Once upon the time, there were two regular longboards, then one of them got bored of being regular and evolved into a DIY electric longboard 😉
I have been riding my DIY electric longboard for three months already and I was planning to write a blog post regarding the build process and parts used since I have finished the build. Unfortunately, there were more important projects to be finished so this blog post was postponed all the time until today. On the other hand, I have used the time in between to gain some insight in owning and riding a DIY electric longboard.
Seeing the price drop on the electric longboard and skateboard components and as an avid skateboarder in my childhood, I have decided that I have got to build one for myself.
The parts list
I have decided to go with the cheapest parts that I could find at the moment for testing purposes.
Here is the parts list along with the prices at the moment when this article was written:
$53.17 Brushless motor: Racerstar 5060 BRD5060 280KV http://bit.ly/2x1f8EO
$46.99 ESC (initial build, this was replaced with VESC): FVT 120A http://bit.ly/2Qpy0FA
$20.88 Motor mount: for 80MM Wheels http://bit.ly/2NuLDEJ
$27.99 Remote: Mini 2.4Ghz Wireless Remote Controller http://bit.ly/2x2kBLt
$35.99 80mm wheels and bearings: 4PCS/Set 80x44mm http://bit.ly/2wZVuZx
For the battery, I’m using 6S 10Ah lipo battery which enables me to go up to 30km with one charge.
The cost of these parts was around $185.
Briefly, the motor is excellent, for the price, great build quality and it is quite powerful. Paired with the 16/48 gear ratio it reaches up to 30km/h top speed quickly on 80mm wheels. These motors are usually used in pairs for heavier riders. In case you are considering using two of them, check the overall truck size to be able to place them next to each other. In my case, there is not enough space for them to be placed on the same side of the truck so the solution is to rotate one of the motor mounts for 180 degrees and place the motor on the other side of the truck or mount the motor mount on one of the front wheels.
Since this is my first electric longboard, I was not sure what to expect from the ESC. This is just a regular RC Car ESC that has an updated firmware more suitable for a longboard/skateboard. There is a way to change the way it accelerates and brakes by using a USB tool and I was satisfied with the braking and acceleration settings for a while 😉 That was until a friend of mine gave me his spare FlipSky FESC to test it. There is a noticeable difference in the way the motor brakes and accelerates, something that could not be achieved with the FVT ESC. Also, the motor produces less noise.
The motor mount is cheap and basic. The gears are made of aluminum with decent build quality. The most important thing that I have learned is that the drive train has 3mm teeth and the belt may slip when braking hard which is not the case then using 5mm teeth. I have already ordered a replacement belt and gears with 5mm teeth and I will update this article after I have properly tested them.
There is nothing much to say about the remote, except for one important issue. When the battery is nearly depleted, the motor may act a bit strange, accelerating and braking on its own, the first time it happened to me it seemed that the longboard started accelerating without any input on the remote (the failsafe is set and it works properly). After that happened, each time before rides I ensure that the battery on the remote is full and I take a power bank with me just in case I need to charge the remote while I’m out.
As for the wheels, you get what you have paid for. The overall finish is satisfactory, there are production imperfections that cause the wheel to look like it is wobbling when you turn it by hand which isn’t noticeable when riding. In addition, they are a bit on the hard side (not sure they are even 80A as stated).
Building the DIY electric longboard
This is really simple and I was able to finish mounting the drive train in about an hour. Most of that time I have spent grinding the truck so I could securely fasten the motor mount.
The bigger gear should be mounted on the wheel with four bolts and the little one goes on the motor. The grub screws are used for securing the little gear and the motor mount in place. In my case, I had to glue the motor mount since the grub screws were becoming loose after each ride because of the vibrations. This gluing solved this issue.
For the electronics part, the motor connects to the ESC with three wires. If the motor is rotating in the wrong direction, just switch the connections between two of these wires.
The 3 wire small servo cable with black connector should be connected on the receiver. there are three horizontal connections available from top to bottom, Bnd, Ch2 and Ch1. The servo cable should be connected on Ch1 with the white wire on the right side next to the writing.
After this step, you are ready for the initial spin.
Initially, I have placed the batteries and the other electronic parts over the longboard and fastened them with rubber ties.
This was done for testing purposes only and since I preferred not to drill holes on the deck I had to come with a solution so I ended up using a food container that is fastened with velcro battery straps that I usually use on my fpv drones. The velcro straps are held by paper clips in 4 places. This solution turned out to serve me quite well in the past three months.
This is a great ongoing project that I enjoy working on from time to time. My plan is to add bigger 6″ inflatable or airless tires that will give me a more comfortable ride. Also, I have some other ideas for a personal electric vehicle that may or may not be based on the longboard concept.
All in all this DIY electric longboard is great for commuting, and I enjoy riding it on a daily basis. Also, weighing around 6kg it is relatively easy to be carried around, especially when using a shoulder strap.
If you are thinking about building a DIY or buying a finished product, I would say that the cost of is nearly similar, but if you want to ride a different electric longboard and especially if you tend to have it made from custom chosen parts that will suit specific needs and you are a tinkerer, then I would advise you to build one. If you just want to ride and have a commuting vehicle then there are plenty of ready-made electric longboards/skateboards to choose from.
If you need any advice or help to choose/build your longboard, let me know in the comments below.
And I must mention that my kids love it 😉
Update: in the following months since I have finished this build some new and cheaper parts were released. This bundle includes an 83mm hub motor, ESC and remote for $73.99, so you would have to buy three more 83mm wheels, battery, and casing, setting the overall price for the complete DIY project around $200-$250