What to build
I have decided to do an electric self-build for our next project, a set-up from assembling another kit.
Even with the knowledge I have, it is all a little bit daunting to start with, specifically the “what speed controller (ESC/VESC) works with what battery, remote and motors etc?“. The excellent Skate Metric Foosted blueprint was the catalyst that got me thinking, that I should stop holding-off and get on with learning. Much as I like the Foosted design, specification, and appraoach, I however already have a Boosted and, cost-wise would have to import many of the parts.
The end-product vision in my head is something like a slightly shorter (33-38″) Boosted or the Eskating.eu Beast. Not a short wheelbase board; more stability, than portability for this one; something to easy cruise around on. The Boosted V2 is fast enough for me, so more power to go faster is not the objective, it is just to have similar top speed and torque for easy cruising fun.
An easy choice for me is to go belt-drive – I just have to live too much with crappy Victorian London roads and need real wheels (plus some flex in the deck); plus, if I wanted to do another hub-build I might as well just get a Wowgo, Meepo or Ownboard kit and that is not the objective here – this is about building better and learning. I am tempted by a gear-drives system, from the likes of E-Toxx , but will keep that for a future upgrade. For now, a more forgiving belt-drive system is the way to go.
Two Motors or One?
It used to be a big decision a few years back, but now as costs have come down it comes up less. Two motors does not make a board faster (top-speed), but it does give a board more torque, for acceleration or braking. For this project, I am all in and two motors it is. It is probably not necessary for the performance I am looking for in reality, but I am interested to see how the VESCs work together.
Besides trying to use some existing parts (wheels, bearings etc.), to save money, it would be nice to build it with as many European parts as I can find, and certainly from European suppliers for local support and no import tax and duty. This last part also rules out the Foosted blueprint, as the battery, ESC, enclosures, remote, motors, drive systems etc. would all come from China and incur import tax and duty for me. Time to build my own dream Euro board (here in the UK) and not pay any more important tax and duty.
Approach to building
Given the whole speed-controller, the heart of the board, is all a little daunting right now I am going to do the project in two phases:
- Battery+Motor+VESC+Remote – get that all working on the bench-top (or living room floor!), including configuring/programming the VESC before I build, even buy anything else; then,
- Assemble it on the deck with the enclosure, drive system, trucks, wheels etc.
I am in no rush here, we have boards already (too many, to be honest!) and the truck, drive system, deck etc. is all relatively easy; it is the configuring the electrics that is the new part (and not just using an existing ESC) and the bit I am most interested in learning about.
If I was new to all this I would actually recommend doing it another way, buying the deck, trucks, bearings, wheels etc. to make a conventional push longboard first – learning the skills, and having fun, with that as a push longboard and then electrifying it. The skills learned (foot-braking, push starts, a few dance moves, wobble adjustment, truck set-up etc.) from pushing would be invaluable, plus it would help to decide if it was the right type of deck for what you really want with your e-skate.
The most commonly used trucks and wheels for electric builds are Caliber II trucks and ABEC11 Superfly style wheels, using these straight off on a conventional longboard would still make one hell of a longboard and save money later on (if) when electrified. As an alternative to the Superflys (the Superfly core), you can go with the Kegel core, with the likes of the original Orangantang Kegels, Cagumas, Boa Hatchlings etc., which is now also becoming popular in the e-skate world with good availability of pulleys. With wheels for electric builds, the important aspect is the core used needs to be able to have a pulley attached the Superfly and Kegel cores, have been universally adopted by the e-skate community given they are easy to attach to (not solid cores like most longboard wheels).