Building a Lightning Powered Murder Board – Part 1

So, you want to build an electric skateboard, aka Lightning Powered Murder board.  First, you’re a crazy nutter and need professional help, but so do I so it’s all good.  Secondly, you will fall, you will scrape your tender little knees and hands so get a damned helmet and some pads or I will personally slur your name and talk about your mother, in public, in a very loud voice, more than once.  Plan for the fall, not the ride.  Is that clear?  Good, let’s go.

I have been building these beasts for around 3 years now.  I’ve built or rebuilt around 40 boards, I don’t keep count anymore so I don’t have to face the truth of how much money and time I’ve spent doing this crazy ass shit. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had and I have no plans to stop.  It’s also the most frustrating, occasionally unrewarding, pain in the ass experience I’ve ever had. 

Why do I do it?  That answer is pretty complicated, would require a psychologist, and take more time than I want to spend spoon feeding n00bs on the method and practices of building an esk8.

Most people go the DIY route for 1 of 2 reasons.  They want more performance than a pre-built will offer or they want to save money.  If you’re the former you’re in the right place, although crazy and likely to suffer brain damage and have way more fun than you deserve.  If you’re the later, then you are sadly mistaken.

Increased Performance

If this is you, then you can make/build/assemble a board that will rocket you out of your brand-new vans.  It won’t be cheap, it won’t be easy. It will instead be epic.  So get your tools ready, your credit/debit card in your hand and get ready to go in debt, skin your knuckles, drive your significant other to drinking and/or medication and lose all control of your time.  I’m right here with you.

Save Money

If this is you, pack your stuff and head back to Amazon, you absolutely will NOT save money.  This thing is addictive!  Very few people build one board.  Hell, most folks build three or four or more and are constantly rebuilding and changing hardware…that costs money.  Sorry to crush your dreams, just the facts ma’am.

OK, now that those 2 issues are out of the way let’s talk about gear.  Here’s what you’re going to need, I made you a list…

Skate/Longboard:  
    deck, trucks, wheels, bearings, risers
Mechanical: 
    motor mounts, motor pulleys, wheel pulleys, belts
Electrical:  
    ESCs, motors, remote, enclosure, battery (with switch, voltmeter, and a charge port)

Let me be very clear on this: this is not a comprehensive list. You will need more shit.

Yes, I yelled that.  I want to be sure you understand.  You will need tools you don’t have, fasteners, threaded inserts, zip ties, double stick tape, nuts and bolts, etc.  You will likely spend as much on extraneous bullshit as you do on the board itself, but you’ll have enough to do a couple more boards. That’s awesome right?  So get ready.

There are many many options available to you in decks, trucks, wheels, batteries, and pretty much everything else. I’m not telling you that my suggestions are the best. ‘Best’ is entirely subjective. What I am telling you is that the gear I suggest to you will work, has been proven reliable by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of builds and it is readily available. I am simply trying to get you on the asphalt.

I have broken the hardware list down into 3 sections.  Skate/Longboard is the first, it’s the traditional hardware you find on almost all skateboards or longboards.  Mechanical is the pulleys and belts and other pieces you need to make your board go once powered.  Electrical is the components you need to power your board and control that power. After all of that is complete I will walk you through the assembly and testing of your new esk8.

Gear List > Section 01 – Skate/Longboard

Deck

If you have skated before you likely know what kind of deck you want. If you have skated 27 inch double kicks in the pool, forget it. You can make an electric skateboard with one of these decks but it’ll be crap, you wont like it, it won’t go fast or you’ll hurt yourself trying. Get a longboard, preferably a drop deck of 36 inches or more, as they are more comfortable and easier to skate while you learn what’s going on. If you want something else, whatever, I’m not judging, just remember I told you.

Any Red Ember deck, Landyachtz Evo will work for pneumatic wheels or urethane wheels. Landyachtz makes a ton of decks that are great for urethane wheels. The Landyachtz Top Speed is one of my favorites, but they are hard to find. Arbor Moonshine (check out the Rum Runner) make some really nice decks as well. You can use almost any deck for urethane as long as you can control wheel bite with wells, risers, etc. Sometimes you just have to experiment, but you can safely use the above listed decks with the build process I outline.

Trucks

A good truck to start with if you want to go the traditional route is Caliber 2 10/50’s or the Caliber E 184mm 50 degree Truck with 47mm Extended Axles. They are solid & cheap and there are plenty of mounts to choose from. They are NOT performance or precision trucks, but you can skate the hell out of them.

I think the best trucks for esk8 are Surf Rodz TKP’s (177mm) or RKP’s (200mm), depending on what you want to d0 (just my opinion). TKP’s are for carving but don’t go as fast as RKP’s without wobble. RKP’s are for speed, but do not carve as well or have the turning radius of TKP’s. This is true of almost all trucks.

Wheels

Now that you have a deck, you need to decide on wheels. Do you want urethane or pneumatic wheels, big wheels or small wheels, ABEC or Kegel core, etc. There are so many wheels available that I can’t even begin to try them all. I will make some suggestions based on what I have tried. First, I want to caution you against cheap clones. Some are actually ok, but most are junk. The junk ones can fall apart, fail to fit your pulley(s), make your board unbalanced, etc. Just get decent wheels and avoid the hassle.

ABEC Flywheels in 74/76a, 90mm or bigger are a great place to start. Ollin Popocas are another example of a great wheel. I haven’t used them yet (I have a set on the bench), but I hear from lots of sources that Boa Wheels are ‘the shit’ . If you want pneumatic wheels, save yourself a lot of time and wasted money and get Psychotiller 6 Shooters. They are hands down the best pneumatic wheels for esk8 that there ever were or will be. 

The last thing I’ll say about wheels: save the experimentation for your second build. I’m just trying to get you on the road for now.  Make sure the wheels will fit the deck you chose, or go get another deck. You have to be careful of wheel bite unless you like to be launched at high speeds while in a turn. I don’t, that shit hurts.

Bearings

You have to have them, you will wear them out, they are a pain in the ass to clean. If you don’t have a lot of skate experience do yourself the favor of buying some Zealous (or equivalent) bearings so you don’t have to worry about spacers and deformed wheel cores. If you want to find your own bearings then make sure you get at least ABEC 7 rated bearings and get spacers and speed rings as well.

Risers and shock pads

Sometimes you need risers, sometimes you don’t…I always want them even its nothing more than a 2mm rubber riser. They are cheap so don’t let the lack of them keep from riding. Get you some ¼ inch or 4-6mm rubber shock pads and risers. That’s not a mistake, get both, you will need both if your building multiple boards or want to experiment.

Sometimes you’re fighting wheel bite but you don’t want the slop you can get from shock pads, so you use hard risers. Sometimes you’re trying to kill road vibrations so you need shock pads. Just get them, its 10 bucks total and you will eventually use them or give them to your homie because he needs some.

This is the end of part one, part two will pick up here in a week or so. If you have questions please throw them at me on the esk8.news forum. I’m happy to help.

Mike Maner

Mike is a systems/communications engineer and a dad to 4 kids as well as being a member and forum leader of the electric skateboard building community.Mike is NOT a traitor, screw a damn unicycle!*shakes head in confusion at Damon thinking "why man, just why?"

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