Building the best e-skateboard for your preferences can be the most challenging task if you’re a beginner. It’s not something that can be studied in just a few days since safety is at a huge risk even if the quality is just a bit subpar or a tiny mistake has been made. However, if you want to create an e-skate for the sake of knowledge or practice, check out the following tips in choosing the right components before going over the step-by-step tutorial.
How to Choose Electric Skateboard Parts
This factor is all about the user’s preferences. Longboards and shortboards both have their pros and cons.
If the skater’s daily routine is to commute for several miles, a longboard is convenient for speed and has a bigger electronic compartment for more heavy-duty parts. On the other hand, shortboards are best for air travelers and short-distance rides since they’re much more lightweight and compact.
One feature that can instantly show skaters how different electric skateboard decks are is the profile or curvature.
The ideal profile for e-skates is camber because of the slight lift right at the center of the deck, which is perfect for the electronic enclosure below since it can protect the lower components from the ground. As a plus, it makes the deck more flexible for smoother turns.
Meanwhile, the rocker has a lower profile for more efficient braking, easier acceleration, and better stability. However, aside from its disadvantages for the electronic compartment, it’s an inconvenient choice for heavier skaters due to the risk of friction against the ground. Fortunately, this can be solved by choosing a stiffer material for the deck.
Most expensive electric skateboards have maple decks. That’s because they’re stiffer for a steadier, more heavy-duty unit.
Bamboo is a flexible alternative to maple. It can be considered a better option for performance alone, but it can be less durable than maple. The solution is to choose a bamboo deck combined with fiberglass to balance it out.
For a more versatile material, carbon fiber is highly recommended since it can be stiffer or more flexible depending on the number of its layers. It’s the most expensive type but worth the purchase. It’s not for extreme use such as off-road rides because of its brittleness, but it’s ideal for urban locations.
The rougher the grip tape is, the better for the rider’s safety on electric skateboard decks. One can instantly identify a foolproof tape if it hurts the skin.
The best type of grip tape is glass frit. It’s the priciest one, but it can last for years and has a more stylish look.
After deciding on which deck to use, the wheelbase should be considered before installing the lower components. Its length is crucial for overall performance.
Stability and speed are better with a longer wheelbase or a farther gap between the pair of holes underneath the deck. For performance due to the higher level of flex and control, a shorter one is ideal.
The TKP or traditional kingpin is the first type of truck for skateboards. It’s still common nowadays.
However, when it comes to electric skateboards, TKPs are quite rare. That’s because they need to be placed lower, which is not ideal for the added components of an e-skate.
TKPs are only recommended for electric skateboards if the user wants to do tricks or carve. They can remain stable yet dynamic.
As for the best type of electric skateboard truck, it’s called the RKP or reverse kingpin. It’s a newer design but can be better than TKPs in terms of carving, stability, and speed.
For higher stability, a wider truck is highly recommended. But, for a better response, a narrower one is ideal. Since electric skateboards are rarely used for tricks, an increased width is more beneficial for a more stable transportation device.
The enclosure for the electronic parts can make or break the stiffness or flex of the electric skateboard deck.
If the placement of the system is separated into two smaller compartments at both ends of the deck, the flex is increased. The downside? It can usually hold a smaller battery only.
As expected, the deck becomes stiffer with a full-length compartment. Also, a bigger battery can be used without any problem.
Meanwhile, there’s a special type of electronic compartment for electric skateboards. Some enclosures can be placed on top of the deck, right in the middle of the rider’s feet. This is meant for off-road adventures since big rocks can easily scratch the enclosure if it’s installed under the deck regardless of how elevated the center curve is.
Starting with the more traditional design, belt drives use pulleys and belts. Because of that setup, they’re easier to adjust in terms of speed, torque, and gear ratio since belts and pulleys can be removed and installed quickly. This is helpful for skaters living in areas with unpredictable terrains.
As for the modern type of electric skateboard motor, hub motors are installed at the wheel hubs. They directly move the wheels, eliminating the need for extra components. Fewer parts also make less noise.
Since belt drives and hub motors both have advantages, there’s one way to combine their strongest features. Direct drives are faster and have higher torque than a lot of hub motors without the presence of a complex system using pulleys, belts, and other traditional mechanisms.
Lastly, the newest variation is the gear drive. It’s quite popular for many DIY enthusiasts nowadays because it needs a more hands-on approach and combines the main benefits of the previous variations.
What’s considered the “brain” of electric skateboards is called the ESC or the Electronic Speed Controller. It’s crucial for maximum control of the motor and the braking system.
ESCs should always match the battery’s specs. High-quality ones are usually designed for larger, more powerful batteries.
However, it’s still important to double-check the specifications of the battery and the ESC to make sure they will work together without any hassle. If they mismatch, the ESC might burn.
Just because LiPo or lithium polymer batteries are cheaper doesn’t mean that they’re not ideal at all for some electric skateboards. They can make e-skates accelerate smoothly. They can also be installed almost anywhere.
On the other hand, Li-Ion or lithium-ion batteries are safer. Many LiPo batteries tend to explode or even cause a fire. Li-Ion is also more convenient since it has a longer lifespan, thanks to its better cell management technology.
One of the major types of electric skateboard wheels is urethane. It has always been the go-to wheel variation for any kind of skate since the 1970s. As expected, it’s perfect for urban use.
For off-road adventures, however, urethane wheels are a bad idea. Just imagine the danger of using solid wheels on rocky terrain. The ideal wheel type for this is pneumatic.
Pneumatic wheels use rubber tires. Also, they’re very similar to conventional tires because they contain air tubes. This is crucial for adjustments in terms of firmness.
If the skater plans to travel on bumpier surfaces, more friction is needed. That’s why rubber tires with thicker treading are highly recommended. One can easily spot a pneumatic wheel for off-road locations since it’s usually much bigger than the urethane type.
As for the ultimate disadvantage of pneumatic wheels, they’re vulnerable to sharp objects. They can get punctured, just like a typical tire.
Electric skateboard wheels come in different sizes. Regardless of how big or small the diameter is, there are advantages and disadvantages.
Small e-skate wheels are better for acceleration and control because of their lightness. They can be used for various tricks.
On the other hand, big electric skateboard wheels are better for consistency in terms of speed. They’re also generally more comfortable since they’re more stable. And, as mentioned before, bigger wheels are best for managing obstacles in off-road areas.
When it comes to the specific measurements, 75mm wheels and bigger variations are great for long distances. Meanwhile, 65mm to 75mm wheels are effective for downhill riding since they have an average size–not too big, not too small. They can be excellent for cruising as well.
Lastly, the smallest wheels are usually lower than 65mm. They’re ideal for short distances and certain tricks.
Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to pick a remote control for a DIY electric skateboard. It only has to be small with an ergonomic shape to perfectly fit the skater’s hand no matter what. More importantly, the user should simply prepare a receiver and an ESC port that can match the wireless device.
Other Parts, Materials & Tools
The following objects are best prepared after considering all components mentioned above because they need to match certain factors:
- thread locker
- mounting plates
- mounting bolts
- riser pads
- power switch
- charger port
- battery meter
- hot glue
How to Build an Electric Skateboard
- Drill holes on the deck based on the size and shape of the compartment for electronics.
- Paint the deck and enclosure, if necessary (dry for a minimum of three days before the building process).
- Do the rest of the decorations, if any (e.g.: vinyl wrap).
- Stick a thin layer of foam if you want to increase comfort.
- Securely place the grip tape over the foam, if any, to prevent bubbles.
- Trim the grip tape.
- Drill the mounting holes again for a more secure installment of the enclosure and trucks.
- Install the mounting system for the motor on the rear truck.
- Install the motor right into the mounting mechanism.
- Place the motor’s drive pulley without affecting the adjustment system of the motor hand.
- Repeat Steps 1 to 3 if you need to install another motor (dual system).
- Test the motor/s to ensure smooth spinning.
- Check the pulley if it’s dragging or not.
- Install the bearings on each wheel.
- Place the pulleys on two wheels either by screwing or snapping them in (depends on the type).
- Add the two wheels on the trucks where the motors are installed.
- Test the resistance of the wheels.
- Make adjustments on the motor mounts and grind the trucks, if necessary.
- Remove the wheels.
- Install the belts to the motor’s drive pulley.
- Install each wheel again by sliding the belt above the pulley.
- Adjust the tension, if necessary, without making the belt too loose.
- Tighten each bolt on the motor and mount.
- Double-check the tension.
- Remove the motor’s bolts to put thread locker on them.
- Install and tighten the bolts again.
- Repeat Steps 1 to 7 to the other motor, if any.
- Install the entire drive on the electric skateboard.
- Install the wheels with their bearings on the front truck.
- Organize the wiring toward the electronics compartment to prevent unnecessary friction.
- Check how well the ESC, battery, and wiring fit inside the electronics compartment (place the wires in a way that they won’t tangle and cause friction against another component).
- Remove the ESC, battery, and wiring after checking the fit.
- Drill holes based on how the charger port and power switch will be added.
- Cut the Velcro according to the battery’s structure.
- Put the softer section of the Velcro on the battery while the rough one should be for the enclosure.
- Place the battery again.
- Use strips of Velcro for the ESC before mounting it again.
- Test the security of the ESC and battery by turning the enclosure upside down.
- Install the power switch, charger port, and wiring.
- Install the wireless control receiver with a Velcro strip on the correct port.
- Check the ESC wires according to the instructions given with the product.
- Check the antenna of the receiver if it’s free from obstructions.
- If you need to install an adapter for Bluetooth, place Velcro as well for a more secure connection with an ESC port.
- Apply some hot glue on the charger port and the threads of the power switch to minimize vibrations.
- Connect the ESC and power switch wires.
- Connect the battery and charger wires.
- Install the battery meter according to the instructional manual it comes with.
- Place the electronics compartment on the deck (face up for a clearer view of the system).
- Connect some wires from one motor to the ESC through the connectors (should be connected to the opposite side of the motor).
- Repeat Step 1 for the other group of wires from the opposite side until an “X” is formed by the wiring systems.
- With the power system completely switched off, use the appropriate connectors to combine the battery and ESC.
- Switch the power on and check if the ESC lights turn green (another acceptable color is blue).
- If the lights remain off or turn red without changing to green, double-check how the wires are connected.
- Download a suitable computer program or mobile application for ESC configuration.
- Connect the software or app to the ESC either via Bluetooth or a USB cord (it’s all up to the extra components you installed).
- Turn the electric skateboard on.
- Check if the software or app is finally scanning the ESC.
- Wait for the motor’s noise signaling the start of the configuration process.
- Follow all the instructions of the configuration procedure.
- Input all the necessary information.
- After the configuration process, switch the power off.
- Use conduit to cover the “X” wiring and protect it from dirt and friction (you can proceed to waterproof electric skateboard components[How to Waterproof Your Electric Skateboard] to avoid removing the enclosure again).
- Double-check if the conduit and other electronic parts are secured with zip ties, tapes, or other fasteners.
- Finally install the electronics compartment underneath the deck.
- Charge the batteries of the electric skateboard and wireless control before testing the device for the first time.
What to Do After the DIY Process
Whether the rider is a pro skater or not, protective gear should be worn at all times during the first-ever test. DIY electric skateboards can be very faulty. Some of them can be perfectly functional one moment and then suddenly malfunction without warning.
It’s also crucial to observe regular maintenance with DIY e-skates. One can get away with minimal maintenance but only with high-quality electric skateboards from trustworthy brands. DIY units require maximum attention, especially if they’re built with unconventional methods and unusual materials or parts.
If the only reason you want to create an electric skateboard on your own is to save money, there’s a way to avoid spending a single cent. Try to join as many e-skate giveaway events[Electric Skateboard Giveaway Events] as you can for more opportunities to win.