Self Build Part 2 – Where to start

dual focbox diagram

Following on from deciding my approach (see: Part 1), of getting the Battery+Motor+VESC+Remote working first before anything else, it has been time to read, ask questions and work out where to source items from.

My starting point for information is the goldmine: Electric Skateboard Builders. There is so much there that it is a little overwhelming at first; however, when you get it into it and understand a little more on what to look for it is not so bad and people are always helpful. Second to that is the Reddit sub: Electric Skateboarding.

In Europe, there are a few parts suppliers I am aware of: E-Toxx, Unik Boards, Street Wing, ESkating.eu – all of whom have been helpful before and I would be happy to source parts from and get some guidance. This last point for me is really important, I don’t want someone to hold my hand, but I can see the need for some occasional advice along the way; hence, why I think it is important to find a supplier you are happy to buy from, even if they are slightly more expensive than sourcing all the parts direct from China.

focbox

The VESC

Choosing a VESC was easy, the dominant self-build and programme device out right now and readily available in Europe is Enertion’s FocBox. There is mature well-used software and helpful instructions out for it, and plentiful support. Right, sorted – I am building a dual-drive machine, so that is two to order.

Lots of useful information on Enertion’s site, as well as links for downloading the software: Enertion Downloads Page

 

remote_maytech_top

The Remote

Having had and tried a lot of remotes over the years, I care about the remote, both how it feels in the hand and the progression/sensitivity of the control. Not all remotes are the same, some are plain awful – just try the Eolve r1 (horrid), compared to the gold standard for me, the stock Boosted.

This part of the DIY market seems to be surprisingly less developed, with not many options. In theory, any 2.4Ghz RF remote can work with the FocBox, however, ergonomically I don’t want to do the over large ugly adapted model-car controller. The common offering is the Maytech remote although Enertion offers their Nano-X Controller I will do some more research but will probably go with one of these.

battery-12S5P-30Q-with-charger-03_1024x1024

Battery (BMS & Charger)

Now, this is where things have got difficult; there seems to be no established battery unit builder and supplier in the UK right now. I don’t want to build my own battery pack – meaning soldering the individual batteries (safely) and adding a Battery Management System (BMS) – so am looking to get a pre-built pack like the popular Sanyo 20700 to keep it simpler and safer.

http://www.joshendyblog.net/diy-electric-skateboard-project/
Battery pack – joshendyblog

Buying one from the US, from the likes of popular Psychotiller or HobbyKing, would be expensive with shipping and import tax; similar from China from Ownboard, Wowgo etc.; and the mainland European suppliers, like Unik Boards, will sadly not supply outside France. Trampa, based in Nottingham, only recommend specific batteries for their boards (Trampa link), with links out to Ebay and HobbyKing.

One thing I have to consider is the enclosure needed, there are not a lot of enclosures available to fit underneath the deck (I don’t want a big sandwich box on the top of the board or hanging off the back), so I need to consider the dimensions of the battery pack and what enclosure I will sue with it.

psychotiller encloser
Psychotiller Fish Bone enclosure

I talked to Steet Wing and they are currently looking into sourcing some batteries for the UK, so will wait until they are able to offer an option, hopefully with a suitable enclosure. What I would like to avoid is the enclosure being very deep and limiting the clearance under the board and thus the style/shape of the deck. For example, the popular Samsung and Sanyo battery packs, available from the Chinese kit suppliers and used in the Foosted build, are chunky block shaped (needing min of 45mm depth) and not slim/flat.

 

motor_6374_new-1

Motors

There are lots of motors available, although I suspect a lot are just rebranded versions of the same ones.

For reference, motors model numbers such as 6355 and X are its dimensions – diameter and length, not a power/performance rating. Its “Kv: or “RPM/V” (Rounds per minute)/applied volt states how fast the motor will spin (depending on the applied voltage).  A watt figure states its power rating, which typically for e-skate motors will be between 500W to 3500W per motor.

If you want to understand what you will need there is a very good guide to how to calculate the motor, pulleys, and gearing required on Electric Skateboard Builders: A beginner guide to DIY an ESK8. 

I am going to hold on choosing my motors (size and power) until I know where I am going to source my battery pack, as hopefully, I can get them together and have some assurance, that (unless I mess it all up), the battery, VESC, remote and motors should all work together.

… project on hold, waiting for a local battery pack option. Update soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Self Build Part 1 – Vision & Approach

dual_motor_conversion_kit_v2.jpg

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.

foostd 1
Skate Metric Foosted

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.

Beast
ESkating Beast

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.

Go Euro

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.

pexels-photo-1029243-1.jpeg

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:

  1. 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,
  2. 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).

 

SkateMetric DIY build spec

The excellent folks are SkateMetric (who do really good reviews) have done a blueprint and set of instructions for an excellent self-build they call their ‘Foosted’. It is using easily sourced components such as the Loaded Vanguard deck (but could use something else), Caliber II trucks, Wowgo battery and various components from Torque Boards.

parts

I estimate for us to build this (to the same spec and parts list), sourcing as much as possible from European suppliers would cost us around £1200 (€1350). At that cost, you are getting better specification (motors and battery) than something like a Boosted Dual; however, a less informative remote (the LED display) and obviously no company to support you. It is not a clear call, IMO; I guess you build it because you want the fun of the project.

The Skate Metrics instructions are here: Foosted Build