Le-Sk8te - Foldable electric longboard

Electric foldable longboard for micro-mobility and commuting

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In a quest to find the ultimate solution for urban/peri-urban mobility to shorten (walking) trips between the appartment, the public transportation and wherever you're going in a convenient way, let's try to design a light-weight, compact electric foldable longboard.

It is composed of a high-quality 216Wh battery, 2 hub motors and a VESC drive system.

Measuring 43x22x21 cm and an acceptable 7.5kg when folded, it fits in any decent backpack and yet doesn't compromise performance with 12-15km range and 30km top speed on a 80cm board.

As an inhabitant of a big European city and a maker preoccupied with some environment-friendly thoughts, finding a convenient way of transportation turns out to be a heck of a conundrum.

Cars (electric or not) are doomed to decline as a commuting solution. Using a 80kW, 1.5 tons metal box to travel at an astonishing average speed of 20 km/h sounds like a environmental, energetical and economical non-sense !

Don't get me wrong, a car is useful for some purpose (weekly/monthly groceries, holidays... ) but I can't see how we could reasonably  hold on the current car culture in a world which is about to reach 8 billion inhabitants. Actually, did you know that the average commuting distance in Europe is less than 20 km for 80 % of all trips and less than 10 km for 60% of those?

Agily switching between trains, subways, buses, bikes and car-pooling should be the solution for a lot of us to overcome those 15 km. Even more : flexible and micro-mobilty can become a suitable, favorable and much more enjoyale solution than the fraught daily car commute.

Anyway, I apologize for those political/ecological consideration and didn't forget that urban-mobility has to remain fun, safe and efficient. So, in a frantic quest to find an ultimate solution to accelerate my (walking) trips between the house and the bus and then the subway to work, I've been exploring the best options between e-bike, e-scooter, e-roller blades and skates.

  • Electric roller-blades are probably the sexiest and lightest solution but they definitely represent a huge threat for your ankles (well at least I couldn't think of a solution to correctly secure your feet and calves which would adapt on any kind of shoes and outfit).
  • E-bike are fast ; but hard to secure when parked and difficult to fit in a car or a public transportation.
  • E-scooters are a better trade in terms of size and are furiously stable/easy to drive but still end up quite heavy/bulky when you have to hold of them in the urban maze that constitute the stairs, elevators and various obstacles of a transportation hub.

What does that leave us ? Well, electric skateboard and longboard are not a new thing ; and they couldn't boast being more than a compromise between the scooter and the roller blade (in terms of bulk/security ratio). One would also argue that you don't feel as safe on a skateboard than on a bike but you'll have to admit that overall stability/comfort/weight/bulk compromise is unrivalled.

Provided that you're endowed with a descent equilibrium, that we can find a reasonably stable board and wear a helmet; a compact 8kg contraption that could propel you at 20 km/h for a 15km range appears to me as the most reasonable concession. Throw in that you can also fold it to fit it in a backpack and you got a convincing solution.

Sooo, after those considerations ... shall begin the exiting journey of designing that thingamajig !

Let's sum up the bill of specifications:

  - 80Kg payload

  - 20 km/h top speed (let's say 18km/h nominal speed; which is 3 times the walking speed and the highest reasonable speed to safely alternate between roads, cycling lanes and pavements) 

 - 15km top range (to ensure more numerous cycles of your battery, I would bank-on 10km bi-daily and yet be able to do more on seldom occasions)

  - has to fit in a backpack for less than 8 kg

That leave us to choose the following components:

 - a foldable deck

 - ~210Wh battery (I know we could theoretically expect more range from such a battery, but the goal is once again to extend the battery to 2 years or more of lifetime and be able to tackle some slopes on the way). I designed a homemade battery that would fit in the constrained foldable case and use high-quality cells: 18650 Sony VCT6 3Ah cells.

- 500W worth of motor which I decided to be 2 x 250 W, 36V, 83mm hub motors for compacity and design sleekness.

- bldc motor drivers:...

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x-zip-compressed - 21.56 MB - 05/09/2020 at 21:48



Standard Tesselated Geometry - 2.32 MB - 05/09/2020 at 21:48



Standard Tesselated Geometry - 2.53 MB - 05/09/2020 at 21:48


BoM Le-Sk8te.ods

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  • First run - Performance feedback

    Lucas05/09/2020 at 22:11 0 comments

    Okay, so I tried the skate today for the first time in a heavy duty field trip.

    Soooooo cool :)

    As I was too excited to wait for the battery to completly charge,  I left with a 41.1v battery (~90%) and went for a dawn ride.

    I limited the max current to 15A per motor to avoid pulling too much on the battery. Well, it can sink in 60A according to the cells specs and 40A by calculating the nickel strip dimensions but those poor hub motors are probably not dimensionned to pull more. And whatever, this skate intends to be commute board ; not a drag machine ;)

    Anyway, the skate has still plenty of power. You can easily get unbalanced if you are not carefull at acceleration and braking. I've been able to tackle ~5% hills at 20km/h without being at full thottle.

    Put asside the 5 first minutes of madness and  some sporadic accelerations, I've tried to keep the trip at 18km/h average and stopped regularly to check if nothing got loose or too hot (which surprisingly didn't happen).

    According to the VESC mobile trip-meter, I drained about 3.5Ah (probaly under-estimated) and ESC's MOS temperature never exceeded 60°C.

    According to the VESC I drove for 17km and acording to the watch I drove for 12 km (much more likely) and finished with a battery at 35v (~30% ?) ; it is to be noted that at that stage a strong 30A acceleration was pulling down the voltage dangerously close to 31V. 

    To put in a nutshell, I'd estimate 60-70% battery drain for 12km at 16km/h.

    I'am quite satisfied of the performances of the skate, its beahavior is sane and enjoyable for a little urban mobility device. Brake is suprisingly strong and medium slopes are not an issue for him.

    The range is not astounding but if you restrain yourself at a 15-18 km/h pace I believe you can confidently reach 15km on a full charge. (Although I wouldn't recommand pusshing that much strain on the battery daily if you plan to put more numerous cycles on the battery lifetime.

    To confirm those figures, I will try other rides in the coming weeks and use it to commute to work (if this covid-19 quarantine ever stops) but I am now confident on a reliable 10km daily commute.

    Goal achieved ?

View project log

  • 1
    Building the battery

    As the battery is defintely the most important component of an electric transportation medium, I wanted to create my own to use high end materials and keep the cost low. With 20 Sony VTC6  cells  and a BMS you can have a 200Wh (10S2P) batery for just over 105$ !

    You will need a spot welder like this one or simply solder copper wires with a soldering iron.

    You'll find on internet plenty of videos to build you own lithium battery so I will simply focus on the specifics of the shape here to have a battery that fits our case for a foldable board.

    The battery and its BMS will have the following pattern to fit with the casing :

    I would recommand to sold the batteries 2by2 in parallel (as this battery will be a 10S 2P)
    Then assemble the 10 bi-cells together. I used 3 layers of 7mmx0.15 nickel strip but 10mmx0.15 strips would be even better for 0 heating of the connections.

    And finally solder the power cable as weel as the balancing wires :

    Here we are with a high-end custome shaped battery ! :)

    I've padded it with some plastic cushion and electric tape ; I'am waiting to receive a battery sleeve heatshrink to hide all this mess in a more professionnal looking packaging ;)

  • 2
    Assembling the skate

    Most of the components are available on the shelf with the link provided in the build list.

    You will also have to print the case and its cover (I printed it on Cura, with support, 20% infill). Black and white for the style...unfortunately, the chinees ebay retailer for the wheel choosed to send me the wrong tyre color for the idle wheel... The printable file and orignals are available in the files folder.

    You've gathered all the components from the BoM ? So they should look like that (with a little bit of soldering work). Ready for the assembly ?

    Next step will be to mount the case on the deck. Feel free to drill 6 holes according to the cover pattern and add a spotface for the countersunk head screws.

    Mount the case as well as the charging plug and power button.

    Vibrations are nasty on sketoboards so use self-locking nuts!!

    Finally mount the trucks and the hub motors.
  • 3
    Stuff in the electronics

    The case dimensions are not fully optimized, to gibe some slack on the wiring and allow some heat sink. So feel free to pad with cushion here and there and snug in the electrnics.

    You can then configure your VESCs. Here are my motor parameters :

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