Hoverboard Powered Sofa Is Fun And A Bit Dangerous

Discarded hoverboards are a great source of free high torque motors for hacking. This can include crazy but fun projects like this hoverboard-driven IKEA sofa, as demonstrated by [Bitluni] and his friends at xHain Hackerspace in Berlin.

With a couple of dead hoverboards in various conditions and a working e-bike battery, the group started exploring different options to put together a usable drivetrain. The first attempt involved commanding the motor drivers directly by intercepting communication from the gyro-based controller. The 9-bit communication protocol was a tough nut to crack, so they tried (and failed) to use the gyro-boards directly as the controllers. In the process of researching they discovered someone had created alternative firmware for the hoverboard controllers to allow control with a Wii Nunchuck. There is even a web-based config tool for compiling the firmware.

With some wood spacers screwed to the bottom of the sofa, the hoverboard motors could be attached by simply screwing their enclosure to the bottom of the couch and adding a section of PVC pipe between the halves for wiring. Caster wheels were added to the rear corners of the sofa to complete the chassis. The motors were very sensitive to control inputs on the Nunchuck, so riding the couch tended to rapidly turn into a rodeo event. The couch also wasn’t made to carry its load on the outer corners, so it had to be reinforced with plywood after it started cracking.

We’ve seen plenty of hacks that involve hoverboard motors, including an electric skateboard with mecanum wheels and a surprisingly practical e-bike conversion.

8 thoughts on “Hoverboard Powered Sofa Is Fun And A Bit Dangerous

      1. The “Brettmobile” is doing great!

        I actually found out what was wrong with it shortly after CCC — the battery that it came with was basically toast. That explains why it would only run a few laps… A new battery and the thing screams, goes a few km. We still use it occasionally for taking out the recycling, much to the amusement of the neighborhood.

        But it’s long overdue a firmware and hardware/design overhaul! I _sooo_ want to play around with the FOC firmware, and I kinda want to take it back to its self-balancing roots, but as a carrier. And I can’t help think that maybe it needs GPS.

  1. I’ve been using cheap hoverboards found on various sites like offerup, facebook and others – where I can get these things for <$30 sometimes. But apparently there are some 10" wheeled hoverboards that I haven't been able to find that cheaply yet — it'll only be time until they drop into the used market, but I can't wait. Cheap robotics from discarded E-Waste is a WONDERFUL thing to have available.

    1. Unfortunately, in the 3R, recycle is the last one. It’s cool to have them so cheaply, but how many have just been already thrown away ? considering their lack of reliability.

  2. One year after I finished my motorized beer crate, I finally found time to edit the video, and while editing I find this post.
    Incredible how I had almost the exact same issues as these guys had. The firmware created by Emmanuel Feru (which is what they used as well) is incredibly cool, making it super easy to re-purpose these hoverboards.
    I will also take this chance to plug my video :) :

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