Tag Archives: Electric Skateboards

My Carvon EVO Electric Skateboard Prototype Hit 31mph!


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.


Carvon EVO and REVO 4WD Kickstarter

Our Electric Skateboards Got Mobbed at Maker Faire Detroit

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.

maker00

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.

maker01

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.

maker02

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.

maker03

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.

maker04

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.

maker05

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.

maker06

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.

emc2
product information button runplayback Carvon EMC2 Dual Hub Motor Electric Mini Cruiser

polarpro
product information button runplayback Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Professional Filter 6 Pack

phantom 3 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Phantom 4 / Phantom 3 Filter 6-Pack

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

rik01

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.

first-skateboard

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.

rik-ego

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.

ego
Yuneec E-GO

ego01

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.

ego02

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.

diy-tools

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.

dremel

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.

support

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.

jet01

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

jet02
Jet Radar Series Spud Nips Lip Deck

carvon01

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

carvon02
Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

enertion01

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

enertion02
Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

ollinboard01

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

ollinboard02
VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

diyelectric01

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

diyelectric02
TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote Controller

sulaco01

sulaco02

sulaco03

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

sulaco03
A2ESK8 Sulaco V1 Enclosure

shrink

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)

assembly01

assembly02

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.

assembly03

assembly04

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.

bldc01

bldc02

bldc03

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.

assembly05

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.

assembly06

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.

assembly07

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.

assembly08

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.

assembly09

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.

assembly10

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.

assembly11

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.

assembly12

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.

assembly13

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.

assembly14

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.

assembly15

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?

rik02

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.