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If you have ever looked into electric skateboard options, you know that they are very pricey. However, you may not know that you can actually build one yourself on a relatively small budget.
Riding an electric skateboard is not only fun, but it’s an effective way to travel from point A to point B. Additionally, it can save you money and help improve the environment.
When you decide you want to build an electric skateboard, you will need to consider the type of board you want to use. Many people prefer to use a longboard as it provides a smoother and more stable ride. Additionally, it provides you with more room for the different pieces that you’ll add to it.
You should look for a longboard that’s relatively solid but still offers a small amount of flex. It should also have top-mounted trucks rather than the drop through variety. Top-mounted trucks will provide you with more room on the board’s underside for the motor and electronics enclosure.
Not only will you have to consider the trucks, but you’re also going to need to think about the wheels. Using wheels with a decently large diameter and medium softness will provide you with the smoothest ride. When building an electric skateboard, it may be advantageous to use wheels with plastic hubs. They are fantastic when you’re mounting the pulley wheel on to them. If you use a solid wheel, you will end up having to drill directly into them. Drilling into them will last for a decent amount of time, but you will end up needing to replace your wheels more often when doing it this way.
Electronics Needed When Building an Electric Skateboard
Once you have decided on the skateboard you’re going to use, it’s time to move on to the electronics. You will need to purchase a power kit that includes a motor, ESC (electronic stability control), and a battery. When you purchase these pieces in a kit, you won’t have to worry about components not matching up. It pretty much guarantees your success.
When you start to look at power kits, you’ll notice that there are single and dual setups for the motor. One motor is typically more than enough when building an electric skateboard. You’ll be able to climb hills and move quickly with a single-engine. However, dual sets will provide you with extra power, which in turn will make climbing large hills effortless. Dual Motors are pricier than a single motor setup, but it may be a worthwhile investment for frequent riders.
There are quite a few excellent options when shopping for suitable motors for your skateboard. You’ll want to look for one that offers a decent amount of torque and high power. A lot of people like to use brushless out-runners designed for RC planes.
When it comes to ESC, you should look for an option that can support high amperage. Most of the options that are well suited will include the letters HV in the name. Many people will invest in a top-quality car speed controller as they are very reliable. There are much cheaper models, but they tend to burn out very quickly, which means you will be reinvesting more often. When you’re looking at speed controller options, finding one that the motor and batteries can plug directly into is the easiest way.
Now that you have the motor and the ESC, you need to look into batteries. Lithium polymer batteries are probably the most popular in electronic skateboard builds. You get a significant amount of power from them, but they’re also small and lightweight. There’s a disadvantage that comes along with using lithium polymer batteries. They are quite volatile, and you need to pay attention to them to make sure they don’t catch fire. With proper maintenance and equal charging, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. You should also be careful not to leave them charging longer than they need to be.
The last electronic piece that you need is a transmitter or receiver. You can pick one up in just about any hobby shop, and they will all work well. Many people who build electric skateboards will use ones manufactured for cars because there’s a trigger for the throttle. There is an issue with this as they are incredibly bulky, and you’ll have to load them with several AA batteries.
After acquiring all of the electronic components, it’s now time to work on the drive system. To create the drive system, you’re going to need to buy pulleys. You need to be careful about the ratio between your pulleys and your timing belt. Many people are successful when using a 36T to 14T T5 pully reduction and connecting it to a matching Synconflec belt. This combination works exceptionally well with a 213kv motor. If you use a different sized engine, you’ll need to adjust the pulley and belt system’s size.
Now it’s time to mount the motor. It should be mounted directly on the truck. This will ensure that you don’t have to worry about your belt slipping when making turns. Mounts are easily made from aluminum and can be welded directly on to the truck. It’s more challenging to make adjustments in doing this way. Additionally, finding the proper tension for the belt may also be a challenge.
You can avoid this challenge by making the motor Mount in two parts. You can extend the Bolt holes so that making adjustments is easier. If you don’t want to build your own, there are some great options from Alien Drive Systems. Choosing a pre-made motor mount can save you time and frustration. If you decide to go with a prefab motor mount, you’ll be making a more substantial investment than you would if you created it yourself. However, there are several excellent options out there that can make your electric skateboard build more straight forward.
You’ll be investing a decent amount of money when you build an electric skateboard, so you will definitely want to create housing to protect the expensive parts and batteries. While you need the enclosure to be solid and stable, you also want to make sure there’s sufficient airflow. The last thing you want is your motor overheating.
Taking the time to draw out a rough sketch will ensure that you end up with sturdy construction. It also helps to organize how you’re going to put your components into it as it’s a compact space. There are quite a few different enclosure designs that you can look through online. Most people will use mesh at the ends of their enclosure to provide the electronic components with the required cooling airflow.
You will need to make it big enough so that you have room to secure your batteries, and so there’s space for routing the cables. You will also need room for the ESC and transmitter or receiver. Packing them with double-sided foam will help keep everything securely in place.
When you attach the case to your skateboard, you will likely need to screw it directly into the deck. This is not as aesthetically pleasing as some people would like, but it is necessary. You can use attractive metals for the bottom plate and screws to look more appealing after being attached to your longboard.
There are a variety of pre-made enclosures that you can purchase. This does save time, but you may not end up with one that’s as solid as you like. Additionally, it may not be shaped perfectly for the components that you’ve chosen. Buying a pre-made enclosure might be the best choice if you don’t have a lot of experience working with metal.
Other Considerations When Building an Electric Skateboard
If you use a longboard to build your electric skateboard, remember that they are quite heavy. The size of a longboard is exponentially bigger than the size of a standard skateboard. This can make it difficult to carry with you while using public transportation or when taking it in and out of buildings. Using a smaller longboard or cutting a large one down, may be advantageous to save you the extra weight.
You will also want to spend a lot of time thinking about the batteries that you choose. While some offer higher power and are lightweight, they are also more dangerous and may combust. Additionally, depending on how you build your system, you may have to remove the batteries altogether to charge them, and this is seriously inconvenient. Many battery solutions offer plug-in charging systems that can make the whole process of keeping your batteries full simpler.
If you build your board and don’t use wheels with plastic hubs, you’ll likely be replacing them frequently. Using large wheels that have plastic hubs will make the installation process much simpler and more convenient. The larger wheels will make your ride quite a bit smoother and allow you to handle rougher terrain with ease.
Building an electric skateboard is definitely a challenge – but it’s worth it. It’s not only fun to ride on, but it makes your commute faster and less exhausting. You can choose to pre-purchase an electric skateboard, but it will cost you an exceptional amount of money. Not every budget will be able to absorb that type of blow. By building your own, you will not only have the experience of creating something yourself, but you will also keep more of your hard-earned money in the bank.
This is only one look at how to build an electric skateboard. There are many other styles and ways for it to be done. However, this is one of the simplest ways. You don’t have to be a master manufacturer to accomplish an electric skateboard project. With a bit of determination, the right items, and correct tools, you will be well on your way to flying down the roads with the wind in your face. Maintain patience with yourself as there will likely be a bit of trial and error as you learn more about the different components needed to build an electric skateboard. As you work on it and then write it, you will easily see the quirks or problems in your design. With simple tweaks, you can adjust these issues and go out to have the ride of a lifetime.