Landon (Team Carvon) and I decided to build a prototype 14s LiFePO4 electric skateboard battery for the Carvon EVO. Here’s how we did it.
The new V3 Dual Direct Drive pulls the motor out of the hub and slides it next to the wheel
As Spring approaches, so does my infatuation with electric skateboarding. This year, one of the most anticipated complete boards birthed from the DIY ESK8 scene – the Carvon EVO and REVO 4WD is ready to launch on Kickstarter.
A test ride with the new Carvon EVO featuring the V3 Direct Drive motor system
As one of the earliest vendors in the game, Jerry Palacio, Carvon’s founder – has been in the hub motor business for quite some time and it shows. From his unparalleled customer service to his patience with even the most demanding users, Jerry’s passion for ESK8 is reflected in his constant hub motor innovations, birthed from his workshop in California.
The street configuration has 97mm rotatable wheels, an estimated top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h), hill climbing capability of 15 percent, and up to 14 miles (22.5 km) of range
The Carvon V2 and V2.5 hub motor kits have been a prominent mainstay in my local electric skateboard group for the simple fact that they can take a major and I mean MAJOR beating.
From single digit weather and truly harsh road conditions (gaping potholes, salt, gravel) in and around Michigan, our Carvon motors have never failed. As our experience grew, we began building our own VESCs (Vedder Electronic Speed Controllers) and battery packs but the one constant for drive train systems are Carvon hubs. They just never fail.
The arched “drop down” shape of the deck is meant to position the rider close to the ground for better feel and performance
With the V3 Dual Direct Drive – the motors are no longer sitting inside of the wheel.
With the Carvon EVO featuring the new V3 Dual Direct Drive – the motors are no longer sitting inside of the wheel. This direct drive layout eliminates the need to bore into the wheel which allows thicker urethane for smoother rides and also reduces stress on the motors. Best of all – and this is such a sleeper feature – the wheels can be replaced! From authentic ABEC11 Street Wheels to MBS All Terrain Wheels to Pneumatic Wheels, the range of options for a drive train system that isn’t a belt drive is incredible.
The Carvon EVO is truly a work of art
Carvon’s Kickstarter campaign is very close to its $49,000 goal, which means that cheaper pledge/reward options like the $999 EVO and $1,499 REVO 4WD have all been reserved. The $499 V3 motors are still available, as are the $1,099 EVO and $1,599 REVO 4WD. With our help, V3 shipments will start in May, EVO shipments in July and REVO 4WD shipments in October. Retail prices are estimated at $599 for the V3 motor kit, $1,499 for the EVO and $1,999 for the REVO 4WD.
Here’s a fun little project for anyone who would like to be a little more visible at night when commuting on a bike, skateboard or personal electrical vehicle. With the help of my friend Landon, we put together a super affordable, DIY LED Backpack kit that can be applied to just about any backpack that you may already own. Please note, you’ll need some basic tools and electrical skills to put something like this together.
I chose to use my classic Lowepro 650 camera backpack. It is extremely comfortable to wear with plenty of storage room for camera gear, a laptop and other miscellaneous items. It’s also my favorite pack to wear when cycling or skating because it feels very balanced across my back.
For the LED lights, we went with these super bright COB LED lights that measure about 7″ x 1″. They are extremely lightweight, waterproof and have a clean design that doesn’t scream cheap LED’s. They are also aggressively bright at full power but can be tamed using a dimmer which I’ll get to in a moment. To attach the lights to the bag, I used standard adhesive velcro strips along with fabric glue to reinforce the bond.
We used four 18650 Li-Ion cells to power the lights which might seem like overkill, but provide some serious long lasting work life. Additionally, I’m using the Nitecore i2 smart charger which is an affordable but high quality charger that’s compatible with a wide array of Li-Ion bateries.
The batteries are connected in series using a generic 18650 cell case to output about 16.8v. That may seem like too many volts to push to the 12v lights which is why I opted to use a dimmer control with a 12v regulator.
The best part of this build is the ability to control the lights wirelessly using a small RF controller. Since it’s an RF signal, it’s able to pass through the bag easily and has a long controlling distance. Other features include custom brightness levels, dynamic modes and speed adjustment for dynamic modes.
I just ordered another set of lights but this time with red LED’s which I’ll wire to the back of the bag as a rear stoplight. It’s really easy to get creative by combining a wide variety of backpacks and COB LED colors while also remaining safe and visible when riding at night. If you have any questions or suggestions for this build, hit me in the comments below.
“Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” details the emerging popularity of high performance, electric skateboarding and the misconceptions about eboarding risk and safety. On Thursday, September 15th at 7:00pm EST, we launched the World Premiere and Live Stream Q&A panel with the filmmakers at Duo Security’s tech event space in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
On Thursday September 15th, I’ll be live streaming my latest short documentary “Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” followed by a Q&A. For those in the Michigan area who would like to attend the screening you can RSVP for FREE here:
On June 2, 2016, software engineer Robbie Small suffered a traumatic brain injury while riding an electric skateboard. This is his story.
“Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” is a short documentary film that details the emerging popularity of high performance, electric skateboarding and the misconceptions about e-boarding risk and safety.
Total Running Time: 25 min.
Produced by Rik Cordero & Robbie Small
Directed, Shot & Edited by Rik Cordero
Produced by Arbor Day Pictures & A2ESK8
Doors open at 6:00pm
Screening begins at 7:00pm sharp followed by Q&A with the filmmakers
Food and refreshments will be served
This past weekend, our local electric skateboarding crew A2ESK8 participated at Maker Faire Detroit, a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement.
Makers ranged from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. About 25,000 people attended the event to check out ordinary individuals rolling up their sleeves to create inventive solutions for everyday needs.
Sometime last year I began to search for other DIY ESK8 builders so I created a Facebook group to draw others in which birthed A2ESK8 – Michigan’s largest social hub dedicated to the building of DIY electric skateboards. Our booth was graciously sponsored by our friends at Carvon Skates and Polar Pro whose products are seamlessly integrated into our local ESK8 culture of building and filming.
Attendees were able to get hands on with some of our boards as they were able to throttle and brake using our realtime display bench rig to test RPM, temperature and current.
For those were interested in the tech, we had live demos of VESC (Vedder Electronic Speed Control) and LiFePO4 battery assembly. We also provided insight on the open source community and the emergence of ESK8 as a major player in the personal electric vehicle movement.
We took turns riding the boards around The Henry Ford which provided a glimpse at what ESK8 feels like. Many of our riders describe ESK8 as an alternative to snowboarding and longboarding where you get a similar feeling of “flying” on the ground.
All around us roads are changing, structures go up and having a “spotter” who you are communicating with through Bluetooth intercoms creates a sense of gamified exploration. Every turn we make can be something new and its all about living in that moment with zero distractions. Essentially it’s meditative and can relieve any stress that’s built up throughout the day.
Who knows what the future holds for A2ESK8 but one thing will always remain clear – our mission is to combine safety, reliability, art and design to inspire others to be part of a growing DIY community that will innovate the electric skateboard industry.
Shot exclusively with the LanParte LA3D Action Gimbal, DJI Phantom 3 and Polar Pro Filters
My original DIY Electric Mini Cruiser Skateboard still holds up quite nicely even after 6 months of hard riding and natural wear and tear. But as with all things DIY, parts can always be upgraded. One key feature that I wanted to improve upon was weight, so once again, I researched the right combination of components to make an already awesome commute even better. I’ve nicknamed this build – the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser.
My original 29″ mini cruiser was the perfect size thanks to the unique design of the now discontinued Jet Spud deck. But I wanted to do something different, which is why I chose the Hi5ber Ion 30 mini cruiser deck. Hi5ber has built a great reputation for manufacturing the best carbon fiber longboard decks available. They are lighter and stronger than typical wooden longboards which create a more controlled, responsive experience for the rider.
The Ion 30’s design is the definition of stealth with it’s ultra thin rails that gradually curve thicker towards the wheelbase. The added benefit is an enhanced wheel clearance that looks so damn futuristic. Other than the low weight, the characteristics of the Ion 30 include high rigidity, high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and fatigue resistance. And unlike wood, carbon fiber doesn’t warp when exposed to water.
Before electricfying the Ion 30, I tested it out with Gullwing Sidewinder II trucks alongside 72mm ABEC11 Freerides and it was a blast. That combination of an ultra lightweight carbon fiber deck and double kingpins was so much fun I was a little hesitant to throw electronics on there. But my curiousity got the best of me so I got to work.
The next step in weight reduction was the battery. My original build contained the 10s3p Enertion Space Cell, a wonderful battery pack, but 30 cells demand a lot of real estate in the wheelbase for a small mini cruiser deck. With a wheelbase of 16.25″ on the Hi5ber, I knew I had to figure out another power solution.
I ended up creating a custom 12s1p LiFePO4 battery pack with the help of my friend Landon who is an electronics wizard. LiFePO4 batteries are the safest type of lithium batteries as they will not overheat, and even if punctured they will not catch on fire. The cathode material in LiFePO4 batteries is not hazardous, and poses no negative health or environmental hazards. Due to the oxygen being bonded tightly to the molecule, there is no danger of the battery erupting into flames like there is with lithium-ion. We used 12 cells in series for a total voltage of about 36v. Paired with a BMS, voltage display, charge port and power button, the pack ended up having a more compact size – perfect for the Hi5ber deck.
Once again I designed a custom 1/8″ ABS enclosure using my homemade vacuum former. This time I wanted the buttons to be located on the side of the enclosure as flush as possible. This created a more pleasing appearance that complimented the look of the carbon fiber. The length of the enclosure came out to 11″ and width at 5″. This meant plenty of room to spare on the Ion 30 wheelbase.
Another big upgrade I made was swapping my original Torqueboards 2.4ghz Mini Remote with an even smaller 2.4ghz Nano Remote that features a thumb throttle instead of a trigger throttle. As far as how it feels in my hand, it’s pretty awesome. Granted, I’m not a big guy but it’s the right size for stealth in the city. It’s as if they took the best features of the Yuneec EGO and Boosted Boards remote and put it into a no frills casing. I like the short throw, knob throttle which is a much better design than Boosted’s long throw thumb dial and trigger button. Shout out to Kaly over at ESK8 builders for the hookup on this remote.
The only components I ported over from my original build are the Ollin Board VESC and the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Because of months of wear and tear and a few moisture issues, Landon and I decided it was best to clean the VESC up with some gentle scrubbing and a coating of anti-corrosion spray. Even so, the VESC is still going strong with no issues or errors – a testament to Ollin Board’s high quality manufacturing practices.
My Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor was upgraded with authentic 90mm ABEC11 Flywheels and is really the backbone of my entire mini cruiser build. I’ve put the hub motor through the ringer in every harsh road condition imaginable and it continues to perform flawlessly. Carvon continues to push the boundaries of eboard drive trains and I look forward to seeing what they do next with their V3 hub motor design and EVO series.
Dialing in the VESC settings is critical for creating a safe and fun mini cruiser. My original build was capable of hitting 31 mph but the sweet spot for a board this small is around 15-18 mph – more than enough for carving through a dense city filled with intersections and pedestrians. Also, the 12s LiFePO4 battery delivers a stronger punch than my 10s lithium ion with a more stable discharge and minimal voltage sag. As much as I enjoy releasing the full power and speed from a DIY eboard, there’s something quite satisfying about taming a mini cruiser eboard that has the ability to hurl you but won’t because you’re keeping it on a leash. More importantly, this build never feels like it’s struggling or straining and that kind of confidence transfers into longer range and fun, safer rides.
Skating the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser around the city proved to be a blast. On FOC mode with the Carvon V2 hub motor, the sound is nearly silent. The ultra light Hi5ber Ion 30 board makes acceleration from standstill fantastic and it really feels like your riding on some kind of space age material because of how responsive it is. Carbon fiber handles bumps slightly differently than wooden decks but in a good way because vibrations don’t transfer as much harsh energy to your body. Oh and did I mention how light this thing is? Seriously I’ll take carbon decks over wood any day of the week.
DIY electric skateboard builds have been getting better and better in just a few months yet there are still just a handful of 30″ and under DIY mini cruiser builds. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stigma to purposely limit your top speed on a smaller deck but I feel like it’s our responsibility to be ambassadors of this technology everytime we step on a board. I’ve already seen friends who’ve hurt themselves on eboards and in almost all cases, the problem was either an inexperienced rider or a road obstacle and not a board failure. Going over 25 mph instead of 13 mph on a non electric board meant crashes that have caused broken bones and serious concussions. Believe me, I’ve had first hand experience with this and it’s made me a very visible advocate for eboard helmet safety.
This mini cruiser was not designed to be a land missile and it shows. It’s become the ultimate conversation starter whenever I ride in the city because I’m seriously just having fun. The weight reduction made a huge difference and carrying it on public transportation is even easier. If you’re in the Detroit area at the end of July, check out this mini cruiser build in person at the Detroit Maker Faire where will have an A2ESK8 booth and demonstrations. For more information on the products I used to create the video above, please check out the links below.
Action gimbals are all the rage these days, especially at this year’s NAB Show, yet the one that really stood out to me was the Lanparte LA3D gimbal for the GoPro. Cosmetically, it’s similar to the Came TV Action and the Ikan Fly X3-Go but if you look further, it has some really well thought out design features that make it the best action gimbal out right now.
The most standout feature on the LA3D is the detachable mounting system. With my previous Came TV electric longboarding rig, weight distribution was often a problem as mounting the entire gimbal to the end of a painter’s pole created a very front heavy rig that would be tricky to handle especially when traveling at high speeds. With the LA3D you can mount only the gimbal on the top of a boom pole via a 1/4-20 thread and hold the battery/control stick in another hand via a wire control cable. For electric longboarding where you need have one hand on the transmitter, I’d recommend keeping the control stick in your pocket or strapping it to your boom pole with some velcro straps. It would have been nice if Lanparte had added a 1/4-20 thread on the controller side as well to keep things even more modular. Some other interesting ways to mount the LA3D are using a Polar Pro Trippler Grip Pole or a standard GoPro chest mount and head mount to keep things centered.
The LA3D holds two 18350 Li-Ion batteries but you can attach a 2″ tube extender and use two larger 18650 Li-Ion batteries for up to 8 hours of power. The three modes are pretty standard – follow mode that pans and tilts to your wrist direction, semi-follow mode where tilt is locked but can be adjusted using the control pad and locked mode where tilt and pan adjustments are made manually on the control pad. The best integrated mode feature is probably inverted mode which enables you to turn the gimbal completely upside down. This makes booming from high angle to low angle action shots super seamless. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll demonstrate some LA3D footage. If you have any questions hit me up in the comments.
Just wanted to share a new video series I’m developing titled “Duo Meet Your Maker” which profiles local hackers, tinkerers, hobbyists, and the tech-savvy makers to learn about their processes and highlight the things they create. My goal with this series to look beyond the gadgets themselves to explore the people behind them and what makes them tick. My first subject is Jeff Plott, a local mechanical engineer, who built a 45 mph electric longboard! Yikes! If you’d like to know more about how I shot those action shots check out my electric longboarding action rig here.
After racking up hours of DIY electric longboarding videos, I’d like to share some of the tools that I use for capturing high speed action. If you recall from my original DIY Electric Longboard build article, I was initially inspired to use an eboard as a dolly when paired with my camera gimbal. As I got into high speed riding with eboards I needed a way to capture the action and feel of a ride through inventive, hard to reach camera angles. Here’s a very compact setup that’s easy to handle while in the midst of all the action.
The Xiaomi Yi has been my main action camera for quite some time. At around $80 you get a wi-fi action cam that records 2k videos with natural colors, definition and solid low light ability. The quality is comparable to the GoPro Hero3+ and the best feature is the 1/4-20 female thread on the bottom which allows better compatibility for clamps and rigs instead of GoPro’s proprietary mounting system. The Wi-Fi app is super easy to use for live preview and remote recording. You could pick up three Xiaomi Yi’s for the price of one GoPro Hero3+ which is a value that’s really hard to beat.
ACTION CAMERA GIMBAL
The Came-TV 3-Axis Action Gimbal is a 32-bit gimbal that features brushless motors with Encoders. Encoders are often used in Robotics for highly accurate monitoring of motor position. This helps prevent motors from losing synchronization and skipping steps, provides important information about frame and camera angles, increases battery life, increases torque and the precision of stabilization. The gimbal is constructed from aluminum alloy, weighs in at a very light 300 grams, has a 1/4-20 female thread and is compatible with the Xiaomi Yi.
PAINTER POLE ADAPTER
This DIY Painter Pole Adapter is designed to connect to the top of a standard paint pole and turn it into a very long monopod. It’s made of CNC machined aluminum with an anodized black finish and has a 1/4-20 male stud to fit perfectly with the Came Action Gimbal. Alternately, you can use this with a small ball head for accessories or even as a microphone boom pole.
The Shur-Line Easy Reach 60″ Adjustable Extension Pole extends from 30″ to 60″ with almost no flex. It also features an ergonomic handle and is great for capturing hard-to-reach shots. With a painter’s pole I’m able to get the camera as close to the action as possible. One shot I like to do is having a rider cut in front of me as I raise the pole from bottom to top to create a booming effect.
Mileage may vary depending on your stance on the eboard but since I ride goofy and use the eboard trigger remote on my right hand – I keep the painter pole tucked under my left shoulder while balancing the whole rig on my left hand. This position lets me use my whole body to maneuver the camera while still being able to lean and carve on the road.
For safety, I’d advise wearing full safety protection (helmet, pads, etc) and always keep your eye on the road through peripheral vision. Communication is also key so be sure to direct the rider and let them know if you see something cool. You’ll know that you’re nailing your technique when you forget that you’re filming and are focused on composition.
Electric longboards are super fun to ride and combine the feeling of longboarding and snowboarding except you can eboard anywhere with large, smooth pavement. With speeds that hover around 30mph and over, having a compact, lightweight rig is essential to capturing the rush of excitement that comes from eboarding. Also get creative – shoot some drone shots, capture B-Roll of your homies or clamp the action cam on the board itself. If you have any questions or suggestions hit me up in the comments below!