The story of how [Tony]’s three-wheeled electric scooter came to be has a beginning that may sound familiar. One day, he was browsing overseas resellers and came across a new part, followed immediately by a visit from the Good Ideas Fairy. That’s what led him to upgrade his DIY electric scooter to three wheels last year, giving it a nice speed boost in the process!
The part [Tony] ran across was a dual brushless drive unit for motorizing a mountain board. Mountain boards are a type of off-road skateboard, and this unit provided two powered wheels in a single handy package. [Tony] ended up removing the rear wheel from his electric scooter and replacing it with the powered mountain board assembly.
He also made his own Arduino-based interface to the controller that provides separate throttle and braking inputs, because the traditional twist-throttle of a scooter wasn’t really keeping up with what the new (and more powerful) scooter could do. After wiring everything up with a battery, the three-wheeled electric scooter was born. It’s even got headlights!
[Tony]’s no stranger to making his own electric scooters, and the fact that parts are easily available puts this kind of vehicular experimentation into nearly anybody’s hands. So if you’re finding yourself inspired, why not order some stuff, bolt that stuff together, and go for a ride where the only limitation is personal courage?
Hoverboards were a popular trend with the youths and in-crowd a few years ago, and now that the fad has largely died out there are plenty of them sitting unused in closets and basements around the world. That only means opportunities to put the parts from these unique transportation devices into other builds. A more practical method of transportation is a bicycle, and this build scavenges most of the parts from a hoverboard to turn a regular bicycle into a zippy ebike.
This bike build starts with a mountain bike frame and the parts from the hoverboard are added to it piece by piece. The two motors are mounted to the frame and drive the front chain ring of the bike, allowing it to still take advantage of the bike’s geared drivetrain. Battery packs from two hoverboards were combined into a single battery which give the bike a modest 6-10 km of range depending on use. But the real gem of this build is taking the gyroscopic controller board from the hoverboards and converting it, with the help of an Arduino Due, to an ebike controller.
Eventually a battery pack will be added to give the bike a more comfortable range, but for now we appreciate the ingenuity that it took to adapt the controller from the hoverboard into an ebike controller complete with throttle and pedal assist. For other household objects turned into ebikes, be sure to check out one of our favorites based on a washing machine motor: the Spin Cycle.
Surfing is a fun and exciting sport but a lot of beginners can get discouraged with how little time is spent actually riding waves while learning. Not only are balance and wave selection critical skills that take time to learn, but a majority of time in the water is spent battling crashing waves to get out past the breakers. Many people have attempted to solve this problem through other means than willpower alone, and one of the latest attempts is [Andrew W] with a completely DIY surfboard with custom impeller jet drives.
The surfboard is hand-made by [Andrew W] himself using a few blocks of styrofoam glued together and then cut into a generic surfboard shape. After the rough shaping is done, he cuts out a huge hole in the back of the board for the jet drive. This drive is almost completely built by [Andrew] as well including the impeller pumps themselves which he designed and 3D printed. The pair of impellers are driven by some beefy motors and a robust speed controller that connects wirelessly to a handheld waterproof throttle to hold while surfing. Once everything was secured in the motor box the surfboard was given a final shaping and then glassed. The final touch was an emergency disconnect attached to a leash so that if he falls off the board it doesn’t speed away without him.
The build is impressive not only for [Andrew]’s shaping skills but for his dedication to a custom jet drive for the surfboard. He spent over a year refining the build and actually encourages people not to do this as he thinks it took too much time and effort, but we’re going to have to disagree with him there. Even if you want to try to build something a lot simpler, builds like these look like a lot of fun once they’re finished. The build seems flawless and while he only tested it in a lake we’re excited to see if it holds up surfing real waves in an ocean.
Continue reading “Surfboard Gets Jet Upgrades” →
[Emiel] aka [The Practical Engineer] makes all kinds of fun projects in his fully-featured shop, and one of his tangents has been building a series of solenoid engines. These engines mimic the function of an internal combustion engine, with each solenoid acting as a piston. The only problem with [Emiel]’s concept engines, though, was that he never actually put them into a vehicle to prove their effectiveness. This build finally proves that they can work at powering a vehicle.
The project starts with a new engine. [Emiel] chose a V4 design using four solenoids and an Arduino-based controller. After some trouble getting it to operate properly, he scavenged a small circuit board he built in his V8 solenoid engine to help with timing. With that installed, the solenoids click away and spin the crankshaft at a single constant speed. The vehicle itself was mostly 3D printed, with two aluminum tubes as support structures to mount the engine. Even the wheels were 3D printed with a special rubber coating applied to them. With a small drive train assembled, it’s off to the races for this tiny prototype.
While the small car doesn’t have steering and only goes at a constant speed, the proof of concept that these tiny electric engines actually work is a welcomed addition to [Emiel]’s collection of videos on these curious engines. Of course they’re not as efficient as driving the wheels directly with an electric motor, but we all know there’s no fun in that. If you haven’t seen his most intricate build, the V8 is certainly worth checking out, and also shows off the timing circuitry he repurposed for this car.
Continue reading “Can The Solenoid Engine Power A Car?” →
Thus far, the majority of electric cars on sale have been aimed at commuters, fitting into the sedan and SUV segments of the marketplace. Going forward, there’s a very real need for electrification to touch the whole spectrum of automobiles, and that includes work vehicles like pickup trucks. A company called Magna have recently thrown their hat into the ring in just this space, developing a simple drivetrain that can be readily installed in pickup trucks without major modifications. Continue reading “Magna Announces Simple Drive Solution For Electric Pickup Trucks” →
Join us on Wednesday, April 14 at noon Pacific for the Inside Smart Meters Hack Chat with [Hash]!
That electrical meter on the side of your house might not look like it, but it’s pretty packed with technology. What was once a simple electromechanical device that a human would have to read in person is now a node on a far-flung network. Not only does your meter total up the amount of electricity you use, but it also talks to other meters in the neighborhood, sending data skipping across town to routers that you might never have noticed as it makes its way back to the utility. And the smartest of smart meters not only know how much electricity you’re using, but they can also tease information about which appliances are being used simply by monitoring patterns of usage.
While all this sounds great for utility companies, what does it mean for the customers? What are the implications of having a network of smart meters all talking to each other wirelessly? Are these devices vulnerable to attack? Have they been engineered to be as difficult to exploit as something should be when it’s designed to be in service for 15 years or more?
These questions and more burn within [Hash], a hardware hacker and security researcher who runs the RECESSIM reverse-engineering wiki. He’s been inside a smart meter or two and has shared a lot of what he has learned on the wiki and with some in-depth YouTube videos. He’ll stop by the Hack Chat to discuss what he’s learned about the internals of smart meters, how they work, and where they may be vulnerable to attack.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, April 14 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
Continue reading “Inside Smart Meters Hack Chat” →
[Daniel] was recently featured here for his work in improving the default charging mode for the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle when using the emergency/trickle charger included with the car. His work made it possible to reduce the amount of incoming power from the car, if the charging plug looked like it might not be able to handle the full 1.2 kW -3 kW that these cars draw when charging. Thanks to that work, he was able to create another upgrade for these entry-level EVs, this time addressing a major Leaf design flaw that is known as Rapidgate.
The problem that these cars have is that they still have passive thermal management for their batteries, unlike most of their competitors now. This was fine in the early ’10s when this car was one of the first all-electric cars to market, but now its design age is catching up with it. On long trips at highway speed with many rapid charges in a row the batteries can overheat easily. When this happens, the car’s charging controller will not allow the car to rapid charge any more and severely limits the charge rate even at the rapid charging stations. [Daniel] was able to tweak the charging software in order to limit the rapid charging by default, reducing it from 45 kW to 35 kW and saving a significant amount of heat during charging than is otherwise possible.
While we’d like to see Nissan actually address the design issues with their car designs while making these straighforward software changes (or at least giving Leaf owners the options that improve charging experiences) we are at least happy that there are now other electric vehicles in the market that have at least addressed the battery thermal management issues that are common with all EVs. If you do own a Leaf though, be sure to check out [Daniel]’s original project related to charging these cars.
Continue reading “Improving More Leaf Design Flaws” →