Tag Archives: DIY Electric Skateboards

I Built Another DIY Electric Longboard With More Power

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My original DIY Electric Skateboard is quite possibly one of my favorite things I’ve built so far and the feedback has been phenomenal. Every ride is an opportunity to discover inventive ways to capture the board on video. However, the communal experience of riding with other people is where the real fun begins. The performance gap between my DIY Single Hub Eboard and my Yuneec EGO is too wide so the only solution was to build another board. Do I really NEED more than one? Absolutely not. But the shared experience of riding with others is priceless.

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DOING THE DUAL

I had the option to either replicate my original DIY Single Hub or go for something a little different. Perhaps a single belt drive or a dual setup. I ended up choosing a dual hub motor system. There’s a bit of a perpetual debate on belt drive vs. hub motors and it always comes down to personal preference. The stealth and coasting ability of the Carvon Single Hub is incredible. But the best feature to me is that it can withstand some of the harshest conditions imaginable. Harsh conditions during a Michigan Winter include rock salt, potholes, uneven pavement, snow, black ice, etc. Once I decided on using Carvon Dual Hubs for my next build, choosing the rest of my parts was fairly simple.

CHOOSING THE PARTS

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JET TOMAHAWK “PEACE OUT” DECK
I knew this build would not be a mini cruiser like my last one, but I loved the quality of my Jet deck so I wanted to find something similar but with a longer wheelbase. I ended up going for the Jet Tomahawk because of it’s freeride design and variable wheelbase from 23.75″ to 28.25″. The Tomahawk shares similar wheel wells like my Jet Spud but has more of an aerodynamic, missle-like shape. When it comes to choosing a deck, Muirskate is a great resource for all things longboards. Shout out to Scott!

Price: $79.95

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Jet Tomahawk “Peace Out” Deck

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CARVON V2 DUAL HUB MOTOR + MATCHING TRUCKS + WHEELS SET
As I mentioned, the durability of the Carvon Hub is what did it for me. Jerry at Carvon knew how much fun I was having on a single hub but said a dual would be even more of a blast. Since I pretty much committed to a big boy board, I ended up going with massive 97mm wheels which is recommended for 10s-12s Li-Po packs. Like last time, the Carvons arrived on time with a clean, professional build all around – heavy duty 2250W brushless outrunner motors, 10″ black trucks with matching black anodized motor sleeves and ceramic bearings. There’s been some questions about why the motor isn’t completely hidden inside of the urethane and I would assume it’s to create the actual feel of riding on a wheel as opposed to riding on a motor. I haven’t tried the thin urethane hubs on an Inboard or Stary but I’d be hesitant about riding those anywhere but pristine, paved roads in California. Where I’m from, the roads are tough and I have no hesitation blasting through them with Carvons.

Price: $599

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Carvon V2 Dual Hub Motors + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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ENERTION 10S SPACE CELL BATTERY
The Enertion 10S Space Cell has been so reliable and convenient that getting another one was no question. I haven’t had the chance to perform any range tests yet but it’s more than enough juice for a full day of riding on single hub and it will be interesting to compare the duration with a dual hub. The new version of the Space Cell also features an improved power switch and Jason’s customer service is top notch.

Price: $343.38

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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OLLIN BOARD COMPANY VESC – OPEN SOURCE ESC SPEED CONTROLLER
I doubled down on the Ollin Board Company’s VESC, still the best electronic speed controller created specifically for electric skateboards by Benjamin Vedder. Like I said, I’ve been riding hard in single digit Michigan weather in some of the most adverse conditions ever and have had no problems with the VESC at all. Honestly I don’t even think about it, which is a testament to the quality (heavy duty wiring, clean soldering, military grade, gold plated PCB’s, firmware testing) and is also coated for moisture and corrosion protection. The price on the Ollin Board VESC has gone up a bit but with the warranty and repair guarantee, it’s well worth it. Also be sure to pick up a CANBUS Connector to power the VESC’s together.

Price: $165

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

Price: $5

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CANBUS Connector for VESC

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FLITE TEST XT60 POWER Y-HARNESS
This 14AWG Y-Harness comes with presoldered XT60 connectors and is used to connect the dual VESC’s to the Space Cell.

Price: $7

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Flite Test XT60 Power Y-Harness

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TORQUEBOARDS 2.4GHZ MINI REMOTE CONTROLLER
Once again, I went with TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote from DIY Electric Skateboard. I’ve dropped it a few times and it’s still going strong. And it really does seem to last forever on only 2 double A batteries.

Price: $50

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TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote Controller

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MISCELLANEOUS
Some odds and ends that I needed to complete my build.

$4.95 – Khiro 1/4″ Shock Pad Large Skateboard Risers

$4.95 – DBS Dank Bolts 1.25″

$6.19 – CCNS Neoprene Sheet 1/4” 12″x12″ Self-Adhesive

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 x 1 in. Phillips Flat-Head Machine Screws (5-Pack)

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 Stainless Steel Machine Screw Nut (4 per Pack)

$1.18 – #8 Zinc-Plated Steel Flat Washer (30-Pack)

THE ASSEMBLY

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Like last time, I prepped the Jet Tomahawk deck by sanding away the paint job and spray painting it with glossy black. Covering those raw wooden wheel wells also looks a little better in my opinion.

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Once the VESC’s arrived I programmed it with the BLDC Tool here and tweaked some of the settings based on my previous build. A few things changed when switching over to a dual configuration. Here’s my settings that I used for each VESC.

MOTOR CONFIGURATION
Motor Max: 60.00
Motor Min: -30.00
Bat Max: 15.00
Batt Min (Regen): -12.00
Absolute Max: 130.00

CURRENT CONTROL
Startup Boost: 0.030

APP CONFIGURATION – GENERAL
Controller ID: Input “0” for VESC 1 and “1” for VESC 2
Enable Send status over CAN
Enable PPM

APP CONFIGURATION – PPM
Enable Multiple ESCs over CAN
Enable Traction Control

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Then, I binded the TorqueBoards remote to the receiver. Be sure to bind it properly to enable fail safe. If not, the board will go full throttle when you turn off the remote which is a major safety hazard. Next I added a JST cable to VESC 1 and the CANBUS Connector to connect VESC 1 and VESC 2. I also added some hotglue to all the connectors to prevent the connection from coming loose. Finally I added some velcro on the bottom of the VESC’s and the receiver. This will keep things secure inside of the enclosure.

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Next I prepped the Enertion Space Cell battery by adding velcro to the top. I found three strips placed equally across the length of the battery was enough.

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On the other side I added weatherstripping as a cushion. This side faces the skateboard deck so it’s important to have a little bit of cushioning to guard against vibrations.

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Next I prepped the RunPlayBack enclosure with corresponding velcro strips for the battery, VESC and receiver. I’m really happy with the size of this enclosure and the two piece design. Everything fits like a glove, especially the VESC’s.

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I carefully placed the Space Cell into the enclosure, making sure to align the power button, charge port and voltage display with the corresponding holes and connected the VESC’s with the Y-Harness. I also added a small flap of rubber as a cover.

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The Carvon Hub Motor and wheels were next. I picked up some 1/4″ Khiro shock pads and 1.24″ DBS Dank Bolts to mount the trucks to the deck. Finally, with everything in place I secured the enclosure using #8-32 machine screws, washers and nuts from Home Depot.

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CONCLUSION

Although my original DIY single hub eboard gave me the confidence to attempt another build, moving up to a dual build was no simple task. By doubling the major components, everything had to be bigger and beefier – from the choice of my deck to wheelsize to the enclosure. Once complete, I realized I created a beast – a literal land missle that dwarfs the nimbleness of my single hub board. I’m not quite sure I could use this as a daily cruiser but for the times when I have a lot of open road to let loose, this is the perfect build, especially as a weekend warrior.

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However, no matter how you slice it, moving up to a dual build isn’t cheap. Doubling the price of a VESC and hub motor presents a challenging value for those who are looking to get into DIY. Starting on a single hub build is more affordable and will definitely give you the confidence to move into a dual build if you crave more power.

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In my first article, I said that building a DIY electric board made me a better person and I still believe it. In only 2 months I’ve been able organize a local DIY eskate group called A2ESK8, engage in interesting conversations with the online DIY community as well as local tech and maker folks who find electric longboards fascinating. Right now the big barrier of entry is the price. But like drones and other electric vehicles, once manufacturing costs go down and battery technology improves, eboards will become more accessible. Until then, pushing the limits of emerging technologies is a blast and now that I have a second board, it will make that experience even better. So whose ready to ride? #A2ESK8

Warm Weather Means DIY Electric Skateboard Cruising

When it hits 57 degrees in February in MICHIGAN, you must take full advantage. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

Here’s a Manual on a DIY Electric Skateboard

Took another ride with my DIY Electric Skateboard and my buddy Robbie did a manual on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. I had no idea it could do that. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

My DIY Electric Skateboard Hit 31mph!

Here’s another cruising video with my DIY Electric Skateboard. This time we hit 31mph on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Pretty sure that once we find some paved asphalt we can go even faster. Till then, stay tuned!

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

Here’s What 28mph on an Electric Skateboard Feels Like

My obsession with DIY Electric Skateboards is at an all time high at the moment and as promised, here’s a follow up video of my DIY build cruising through a college campus parking lot courtesy of my boy Patrick. After a few weeks of optimizing my VESC based on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor and Enertion 10S Space Cell, I came up with the best all purpose BLDC Tool setting for this configuration:

Motor Max: 60.00
Motor Min: -30.00
Bat Max: 30.00
Batt Min (Regen): -12.00
Absolute Max: 130.00

In BLDC mode, we hit a top speed of 28mph despite the rock salt, pot holes snow puddles and rough terrain on these Michigan roads. My RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure was definitely put the test but held it’s own and protected the electronics from the elements. Check out the video above to get some more insight on how I make these things.

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I was able to film Patrick while riding the Yuneec E-GO but it was nearly impossible to keep up with him. The torque of the E-GO’s belt drive has a bit more throttle snap than a VESC + hub motor combo but it’s simply no match when it comes to the top speed and coasting ability of the Carvon. Once you taste the speed of a DIY Electric Skateboard, it’s really hard to go back. I will conduct some range tests when the weather gets better but for now, I may need to build another electric board just to film this one. Stay tuned!

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

How I Built a DIY Electric Skateboard and Became a Better Person

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Full disclosure – as a kid, I’ve always enjoyed cruising around on a skateboard, mainly because I was terrible at doing tricks and too worried about getting hurt. Naturally, I gravitated towards computers and electronic hobbies from RC cars to drones and eventually Miniquad FPV racing. Fast forward to present day – the popularity of personal electronic vehicles has grown and with it – the electric skateboarding community which combines the gratification of DIY tinkering with a broader communal experience.

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My earliest memories of electric skateboards were of metal behemoths fitted with lead batteries like something out of a science fiction movie. These days, parts have gotten smaller and slimmer which have allowed manufacturers such as Boosted and Yuneec to carve a out a very unique market of consumers who are not just skaters or tech nerds but those who are looking for alternate modes of transportation. To be fair, someone using an electric skateboard for the first time looks pretty ridiculous but those who fully embrace the technology make it look they are having more fun in life than everyone else.

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YUNEEC EGO

I was first introduced to the Yuneec E-GO by Emm from Cheesycam. Paired with a gimbal, we used it as a camera dolly for super smooth tracking shots. While the experience was fun, I didn’t have an immediate gut reaction to purchase, which is what typically happens when Emm shows off some new gear. I was intrigued, but the price point kept me at a distance. It felt a little gimmicky, like a big boy toy for guys my age who don’t like to hurt themselves.

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Yuneec E-GO

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After about a year, I started seeing electric vehicles crop up around town and I began to feel left out. I was compelled to get my own big boy toy. And since I live about 2 1/2 miles away from my office, I figured an eboard would be the perfect way to commute. So with a little money saved I bought a used Yuneec E-GO display unit from eBay and immediately customized it with a new paint job and lights.

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The E-GO is a rock solid entry level board, perfect for those who want to get their feet wet with electric skateboarding with little maintenance. Ask any hardcore DIY eboard builder and the Yuneec is not really a part of the conversation. But compared to a Boosted board, the E-GO has a very pleasant price tag for it’s components – nothing more, nothing less. It maxes out at 13mph which is slow for most but very reasonable for downtown city commuting where there’s more obstacles, unpredictable terrain and limited straightaways.

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DIY ELECTRIC SKATEBOARDING COMMUNITY

Initially I thought about upgrading the E-GO to push it’s performance but after some research, it felt a little risky to modify a board whose only fault was being reliable. Like I never felt “cheated” by the E-GO if that makes sense. Plus having a production board to study for design research is always a good thing. Next, I started lurking in the Endless Sphere and ESK8 Builders forums, a cornucopia of knowledge for all things related to electric skateboarding. One thing that stood out to me was the pleasant attitude exhibited by many of the stakeholders in the community. Compared to some of the guys in Miniquad FPV groups, this was like a breath of fresh air. This is how I took my first plunge into DIY eboards.

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FINDING THE PARTS

Every DIY eboard currently relies on components developed by many companies springing up to serve the market. These companies are developing batteries, writing code, engineering motor systems and figuring out pieces of technology at every point in between. This is a constantly evolving scene with DIY’ers providing some valuable nugget of R&D research hidden in posts across two major forums. It’s deep, but not alienating if you dedicate the time. With about a month of lurking, I felt I was caught up with the technology to make informed purchases. One thing to keep in mind is that many of these products are built by DIY’ers for DIY’ers which means its best to do your homework before hitting them with a barrage of questions. This isn’t like shopping for a sweater at Macy’s. Like all communities, it pays to play.

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Supporting these guys with a purchase or two puts your skin in the game and as a customer they will give you personal attention and support for your build. You’ll need to have patience as products are made to order. My expected delivery times were off by about a week or two but since I placed my orders before Christmas and New Year, it was understandable. Waiting is hard. Really hard. But on the flipside, having something made to order feels special. Essentially, having a good customer attitude can mean the difference between someone going through the motions, versus someone really giving that extra attention to detail and a once over for quality control. I won’t get too wrapped up in specific components as parts will evolve way past what this article can provide but I can detail what informed my purchases which are entirely shaped by my personal needs.

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CHOOSING THE PARTS

JET RADAR SERIES SPUD NIPS LIP DECK
I found this board through posts by Torqueboards and Siggs from ESK8 Builders. It’s 29″ length with a 21.25″ wheelbase seemed like the perfect size for my body dimensions and commuting distance. The nearly 40″ length of the Yuneec E-GO was comfortable but definitely a hassle for taking it on a bus or other form of public transportation. One thing that worried me was the rather large wheel wells and extreme concave but more on that later.

Price: $65.95

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Jet Radar Series Spud Nips Lip Deck

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CARVON V2 SINGLE HUB MOTOR + MATCHING TRUCKS + WHEELS SET
To stay within my parameters of a stealthy, low key look, I went with a single hub motor from Jerry at Carvon. Carvon’s website FAQ answered all of my questions in regards to the advantages of hub motors and up to date photos of customer builds. Jerry was really helpful with shipping times and let me know that mounting the Carvon on the 29″ Jet Spud deck was possible but challenging due to the short wheelbase. Not one to shy from a challenge, I placed my order a week later and when it arrived, the product looked even better in person than the pictures. This may seem like common sense but being on the fence or wishy washy can only go so far when it comes to DIY. Once you soft commit to a purchase, be honest and follow through. It goes a long way to establishing a solid customer relationship.

Price: $299.00

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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ENERTION 10S SPACE CELL BATTERY
Jason at Enertion Boards has been developing and innovating within the electric skateboard scene for quite some time and it shows. From complete builds to individual components, Enertion is proof of concept that DIY and ready to run solutions can co-exist peacefully. So when it came time to choose a power solution, I knew the Enertion Space Cell was the best bang for the buck hands down. Without getting too deep into battery comparisons, the 10S Space Cell is a self contained unit with a battery management system, power button, charging port and voltage display. Jason was also kind enough to give me advice on my components, measurement specs for my enclosure and overall encouragement to see my build through. It’s almost like he’s on a personal mission to outfit every man, woman and child on earth with an electric skateboard and I look forward to where he takes Enertion by next year.

Price: $314.87

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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OLLIN BOARD COMPANY VESC – OPEN SOURCE ESC SPEED CONTROLLER
The VESC is currently the best electronic speed controller created specifically for electric skateboards by Benjamin Vedder. Jeramiah at Ollin Board Company was another helpful resource for providing recommended settings on my build and constant updates on the VESC’s features. Once it arrived, the VESC quality was top notch with heavy duty wiring and clean soldering all around. Like a master chef preparing an expensive meal, Jeramiah uses military grade, gold plated PCB’s along with a re-flow oven for soldering components and various stages of firmware testing to ensure maximum efficiency.

Price: $120.00

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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TORQUEBOARDS 2.4GHZ MINI REMOTE CONTROLLER
I wanted an affordable, reliable, small remote so I went with this TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote from DIY Electric Skateboard. It isn’t fancy and is not really in the same league as slick production board remotes but it seems to last forever on 2 double A batteries and well – it just works like hell. With it’s small compact receiver, zero dropouts and transmission errors, this remote had my attention but now has my confidence. TorqueBoards is also very active on social media so sharing your build with him there is a quick and easy way to get immediate feedback.

Price: $50.00

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TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote Controller

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RUNPLAYBACK SULACO V1 ENCLOSURE
To house all of these electronics I created my own DIY vacuum former oven that was inspired by Psychotiller from Endless Sphere and James Bruton from XRobots. Using feedback from Jason at Enertion and Jeramiah at Ollin Board Company, I created an enclosure code named the Sulaco V1 that is designed to house the Enertion 10S Space Cell, a single VESC and a standard 2.4ghz receiver. No more, no less. The specs are L: 20″ W: 8″ H: 2″ and features 1/8″ thick ABS plastic for lightweight performance, flexiblity high impact resistance, and added durability. Since I live right next door to a major ABS plastic supplier I can provide these at a good cost.

Price: $40

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A2ESK8 Sulaco V1 Enclosure

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MISCELLANEOUS
Here’s a few odds and ends that I needed to complete my build.

$4.95 – Khiro 1/4″ Shock Pad Large Skateboard Risers

$4.95 – DBS Dank Bolts 1.25″

$13.79 – MOB Grip Super Coarse Longboard 30 Grit 11″x40″ Griptape

$7.99 – 180 pc Rubber Grommet Assortment Set Firewall Wiring Electrical Wire Gasket Kit

$5.95 – 5 Pairs XT60 Male & Female Bullet Connectors Plugs For RC Hobby Lipo Battery

$6.49 – 127pc Heat Shrink Wire Tubing Assortment Wrap Electrical Connection Cable Sleeve

$6.19 – CCNS Neoprene Sheet 1/4” 12″x12″ Self-Adhesive

$4.70 -Small 13 X 23 X 1/16 Mechanics Shop Non Slip Black Rubber Tool Box Drawer Liner

$11.99 – Cowles Products/Black StyleGuard edge trim

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 x 1 in. Phillips Flat-Head Machine Screws (5-Pack)

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 Stainless Steel Machine Screw Nut (4 per Pack)

$1.18 – #8 Zinc-Plated Steel Flat Washer (30-Pack)

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THE ASSEMBLY

As I waited for parts I decided to prep my deck by sanding away the sweet Jet Spud Lips design and spray painting it with glossy black. I figured the artwork would be covered with my enclosure so I didn’t feel too bad.

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Next I added the MOB grip tape which is super coarse and probably too extreme for most folks. My hand actually started bleeding laying this stuff down so I threw on some work gloves. Ouch.

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Once the VESC arrived I programmed it with the BLDC Tool here and tweaked some of the settings based on the VESC FAQ found on ESK8.

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Once that was done, I binded the TorqueBoards remote to the receiver, then connected it to the VESC with a JST cable that was provided by Ollin Board Company. I added a ziptie as a cable lock to prevent the connection from coming loose and squeezed some hotglue to both the VESC and receiver for extra safety. Loose connections are a safety hazard so be sure to test the strength of every wire. If it can be pulled out with little force, it’s best to start over and do it right. Also adding some velcro on the bottom of the VESC and receiver will help keep things in place once you house it in the enclosure.

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Next I prepped the Enertion Space Cell battery by adding velcro to the top. I found three strips placed equally across the length of the battery was enough.

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On the other side I added a few strips of 1/4″ Neoprene as a cushion. This side faces the skateboard deck so it’s important to have a little bit of cushioning to guard against vibrations.

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Next I prepped the RunPlayBack enclosure with corresponding velcro strips for the battery, VESC and receiver. I can’t stress how important it is to have an enclosure that fits your electronics like a glove. Everything should be firmly enclosed and not swishing around like loose change in a jar.

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I carefully placed the Space Cell into the enclosure, making sure to align the power button, charge port and voltage display with the corresponding holes.

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Next I added the VESC and receiver by first pulling the motor wires through the holes and securing everything into the velcro. Once I was satisfied with the fit, I connected the VESC to the battery and added a small flap of rubber as a cover.

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You can get creative here and add an entire sheet of neoprene and rubber across the whole enclosure like the Yuneec E-GO battery system. Mileage will vary depending on your deck design and weather proofing needs. I highly doubt I’ll be riding mine through inclement weather so I didn’t go too crazy.

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The Carvon Hub Motor and wheels were next. I picked up some 1/4″ Khiro shock pads and 1.24″ DBS Dank Bolts to mount the trucks to the deck. Similar to the Yuneec E-GO design, the rubber shock pads are great for added flexibility and a smoother ride.

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I then mounted it all to the board, ensuring that each screw was tightened equally. I didn’t go crazy here, just wanted to get the tension secure.

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Finally, with everything in place I secured the enclosure using #8-32 machine screws, washers and nuts from Home Depot. There’s many different ways to mount an enclosure to a deck. Most folks like using tee-nuts for a cleaner finish and as a faster way to pop the enclosure on and off. I personally don’t mind the extra time using nuts and washers and with the crazy curvature of the Jet deck, I needed a little more play in the mounting holes.

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CONCLUSION

From my initial DIY product inquiries on 12/7/15 to 1/18/16, it took me approximately 41 days to complete the build. Slap on the downtime during holiday season and the process took much longer than expected. Yet the results were well worth it. There were a few times when I hit some speed bumps, particularly in the vacuum forming process where each failed pull felt like I got the wind knocked out of me. Like my brief time spent with Miniquad FPV’s, there were moments that zapped my creative energy. I wondered why was I spending all of my time on a glorified big boy toy while everyone else around me was living in the moment. It’s like, why didn’t I just buy a Boosted Board Dual Plus and call it a day?

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Fortunately, with the help of a loving supportive family and encouragement from friends, this build became more than just some kind of self serving prophecy. With DIY electric skateboards, there’s an immediate gut reaction when you see one. Like the kid inside all of us suddenly leaps through the soul in our eyes and peeks through smiling. Once I tapped back into that emotion, everything made sense. Sharing each technical step with my 6 year old daughter and seeing her wide eyed reaction brought me back to reality. I didn’t make this build for me. I made it for anyone who ever felt weird in school. Who felt more comfortable tinkering on their computers and in their garage than on the football field. The minute you understand you can build something, however you get there, you’ll want to improve it and share it with the world. Once you DIY, you’ll never be the same again. Hit me up in the comments if you’d like to discuss and stay tuned for part 2 where I actually take this thing on the streets.