DIY 23mph+ Electric Skateboard

What’s the best way to get around NYC? If you asked [papo2110], he would probably suggest you build your own high-speed, long-range electric skateboard. You can’t cruise through any online maker community without tripping over a dozen e-vehicle projects these days. Nearly 18 months ago, even before the popular Boosted Boards Kickstarter, [papo2110] started piecing together a deck. His boards use a brushless outrunner motor, an RC car ESC (complete with brakes), and a chain drive to power him around Central Park at a top speed of 23mph.

The most impressive feat for this project, however, is the tireless revision through iterative design. The deck gets both an aluminum and a carbon fiber upgrade. Meaty 8S Headway LiFePo4’s replace a smaller 6S configuration. Even lights are added. As the build progresses, the board is pushing 27mph: with only one motor. Grab your helmet and motion-sickness pills and strap in for some videos after the break.

If four wheels are one too many and you want even more dangerous speeds, check out the E-trike build from a few months ago.

25 thoughts on “DIY 23mph+ Electric Skateboard

  1. He is nuts! On open road, on a 27 mph skateboard , no helmet. One pebble, and he is going to rearrange his face. But aside from shuddering at the thought of hitting a pebble at 27 , awesome.

    1. Not to mention completely ignoring all traffic rules :P

      btw @that speed a normal skateboard helmet won’t do much, you would need an integral helmet for any reasonable protection ;-)

    2. @Addidis – I did this when I was younger on one of the old narrow banana shaped boards. I got going downhill so fast that the board started swaying side to side in an oscillating manner, until the peril of the pebble…

      Took a huge dive and roll, with no helmet, but only suffered superfluous scratches and road rash. It was painful to move for about a week, though…. :)

    3. Pebbles wont be so much of a problem with the skateboard being powered, it’ll drive straight over most, the problem is with un-driven boards where instead of going up and over your weight stops the board in it’s tracks and your body continues.

      1. Nah.. The design needs to be accessible as far as material access goes. Machine shops and stock are expensive. A more realistic design would be using mail order go-kart/minibike chain, clutch, tires, wheels, wheel sprocket kit,, dual axle ring bearings that just bolt on. More solid design and more durable and cost effective.

        *****One thing that genuinely annoys me about portable motorized transport projects, is the almost total lack of testing. Most notably on inclines. In almost no real scenario will electric motor projects like this be used in ideal weather and on ideal inclines. Even minor incline variations have drastic effects on power consumption of electric motors, and weather can easily destroy any and all components, or even loose earth..

        People who do projects like these seem to do them just to show they can build something, not to do it correctly and/or better. Elementary school kids can do this with almost no help, lets focus on proper designs..

        P.S. I know critical comments are umbrella’d as trolling here but at least there is some hopeless integrity and standards floating around..

        1. I try to approach even the most troll-infused comments with an open mind (yours certainly didn’t seem hateful, nor particularly trollish). I agree about accessible design on all counts. The machinist subsequently opened up his own online store and sells kits in varying sizes–thus making it “accessible” but thrashing the DIY feel-good vibe, for me. Some his smaller kits (just the mount + gears + belt) are, however, a tempting buy. I’ve had success with chain drives on my segway skateboard, but it’s driven (no pun intended) me mad, too. The thought of having professionally milled aluminum pieces if I were to make my own e-board brings the whole “how far do I DIY?” question immediately to the forefront.

          You’ve probably guessed by now that my recent article contributions to Hackaday read like a stream of consciousness from my personal research interests. Your first comments caused me to reconsider the question I had originally asked myself: “which of the several dozen e-skateboard builds from that forum is the ‘right’ one to feature?” I still think I selected the correct one. I suppose I’m hopeful that to some extent you may think that too. Proper selection is, for me as a writer contributing to this community, desperately important to get right. I’m reassured in that we agree about accessibility of design, at least.

          In fact, I’ll go one further here:
          I’ve never had the opportunity to learn how to weld (or haven’t pursued it), but the rebuild on my board required a stronger frame. I got my friend DJ to do it. It was a great collab and solved huge issues. He did an excellent job:

          I still haven’t learned to weld. I was out finding a liquid gift for the gentleman who let us borrow his equipment. It was an odd time and odd circumstances. I’m also not sure what that means in terms of my project and/or DIY purity. I definitely encourage collaboration, and we both worked together relentlessly on the build up until the welding itself. I regret missing out on it.

          I’ll be specific RE: your “more realistic design” and ask: have any links for me? My question is less a “prove it, asshole!” gesture than one of personal interest. I’ve been ploughing the interwebs for these kinds of things for a future E-…something…build for myself. Probably along the lines of a skateboard because my preference is lightweight. I happen to also have 8 Headway LiFePo4 batteries (though I believe the subject of my post, [papo2110] has a different type with lower mAH but higher C ratings), and I intend to use them and their advertised 2000+ cycles for something.

          RE: Inclines
          I’m no New York native, but [papo2110]’s GPS log shows him riding around all of Central Park, and he mentions a few times that he had several hills to climb, which reduced his range, but that they weren’t much of a challenge? Anything over a 10 mile seems impressive, and he’s getting that. I’d have to recheck. I also believe other builds on those forums have similar comments about having enough torque for hills, but I don’t think anyone has quantified power consumption. My personal experience with my segway skateboard is the reverse: inclines ruin everything. I pick it up and walk. Though, that’s less a problem of energy and more of steering.

          You’re dead on about weather, for sure. The CNC machinist built an acrylic enclosure, but I have no idea whether anyone’s bothered testing it during wet conditions with any success.

          I do appreciate your most recent comments. Hoping for more =) Apologies for the lengthy essay.

          Edits: grammar, word choice w/units, second paragraph reorganization. I should stop.


        2. Being critical isn’t trolling.

          Shitting all over a project, offering scant little useful information, ignoring the point of this site (it is Hack a Day, not Corporate Engineering Project a Day), and all the while being a complete asshole about it… well, that’s trolling.

          Not being accusatory here. Just putting that out there. It’s a pretty foolproof litmus test.

          1. It was expected hence why i pointed out how criticism equates to trolling here..

            I gave enough details about the problems that my comment was constructive criticism. I’m not going to make a comment teaching magnetic energy and physics, and I’m definitely not going to be nice to people who exploit mediocre expectations for the sake of recognition.. sorry if that makes me a loser troll..

            The project is public domain, their are some people with honest opinions who also happen to express criticism.. welcome to reality..

          2. Let me reiterate what I wrote. “Not being accusatory here.”

            But while we’re be so honest here, let’s not forget that you do have a long history of being a total douchewad on this site. Hence me offering up a litmus test for your reference, since your social skills utterly pale in comparison to your alleged engineering skills.

          3. I am sad to see this too often too – not that i know if [xorpunk] is among them, i dont keep up with the “celebrity gossip” on the site – But some people come down on some highschoolers project with all kinds of negative feedback, which usually start out like “at our company we use…”. It is sad to see such (supposedly) smart people that seemingly can not understand that not everyone are on their level or have access to their professional resources. Complaining that a hack is “too simple” to be a hack (I guess they were never beginners?) or that they should just have bought this $200 thing instead (after all, $200 is chump change) or made it with the CNC/3D-printer that we all have (or so it would seem from reading onhere sometimes) It reeks of elitism :(

            Some of us are neither rich nor educated/working in the field. we usually skip reading the beyond-our-level hacks (except for the awesome ones). why can’t you skip reading the simple hacks and let us enjoy them?

  2. The skateboards are amazing builds, especially considering the performance. That said, it’s impossible to watch someone blowing through red lights like that without hoping they get smeared across the pavement. If you’re going to use the road obey the laws of the road, else go use a parking lot or a private track.

  3. First, that is awesome. I do want to make a recommendation or 2 though. First, you should get a transmitter that supports telemetry. The most common setup uses an iPod or iPhone that sits at the bottom of the pistol grip controller, giving you real time feedback like speed, motor temp, battery percentage, and more, but these 3 would probably be the most important. With an exercise case, you could wear your iDevice on your arm. Very cool.

    The 2nd would be smartphone control. They do this with cheap rc cars, but I don’t know if the technology is there yet to do this now or not.

    The ultimate though, would be a marriage of smartphone control and telemetry. This would most likely require 2 devices, but maybe an iPod Nano for telemetry, or smart watch, or any other kind of wearable device that can read out, and a smartphone as a handheld controller. That would be so sweet.

    I know I said 2, but as I wrote, I kept coming up with more ideas. The board, and especially if you went with a longer board, gives you a LOT of room to add hardware. Since weight isn’t as much of an issue I this application as it would be in R/C, why not put that real estate to use? A battery charger would be awesome, so you could plug up when you get to your destination, or even while you are riding, for a secondary pack. Maybe you could do a solar option, passive generator, and/or hand crank for charging? A lexan cover on the bottom, to hide all the gear underneath. You could do waterproof electronics for rainy days, a lot of the brushless systems are waterproof these days. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to waterproof the existing setup though.

    I could go on and on. This is such a cool project. I may have to tackle one myself. Good luck!

      1. I built one, I abandoned the phone-as-controller for 2 reasons. While Maclittle13 is totally correct that getting information back to the phone (and indeed being able to change parameters like acceleration and punch on the fly was really cool) I found that A) the probability of destroying the phone in a crash is pretty high, and B) coding phones is really hard and you’re likely to get bogged down. I ended up going back to a custom handheld controller, but I did put Bluetooth on the Skateboard controller so that I could talk to the phone in a future version.

        As for tips, keep it really simple to begin with and make sure you have some good safety features – like a deadman that knows when you come off the board and stops it automatically, as well as a physical enable/disable button on the controller. Plus if it loses radio comms it should stop as well.


  4. The controller looks a little like a handgun at 1:32 in the first video… That could be a problem.
    “officer, he passed my car on a skateboard!”
    “I was going 25mph! And he was holding a gun”

  5. not true i use mine in 20degree weather 98 degree weather dont know if you are familiar with central park i use it almost every day to play racquetball than i ride around the whole park lots of steep hills i have gone as fare as 106 street to canal street
    almost 2 years no problem saved so much on transit do the math

  6. Very cool machine. Does it have a means of disengaging the motor so when the battery dies you can still skateboard it home without carrying it? Also, does it have a means of using the motor to put some charge back in the batteries? You mentioned going downhill a few times.

    When I was a kid we used to skateboard down some pretty steep hills, and on 60’s vintage skateboards. Once you passed the point of going faster than you could possibly hope to dismount at, if you started feeling that you really could not ride it out, you aimed for someones lawn on the side of the road and ditched it in the grass. Once you ditched it once or twice you pretty much learned to ride it out. Than again i got my board because one of my pals broke his collarbone and his mom made him sell the board.

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