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

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

The big Boas on the Boosted

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Fitted the big (and they are big) 100mm Boa Constrictors on the Boosted. Fitting them is relatively easy, it is just like swapping the stock Kegels. The big advantage they have is the off-set core which means you can use the stock motor-covers, no replacement or trimming is needed.

To remove the drive-wheels:

  1. Wheel nut and speed-ring/washer off (don’t lose it).
  2. Motor-covers off.
  3. Carefully, wiggle the wheel and belt off (check the belts has no damage).
  4. Remove the long spacer and big inside speed-ring (again don’t lose it) – you can leave these on if you want, but I prefer not to lose them when I forget and tip the board on its side.
  5. Carefully (you do not want to break it) lever around the pulley with a flat-edge screwdriver and prise, bit by bit, the pulley out. It will come, just be patient. If necessary, you could soak in warm water to help, but mine have never needed it.
  6. Remove the small outside bearing from the Kegel, if you are going to re-use.

To fit the new drive-wheels:

  1. Carefully press the pulley into the wheel – I used some silicon spray on the pulley to help it go in smooth, but it is not essential.
  2. Press in the outside bearing – easy to do by hand, given the large wheel.
  3. Put back on the large inside speed ring and long spacer.
  4. Put the belt on the pulley and motor and wiggle the wheel into place.
  5. Re-fit the motor-cover.
  6. Fit the outside speed ring and tighten the wheel-nut
  7. Important, turn the board on its side and press forcefully on the top wheel to ensure everything is in nice and tight; then reverse and do it again. Listen for clicks.
  8. Re-tighten the wheel nuts.

Changing the front wheels is just like with any longboard/skateboard – if you are not sure how this is a good general video: changing wheels & bearings

If there are rattles from any wheels when you first try it, it is highly likely that things are still not fully in and it is spacers rattling. Again just turn it on its side and press hard, if you hear a click, that was it.

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Showing just how big the Boas are – 20mm increase in diameter, 10mm in clearance.

I have not had a chance to fully ride them, but my initial impressions are (1) that the increase in ride height is very noticeable; (2) they are significantly better, the ride is better, with our crappy old victorian roads; and (3), to be expected, there is also a noticeable loss in torque and acceleration (given I am using the stock pulleys), not a party killer, but it is noticeable. I will ride more and write up a full review over the next few weeks, especially if the loss of torque is worth the ride improvement, and if it is worth changing the pulleys and belts to get back the torque.

I would also add that the massive contact patch of the new wheels, makes it feel very planted – in some ways, too planted and did not entice me to carve it; but it is early days so this might be me not used to new ride-height. Anyway, I will ride a lot more over the next few weeks and do a full review.

 

UPDATE: I really like these wheels and highly recommend them to anyone with a Boosted, or any e-skate that will work with a Kegel core, as a change for fun or rougher roads and pavements.

These are a well-made and quality wheel – not some cheap cold-cast knock-off. Although a slightly higher duro, 83a, than the stock Kegel, they still feel and grip the surface as a soft wheel. And with a bigger contact area, there is no loss of grip at all; in fact, more grip on sharp corners than the already excellent soft Kegels. White is not my favorite color for wheels (although strangely I like the white Alkamist Ahmyos) and it does show up dirt and grim immediately, but then we can wear that as a badge of honor and you can always dye them if you want another color.

Although there will be some loss of torque, I have not really noticed it and have climbed happily all the usual hills. I am no speed-demon, so maybe it is just my casual cruising around that does not push the limit of using these; anyway, if you just want to cruise around, just stick these on the stock pulleys and don’t worry.

Similar with the top-speed, yes there is an increase, but I don’t really care – in my crowded city on backroads (where the police do not want us on main roads with traffic) 20mph is plenty fast enough. If you want a faster board (really?), just buy or assemble a board with with more battery juice and powerful motors; just putting bigger wheels on is not the answer to your speed crave.

The board does ride noticeably higher and feels a bit like a ‘boat’ – my friend’s comments of “oh’ part Boosted, part invalid mobility scooter” did may me laugh and ring a little true; but then, that is the price for greater clearance.

For me, the reason to use these wheels, occasionally or full time, is crappy roads and paths, where they make a very noticeable difference over the stock Kegels. The ride is smoother and more stress-free – you just have to avoid less in front of you.

Last word – given how relatively easy they are to fit, these Boa Constrictors are a great option to just have in the kit-bag and swap to when you fancy a change, then back to the Kegels (or Cags) when you want more nimble carving. Here is the irony, swap back to the Kegels and the overall experience feels faster. Mathematically it is not, but it feels that way – I guess this down to acceleration being more noticeable than speed. Just don’t throw out those Kegels just because you now have the Boas – they make a fine compliment to each other. The answer is run both.

Well done Boa (Jed), nice product – big thumbs up from me.

 

Teamgee H6 arrives

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The eagerly awaited Teamgee H6 finally arrived after UPS messed around for a week (my experiences lately with UPS have been universally not good). Unpacked and straight out on the road 🙂 – why do people make dull unpacking videos on youtube, even worse with music overlay?

First impressions from the weekend are really good. It’s big selling point obviously is the board’s looks and it does not disappoint – it looks great and is a real stealth board, apart from the big red “Electrical Skateboard” stickers on the underside, which did make me laugh (they will no doubt be taken off quickly).

The power delivery with the remote and ESC is sharp, but nice and progressive. This is a board easy to get confident on quickly. The remote wheel is nice and smooth, although the overall weight of the remote is a little light and feels a bit cheap; but it does not impact the control and ride experience.

The L1 and L2 settings are via a simple hard-switch on the side of the remote, rather than a soft programme control, which is good. The speed-range between L1 and L2 seems nicely spread, so that L1 does not carry you at warp speed, but it is also not boring so you are forced to go full speed. In fact, the board spent most of its time over the weekend on L1 being tested and used by my neighbours’ young teenage kids – and got the big thumbs up from them.

Next, oldest son has to take it on some speed tests. Will do a full write-up shortly. Nice one Teamgee {thumbs up}.

E-Board: Bolt Motion

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Bolt Motion, a new company in Bergamo Italy, has launched a really small motorized board, just 23″ (60cm) long. Looks very cute and I really like the simplicity. personally, I am not a fan of e-skates with small wheelbases – I get the advantage of portability but prefer to have the greater stability at speed of longer wheelbases.

They quote a 14km (8.5 miles) range and a top speed of 30km/h (18.5mp/h), which is easily fast enough for me, on such a small wheelbase.

bolt motion 5

Helmet: Giro Switchblade

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A few notes on the Giro Switchblade downhill MTB helmet, which I now use most of the time when out on the e-boards. In summary, I really like it, have no issues with it and very happy to recommend it.

I looked at the Switchblade, the Bell Super 3r and DH, some of the Fox Racing ones and the Met Parachute; in the end, I chose the Switchblade primarily for the:
  • Graphics/colors scheme (my Red and White).
  • Detachable chin guard (the Parachute does not detach).
  • Half-shell having more coverage (over some of the others).
  • Reasonable cost.

They all fitted well, which surprised me, and they all had the MIPS safety system, so my choice was really about just color, style, and cost. The cost new, after a bit of hunting around, was £160; which I was pleased with. I could not find discounted deals on the Foxes or the Bell DH, but the 3r Super and Met Parachute were available with deals at roughly the same price.

The Switchblade with chin-guard weighs 985g, which is a bit heavier than the very-light Met Parachute at 700g (but it has no metal chin lock mechanism, as the guard is not removable), but not an issue for me – I am used to much heavier motorcycle helmets. The foam padding is excellent and really comfortable. It has the RocLoc® Air DH system, where you just twist the wheel at the back of the head, to tighten or loosen the fit.

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The detachable chin guard is nice, but given I bought this primarily for the extra protection over my normal skate helmet, I could have lived easily with it being none-removable, like with the Met Parachute. Removing and fitting the chin-guard is easy, needing two hands. The fitting is snug and secure.
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What, however, does differentiate some of the helmets with removable chin-guards is what kind of half-shell is left when the chin-guard is removed. This is very noticeable between the Bell Super 3r and the Switchblade, with the Giro having more jaw-side cover/protection when used without the chin-guard. Not that one is better than the other, it is really just a preference thing.

 

I went with the downhill MTB style of helmet, over a full-cover motorcycle style, like the popular TSG Pass, for the extra ventilation and, being honest, it felt less conspicuous – a kind of a dumb rationale in some ways, but that is vanity for you.

It comes with alternative foam inserts, a nice carry/storage bag, and a spare visor.

Some review videos: