I built my first ever electric skateboard and thought id share how i did it.
There are hundreds of thousands of people across the world who are building these so there is a lot of knowledge out there and companies who sell both parts for DIY builders as well boards that are ready to go out of the box.
This is genuinely my first build so this was a HUGE learning curve for me but it works and hits 30mph so couldn't have done to badly.
I thought id start with a list of the companies i used while building. I will reference these throughout the instructable but wont put the link as the links are here.
The ESK8 forum is where i spent most of my time as there are no questions that havnt been asked to these forums. The answers come quickly from people all around the world who have an amazing amount of knowledge and are generally very happy to help new builders.
There are a few 3D printed parts on this build and as i dont have a printer myself i use Google sketchup to create the files and then upload it to 3dhubs where its printed and shipped.
This is a good place to go for batteries (if your using LIPO), motors, cables, chargers and even motor mounts. They also have a good chat option to speak to tech specialists if you have any questions about their products.
These guys are awesome, they make amazing motor controllers, im using their dual 4.2 plus motor controller however they also sell motors, controllers and a few other accessories.
I love this company, ive worked on a few projects where ive needed to mold my own parts. In this case i decided to have a go at casting my own wheels. I used their products and asked a few questions and they were more than happy to answer any questions and offer support. The casting didnt go too badly so have included that at the end.
eBay as everone knows is where you go to get pretty much anything.
Lets get started with the first part.
This website has to be one of the best for builders like me. This company gives you an instant price to cut your design from a few different metals but not only different metals, different grades of the metal. I've had a few pieces cut using this website which I was planning on using on the build however due to build constraints I couldn't use them in the end. HOWEVER... I am planning on doing something that I will use these parts for. I have included an image of what I was doing and what the pieces looked like when they were cut in the little extra's step of the instructable to show you. These are aluminium laser cut to my design. The white part on the left is my design from foam core and the right is what the guys at Fractory cut for me. I have a lot of ideas involving custom cut metal so highly recommend you head over to the Fractory website if you need custom pieces cut. They are also the cheapest I've found in quite an extensive search.
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Step 1: The Board, the Trucks and the Wheels.
So the board i used was a Kryptonics Cast off Drop Through 40" Longboard. It had some weird surfer style grip tape on top and design underneath so I stripped it completely so it was down to bare wood which in my opinion looks so much better.
The trucks and wheels that came with the board were nice but the trucks wernt wide enough to fit the dual motor setup so i used some 15" mountain board trucks i had laying around as they are much wider. I sprayed them black by first using a grey primer and then a matt black paint over the top of that. Its key to ensure you do a few thin layers of paint and let it dry between. If not you will find that you will get a strange soft paint texture and it will take MUCH longer to fully dry.
The wheels i used arnt anything special. I got them from a guy on the ESK8 forum and they are 90mm black longboard wheels. I did have an issue with the bearings though as the mountain board axle is 10mm wide which is to wide for normal longboard axles as i believe the norm for longboard trucks is 8mm. Meaning i had to buy 10x22x6mm bearings from ebay and these work perfectly.
Step 2: The Motors, Mounts, VESC, Batteries and Other Bits
The specifications for my board are.
- Dual 6364 190kv Turnigy Aerodrive SK3 2450W Brushless outrunner motors
These motors are supper powerful and give enough torque to move of the spot quickly. They are built well and do pack a punch, with my top speed so far being 30mph.
- Flipsky Dual FSECS 4.2 Plus Vesc
You can use a few different types of motor controller for these board but pretty much everyone will tell you that using VESC is much better. It takes a little longer to set up but its well worth it. Ive been using the Flipsky 4.2 Plus for a little while and its amazing. The response is instant, its such a smooth acceleration, comes with a built in power button which is awesome as it means you dont need to buy an external button or use an XT90 loop key setup.
Overall the VESC is built well, is sized very well (only 15mm high), the build quality is great as it all looks solid and connections are protected by what looks like a silicone gel which is a nice feature.
The VESC can handle upto 100A continuous for a dual setup which is plenty for most boards, especially first time builds. All in all, getting this VESC was the best purchase on the board. They have bought out the 6.6plus which i hope to upgrade to in the near future
- 2 Turnigy 5000mAh Graphene Panther Lipo batteries in series to create an 8S setup
These batteries are great. A bit on the fat side but have a high Peak discharge and decent continuous constant discharge (the C Rating). If your not able to have a battery built for you using individual cells which i wasnt Lipo batteies are your next best thing but with any battery, the nicer you treat it the better results you will have. Lipos especially.
- Paris truck motor mounts
The motor mounts i used were made for Paris trucks but they were the only ones i could find that were decently priced and would do the jobs. They are awesome mounts and with a little shaving of the trucks they slid on and hold the motors really well. They having slipped or moved so very happy with this find.
- General electric skateboard controller
I got the controller of ebay as it was cheap but it does the job and does what i need it to do. There is better versions out there like ones with battery level indicators and things like that but this works for me. I know Flipsky have just bought a new one out which has a few cool features so might look into that as an upgrade.
So as far as accessories go all you really need is a battery harness which i picked up from HobbyKing and some bullet connectors. I used standard 4mm bullet connectors which you can get from either ebay or HobbyKing plus a lot of other places. I also used braided wire covering which isnt specifically needed but gives a bit more protection to external cables and does make them look a bit better.
Step 3: The Building Part - Part 1
The main issue i had was that the board was a drop down drop through deck which meant the the space underneath was very small. To tackle this i had a couple of spacers 3d printed for the trucks to add an extra 10mm and also mounted the trucks under the deck rather than through to give another 12mm. This meant i was able to give enough clearance under the board to be able to mount the VESC. The batteries on the other hand did have to go on top.
If your able to have a thin pack made from single cells as mentioned you could mount this underneath as it will be thin enough however my batteries are 40mm at the thinnest. It was fine it just meant i needed to create a kind of box to sit on top of the board but i didnt mind that, i just fed the cables through the deck.
I made the box from normal thin mdf, sprayed it black a covered it in a black HIPS plastic (as i had some laying around). I mounted the power button on one and along with a hole through the middle to give me access to the charging wire for the batteries as im not using a BMS. The plastic cover is removable by unscrewing the 4 bolts in each corner which give me easy access to the batteries in case i need to get to them. I had a little bit of spare space so i added a little screw on screwdriver as a "in case i need it" tool.
The VESC is mounted underneath with half of a project box as a lid with holes drilled in each end to allow for wires etc. This is also held with 4 screws meaning i can access this easily if needed.
The motors wires then come out of the VESC case and to a small extension cable for each individually which feeds through the 3d printed motor mount and allows the motors to plug directly into the top of the board, all covered with black braided sheathing which i got from Ebay.
The power cables that come from the VESC lead to an XT90 connector which feed through the board directly into the battery compartment which then connected directly into the series battery harness from HobbyKing. Ive also fed the controller reciever through the hole and the power button which both connect to the VESC.
Due to not having grip tape and the speed the board goes i decided to add foot straps that i had from the mountainboard. To do this i stood on the board, got my feet in a comfortable position, placed the strap over my feet and marked where the bolt holes were needed, drilled and fixed with washers.
Step 4: The Build - Part 2
Adding the motors was a tricky part, trying to get the in the right place, at the right angle and both the same seemed a little trickier than thought.
As the motor mounts were made for trucks with a smaller diameter hanger i had to file both the hanger and the inside of the motor mount down to get them to slide far enough along to allow me to get both the motor mount and the wheel on.
Once i had the mounting part attached to the truck i just needed to attach the arm that the motor would be mounted to and adjust it using the spaces available to me on the mount. Once id got the mount on and at the same angle i added the motors, the chain sprocket and the wheel. Just a quick point to make is that i used something called lock tight which i got from ebay, and is basically a liquid rubber type stuff that you add the bolt before you put it in and when it hardens it locks the bolt in and wont move by itself. Using this helped ensure nothing moved and no screw decided to undo itself on a bumpy road surface.
Once the motors were on, i added black braiding to each wire and plugged them directly into the ports which were now coming directly out of the 3d printed spacers on the top of the board.
That was basically the build complete but i had a couple of extra little bits i wanted to add which i will show you next.
Step 5: Little Extra's
So one of the reasons for building the board was to use it for getting to work and back and sometimes its dark or gets dark by the time i get home so i needed lights. I didnt want to just buy skateboard lights or bike lights so i decided to create my own.
I 3d printed a mount for the lights and some small parts to hold small but powerful torches. but i A) wanted the to be removable and B) i didnt want to have to stop and turn each one on individually so i cam up with the ones you see in the pictures.
They are wired together in parallel and then feed directly into a light sensor relay which turns on when a chosen level of darkness is detected and the turns of when it gets light again. This sensor is powered using the handy 5v output on the Flipsky VESC and the torches are powered using their own internal batteries.
This means that when im on my way home and the light starts to go the headlights on the board come on automatically.
So as part of the build i also really like the idea of big wheels and without spending fortune on them its not going to happen so i decided to try and cast my own. I have used a company called easy composites https://www.easycomposites.co.uk/ a few times in the past for other projects so instantly went to them. I spoke with them and told them what it was i wanted to do and after a bit of a chat about certain products i want with their Xencast PX90 for the wheels themselves along with their CS25 Condensation Cure Silicone Rubber for the mold.
I used a two part mold of a wheel i had made from plaster and 3d printed parts and the mold came out really well. The silicone is so easy to use and cures really well and the detail it picks up is incredible! I did run out after the first half of the mold so ordered another KG which came the next day which was amazing as it meant i could just crack on the second half of the mold.
I wont go into detail about how to make the molds and things as im going to be creating another instructable just for that which you can see here, https://www.instructables.com/id/Diy-Resin-Cast-Sk...
I had some wheel inserts 3d printed which went into the mold before i poured the PX90 inwhich gave the wheel a strong core. Again the PX90 was so easy to use, with a 1:1 ration by weight or volume it makes mixing so easy. I added some black pigment that i have left over from another project which i got from Easy Composites and made one wheel black and one without the pigment.
All in all the wheels came out really well and will be giving it another crack soon, possibly looking into machined aluminium molds.
Step 6: The Finished Board
These are photos of the finished board. The GoPro is not a permanent fixture, I just added it for that particular ride to capture some footage.
The board has so far hit 30mph (48kmh) which is pretty scary when you start to wobble so make sure if you're doing that kind of speed you have a helmet AT LEAST but full pads would be a good idea.
I'm pretty sure I have missed some bits so if I have and you have some questions i'm more than happy to answer any questions if i can.
Thanks for reading.