Introduction: Turn Your Old Skateboard to an Electric Skateboard!
So you want an Electric Skateboard? Because..well..who doesn't want one (or 5); but maybe the ones for sale are too expensive? Or perhaps you love the DIY life, and want to try your own hand at building one. Or perhaps, like me ,a bit of both!
The only problem is, you don't know where to start. I know. It can be daunting. There is the motor, and there are tons of kinds of motors out there. Then there is ESCs, and batteries...boy, my head is already spinning.
Worry not, friend. I'm here to help!
This guide is meant for beginners.
I will teach you how to take your old skateboard, and turn it into a thunderous 20kmph machine!
Well, if you are not into reading, I do have a full playlist on Youtube, with a step by step tutorial on this right here.
Ok so, lets get e-skating!
Here's a list of parts you need:
For US fellas (Amazon):
Cheap Longboard option 1: https://amzn.to/2RbPQfb
Cheap Longboard option 2: https://amzn.to/2RbPQfb
Motor&Pulley mount: https://amzn.to/2RbPQfb
Remote Control&Receiver: https://amzn.to/2RbPQfb
Step 1: Price-Performance Balance - What to Expect
The next question after "I want to build an electric skateboard", is "What kind?".
There are 100s of configurations you can choose for your boards. Do you want max speed? Maybe max acceleration? Perhaps you like to go on long rides and want maximum range.
Also, how much are you willing to spend on it?
All the above factors decide what kind of a board we are going to build.
For me, this was my first board and I wanted to start modest (ok, honestly, I didnt have a lot of money either). I wanted a board that could accelerate fairly fast, and could go upto 20kmph, nothing crazy. Range didn't matter much to me since I'm not going on long rides.
My budget: around $200.
So considering these, lets see what components can be chosen.
Step 2: Choosing the Right Parts
Obviously, if you have the wrong parts they are not going to work together, and your e-skateboard will remain just a skateboard.
So what are the parts of an electric skateboard, you ask.
There are 3 main parts:
1) The Motor: This is the engine. It provides the power and propels the wheels!
2) The Batteries: To spin the motor, we need a lotta POWAHHH! So we need some batteries to power the motor.
3) ESC: This is the brains of the board. It takes the power from the batteries, and converts it into signals that can run the motor, and also takes signals from the remote controller and accelerates or decelerates as instructed.
Considering our choices from the previous section, I went for a single-motor instead of a dual-motor drive (to save cost). A 5065 motor, that could handle 10-20A of current was perfect. Check the parts list for description and specs.
For the ESC, I chose an ESC with a built-in controller module, and the controller was provided with it, all for $40. Sounded like a bargain.
For the batteries, we need high-discharge Lithium ion batteries for this build. At this point I must warn you that Lithium ion batteries are highly flammable, and can explode and cause rapid fires if they are fake, mishandled, misused, over-charged, or over discharged. Please proceed with care, and at your own risk.
Due to the above risk, a Battery Management system was needed to ensure the batteries dont go over or under their safe limits.
To charge the batteries, a 25.2V charger with 2-4A charging current for lithium ion batteries was bought.
Step 3: Building the Battery Pack
The most difficult (and risky) part is building the battery pack.
I chose 6 LG HG2 cells, and carefully build a battery pack out of them and attached the BMS to it.
Here's how I did it (along with important safety tips): Building a 6S Battery Pack
And here's all the info you need about a BMS and how they work, and how to attach it to your battery pack: BMS basics and installation
Step 4: Making Sure the Parts Work Together!
And of course before we install our setup, we have to make sure everything works.
So I connected the batteries to the ESC, and the ESC to the battery, and made sure the motor spun and the controls were smooth.
Now, its time to mount everything on the board!
Step 5: Mounting the Motor, ESC, and Battery Pack
Mounting is simple, the motor comes with its own mount, that slips into the skateboard rear wheel shaft, the wires of the motor, connect to the ESC wires, and that was connected, with an ST60 connector to the battery pack.
I used to plastic (lunch) boxes to hold the ESC and the battery pack in, and drilled holes on the board to hold the boxes in place.
The entire is shown in detail here.
After it was done, we were ready to ride!
Step 6: Its GO Time!
So was it as much fun as I thought it would be? No, it was MUCH MORE!
It took a little getting used to, but in a few minutes, I was cruising. I did some speed and range testing to see if I achieved the rated capacities. You can see the results here.
Overall, I was pretty thrilled that I made my own electric vehicle! I wouldnt have felt this happy if I simply bought one. Do I stop here? Of course not, I am going to build bigger,faster, and badder board soon.
Follow my progress on the Fungineers Youtube Channel!