Building an Electric Scooter That’s Street Legal, Even in Germany

Sometimes a successful project isn’t only about making sure all the electrons are in the right place at the right time, or building something that won’t collapse under its own weight. A lot of projects involve a fair amount of social engineering to be counted as a success, especially those that might result in arrest and incarceration if built as originally planned. Such projects are often referred to as “the fun ones.”

For the past few months, we’ve been following [Bitluni]’s DIY electric scooter build, which had been following the usual trajectory for these things – take a stock unpowered scooter, replace the rear wheel with a 250 W hub motor, add an ESC, battery, and throttle, and away you go. Things took a very interesting turn, however, when his street testing ran afoul of German law, which limits small electric vehicles to a yawn-inducing 6 kph. Unwilling to bore himself to death thus, [Bitluni] found a workaround: vehicles that are only assisted by an electric motor have a much more reasonable speed limit of 25 kph. So he added an Arduino with a gyro and accelerometer module and wrote a program to only power the wheel after the rider has kicked the scooter along a few times – no throttle needed. The motor stops after a bit, needing another push or two to kick it back on. A brake lever kills the motor, as does laying the scooter on its side. It’s quite a clever design, and while it might not keep the Polizei at bay, you can’t say he didn’t try.

[Bitluni] has quite a range of builds, from software-defined television to bad 3D-scanners to precision wine glass whacking. You should check out his stuff. Continue reading “Building an Electric Scooter That’s Street Legal, Even in Germany”

3000W Unicycle’s Only Limitation Is “Personal Courage”

Electric vehicles are fertile ground for innovation because the availability of suitable motors, controllers, and power sources makes experimentation accessible even to hobbyists. Even so, [John Dingley] has been working on such vehicles since about 2009, and his latest self-balancing electric unicycle really raises the bar by multiple notches. It sports a monstrous 3000 Watt brushless hub motor intended for an electric motorcycle, and [John] was able to add numerous touches such as voice feedback and 1950’s styling using surplus aircraft and motorcycle parts. To steer, the frame changes shape slightly with help of the handlebars to allow the driver’s center of gravity to shift towards one or the other outer rims of the wheel. In a test drive at a deserted beach, [John] tells us that the bike never went above 20% power; the device’s limitations are entirely by personal courage. Watch the video of the test, embedded below.

Continue reading “3000W Unicycle’s Only Limitation Is “Personal Courage””

This Electric Longboard Collapses for Air Travel

How do you manage to get an electric off-road longboard past TSA and onto an international flight? Simple — make it a collapsible longboard that fits into a carry-on bag.

The mechanical and electrical feats accomplished by [transistor-man] may not be the most impressive parts of this hack. We’re pretty impressed by the build, starting as it did with the big knobby tires and front truck from an unused mountain board and the hub motor from a hoverboard, turning this into a trike. The incredible shrinking chassis comes courtesy of a couple of stout drawer slides and cam locks to keep it locked in place; collapsed, the board fits in a carry on bag. Expanded, it runs like a dream, as the video below shows.

But we think the really interesting part of this hack is the social engineering [transistor-man] did to ensure that the authorities wouldn’t ground his creation for electrical reasons. It seems current rules limit how big a battery can be and how many of them can be brought on a flight, so there was a lot of battery finagling before his creation could fly.

Electric longboards look like a real kick, whether they be all-aluminum or all-plastic, or even all-LEGO. This one, which went from concept to complete a week and a half before the flight, really raises the bar.

Continue reading “This Electric Longboard Collapses for Air Travel”

Drop everything and build this go-kart right now!

There are awesome projects, and then there are things that make us drool on the keyboard. We just got done wiping up our mess after seeing this go-kart which uses four hub-motors as direct drive wheels. We’ll admit, this is more artwork than a hack as these guys are mechanical engineers and know what they’re doing. But how could we pass up sharing something like this?

The design is smaller than any of the other go-karts we remember seeing. The low-backed pilot seat is the biggest part, with a cubby-hole beneath it for the batteries and control hardware. Each of the hub-motors was hand wound and reading through the related blog posts it seems this was a huge and painful part of the build.

So it’s pretty fun to watch these guys tear up the hallways of one of the engineering buildings at MIT. But the footage of a two-kart race up a spiraling parking garage in the middle of the night is absolutely delightful. You’ll find both videos embedded after the break.

Continue reading “Drop everything and build this go-kart right now!”

Hackin’ the junkyard: Electric scrap bike projects

[Brad Graham] wrote in to let us know about his electric bike data dump over at atomiczombie.com, written just for us! Last we heard from [Brad] he was building some serious robots and freakishly tall tallbikes but since the weather has turned for the chilly its time to focus on indoor projects. Using a combination of robot parts, electrical conduit, and OEM bikes for the frames [Brad] takes us through several of his builds and all the various complications trying to drive the (often very powerful) electric motors. The builds range from scrapping motors and controllers to full blown drop in hub motor systems that can combine human and electric power. There is even an electric pusher cargo cart designed for a cooler, because beers are not going to haul themselves around.

Don’t forget to check out the AtomicZombie website for a ton of useful tips to chopping up bikes for your own mutant transpiration projects, we know we will. Thanks [Brad]!

Chainless bicycle will turn a few heads

Someone let [Tane] play around with welding equipment and bicycle parts and look what happened! He built a diminutive velocipede. Now that’s just a term for a human-powered land vehicle, but the term fits a bit better as this is missing most of the stuff you’d expect to see on a bicycle.

He started with a mountain bike and a kick scooter, then went to work on both with a hack saw. A bit of welding and angle grinding left him with what you see above. It’s still steerable, but missing are the cranks, chain, and brakes. That’s okay though, the bike is low enough for your legs to reach the ground – you start it up and come to a stop Fred-Flintstone-Style.

[Tane] originally meant to add electric propulsion but didn’t quite get around to it. There’s always the option to add a hub motor to the rear wheel if he has the time and motivation.