Personal Electric Vehicles (PEVs) all contain the same basic set of parts: a motor, a battery, a motor controller, some sensors, and a display to parse the information. This simplicity allowed [casainho] to develop a custom controller setup for their own PEVs.
Built around the venerable VESC motor controller, [casainho]’s addition is the EBike/EScooter board that interfaces the existing motor of a device to the controller. Their ESP32-powered CircuitPython solution takes the sensor output of a given bike or scooter (throttle, cadence, or torque) and translates it into the inputs the controller uses to set the motor power.
They’ve also designed an ESP32-based display to interface the rest of the system to the user while riding. Since it also runs CircuitPython, it’s easy to reconfigure the functions of the three button device to display whatever you’d like as well as change various drive modes of your system. I know I’d love to see my own ebikes have a different mode for riding on road versus on shared paths since not getting run over by cars and not harassing pedestrians aren’t going to have the same power profile.
Fast charging is all the rage with new electric cars touting faster and faster times to full, but other EVs like ebikes and scooters are often left out of the fun with exceedingly slow charging times. [eprotiva] wanted to change this, so he rigged up a fast charging solution for his cargo bike.
Level 2 electric vehicle chargers typically output power at 7 kW with the idea you will fill up your electric car overnight, but when converted down to 60 V DC for a DJI Agras T10 battery, [eprotiva] is able to charge from 20% to 100% capacity in as little as 7 minutes. He originally picked this setup for maxing the regen capability of the bike, but with the high current capability, he found it had the added bonus of fast charging.
The setup uses a Tesla (NACS) plug since they are the most plentiful destination charger, but an adapter allows him to also connect to a J1772 Type 1 connector. The EV charging cable is converted to a standard 240 V computer cable which feeds power to a drone charger. This charger can be set to “fast charge” and then feeds into the battery unit. As an added bonus, many chargers that do cost money don’t start charging until after the first five minutes, so the bike is even cheaper to power than you’d expect.
Cargo bikes can haul an impressive amount of stuff and serve as a car replacement for many folks around the world. While there are more models every year from bike manufacturers, the siren song of a custom build has led [Phil Vandelay] to build his own dream cargo bike.
The latest in a number of experiments in hand-built cargo bike frames, this electrified front-loader is an impressive machine. With a dual suspension and frame-integrated cargo area, this bike can haul in style and comfort. It uses a cable steering system to circumvent the boat-like handling of steering arm long john bikes and includes a number of nice touches like (mostly) internal cable routing.
The video below the break mostly covers welding the frame with [Vandelay]’s drool-worthy frame jig, so be sure to watch Part 2 of the video for how he outfits the bike including the internal cable routing and turning some parts for the cable steering system on the lathe. If you get an urge to build your own cargo bike after following along, he offers plans of this and some of his other cargo bike designs. [Vandelay] says this particular bike is not for the beginner, unlike his previous version built with square tubing.
During the 20th Century, much of the western world decided that motor vehicles were the only desirable form of transportation. We built our cities to accommodate cars through parking, stop lights, and any number of other infrastructure investments so that you could go get milk and bread in style. In the US, 50% of automobile trips are less than three miles and have only one occupant. [Bradley Gawthrop] asked if there might be a more efficient way to do all this? Enter the Personal Electric Vehicle (PEV).
What Are PEVs?
PEVs are a nascent part of the transportation mix that fall under the wider umbrella of “micromobility,” including scooters, bikes, skateboards, and the like. The key differentiator here is that they are at least partially electrically-driven. [Gawthrop] walks us through several of the different types during his Supercon 2022 talk, but since they are all small, electric powered devices for transporting one or two people, they can trace their lineage back to the infamous Segway Human Transporter.
Using an electric motor or two connected to a controller and batteries, the overall system complexity for any of these devices is quite low and ripe for the hacking. Given the right tools and safety precautions, anyone should be able to crack a PEV open and repair or tinker with it. As with many things in life, the real story is more complicated.
If you’re a Hackaday reader, it’s a good bet you could figure out how to convert your bike to use an electric motor. But you might have more important things to do, so a start up company, Skarper, wants to help you with a conversion kit and the folks over at [autoevolution] took a closer look at how it works. The interesting part is that it transfers power from the motor to your wheels through a disc that substitutes for the bike’s disc brake. You can see a promotional video about the product from the company below.
Unlike some conversions, it looks like with this kit you can easily snap the assembly on the bike when you want it powered and take it off when you want it to function normally or if you want to take the electronic part inside with you.
The company claims that the 250-watt motor can to propel a bike to nearly 20 miles per hour. But we’re willing to bet you can’t go that fast and get the claimed 37-mile range. On the plus side, a 30-minute charge will net you another 12 miles and a full charge only takes 2.5 hours. The battery and motor weigh a bit more than 7 pounds. Obviously, you’ll need a bike that has disc brakes.
Cost? About $1,200, so it isn’t quite an impulse buy. Especially if you have the time and wherewithal to roll your own solution. For example, try a skateboard motor. Makes it easier, too, if you have a 3D printer.
It sounds like a rhetorical question that a Midwestern engineer might ask, something on the order of ‘can you fix this bad PCB spin?’ [Tom Stanton] sets out to answer the title question and ends up building a working e-bike with a drone motor.
You might be thinking, a motor is a motor; what’s the big deal? But a drone motor and a regular e-bike motor are made for very different purposes. Drone motors spin at 30,000 RPM, and an e-bike hub motor typically does around 200-300 RPM while being much larger. Additionally, a drone motor goes in short spurts with a large fan blowing right on it, and an e-bike motor can run almost continuously.
The first step was to use gears and pulleys to reduce the RPM on the motor to provide more torque. A little bit of CAD and 3D printing later, [Tom] had a setup ready to try. However, the motor quickly burned out. With a slightly bigger motor and more gear reduction, version 2 performed remarkably well. After the race between a proper e-bike and the drone bike, the coils were almost melted.
A decade ago I was lucky enough to work for an employer that offered a bicycle loan scheme to its employees, and I took the opportunity to spend on a Brompton folding bike. This London-made machine is probably one of the more efficiently folding cycles on the market, and has the useful feature of being practical for longer journeys rather than just a quick run from the train. A 3-speed hub gearbox is fine for unhurried touring, but sadly my little folder has always been a bit of a pain on the hills. Thus around the start of the pandemic I splashed out again and bought a Swytch electric upgrade kit for it, and after a few logistical and life upheavals I’ve finally fitted it to the bike. I’ve ridden a few electric bikes but never had my own, so it’s time to sit down and analyse the experience. Is an electric bike something you should have, or not?
A Box Of Bits Becomes An Electric Bike
Swytch sell their kits via crowdfunding rounds, so I’d been on a waiting list for a while and got an early-bird price on my kit. It took quite a while to arrive, much longer than the expected time in mid-2020 because of the pandemic, finally being delivered some time in February last year. It came in a modestly-sized cardboard carton which would be an easy carry on the Brompton’s luggage rack, containing neatly packed a new front wheel with motor, as well as the battery and all sundry parts.
Fitting the kit shouldn’t stretch the capabilities of a Hackaday reader, with probably the trickiest part being the positioning of a Hall-effect sensor near the crank. The kit works by providing a motor assist when you pedal, so part of it is a set of magnets on a plastic disk with various attachments for different cranks and pedal sets. The Brompton front wheel is removed and its tyre and tube transferred to the Swytch one, which is then put on the bike. Once the magnet disk and Hall sensor are attached, the cables follow the existing ones and emerge at the handlebars where a sturdy bracket for the battery box is fitted. Continue reading “Converting Your Bike To Electric: Why You Should, And When You Shouldn’t”→