Introduction: DIY High Performance Electric Longboard
I am a senior in high school and I am also a competitive downhill longboarder. I was looking at getting an electric longboard before I went to college, because I won't be able to bring my car for the first couple years. I thought that an electric longboard would be a great way to get around, so I started researching buying one. Most of the electric longboards on the market are really expensive, so I decided to try my hand at building one. The alternative option was to buy a $1,500 boosted board, so as long as I spent less, the project would be a success.
I spent $740 (I already had a longboard to use) and I created a board with higher performance than the boosted board. This instructable explains the process of creating a high performance electric longboard.
Step 1: Experimenting With Controls
I started this project experimenting with using a Wii nunchuck to control motors. I thought that the nunchuck would be a good way to control the electric longboard, but after experimenting I reached the conclusion that the nunchuck was too inconsistent to use on a longboard. I know other people online have had success with the nunchuck, but I was not as successful.
Step 2: Ordering Parts
The most important part of building an electric longboard is deciding what parts to get. I knew that I wanted something that could perform about as well as a boosted board, so I opted for higher performance components.
If you don't already own a longboard, you will have to purchase one in addition to the electrical components. The parts that I used for my electric longboard are as follows:
Deck: (https://www.muirskate.com/longboard/decks/72013/je... Any topmount longboard deck would work, it is really just rider preference.
Trucks: (https://www.muirskate.com/longboard/trucks/69751/1... I recommend getting 50 degree trucks because they will give the board a bit more responsive turning. The motor mount I used is made specifically for caliber trucks, so it is important to get Calibers.
Wheels: (https://www.muirskate.com/longboard/wheels/38811/8... The gear hub for the wheel is designed to fit these wheels, so it is important to get these. I used the 80a, but the 83a would work too. The 83a will be a little faster, but the ride won't be as smooth. Boosted boards use the 80a version of this wheel, so I opted for the same version.
Bearings and hardware to hold the board together: (https://www.muirskate.com/longboard/bearings/26121... (https://www.muirskate.com/longboard/products/1920/... Again, any hardware would work, this is just what I used.
Electric longboard Components:
Once you have purchased all of your longboard parts, there are 6 additional key components that you need to purchase.
Motor mount: http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-ska... -This motor mount fits Caliber trucks and the motor I used.
Motor: 6355 190KV http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-ska... I went with a higher torque motor over the alternative higher revolution motor options. I did this because I am using a single motor and want it to be powerful enough to get even heavier riders moving.
2.4Ghz Mini Remote:http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-ska... -This was the recommended remote for the ESC I was using.
ESC:http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-ska... -I bought an open source esc so that will allow me to customize the settings and change the performance of the board.
Battery: 10S3P http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-ska... This is a big battery with built in safety features and battery percentage display.
Drive Wheel Pulley: http://diyelectricskateboard.com/diy-electric-skat... This is the pulley kit that is designed specifically for the wheels I used.
According to the site, this setup should should reach 25-27mph+10-15 mile range+, I was skeptical at first, but very pleased with the performance once I had the board set up.
Step 3: Assembling the Board
- Attach the wheel gear to the wheel.
- Attach the motor mount to the truck. Use a rubber mallet to pound the ring onto the truck until there is enough room for the belt and wheel.
- Insert the motor shaft into the hole in the motor mount and twist the motor until the holes in the motor line up with the ones in the mount. Tighten the screws that came with the motor mount so that they hold the motor, but the motor can still be slid. Now attach the motor pulley to the motor shaft. Slide the belt over the wheel pulley and the motor pulley and then pull the motor away from the wheel until the belt is tight. Tighten the motor mount screws until the motor doesn't slide.
- Plug the motor wires into the VESC. If you test the motor and it is spinning the wrong way, switch 2 of the wires.
- Follow the directions in the video above to set up the remote control.
- Program the VESC. (See next step)
- Plug the VESC into the battery and then attach the battery case to the board.
Step 4: Programming the VESC
Follow this video:
Originally, I had the motor settings set so that the motor minimum was set to 40A. The motor minimum is the motor’s braking force, so the greater the Amps, the stronger the brakes. The brakes worked really well at 40a when I was going below 20 mph, but when I tried braking from top speed, they weren’t very effective at slowing me down. I tried upping the settings to 50A motor min, but then the motor was locking up when I was braking below 5mph, causing the belt to slip. I then tried 45A and that was a good happy medium between my two previous settings. The brakes were effective at high speeds and the motor wouldn’t lock up at low speeds. I am happy with the brakes at this setting.
Step 5: (Optional) Create a Case That Makes Accessing the VESC Easier When Making Changes
I found that I was constantly taking the case on and off of the board so that I could make adjustments to the VESC, so I decided to make my own case.
I purchased a sheet of high impact polystyrene (HIPS) thermoplastic to make the case out of. Depending on how big your case needs to be to contain your battery, you will need a different amount of thermoplastic. I ordered a sheet that was 20"x24"x.125". I had plenty of thermoplastic to get the shape that I needed.
The next step is to make a mold to shape the thermoplastic around. I cut our some small wooden blocks and a piece of wood that was about the same size as the battery and esc. I placed this mold under the sheet of thermoplastic and put it in the over at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the thermoplastic sagged around the mold (about 5 or 6 minutes). Next, remove the thermoplastic and mold from the oven and then using oven mitts press the plastic around the mold until it hardens. If revisions to the shape need to be made, this process can be repeated.
Lastly, mount the case to the board using screws and cut any necessary access holes into the case.
Step 6: Performance
I was initially skeptical that the board would perform as well as a boosted board. After assembling the board and testing it, I quickly realized that I had built a truly high performance electric longboard.
I weigh 175lbs, and I was able to reach a top speed of 27.6 mph on flat ground. I also was able to travel 12 miles on the board when it was fully charged. This 12 mile distance was on hilly terrain and would be much further on flat ground. After riding the board for a couple months, I have figured out how to be more efficient about my battery use, not accelerating down hills, and occasionally pushing on flat ground. I went for a 6 mile ride the other day and it only used 29% of the battery. That means I could hypothetically ride 20.7 miles on a full charge if I was conservative with my battery use.
When compared to the performance of the Boosted board, a popular electric longboard company, my board performs very well. The boosted board costs $1,300-$1,700. The Dual plus with extended range model, the $1,700 option, has lower performance than the board I built. The dual plus will go 22mph, and has a range of 12 miles.
Overall, I am very happy with the longboard's performance.