3D Printed Electric Unicycle

Actually riding around at 30 km/h on a 3D printed means of transportation is pretty gnarly, if not foolhardy. So we were actually pleased when we dug deeper and discovered that [E-Mat]’s unicycle build is actually just a very nice cover and battery holder.

We say “just”, but a 3D-printed design takes a couple of cheap parts (the wheel and pedals) from the Far East and turns them into a very finished-looking finished product. Custom bits like this fulfill the 3D printing dream — nobody’s making it, so you make it yourself. And make it look pro.

It turns out that other people have noticed this motor/controller/pedal combo as well. Here’s some documentation to get you started.

It’s funny. Just four years ago, self-balancing powered unicycles were the realm of the insane hacker. Then came some hacker improvements, and now we’re at the point where you can mail-order all the parts and 3D print yourself a fancy enclosure.

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Self-Balancing One-Wheel Motorcycle Tears Up the Beach

[XenonJohn] wrote in to let us know about updates and a recent test drive of an Electric Self-Balancing One-wheeled Motorcycle, fresh from the beach where he says it proved to be great fun to ride. The design and build have been updated since we last saw it as a semifinalist entry in the 2014 Hackaday Prize. The original, he says, “looked cool but was slow, cumbersome and really dangerous to ride.”

electric self-balancing unicycle - thumbnailSince then it has been completely redesigned and now has a super fat kite-surfer wheel, a front crash skid with damper, and a variable geometry which allows it to steer properly despite just having one wheel. It does this by allowing the rider to shift their position relative to the wheel, instead of the seat always being rigidly locked directly above the axle.

That steering is a pretty clever upgrade, but we do wonder if the new crash skid will have an atlatl effect and really launch the rider in a crash. Our gut feeling aside, it is designed not to plant itself in the pavement, but to slide along (without ejecting the rider) until the vehicle loses all momentum.

There is something about self-balancing unicycles that attracts experimenters, each of whom takes a different approach. We see everything from this device constructed mainly from a Razor Scooter to this more polished-looking unit based on an earlier Segway clone design. [XenonJohn] reminds us that “there is still much to learn in this area and you can genuinely innovate even as a hobbyist. Also, you can only do so much on a computer, you then have to actually build something and see how well it works. [This recent test] shows what you can do if you just keep on experimenting.” Video of the test drive is below.

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Jackal takes it to the streets

[Nick Thatcher] is becoming the world’s authority on self-balancing unicycles.  He’s unveiled The Jackal, his new single wheel vehicle. The Jackal is an upgrade to The Raptor, [Nick’s] 2012 machine. The wheelbarrow wheel has been replaced with a much more fitting model sourced from a motorcycle. The 19″ motorcycle wheel improved balancing quite a bit. Wheelbarrow wheels were not exactly quality components, so they definitely made balancing the unicycle more difficult.

[Nick] upgraded his power system as well. The Jackal is powered by a 450 Watt 1020z geared motor. The 1020z is often found on scooters imported from the Far East. The motor controller  is the same SyRen 50 Amp continuous / 100 Amp peak  model used in the Raptor.

The Jackal’s frame has also seen some changes. It’s now sporting quite a bit of machined aluminum as well as [Nick’s] standby PVC.  The upgrades have paid off in performance. The Jackal can reach about 20 MPH, however the top safe speed is closer to 15 MPH.

Click past the break to see [Nick] demonstrating The Jackal at Makerfaire UK.

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