Summary

This is the most simple open source DIY electric skateboard/longboard project. Easy to build and fun to ride!

The purpose of this page is to detail all the required parts and steps to build your own electric longboard.

  • Budget for mechanical parts and electric components: $220 to $300 (USD)
  • Budget for a longboard with adapted wheels, trucks and deck: $80 (USD)
  • Overall budget: $300 to $380 (USD)
  • Build time: 4 hours to one weekend
  • Theoric speed of my current setup: 30km/h – Effective speed with my settings: 25km/h
  • Theoric range of my current setup: 25km / Effective range: I can ride it for 15-20km

This page is detailed and aims to popularize the concepts and use of each component for beginners. For advanced makers, please use the short version with the components and a basic wiring diagram.

Read this section before to start

Check the conditions of use of this website and particularly the disclaimer

Learn how to ride a skateboard first, it’s very important to learn skateboard basics before to start this project. This will prevent you from injuring yourself by taming the engine’s propulsion in addition to attempting to manage your balance and steering.

 This project requires tools and specific equipment. I personally add to use a soldering station because my batteries’ connectors were not standard and I had to use a hot glue gun, a hex key set, an electric screwdriver, my rotary tool to adapt my truck to my motor mount and to create a handle in my deck. These tools could be totally optional and I will detail one setup below that require just some tapes, screws, hex keys and sockets. In addition, you can check the list of tool that I would suggest to any hobbyist. I would like to recommend to buy a skateboard tool as it brings together all the socket sizes needed to set your trucks and wheels and a screwdriver.

Electric longboard basics

An electric vehicle needs basically a source of energy, a motor and an electric speed controller, a transmission that will drive the wheels with the help of the motor, and a controller to send the signals to the electronic speed controller.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

Please check the setup below to learn more about all the parts:

PEX Board - Electronic longboard basics
Motor 280kv 5060
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) + Radio receiver
2 x 3S Batteries
Wheel pulley – HTD 5M 38 teeths
Timing belt HTD 5M W9mm – L270mm
Motor pulley – HTD 5M 12 teeths bore 8mm
180mm Truck
Wheel – Flywheels 83mm
Deck – 39″ Double Side Kick
Lipo checker (to indicate what is the current voltage of the battery and the votage per cell, with a beeper that alert me when the current per cell reach 3.5V)
Batteries enclosure

Choose your longboard

Please check my guides for choosing your deck, trucks, and wheels.

If you do not want to read everything and just want a quick recommendation, grab any bamboo or maple deck between 33″ and 40″, a pair of Paris 180mm trucks and 4 flywheels clones between 83mm and 97mm.

Considerations

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialBrushless motors for RC models are commonly used for electric longboard project, mine is a RC Car motor.

These motors are usually categorized by their KV rating. The KV rating refers to the rpm constant of a motor – the number of revolutions per minute that the motor will turn when 1V (one Volt) is applied with no load attached to the motor. It is related to the power out from a motor, or more usefully the torque level of a motor. In summary, a low KV motor will produce higher torque, a higher KV motor will produce higher speed but less torque.

Suitable motors for electric skateboards obviously need to have high torque (between 150kv and 300kv).

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialAn electronic speed control or ESC is an electronic circuit with the purpose to vary an electric motor’s speed, its direction and possibly also to act as a brake. ESCs are often used on electrically powered radio controlled models, providing an electronically generated source of energy for the motor.

The first important aspect of the electronic speed controller is the voltage and current rating, which must not be exceeded. An ESC should always indicate how many volts you can pump through it and this is often expressed in how many cells you can use (the number of cells your battery has). For this project you should look for an ESC that is able to handle 6S batteries (22.2V).

You need also to look at the current rating (maximum AMPS) and make sure your motor draw will not exceed that. Most motors will say how many amps they draw (MAX AMPS) and this rating should never exceed the amp rating of the ESC. Actually, you need an ESC that can support very high amps as they usually are more resistant and will tend to behave better with lower amp draw.

Most modern ESC contains microcontroller interpreting the input signal and appropriately controlling the motor using a built-in program, or firmware. this firmware can be configured by using a programmer. I will explain how to configure basically any ESC, and I will also explain in details how to configure the ESC I use.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialJust like the motor and the ESC, the LiPo batteries used in this project are widely used for Radio Controlled Models. These are rechargeable batteries of lithium-ion technology using a polymer electrolyte instead of the more common liquid electrolyte. A LiPo battery is defined by:

  • its cell number (also referred as “S”: a 3S battery having 3 cells) which define the voltage (see bellow)
  • its voltage, determined by the number of cells. Tere are a few common voltage measurements worth noting:
    •  Charged: the voltage of a fully-charged LiPo cell is 4.20V. A fully charged 3S pack is 12.60V. Please note that charging above this will damage the cell.
    • Nominal: this can be considered a sort of “half-charged” voltage, as it is 3.70V, in between charged and discharged.  Nominal voltage is what manufacturers use when describing the voltage of their batteries. For example, a 3S battery is marked with its nominal voltage of 11.1V (3.70V*3 cells).
    • Discharged: the voltage of a discharged LiPo cell is 3.00V. But we consider that discharging below 3.3V will definitely damage the cell.
    • StorageWhen you want to store you battery for a few weeks or months, I strongly recommend to charge or discharge each cell to approximatively 3.80V which is the most stable state of a cell.
  • its discharge capacity, exprimed in with an integer followed by “C”. The C rating of a battery tells you how many amps can be safely drawn from the battery constantly. By multiplying the C rating’s coefficient by the capacity of the battery in Ah, you can determine the sort of amperage you can draw.  In the case of a 3S battery with a capacity of 5000mAh (5Ah) and a C rating of 20C, I can multiply 20*5 and get the max constant output of my battery, which is 100A. You will want that this max constant output is equal or above the max amps rating of your motor.
  • its capacity, measured in mAh (milliamp hours). This basically tells you how long you can expect the battery to last on a charge.  A 5000 mAh is equal to 5Ah (amp hours), which means that the battery can discharge at 5 amps for one hour, 2.5 amps for 2 hours, etc.

I will recommend a list of batteries for this project and the adapted chargers BUT using LiPo batteries requires special attention and misuse of these batteries (such as complete discharge, shock, hazardous storage, etc.) can lead to a start of fires and serious injuries.

I strongly recommend to read this safety guide and to check this guide to learn more about Lipo batteries.

Note that you can use for this project one 6S LiPo Battery or two 3S batteries in Series.

Plugging two batteries in series means that you will double the cells and so the voltage for the same Amps capacity, in contrary to the parallel wiring that double the amps capacity for the initial number of cells (or initial voltage).

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

There are multiple connectors for the batteries on the market. Be careful of which type of connector you battery have and your ESC has. You might have to remove a specific connector and solder a new one on your batteries or your ESC. This is not a complicated task but you really have to be careful to not let the two wire of your battery touch each other. XT60 and Tplugs are the most common one and the one I use in this project.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

The motors have almost always male bullet connectors and they should be compatible right away with the ESC’s female bullet connectors. The servo connector is used to connect the radio receiver to the ESC but also to connect the programmer and configure the different settings of the ESC.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

The transmission is composed of a timing belt that connects a small pulley attached to the motor and a large pulley attached to one wheel.

Timing belt

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialA timing belt is a flexible and non-slipping mechanical drive belt with teeth molded onto its inner surface. Multiple types of timing belts are available but for this project, I use a 5mm Pitch HTD Timing Belt of 9mm wide. HTD belts have been designed to withstand loads.

Motor pulley:

The motors pulley is way smaller, with a small number of teeth (usually between 12 and 18 teeth). You have to be careful of the pulley bore diameter. For this project, I use a 12 teeth pulley 8mm bore.

Wheel pulley:

This pulley is larger (with a higher number of teeth, usually between 35 and 40) and is attached to the wheel. I used a 36 teeth pulley that threaded through the cogs of the Abec 11 wheels with a large washer on the outside.

Electric skateboard parts

My current setup (A) is composed by 2x 3s 8000mAh Batteries, a 280KV motor, a 120A ESC. These batteries have a huge capacity and are pretty small but they come with a custom connector that you will need to remove. I chose to use XT60 connectors for this project for the ESC, the serial cable and the batteries as I already had some of these connectors at home. A set of 8000mAh batteries require a charger with higher specifications (with min charge capacity of 8A)  and if you want to make the most with it, a powerful power supply. This build will cost approximatively 380 USD.

The setup B is almost the same as my current setup but it is composed by 2 x 3s 5000mAh Batteries instead of 8000mAh. You just have to plug everything together. It’s also cheaper as the batteries cost less and you need a simple charger (charge capacity up to 5A). This build will cost approximatively 320 USD.

You are free to source similar parts on your own, but note that I have tested this part list and it works well. Using any other parts is your own responsibility: check the specifications of the suggested parts to be sure that it matches your locally sourced part.

Finally, you will find all the 3D model I used for my prototypes, including the wheel pulley that I found on Thingiverse (credits: Brent Yi).

Tools and misc.

  • Any soldering station
  • XT60 connectors
  • Heat shrink tubes
  • Hot glue gun
  • Epoxy glue (if you can find the one suggested, it’s the strongest Epoxy I have ever seen, it’s strong as hell)
  • Any Duct tape (choose your favorite color)
  • 4 Wood 6-8mm screws (or equivalent) to fix the battery enclosure to the deck

Optional parts

  • Print the ESC enclosure + 4 Wood 6-8mm screws (or equivalent) to fix the ESC enclosure to the deck
  • Print the motor mount and use one M4-25mmm screw with locknut
  • Print the fasteners for the battery enclosure and use 2 x M3 10mm + 2 x M3 lock nuts (or equivalent) to fix the fastener to the battery enclosure
  • 2 x Straps if your plastic box does not have claspsAll 3D printed parts are available on Thingiverse on https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2474716
    Please note that these files are under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA) license.

Tools and misc.

  • Hot glue gun
  • Epoxy glue (if you can find the one suggested, it’s the strongest Epoxy I have ever seen, it’s strong as hell)
  • Any Duct tape (choose your favorite color)
  • 4 Wood 6-8mm screws (or equivalent) to fix the battery enclosure to the deck

Optional parts

  • Print the ESC enclosure + 4 Wood 6-8mm screws (or equivalent) to fix the ESC enclosure to the deck
  • Print the motor mount and use one M4-25mmm screw with locknut
  • Print the fasteners for the battery enclosure and use 2 x M3 10mm + 2 x M3 lock nuts (or equivalent) to fix the fastener to the battery enclosure
  • 2 x Straps if your plastic box does not have claspsAll 3D printed parts are available on Thingiverse on https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2474716
    Please note that these files are under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA) license.

Brushless Motor 6368 280KV 6-12S (Diameter: 63mm, Lenght: 68mm / a bigger but more powerful motor)

6S 22.2V 8000MAH 30C Lipo Battery with XT60 Plug Require more clearance as this battery is way too high than the 3S batteries (The 6 cells are stacked instead of being separated into two stacks of 3 cells)

XT60 – T-Plug Adapter: to adapt the ESC to an XT-60 plug (male XT-60 to Female T-Plug) or to adapt a LiPo with T-Plus to an XT-60 connector (Female XT-60 to male T-Plug)

XT60 cable extension

If you have 83/90/97mm Flywheels, I would also recommend this complete set (motor + motor mount + pulleys + belt)

If you have 80mm wheels check this set

If you have 73mm wheels check this set

All parts are available on Thingiverse under https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2474716

Please note that these files are under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA) license.

Build

This section is related to the Build A and it is aimed at an experienced public. The objective is to remove the Traxxas connector and to solder a new XT60 connector. This step can be dangerous and you can damage your batterie and hurt yourself. If you have never used a soldering iron and you are not sure about getting into the conversion of your battery connector, do not do it and turn to the build B.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

Requirements

  • Soldering station
  • Solder
  • XT60 Female connector
  • Heat shrink tube

Steps:

  1. Cut the black wire as close as possible to the connector
  2. Strip about 5mm of the end of the black wire
  3. Insert the black wire into a piece of heat shrink tube
  4. DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

    Step 7

    Insulate the end of the wire with some electrician tape (or any tape).

  5. Cut the red wire as close as possible to the connector
  6. Strip about 5mm of the end of the red wire
  7. Insert the red wire into a small piece of heat shrink tube (at this point, it should look like the picture attached)
  8. Solder the red wire to the + side of the XT60 connector
  9. Insulate the solder with the heat shrink tube
  10. Remove the tape from the black wire and solder the black wire to the – side of the XT60 connector
  11. Insulate the solder with the heat shrink tube

This section is related to the Build A and it is aimed at an experienced public. The objective is to remove the T-Plug connector and to solder a new XT60 connector. This step is not as dangerous as the battery conversion.  You could only hurt yourself. If you have never used a soldering iron and you are not sure about getting into the conversion of the connector, do not do it and turn to the build B.

Requirements

  • DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialSoldering station
  • Solder
  • XT60 male connector
  • Heat shrink tube

Steps:

  1. Cut the black wire as close as possible to the T-Plug connector
  2. Strip about 5mm of the end of the black wire
  3. Insert the black wire into a piece of heat shrink tube
  4. Cut the red wire as close as possible to the connector
  5. Strip about 5mm of the end of the red wire
  6. Insert the red wire into a small piece of heat shrink tube (at this point, it should look like the picture attached)
  7. Solder the red wire to the + side of the XT60 MALE connector
  8. Insulate the solder with the heat shrink tube
  9. Solder the black wire to the – side of the XT60 MALE connector
  10. Insulate the solder with the heat shrink tube

In this section, I will explain how to calibrate the ESC, install the programming application on your computer, update the FVT 120A ESC (Favourite Car ESC 120A) firmware and program the ESC settings.

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

Throttle Calibration

  1. Plug your batteries to the ESC
  2. Press the Calibration button and while you are pressing it, turn on your ESC
  3. You should be hearing the ESC beeping
  4. Press the calibration button again, the beeping should stop
  5. Verify that all your transmitter commands are in neutral position. Turn on your transmitter
  6. Use the throttle command to reach the maximum position for acceleration and hold the position
  7. Press the calibration button, you should hear 2 beeps
  8. Release the throttle to the middle position
  9. Use the throttle command to reach the maximum position for braking and hold the position
  10. Press the calibration button, you should hear 3 beeps
  11. Release the throttle to the middle position
  12. Wait for two seconds and test the throttle.

Firmware update and Settings 

  1. DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialGo to your computer
  2. Download and install the programming application
  3. Download the ESC firmware for electric longboard (please check the last version of the Linear brake “BrakeLine” firmware)
  4. On your computer, open the programming application
  5. Go back to you ESC: verify that your ESC power button is in the OFF position
  6. Connect the ESC to your batteries (Use the Wiring scheme)
  7. Plug the JST connector into the USB programming interface
  8. Connect the USB interface to a Micro USB cable
  9. Push the power button of the ESC to ON position
  10. You should see that the link status for ESB Device and ESC device are both green
  11. Click on Update Software and follow the procedure until you hear a beep and you can see the ESC settings
  12. Change the settings as follows:
    1. DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard TutorialMotor timing: High (Increasing timing increases rpm and motor temps but decreases torque, efficiency and run time.)
    2. Initial acceleration: Soft (allow to accelerate gradually instead of being ejected right away)
    3. Running mode: Forward w/o Reverse (it means that the motor will only for forward and never backward)
    4. Percentage braking: 30% ( I AM still experimenting braking by playing with both drag brake and brake percentage, I will update this section each time I improve my results)
    5. Percentage Drag brake: 7%
    6. Cut-off voltage: 3.2V
    7. Throttle limit: 100% (if you are a beginner I recommend to set the limit to 60% or 80% to limit top speed)
    8. Throttle percent reverse: irrelevant for me as I will not use the reverse so I am using the original value
    9. Motor rotation: Reverse in my case but you might have to use the other value if your motor is not rotating in the correct direction)
    10. Neutral range: 9%
    11. Batt type: Lipo
    12. Start power: 40 (level of power applied to the motor when starting. The more power the more quickly the startup will be. I wanted a smooth start-up in order to stay in my board)
  13. Click on Send settings, you should hear a beep
  14. Shut down your ESC and disconnect the programming interface, you are good to go!

For more details, please check the FVT 120A ESC manual

DIY Electric Skateboard / Longboard Tutorial

Motor mount

ESC + Radio receiver

Battery enclosure

Overview

Issues and feedbacks

Vibrations

I had a lot of issues in my first test with the bad conditions of the street in Ottawa and Montreal (Canada). I have to use Aluminium Motor mount instead of my 3D printed files because the roads are so bad that I had some cracks on the motor mount (violent vibrations). Also I lost one screw from the motor mount during my first ride and the screws on the wheels were all loose after a few minutes. I resolved this with some Thread locker and I also have reinforced my motor mount on the truck with JB Steel reinforced Epoxy glue.

Carrying the board

A DIY electric longboard is not very light and I move every week to another city where I work so I wanted to carry my board more easily. I designed a Handle Bar in the deck to carry the board with a Dremel tool and then I wrapped the handle with a Tennis racket overgrip to make it comfortable.

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