Electric skateboards are an inexpensive, portable mode of transportation that happens to be a lot of fun. You can build a custom electric skateboard from off-the-shelf parts. Select a motor, controller and battery pack, attach them to your board and you’ll be speeding around town in no time.
Homemade electric skateboards can be built with many drive systems, from automotive starter motors to electric drills, but for easiest construction use electric scooter parts. They’re easily available, and if you buy parts from the same manufacturer, you’ll be sure they’ll work together. The board itself can be a traditional downhill skateboard, but since a powered skateboard can travel much faster, consider instead a mountainboard. These boards are larger than street skateboards and can accommodate the electric hardware. They feature pneumatic tires for a smooth ride and foot bindings to maintain control. Choose aluminum as it will be stronger than wood and easier to modify than composite materials.
Choose a Motor
The heart of your electric skateboard will be the motor. The wattage of your motor will determine your skateboard’s top speed and power consumption. Stay between 400 and 500 watts for the best balance between speed and range. Motors of 36 volts will generate less heat than 24-volt motors, meaning longer motor life. Replace the skateboard’s rear truck with a solid axle and fit a cog wheel to the axle. Mount the motor underneath the board so that the drive belt fits snuggly to the cog wheel, or mount your motor behind the board and drive the wheels with a chain.
Your motor will be controlled by a speed control box. Mount this unit under your deck next to the motor. Speed controllers must match the voltage and wattage of the motor. The least expensive controllers drive the motor at a constant rate, but opt for a control module with a remote throttle. A throttle lets you adjust the speed of the motor to suit the terrain or your mood. Basic speed controllers use a wired connection, though wireless controllers are also available. A speed control box won’t slow your board if you need to stop. If you want to be able to slow your board, install a hand-operated disc brake unit to the rear axle opposite the drive belt. For a cordless braking system, mount a housing over your front wheels. When you lean forward, friction will slow the wheels (but will lower tire life).
Most electric batteries are 12 volt, so wire two batteries together in series (positive to negative terminals) to run 24-volt motors or three batteries for 36-volt systems. Sealed lead acid batteries are cheap, but heavy. Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are 40 percent lighter but can cost five times as much. Selectm batteries has the highest amp-hour rating that will fit under your board. Mount the batteries so they can be removed for charging or replaced with fresh batteries away from home.
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