Improved Controller For E-Skateboards

[Timo] recently purchased himself a Acton Blink Qu4tro electric skateboard. Performance-wise, the board was great, but the controller left a lot to be desired. There were issues with pairing, battery displays, and just general rideability. Like any good hacker, he decided some reverse engineering was in order, and got to work.

Initial results were disheartening – the skateboard relies on various chips of Chinese origin for which documentation proved impossible to come by. However, as it turned out, the board and controller communicated using the common NRF24L01+ transceiver.

Initial work focused on understanding the pairing process and message protocol. With that done, [Timo] decided the best course of action was to redevelop a controller from scratch, using an Arduino Nano and NRF24L01+ to do the job. [Timo]’s Open esk8 controller improves driveability by removing delays in message transfer, as well as improving on the feel of the controller with a 3D printed chassis redesign.

[Timo] now has a much more usable skateboard, and has racked up over 200 miles in testing since the build. However, if you fancy converting your existing board to electric, check out this project.

12 thoughts on “Improved Controller For E-Skateboards

    1. It does! The original remote has so many issues! An interesting bit that I didn’t really mention in my build log was that I was in touch with Acton during my build and showed them the various steps and iterations as well as the end product in person. Even they really liked the end result and said it provides a much smoother and more predictable riding experience. These guys are great and deserve credit for the boards they make. They also acknowledged, their remotes are crap and started an internal development program for their own remotes.

    2. Any chance you can make me one!!!!!! Someone broke into my car and stole my Qu4Tro remote, I have been searching for almost a year for a used remote NO LUCK, please this board is sentimental!!!! I bought this with every ounce of juice I had in my bank when it first released.

  1. Amazing! I have all these parts already and a 3d printer, and an original blink board collecting dust. The original controller was definitely too unreliable. My commute starts down a steep hill and when you’re holding the brake and the controller disconnects the brakes stop and you start flying… Pretty scary with a laptop in your backpack.

    1. That is exactly how I _almost_ broke my right foot. Even though this time it was my own remote having a software bug that was since fixed. However, they still don’t have a fail-safe built in which I emphasized multiple times directly to the CTO. I hope they will fix it in their next board since this behavior is seriously dangerous when on a downward slope!

    1. I’m not entirely sure I understand. You bought a board without a controller and you can’t find a replacement? If the board is controlled using this motor controller then you would be able to use my design or you can just buy any other compatible remote controller.

  2. Bad esk8 remotes are definitely the elephant in the room. I ended up tossing all my Nano-X remotes because when the battery gets low they become dangerously unpredictable. I think any PWM-based remote receiver is going to continue to be dangerous. I’m slowly developing an XBee based remote that will communicate with the driver via UART, but in the meantime I bought a Hoyt St. Caveat I haven’t used it yet because winter, but for the price my assumption is they put some thought into it.

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