Open Source Firmware For Hoverboards

2015 was two years ago, and to the surprise of many, we actually had hoverboards at the time. Of course, these weren’t Back to the Future-style hovering skateboards; they were crappy two-wheeled balancing scooters that suffered a few battery explosions and were eventually banned from domestic flights by some carriers. But oh boy, there were some funny Vines of these things.

While the rest of the world moved on from hoverboards, [Casainho] has been working on Open Sourcing the firmware for these interesting bits of electronics and motors. Now, his work is wrapping up and he has new firmware for electric unicycles and hoverboards.

The popular and cheap electric unicycles and hoverboards that have been swimming across the Pacific from the great land of Ali Baba for the past five years are based around a single, cheap controller board. This controller board is built around the STM32F1038T6 microcontroller, and are able to control a pair of three-phase brushless motors. The teardown began on the electric unicycle forum and was completely documented in a GitHub repo.

The Open Source firmware is now mostly complete, although the necessary self-balancing function doesn’t work. We’re thinking that’s alright; with this new firmware, these electric unicycles have a crazy amount of torque and could be the basis for a few very cool builds. You can check out a video of this torque below.

If two wheels seems far too safe, exercise your inner daredevil with a 3D printed unicycle conversion for a hoverboard.

12 thoughts on “Open Source Firmware For Hoverboards

    1. They are banned from flights because the cheap Chinese lithium-ion batteries that kept (keep) catching fire.
      The are banned from public sidewalks, pathways, parks, etc. because they are motorized. (as are Segways, and motorized bicycles and scooters.)
      They are banned from the streets as they do not meet the rules for ‘roadworthyness’ (headlights, turn signals…) as are Segways and electric scooters. Here though, electric bicycles are classified as just bicycles.
      They ARE allowed on private land.
      Other than exploding batteries and people getting burned, their safety record is no worse than regular skateboards (slightly better actually)

      1. Here in Finland ebikes need lights and can only go on bike paths, but hoverboards can go on sidewalks and pretty much anywhere where pedestrians can. But no-one knows which one applies to unicycles.

        And there is even more confusion in right-of-way rules. If a hoverboard has “structural maximum speed” of 15 km/h or less, cars have to give it way in pedestrian crossings. But if it has larger maximum speed, it has to give way. Of course most car drivers have now evolved superpowers that let them determine the maximum speed at a glance.

  1. There is an R or a C between the STM32F103 and the 8T6.

    The 103 is an older version from the series of ARM chip from ST. It predates their realization that it makes sense that different versions of the chip should get different type numbers. you now have ‘030, with USB: 042, with some extra hardware 072 etc etc. The 103 is low-density and then has only one UART, medium density with two, etc. STuff like that. )

    Anyway, the C or R indicates if the chip has 48 or 64 pins. Possibly V for 100 pins.

    1. If what the article states, that it can run 2 bldc motors, then it needs timers 1 and 8. Those are only available in 100 pin version. That is, if the blds are driven from stm32, not external logic driver.

  2. I’m not sure whether to be disappointed that real hoverboards never materialized, or relieved that they haven’t filled up the local ER. Every time I wish I had a hoverboard, I try to figure out how I’d stop one on a steep hill until the urge goes away. Seems it would be even more difficult than making one work on water.

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