Open Source ESC Developed For Longboard Commute

For electric and remote control vehicles – from quadcopters to electric longboards – the brains of the outfit is the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). The ESC is just a device that drives a brushless motor in response to a servo signal, but in that simplicity is a lot of technology. For the last few months, [Ben] has been working on a completely open source ESC, and now he’s riding around on an electric longboard that’s powered by drivers created with his own hands.

esc-for-longboardThe ESC [Ben] made is built around the STM32F4, a powerful ARM microcontroller that’s able to do a lot of computation in a small package. The firmware is based on ChibiOS, and there’s a USB port for connection to a sensible desktop-bound UI for adjusting parameters.

While most hobby ESCs are essentially black boxes shipped from China, there is a significant number of high performance RC pilots that modify the firmware on these devices. While these new firmwares do increase the performance and response of off-the-shelf ESCs, building a new ESC from scratch opens up a lot of doors. [Ben]’s ESC can be controlled through I2C, a UART, or even a CAN bus, greatly opening up the potential for interesting electronic flying machines. Even for ground-based vehicles, this ESC supports regenerative braking, sensor-driven operation, and on-board odometry.

While this isn’t an ESC for tiny racing quadcopters (it’s complete overkill for that task) this is a very nice ESC for bigger ground-based electric vehicles and larger aerial camera platforms. It’s something that could even be used to drive a small CNC mill, and certainly one of the most interesting pieces of open source hardware we’ve seen in a long time.

Thanks [Totalis] for sending this one in.

30 thoughts on “Open Source ESC Developed For Longboard Commute

  1. Great project. This is exactly what I want to see on Hackaday–thanks, [Brian Benchoff]! The note at the end about CNC milling was particularly apt since I recently built a light-duty CNC spindle which uses a chinese BLDC and ESC:

    http://reboots.g-cipher.net/spindle/

    The GUI app to analyze ESC performance and tune the parameters is a terrific enhancement. I’ll have to take a serious look at VESC.

  2. How well does regenerative breaking work with lithium batteries? The amount of features this ESC boasts makes it all kinds of appealing for ebikes! It wouldn’t take much reworking to give it absurdly huge current handling ability, too. Very, very nice work!

  3. This project is great. I’m going to spend a lot of time playing with this. I have no critic for the ESC project. Only praise. But ChibiStudio hit on a sore point for me.
    ChibiStudio people, we have a great editor and resource in Eclipse but rather than taking advantage of an existing install by using plugins you push people to install a complete older version. 32 bit Luna.
    The whole purpose of Eclipse was to have one editor, not several installs of the SAME blasted editor. I’m sorry, but this is getting old. Let me update the editor as I see fit and make plugins available instead of presenting us with yet-another-studio!

  4. Great project! Well executed and looking totally awesome. Especially liked the test drive with overlays current draw, speed etc. +33km/h uphill is indeed more than fast enough ;). Hope I can find some time to make this or maybe his esc will hit the market soon…

  5. With the regenerative breake , you save a lot of energy…10%??
    Higher voltage , lower current. I also drive my e board at 8s lipo.
    i need a regenerative esc like yours.. can you help me?

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