Electric skateboards are popping up everywhere these days. In the city, in the burbs, even some backcountry off-roaders are using electric skateboards.
Although these boards are gaining popularity they sure aren’t getting any cheaper. Why pay thousands of dollars for a board that may not be up to snuff? Be a man, and do it yourself! Here is our guide to making a DIY electric skateboard.
Gathering the Goods
Before deciding to build your DIY electric skateboard, there are a few different ways you can go about it. You can get an electric skateboard kit with everything you need, but a deck. You could go the Mellow board route and get a pre-packaged device. Or you could price shop and gather all of the parts from various sources. But before getting into the nitty-gritty, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Choosing the correct deck
- Correctly mounting the motor to the deck
- Single or dual motor
- Choosing the appropriate battery
- Setting up the wheels and drive pulley
- What you’re going to use as a controller
- How to calibrate said controller
Board and Hardware
With these things in mind, the first thing you have to square away is the first point—the deck. It’s highly recommended to go with a longboard deck rather than a skateboard because you will have more stability, a smoother ride, and more space for the additional hardware. Opt for flat or slightly concave decks.
Smaller and lighter boards are also a good idea. Think 28”-30” in length and about 5-7 ply rather than 8-9 of some standard boards. Since you’re adding additional weight with the battery pack and electrical parts, you don’t want to make your board extremely heavy.
Second, the materials have to be more on the solid side though slightly flexible. You also need top-mounted rather than drop-through trucks.
In terms of trucks, be wary of the shape and design. You’re going to need the space required for mounting the motor and battery pack.
For the wheels, you might find that some bundles include them. However, if you can choose, go for the Abec 11 Flywheel. Though they are cheap, the reason everyone likes them for their electric skateboard is that they are spoked. This means you can easily attach a large drive cog and still be fully capable of rotating or changing the wheels out to prevent uneven wear. Abec 11 wheels are also large enough to pass over cracks and other debris without jostling you.
Another option if the Abec is unavailable would be the Bigfoot 90mm Cored Wheels by TGM. Again, it’s the spokes that make them perfect for your DIY electric skateboard.
There are a couple of different motor designs on the market, but the dividing line usually falls between single and dual motors. A single motor setup costs less and is decent for flat road commuting. Most electric skateboard riders will be pleased with the performance of a single motor.
Double motors provide much more speed (sometimes beyond 25 mph) and power (and drain batteries fairly quickly). The cost of the latter is also more than a single motor setup, so take that into consideration. Some advantages of dual motors include increased traction, braking power, and longevity, as the motor wears out less quickly.
Suitable motors need high power and torque. Brushless outrunners like the ones used in remote control cars and planes work well.
Make sure you purchase a kit that has the motor mount, drive wheel pulley, motor pulley, trucks, belt, wheels, bearings, spacers, risers, and other deck hardware.
This is probably the hardest part, because if you aren’t using a motor and matching controller set, then you have to try and find a controller that comes in very high amps. Usually, this is identified by an HV in the item name. Be sure to get a good quality one, as cheap controllers will burn out fast.
Other methods that have been tried and came out successful were using wireless Wii controllers and smartphones with Bluetooth capabilities.
Where to Find the Parts
Now that you know what to look for when gathering the bits and pieces required for your DIY electric skateboard let’s have a look at where to find these parts. Included are some examples of optimal equipment choices to building an awesome ride.
Please note that prices fluctuate all the time. Amounts given are estimates based on current market information, so you can expect to pay the same amount.
Sites that have a decent collection of motor kits include DIYelectricskateboard.com, alienpowersystem.com, and Amazon.com. These places usually provide everything in a neat package, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting an important piece. Here are some examples of what is available:
- Alien Power Systems 120amp 2.0Kw Sensored Single Motor E-Board DIY Kit – compatible only with other APS drive systems and contains the motor, shafts, and a USB cable to program the controller. $156.00.
- DIY Electric Skateboard Single Motor Mechanical Kit – you get options for wheel color, mounts, pulleys, risers, bearings, and trucks. All hardware is made with military spec 7075-T6 Aircraft Grade Aluminum. $199.00-245.00. There is also a dual motor mechanical kit available for $300.00.
- MaxFind Dual Motor Drive Kit for Electric Skateboard/Longboard – 1000W, 36V motor with remote and adapter included. Reaches up to 26 km/h and is waterproof. US$550.00.
And here are some separate motors:
- The 5065 260KV EPower Motor – Used for single motor setups. With a 6S Battery with 22.2V and a 16/36 gearing ratio, you can reach speeds up to 24 mph.
- The 6355 190KV EPower Motor – Compatible with either single or dual motor setups that have a higher voltage setup, like 44.4V. When you have this pairing, you will glide over 20-30% gradients without losing power.
Deck and Hardware
Mentioned earlier, any longboard with top-mount trunks is a good start. You can find decent models on Amazon.com or at your local skateboard shop.
XCSOURCE DIY Electric Skateboard Parts and Pulleys for 80mm Wheels – includes brackets, bolts, mounts, and other hardware for mounting wheels and motor. US$22.99
Batteries and Chargers
The standard choice is a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery. In terms of size and weight, the power output is the best. A typical 5000mAh battery pack will last you 6-8 miles per charge. The important things you need to know are the mAh, which is how long you will have power for and the C, or discharge rate. So, you might see on the pack 4S1P 25C 5000mAh, signifying four cells in 1 pack with a 25V discharge rate.
On the downside, LiPo batteries are known to be volatile and can catch on fire when overheated, so be sure to purchase batteries that come with UL testing certification, like LG or Samsung. Purchasing a proper battery charger will also ensure that your battery lasts.
Remember that when choosing your battery pack that more volume means more power. However, this also means a higher price tag!
Zippy Flightmax 5000mAh 3S1P 20C Battery – a 5000mAh Lithium Polymer battery with three cells and a 4mm bullet-connector. $21.82
HobbyKing B6 AC/DC Compact LiPo/NiMH 50W Charger – for beginners. Easy, simple to use, and fairly cheap. The downside is that these don’t charge very fast. $18.85
The combination of HobbyKing ECO6-10 200W Charger ($34.99) and HobbyKing 350W 25A Power Supply ($39.73). This combination is pricey when put together but gives you ten amps of charging power, making it twice as fast as other cheaper combinations you may find out there.
In short, where do you go for the supplies to your DIY Electric Skateboard? If you follow the links provided, you will be taken to hobby websites for RC vehicles as well as sites dedicated specifically to creating to personal electric transportation:
- Torque Boards
- Enertion Boards
- Hobby King
- Alien Power Systems
If you have a craft or hobby shop in your city or town, then you may be able to purchase the correct supplies without having to worry about ordering over the internet.
What is a Mellow Board?
This alternative method would be the Mellow Drive (by the same people who brought us the glorious Mellow Board), a pre-constructed motor and trunk that can be attached to any skateboard or longboard already in existence.
The Mellow Drive takes out the guesswork of constructing and soldering everything from scratch. You just remove the one truck from your board and replace it with the patented dual in-wheel motor that delivers 3NM power per wheel, getting you up to 25 mph.
The motor and battery pack is IP65-graded, so it’s adequately sealed against rain, puddles, and dust. The Mellow Drive also comes with a remote control that is slim and ergonomic. You also the app that helps you monitor the battery life, speed, and other elements of your ride.
The downside? The Mellow Drive costs about as much as a standard electric skateboard (around US$1635).
Now, you probably heard that constructing your own electric skateboard is cheaper piece by piece than simply purchasing a premade model. Let’s see if this is true.
Here are some popular electric skateboards on the market:
- Mellow Board or Mellow Drive — $1,500-1,600
- Marbel 2.0 — $1,200.00
- Yuneec E-GO 2 — $700.00
- Inboard M1 — $1,399.00
- Metroboard Stealth — $1,149.00
Our hypothetical DIY electric longboard:
- Longboard — $80.00
- Single Motor Kit — $200.00 (remember, this contains all the pulleys, nuts, bolts, and other essential hardware. If you decide to purchase everything separately, the price will still be around the same)
- Hobby King Combination of Charger and Power Supply — $74.72
- Zippy Flightmax Battery — $21.92 x2 (yes, you need two battery packs)
- Torque Boards 2.4ghz Nano Remote Controller — $60.00
You may decide to purchase separate wheels, risers, and hardware pieces; but that total cost shouldn’t be more than $600.00. That is nearly half the cost of some “high-end” models!
DIY Electric Skateboard
This is an overview of how to piece everything together. For more in-depth guidance, you may want to refer to a YouTube video tutorial which will tell you exactly how to fit everything together. If you purchase a kit, instructions are usually included in the bundle.
Two decent videos on how to build an electric skateboard include:
- DIY Electric Skateboard Build – Better Than A Boosted Board Tutorial (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G0e4_WeKzw&t=0s)
- DIY Electric Skateboard For Students Tutorial (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U87F4Z9N4-A)
Here are the steps for building your board once you’ve gathered all of your materials:
- You begin by cutting and mounting. You may either chose to weld or clamp the motor to the board, depending on your skill set and type of kit you purchased. Usually, one of the back wheels is chosen to be powered.
- Positing the mount properly. You need to put it as far back as possible onto the trucks and angled down without touching the board.
- When you attach the wheel to the pulley: the large 40T pulley connects to the back wheel. Again either chose a 6-hole or spoked wheel. If you need to drill, make six ¼” holes 17.5mm away from the center of the large pulley, 2.5” washer, and the 2.25” washer. You may also have to drill a hole through the center of the pulley so the truck can fit through.
- Afterwards, slide the ¼” by 2.5” bolts through the pulley, 2.5” washer, wheel, and lastly the 2.25” washer. You finish off this part with the appropriate nuts. When you put the wheel on the trucks, it should spin easily.
- Mount the motor to the board with M4 x 12mm bolts and washers. Mount the small pully onto the motor’s shaft by tightening the set screw. Pull the belt over the small pulley then the large pulley. Once again, tighten the truck nut that holds the wheel down.
- The electronic components get connected as follows: Motor to ESC; ESC to both battery packs, switch, and receiver.
The batteries are connected in series (plus to minus) simply by flipping a connector. You will notice that the ESC comes with two cables to connect it to both battery packs. Hooking up your batteries this way will produce the 6S or 22.2 volts needed for the ESC. If you have a T-Plug, the ESC also gets hooked to that. The T-Plug is for charging the batteries.
From there, you also attach it to the receiver’s channel 2. The button that comes with the receiver will have an on/off switch that makes it easy to switch the entire off or on for either safety purposes or while the batteries are unplugged.
The batteries, ESC, and motor get hooked up using 4mm banana jacks and 10 AWG wire. You will need to solder the banana jacks to the correct pieces. Be sure to insulate the banana jacks with heat-shrink tubing too.
- At this point, you need to protect everything inside a case. Some bundles come with a waterproof case, but if you don’t like that case, you can always purchase your own from hobby stores or on Amazon.
- To charge the board, simply connect the male T-Plug charger and 6S balance cable to the charging port, set it to 5 amps, and let it power up. How long it takes to charge the battery depends on the charger and the power supply for the charger. For example, the speed may be limited by a 50-watt power limit.
Electric skateboards are becoming a popular personal transportation means, especially in urban settings were buses, trains, and carpooling can sometimes take longer than gliding down the sidewalk. However, as most people come to find out when shopping around for an electric skateboard, the top-selling models on the market are not cheap by any means. You may think that you’ll never obtain the e-board of your dreams.
But with the proper tools and tutorials, you can DIY your own electric skateboard using the longboard you already have. Doing so drastically reduces the cost without compromising the overall performance!
You can choose your own motor and battery packs, customize the overall ride, and soon be outside, enjoying motorized skateboarding. Though construction requires a little mechanical knowledge, there are plenty of tools, kits, and websites to not only gather your supplies but find instructions (like the ones listed above) too.