Firstly, this is to be my final upgrade to my electric longboard. All my upgrades are geared towards the past year of me riding my longboard in the city and addressing the real life problems I faced with my electric board.
The upgrades that I will discuss in this Instructable include
- A pocket friendly, 3D printed remote control
- Safer, more robust, and a more long lasting battery system
- Trucks for better city maneuverability
- Stronger and smaller electronic component footprint
- Smaller, more city friendly board shape and size.Functional and aesthetic storage
Finally, do note, this is not a comprehensive build guide for making your own electric longboard. I will share all my 3D printed files down below. For my comprehensive build guide, please look at my V1 Board and V2 Board.
All my 3D printed files are available down below. These are F3D files that can be opened in and edited in Autodesk Fusion 360 (Free). You can also save them as .STL files for printing
Step 1: Remote Control
There are 2 common way ways of controlling your speed on a diy electric board.
- Using a big clunky RC Car remote like this one here
- Using your phone to connect wirelessly via bluetooth to your board.
The biggest issue with using your phone is safety. You need to have a finger on the screen and there is no physical/tactile feedback. Furthermore, the app could crash or the connection could disconnect posing huge safety threats.
Therefore, I was using the big RC remote to control my speed. However, whenever I reached my destination, I could not put away the remote in a safe place, and was forced to carry it around.
To solve this problem, I 3D printed this model and bought this remote to go inside it. This redesigned controller allows me to easily pocket it in the case that I need to stop. This free's my hands and saves me the hassle of carrying a bag pack to stow my remote.
Step 2: Electronics Enclosure
One of the biggest problems I faced riding in the city was the small wheel clearance I faced. I was always scared that I would hit and break the electronics enclosure.
To fix this issue, I redid all of my electronics, making it as small as possible. Then I redesigned a case that I 3D printed. However, to make this case even stronger, I fiber glassed the whole case. The fiberglass makes this case near impossible to break.
Nonetheless, the case still offers 2 cutouts for the ESC/Speed controller cooling, and the voltage read of the batteries.
Step 3: Battery System
So far, I, and most other DIY Longboard builders have been using Li-Po batteries to power their boards. The main reason for this is their small size, cheap price and performance. However, the 2 biggest problems with Li-Po batteries are their safety and cycle durability
In regards to safety, their are multiple videos online demonstrating exploding Li-Po batteries. Any sort of shock, or puncture can easily set the battery into fire and cause it to easily explode.
Furthermore, Li-Po have a terrible cycle life. As in, after a relatively short number of charge and dischrages, they will loose a lot of their capactiy. I have already lost 40-50% on 2 different Li-Po batteries used for less than 20 cycles.
This poses a false economy, one may think that they save money buying Li-Po batteries, but they will have to replace it very often and therefore end up spending more than investing in a decent set of batteries in the first place.
Enter the 18650 Li-On batteries. These are based on a different cell chemistry, but alleviate the aforementioned issues posed with Li-Po batteries. In fact, commercial electric skateboards like the Boosted Board use these types of batteries.
However, they do come with their own problems. 1. They are cylindrical in shape, wasting volume and making mounting difficult. 2. There is no battery leads to them, you either have to spot weld leads or use a battery case to wire you build. 3. These batteries are roughly 1.5-1.8 times the cost of Li-Po batteries.
However, these batteries make up for their cost by only loosing ~20% capacity over 500 cycles
For My build, I used these Samsung 25R batteries. I bought 12 cells, and wired them in a 6S2P setup to provide a theoretical max of 70A with 40A continuous draw.
Step 4: Trucks
As this build is centered around city riding, one of the biggest problems I faced was manuvering around the tight city pavements. Often, I would have to get off my board just to move around a tight corner. I wanted a solution that would be easy to upgrade and turn as sharp as possible. For that, I used the Gullwing Sidewinders II. These trucks are regarded as the best turning/carving trucks because of their dual kingpin design. This design allows them to behave like 2 trucks stacked on top of each other.
Additionally, since my old trucks were also standard kingpin, I literally had to unscrew the old hanger/axle off my old trucks and attach them to the new trucks. This meant that I did not have to change anything with the motor mount system. It was a simple plug and play case.
The only potential downside to these trucks is that it increases the ride height, which makes the board hareder to push. However, this an electric skateboard, and I never intended to push it anyway.
Step 5: Board Shape
One of the upgrades that I did for the board was swapping my trucks for the Gullwing Sidewinder II Trucks. These are one of the best regarded trucks in terms of turning capabilities as they are essentially 2 trucks in one. Anyway. These truck no matter how many risers I would use, would always give the problem of wheel bite: where the wheel touches the deck of the board and jams the board, throwing the user off. Furthermore, the pintail shape of the original board meant that there was a lot of wasted space behind the board.
Since all my upgrades were centered around city riding and safety, I changed the shape of the board to more of a drop-through style. Doing so has fixed all of the aforementioned problems, and the board looks more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion.
To cut the board, I used a simple IKEA Jig-Saw and a generic electric sander to cut the board after.
Step 6: Storage
Lastly, to tie the whole project together, I needed to make an elegant storage system for the board for when it is not in use. For this, I used these IKEA Curtain holders. Not only do these allow me to hang my board on them, I can slide the board back and lock it without the fear of it moving. Furthermore, the curtain holders allow me to slide the holder vertically by about 5 inches to adjust the board height.
Using this holder allows me to not have my board lying in the way of things, possibly being a safety threat or being damaged. It also allows me to show off my work in a really neat way.
Step 7: Final Thoughts
This series is finally finished. Over the course of the past year, I have made all my improvements based on actual riding experience, and hope that my story can help prevent you from making similar mistakes.
Sure, over the course of the 3 builds, I probably spent around the same as the cost of a commercial electric longboard, however, the learning process is worth much more.
So, I will take back the statement I made in my V1 electric long-board build about price. But I will add a statement about the immeasurable knowledge, fun, experience, and customisability a DIY solution offers.
Also, for detailed instructions on what parts to pick and how to build your board, see my V1 and V2 builds down below