This site is outdated, new site at: www.wiehan.co.za/projects/eboard/blog

building your own electric skateboard

disclaimer

This project is a work in progress and updates will follow slowly. Updates won't follow blog style posts and more information will simply be added to this page.

eboard version 1

Version 1 of my electric skateboard was completed in February 2016. Although I borrowed some ideas from other sources, ultimately my design was my own. I wanted to do a few things differently, namely:
  1. Should utilize a shortboard / traditional skateboard deck, not a longboard (which seems to be the majority of electric skateboards)
  2. "Piece-meal" / Custom design. I wanted to stay away from ready assembled kits sourced from one company. I wanted to do this the hard way.
  3. I wanted to do as much as possible myself. Excluding the welding and specialized metalwork.
version 1 reverse
eboard version 1: reverse
version 1
eboard version 1: side
However, I believe due to a faulty ESC and likely due to not reading its manual beforehand, version 1 suffered a traumatic failure and went up in flames. Almost everything within the custom enclosure got badly damaged. When working with DIY eboards - I suggest having a small fire extinguisher close by for your initial testing under load. Also, if you use LIPO batteries, read up about safe charging and discharging. You should also get a safe LIPO charging/storage bag.
version 1 failure
eboard version 1 failure
version 1 failure close up
close up

eboard version 2

After the failure of version 1. I decided to follow a more common design. In order to save money I decided to salvage what I can from version 1. For the rest of the components I went with more commercially available components for e-boards. Herewith follows a complete bill of parts and where to source them. Some items were bought locally at stores in Cape Town, South Africa.

deck

Bought locally from Boardhub. Roughly the size of a longboard, but in the style of a shortboard. Though the following attributes are really a matter of preference, here are some things to look out for when choosing a deck:
  1. Length and wheelbase: typically not mentioned on product listings, and much more important when opting for a fullsize shortboard design as odd length sizes will make it hard to fit everything beneath your deck.
  2. Width: go for slightly larger widths such as at least 8 or 8.5 inches (or wider).
  3. Concavity: look for flatter decks, as very concave decks could make it hard to safely secure blocky enclosures.
new deck
Loaded Kanthaka. Old board on top for size comparison.

trucks

Bought locally from Revolution. They are normal skateboard trucks. One side of the hanger had to be machined down in order to fit the large drivewheel - this was done by a professional machine worker. Then the motor mount had to be welded on - was also done by a professional welder. I angled the motor mount bracket slightly down (in the direction of the deck) in order to get more ground clearance for my motor. I swopped out one of the bushings for a harder barrel bushing, hoping to get a little more clearance for my angled motor mount and to make the ride a bit safer. This bushing is also taller, as it is intended for longboards. The dura rating is 95a.
truck with modifications
Tensor trucks - note modifications.

motor mount

Bought online from DIY Electric Skateboard. This truly is a DIY option as it requires welding onto your trucks. Exact model bracket here.

risers

Bought online from ebay. Taller than usual, with a height of 0.5 inches.
riser pads
risers - 0.5 inch.

wheels

Bought online from Metro-board. One of the wheels is the drive wheel, which comes with a preinstalled large pulley and is much wider than standard wheels due to this. Similar model available here.

The bearings are not shown in the picture below. These wheels come with preinstalled bearings. Unfortunately at least one of them appeared badly damaged (arrived this way), so I replaced them with Independent 7's which I bought from Boardhub.
wheels, showing drive wheel
83mm wheels from Metro-board.

hardware

Bought online from Longboarding SA. Taller than usual, with a height of around 40mm. Normal sized hardware is ideal for securing your enclosure to your deck.

motor

Bought online from Hobbyking. There are many guides online to tell you which type of motor is ideal for you. The short guide is: choose the one with the LOWEST kV that you can afford. Important: a keyway needed to be milled into the axle. Before this was done, the small motor pulley would simply come loose and would not be turned by the axle, despite the grub screw being tightened. Online research indicated that using locktite on the grub screw was a very bad idea. The axle customization was done by a professional machine worker.
motor
Turnigy Aerodrive sk3 149kV. Note: custom keyway had to be milled.

small puley and drive belt

Bought online from Alien Drive. Follow this guide to do a speed calculation.

Important: choose a pulley with a key for a more secure drive system. Pulleys from ebay often do not have keys and sometimes come without grub screws. See section on motor axle modifications for more information.

I chose a small pulley with 14 teeth and a belt of 280mm. The belt fit is extremely tight and am still looking for a 285mm belt - if you know where to get one, let me know.
pulley with belt, key and allen wrench
pulley with key and belt.

battery

Bought online from Enertion Boards. This is perhaps the most important component. For version 1 of the eboard I used a LIPO battery off of ebay. This, however, is an enertion S.P.A.C.E. battery and uses Li-ion technology, and has a host of built in features such as safe plug and play charging (not safe with LIPO batteries) and built in Voltage meter. Enertion has a video on the benefits of this battery. You should also buy the charger.
As of 1 March 2016, is still being shipped.
Enertion S.P.A.C.E. battery

esc

"ESC" stands for Electronic Speed Controller. Bought online from Enertion Boards. This is a crucial component. For version 1 of the eboard I used a RC car esc rated at 120 amps off of ebay - which still failed (partly my own fault, I guess). This is the famous VESC which is currently the only tailor-made commercially available electric skateboard ESC. It is also open source! Enertion has a video on their version of the VESC.
As of 1 March 2016, is still being shipped.
VESC

controller

Bought online from Enertion Boards. This is Enertion's wireless controller. It comes with a receiver and is rechargeable via supplied USB cable.
wireless controller

enclosure

Bought online from RunPlayBack. Battery and VESC enclosure.
As of 1 March 2016, is still being shipped.
enclosure
battery and vesc enclosure.

skate tool

Bought online from ebay. Some also come with a built in tool to remove and insert bearings into the wheel. Even though mine doesn't have this feature, it was still incredibly useful (and cheap).
skate tool
Skate tool.

motor placement

When using a single motor setup, and for regular stance riders, the motor should be placed on the back-end and heelside. See the diagram below for the ideal position to place the motor. My setup is slightly different, with the motor placed rear and toe-side , which also works.
motor placement
motor placement: back and heelside

assembly

Using your skate tool, mount the trucks on your risers and fasten hardware.
initial assembly
initial assembly: reverse
initial assembly
initial assembly: side

useful guides

How to apply grip tape.
Never knew skateboards has a tail and a nose. Nose is longer, use tape measure to determine. video.
Trucks: video.
Wheels and bearings: video and another video.
Calculating speed: link.
Understanding batteries: link.
Connecting batteries and esc: video.
Ask for help on forums, learn from others: link.