The last few years have seen a huge rise in the prominence of electric scooters. Brushless motors, lithium batteries, and scooter sharing companies have brought them to the mainstream. However, electric scooters of a variety of designs have been around for a long time, spawning a dedicated subculture of hackers intent on getting the best out of them.
One such hacker is yours truly, having started by modifying basic kick scooters with a variety of propulsion systems way back in 2009. After growing frustrated with the limitations of creating high-speed rotating assemblies without machine tools, I turned my eye to what was commercially available. With my first engineering paycheck under my belt, I bought myself a Razor E300, and was promptly disappointed by the performance. Naturally, hacking ensued as the lead-acid batteries were jettisoned for lithium replacements.
Over the years, batteries, controllers and even the big old heavy brushed motor were replaced. The basic mechanical layout was sound, making it easy to make changes with simple hand tools. As acceleration became violent and top speeds inched closer to 40 km/h, I began to grow increasingly frustrated with the scooter’s one glaring major flaw. It was time to fix the brakes.
Like many mechanically inclined parents, [Tony Goacher] prefers building over buying. So when his son wanted an electric scooter, his first stop wasn’t to the toy store, but to AliExpress for a 48V hub motor kit. Little did he know that the journey to getting that scooter road-ready would be a bit more involved than he originally bargained for.
Of course, to build a motorized scooter you need a scooter to begin with. So in addition to the imported motor, [Tony] picked up a cheap kick scooter on eBay. Rather than worrying about the intricacies of cleanly integrating the two halves of the equation, he decided to build a stand-alone module that contained all of the electronics. To attach it to the scooter, he’d cut off the rear wheel and literally bolt his module to the deck.
[Tony] goes into considerable detail on how he designed and manufactured his power unit, from prototyping with laser cut MDF to the final assembly of the aluminum parts that he produced on a CNC of his own design. It’s really a fantastic look at how to go from idea to functional device, with all the highs and lows in between. When the first attempt at mounting the battery ended up cutting into the 8 Ah LiPo pack for example, and treated his son to a bit of a light show.
With all the bugs worked out and his son happily motoring around the neighborhood, [Tony] thought his job was done. Unfortunately, it was not to be. It turned out that his bolt-on power unit had so much kick that it sheared the front wheel right off. Realizing the little fellow didn’t have the fortitude for such electrified exploits, he went to a local shop and got a much better (and naturally much more expensive) donor for the project.
It’s here that his modular approach to the problem really paid off. Rather than having to redesign a whole new motor mount for the different scooter, he just lopped the back wheel off and bolted it on just as he did with the cheapo model. What could easily have been a ground-up redesign turned out to be a few minutes worth of work. Ultimately he did end up machining a new front axle for the scooter so he could fit a better wheel, but that’s another story.
[Adam Zeloof] (legally) obtained a retired electric scooter and documented how it worked and how he got it working again. The scooter had a past life as a pay-to-ride electric vehicle and “$1 TO START” is still visible on the grip tape. It could be paid for and unlocked with a smartphone app, but [Adam] wasn’t interested in doing that just to ride his new scooter.
His report includes lots of teardown photos, as well as a rundown of how the whole thing works. Most of the important parts are in the steering column and handlebars. These house the battery, electronic speed controller (ESC), and charging circuitry. The green box attached to the front houses a board that [Adam] determined runs Android and is responsible for network connectivity over the cellular network.
To get the scooter running again, [Adam] and his brother [Sam] considered reverse-engineering the communications between the network box and the scooter’s controller, but in the end opted to simply replace the necessary parts with ones under their direct control. One ESC, charger, and cheap battery monitor later the scooter had all it needed to ride again. With parts for a wide variety of electric scooters readily available online, there was really no need to reverse-engineer anything.
Logically, the first step was fitting a more capable motor. [The_Didlyest] used an electric wheelchair motor which had a similar enough diameter that mounting it was fairly straightforward. The original sprocket and chain are still used, as are the mounting holes in the frame (though they had to be tapped to a larger size). That said, the new motor is considerably longer than its predecessor so some frame metal had to be cut away. This left the scooter without a kickstand and with a few inches of motor hanging out of its left side, but it’s all in the name of progress.
Naturally the upgraded motor needed similarly upgraded batteries to power it, so [The_Didlyest] put together a custom pack using eighteen 18650 cells spot welded together for a total output of 25V. Coupled with a 60A battery management system (BMS), the final 6S 3P configured pack is a very professional little unit, though the liberal application of duct tape keeps it from getting too full of itself.
Unfortunately the original motor controller consisted of nothing but relays, and didn’t allow adjusting speed. So that needed to go as well. In its place is a homebrew speed controller made with three parallel MOSFETs and an Arduino to read the analog value from the throttle and convert that into a PWM signal.
[The_Didlyest] says the rear tire is now in need of an upgrade to transmit all this new power to the road, and some gearing might be in order, but otherwise the scooter rebuild was a complete success. Capable of mastering hills and with a top speed of about 10 MPH, the performance is certainly better than the stock hardware.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Similarly, where there’s a paying customer and a well stocked metalworking shop, there will also be a way. That’s about all the backstory you need to understand this latest creation from [Richard Day] of 42Fab. A customer asked him to build something that didn’t exist, and in a few hours he not only fabricated it from scratch but documented the whole thing for our viewing pleasure.
The object in question is a mount that would allow the customer to pull a “Burley Bee” kid trailer behind their electric scooter. The trailer is only meant for a bicycle, but the expected stresses of getting pulled around by a scooter seemed similar enough that [Richard] figured it should work. Especially since the ride height of the scooter lined up almost perfectly with the trailer’s tongue. The trick is, he wanted to avoid making permanent changes to either the scooter or the trailer.
On the scooter side, [Richard] came up with a clamp arrangement that would squeeze onto the frame. This gave him plenty of strength, without having to put any holes in the scooter. To create the clamp he took two pieces of 1/4″ x 2″ steel flat bar and welded 5/16″ nuts to them. By drilling the threads out of outer nuts they act as bushings, so cranking down on the bolts draws the two pieces together. To simplify the alignment, he welded the nuts to the bars while the bolts were threaded in, so he knew everything would be in place.
For the trailer side, he took another piece of flat steel and turned it into a “U” shape by cutting almost all the way through the back of it and then folding it over in his vice. A bead of metal was then laid in the cut with the welder to strengthen it back up. [Richard] used this opportunity to demonstrate the difference between pushing and pulling the torch while welding, which is an interesting tip to file away. A hole drilled through the two sides and a little grinding, and it’s ready to mount.
Between the two fabricated components is some flat stock welded at an eyed up angle. As [Richard] says in the video, the nice thing about these one-off projects is that you can basically design on the fly. Plus you can always use a hammer to make some final adjustments.
Inside he found a three-phase motor and controller. This motor looks like it could be useful in other projects since it has a standard shaft. The battery pack was popped open to reveal a set of LG Chem 21865 cells, and some management hardware.
With all the parts liberated from the original enclosure, [Charles] set up the motor, controller, and battery on the bench. With a scope connected, some characterization of the motor could be done. A load was applied by grabbing the spinning shaft with welding gloves. [Charles] admits that this isn’t the safest way to test a motor.
While it is a very fast motor, the cut-in speed was found to be rather low. That means it can’t start a vehicle from a stop, but could be useful on e-bikes or scooters which are push started.
This chainsaw a $200 motor, controller, and battery set that could be the basis of a DIY scooter. It sounds great too, as the video after the break demonstrates.
[Exco] had been playing around with the idea of building an electric scooter for a while now, and over the holidays he decided to just do it.
Similar to the motorized long board we shared last month, this scooter makes use of an RC hobby motor — in this case, a 63mm 3kW brushless outrunner (for a RC plane), coupled with a 100A ESC. He bought the scooter (“kick board”) off eBay for cheap, and spent a few days in the machine shop modifying it. It has better wheels now, and custom milled aluminum brackets for mounting the motor. The drive system uses a belt and pulley with a sliding rail to provide tensioning.
To power it, he bought a bunch of 2.5Ah, 18V LiPo packs on eBay originally from a Makita drill set. He then sorted out the cells, removed the dead ones, and soldered everything together for his own Frankenstein pack to balance them. The final configuration features twenty-one 18650 lithium cells. He even shrink wrapped it, which makes it look relatively professional!
It’s controlled by a push-button potentiometer hooked up to the ESC. Theoretical top speed is about 27km/h @ 1285RPM, and they managed to get it up to 25km/h in a real test. There’s more info over at the Endless Sphere forum, and we’ve got two test videos for you after the break.