Introduction: DIY Electric Skateboard (Extremely Simple)
Skateboards in general are not easy to make. You must buy several layers of plywood, cut them precisely and at an angle, and then use an incredible amount of wood glue to get it all sticking together. Adding on top of that, electric skateboards add a whole new element of complication. Today, we are going to skip those complicated steps. This whole process is easier than it seems, and my goal is to show everyone that. I don't have many videos, but the pictures will help.
Step 1: The Board
For the board, you'll want to go with high-quality plywood. You can probably go to Home Depot and pick something out for about 20$. They cut 3 times for free, and then the rest is 50 cents per cut. If you don't want to pay for the cutting, then just use a jigsaw/handsaw (be careful though, I've had blades snap using the jigsaw on corners). Then you can use sandpaper to get the nice corners. This will probably cost 5$ and you'll want a thicker grain, somewhere around 150. If you have a sanding machine, it'll go a lot faster. Afterwards, if you have splinter holes or nicks on the corners of the board, wood filler is 10$. I had my board laser-cut, so don't expect anything as accurate as mine, but if you stain and add polyurethane coating (both can be found at Home Depot) then it'll look a lot nicer (25$ for both and a brush). After that, use a drill or a really sharp screw and make the holes for the trucks. You'll want to use a pencil and draw outlines on your board before doing so in order to make this accurate (if it's not accurate to the centimeter, then your board won't turn right). Then, depending on the size of your board, grip-tape can be bought on amazon from 5-25$. I made a non-electric board using this process with floorboards earlier, and you can see the completed result in the pictures picture above.
NOTICE: If you want to skip this step, you can go to mobiousboards.com and order a custom board for as low as 100$
Step 2: The Hardware/Electronics
This whole step is intertwined, because the electronics need to work perfectly with your propulsion wheel. Since this is a project for simpletons, I would advise buying a kit. The cheapest hardware kits are around $199. Click this link for the website: http://diyelectricskateboard.com/product/torquebo... In order to put this together you'll need a few different hexagon drill bits. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-71-912-Drill-4... If you don't have a drill, you can find small hand-tools at any hardware store that will work (probably about $10)
Anything will work for the pulley configuration, just choose whatever is in stock. Next, we will want to buy our ESC, Motor, Battery, and Controller (and battery charger). Again, keeping it simple with this whole configuration, you'll want a single battery from hobby king http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__11941_...
Choose whichever warehouse is closest to you, this battery will set you back about $80.
Next comes the motor. Also from hobby king, the SK3 series is best. Here's the link, it'll set you back about $50 http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__18175_...
Finally for the parts on the board, you'll want an ESC. Here is where skipping on quality is a bad idea. Hobby wing has the simplest ones, so here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Hobbywing-WP-SC8-Waterproof...
-You can also find it on the hobby wing website for the same price, about $70
Now for the simpler parts: Battery charger and connectors
The hobby wing ESC comes with two open wire leads, you'll want 4mm banana (HXT) connectors in order to hook them up correctly. Make sure you get the positive lead to the positive, and negative to negative, otherwise you'll blow up your brand new ESC. If you don't have soldering skills, or you just don't feel comfortable around lead, you can probably find helpers at Home Depot that'll do it for $10. These connectors are about 5$, here's the link: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HXT-4MM-Bullet-Connector-...
Again, you really want to make sure you get this part right when you solder. I got is wrong, and ended up cutting my wires to the point that I finished with an XT90 connector, which is really bulky.
Last part: Battery charger. I'm going to advise the more expensive option here, considering the thing is a giant heatsink (it won't ever overheat) and won't be too hard to understand. It'll run you about 65$ Link: http://www.amazon.com/CHEERSON-Original-Version-D...
Step 3: Controller and Enclosure
Once you have all of the electronics, you can start working on the controller and the enclosure. For a cheap controller, I would recommend the Quantum 2.4 Ghz controller and receiver. It's easy to Bind, and all you have to do is plug into channel 3 on your ESC ($22). http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__44693_...
The enclosure is where you have some more freedom. I would advise keeping it simple and shallow so that you can open it easily to charge, and it won't scratch the ground while riding.
I used a more complicated battery configuration to keep the battery slim, but using the 8000 mah battery means its thicker. A cheap tool box will probably run you $5-$10. http://www.amazon.com/Connect--Assortment-Cottage...
Step 4: Test the Electronics
Now that we've got all of that dealt with, we can test the electronics! You'll want to do this as soon as possible after ordering, (and make sure to keep all of your packaging) because everything from hobby king has a 30 day no-fuss returns policy. Anyways, plug everything in, which should be easy as banana (HXT) and XT connectors make it impossible to plug it in reverse, and make sure it looks like the simple diagram above.
A couple of quick tips before plugging everything in: if you are inexperienced with this kind of tech, don't try to program the ESC. I found that the pre-programmed settings work just fine, so you needn't worry. Also, you can plug in the three unlabeled wires on the motor any way with the ESC. if you end up going in reverse, just switch two of the wires and you'll be fine.
Assuming that everything works fine, you'll have your circuit running in minutes. Don't put it on the board yet, because if everything isn't secure, it'll be problematic.
Step 5: Managing the Electronics, and Getting Them Attached to the Board
The electronics are the most dangerous part of the board, so you'll want them to be well protected, even in the box. I would advise buying some cheap foam ($5) at the nearest hardware/art store, and cutting that to protect the electronics if/when the box is bumped. The esc is important, but safer than the lithium. Double-sided sticky tape should be enough to secure that. Next, you'll want to cut small holes to thread the wires and the on/off switch through.
In order to mount the electronics on the board, you'll want tot have a good layout. I'd say put the enclosure about 3/4ths of the way up the board if possible, in order to balance the weight of the motor with the rest of the board. You'll also want to mark where you're drilling/glueing ahead of time so that it looks symmetrical. Both screws and glue will work to mount the case, but whichever one you choose, make sure it's strong. This board needs to be durable.
When everything is done, it should look somewhat like the board above. I used a more complicated configuration for the batteries, but you don't need to worry about that.
Step 6: DOUBLE CHECK
This board is cool, but dangerous. You'll want to make sure everything is secure and in perfect position. If your battery gets punctured or your motor gets jammed, it won't be pretty. Make sure all bolts are tightened, all gears are in place, and that motor mount needs to be impossible to move. If you are still at the slightest bit concerned, go to http://www.electric-skateboard.builders . It's a website is full of expert builders who are willing to help. Once all of that is done, you're good to go! Your board has a top speed of 25 MPH and a safe range of 6 miles (8 if you're really pushing it) Turn it on, try it out, and start slowly: this thing has a learning curve. Have fun riding!
Step 7: Afterthoughts: Why DIY?
DIY is awesome, that's why. My company (mobiousboards.com) will sell custom electric boards in the future, but it's always better to build your own for the following reasons:
1) DIY is the way to go if you want to ensure happiness with your possessions. You get to make whatever modifications you want, because YOU built it!
2) Pride. You built an ELECTRIC SKATEBOARD!! Be proud!! I ride around the park sometimes, and everybody stares.
3) ITS CHEAPER. This board has similar specs to a production boosted board, which starts at 1000$. Making your own can save hundreds.
With that being said, if you still want to get a pre-made board, get one from a respected seller. Chinese clone boards are typically cheaper, but will fall apart in a matter of months. I would suggest ordering one either from myself (mobiousboards.com), or enertion (enertionboards.com).
-NOTE: After several months of use, the Quantum controller started to have problems. Another well known controller that has a good reputation is the GT2B, this can be found on Amazon or Hobbyking's website.