance and insurance wont pay on a craigslist ad.

actorboy38 rjkorn2 months ago
Sorry, I kinda dropped off the page there for a few days, but I'm back! Had a fresh look at the treadmill and found that it still works, but for some reason goes up to speed and then the relay clicks and it stops? Any idea what would cause that?
rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

might be the speed sensor.

some controllers run in a closed loop.

if it can see the sensor pulsing it will shut down.

rjkorn (author)  actorboy382 months ago

if you go with a gear box to limit speed be careful with the overall ratio as the extra torque may may it jumpy. not good for a camera dolly. better to control speed with PWM limits. the curtis lets you change the accel ramp.

Did you want to go ebay surfing for parts, just buy off the shelf stuff, or DIY build your own controller?

got a pic of the motor? i got one in the garage waiting for something. just wondering if it similar. that would give me an idea what its capable of.

for a camera dolly old fashioned v belt drive to the wheels is good. the inherrent slip help smooth out the accelleration

anectine2 months ago

awesome! Where would be a good place to find a controler for the dc motor?

rjkorn (author)  anectine2 months ago

I search eBay for Curtis controller but there are many other brands. I have some history with the Curtis controllers and have the programming software for them so I'm a little partial.

I got a lot out of the book "Build Your Own Electric Vehicle"

by Seth Leitman and Bob Brant

Alltrax may be a better choice

or even a DIY solution. I did send a scooter up in smoke with the DIY way once. Check out the local colleges and see if there's an EV club nearby. People love to convert everything they can find.

I want to do my john deere track drive snowblower someday

transistor22 months ago

how much does this cost to make?

rjkorn (author)  transistor22 months ago

It depends on your junk pile. I collect tons of stuff off of Craigslist and during The towns Bulk waste pickup days. I even travel to other towns to go picking....

I invested less than $200. i'd hate to think what it would all cost new.

ASCAS2 months ago


bcbrown2 months ago
You are a genius. Thanks & cheers.
rjkorn (author)  bcbrown2 months ago

Thanks! that's a lot nicer than what some people call me

oilitright2 months ago

Am I wrong but are old bed frames one of the best 'inventions' ever? Anytime I see one in an alley or a dumpster I put on the binders and swoop then scoop.

rjkorn (author)  oilitright2 months ago

Love em

I even make other people stop when I see them on the side of the road.

My sister was driving me home one day and I screamed "STOP" jumped out of the car and grabbed 2 sets of them I saw in a trash pile.

They are a bit hard on drill bits. I prefer to weld them whenever possible.

oilitright rjkorn2 months ago
Carbide drill bits?

I read that they are made from old railroad rails.

I am fortunate that I have a buddy that has a shop with a 40 ton ironworker machine. I just punch holes and bolt it together. Likewise it shears it off like clipping your nails.

When welding just be careful of hard spots that can blow back.

rjkorn (author)  oilitright2 months ago

i like how you can always tell the bed rail scraps from the cheap stuff by the way it rings when you hit it.

Bowen20022 months ago
Hey this is totally awesome and mind blowing.
rjkorn (author)  Bowen20022 months ago


tankaer2 months ago
Looks awesome. How long of a distance can you go between charges?
rjkorn (author)  tankaer2 months ago

never really tried distance. just playing around the yard I tire out first.

tankaer2 months ago
Looks awesome. How long of a distance can you go between charges?
rjkorn (author) 2 months ago

my son did manage to flip it up on its rear one time with a wheelie gone over the top. luckily i was there to stop it from continuing around. He would have been fine. That seat is from my Jeep and the seatbelts are from a Dodge caravan...

I was thinking about moving the batteries up in front of the seat. your legs are bent up anyway when sitting there.

If it doesn't rain the V2 build begins this weekend.

ohforgodssake2 months ago

Nice! But it looks like it has a pretty high center of gravity. You might want to design that a little lower if you plan to make the 60+ mph version.

rjkorn (author)  ohforgodssake2 months ago

the high center of gravity proved less problematic that the original location of the batteries just behind the center of the rear axle. After the switch to the Dana and a slight overall lengthening it calmed down on wheelies. i tried a sharp turn at speed and just blew the front tire off its rim.

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