Hoverboards are, of course, interesting devices, but as we saw during last year’s craze, they do have their disadvantages. Potential fire, is of course, one negative, but those of us that grew up riding skateboards might be a bit apprehensive to get on something so inherently unstable.
On the other hand, as shown in this teardown post, if you’re willing to take one apart, they can yield a huge bounty of useful parts. After seeing Tim Giles’ mountainboard in action, perhaps it’s time to take a new look at what you can do with these!
His electric board is made from the wheels/motors from a broken hoverboard, along with it’s powerful battery. The good news is that he was able to purchase it for $40 and reuse just the parts he needed. The most expensive part of this build by far was the mountainboard itself, an MBS Atom 95x, which he got for $180. Perhaps you could make your own deck, but that board does come with a hand brake assembly, which would be very convenient for something like this, both as a brake and adding an integrated speed controller.
Though he initially tried to use the hoverboard’s control circuitry based on this writeup, he wasn’t able to bypass the control loop that attempts to make the board balance. This led to unsafe conditions, so the control scheme that he ended up was actually pretty simple, using an e-bike speed controller as the throttle.
Modifying The Trucks
Probably the biggest challenge of this build was adapting the hoverboard wheels to work with the MBS Matrix Trucks that he purchased for this purpose. As you might suspect, the inner rods that normally plug into the wheels to attach everything are connected very tightly. He reports that they are some sort of steel shafts pressed into the aluminum truck.
This seemed like it’d be an easy job at first, since there is a set screw on each shaft. After removal, however the shafts didn’t come out easily. He then tried using a torch on them, then using a spacer to install a nut and force it out, which stripped the threads after about 1/4 inch of movement. After nearly giving up, he realized that this shaft was knurled on the last 3/4 of an inch, which had caught on his spacer.
His solution was to just cut off the last bit of the trucks to release everything, which wasn’t important to his build. It was then a matter of inserting the hoverboard wheel axles in place, which meant drilling this out to 16mm. Apparently this is kind of a strange size, as Giles had to custom order a bit, but after he got everything properly drilled, the shafts fit well and he was able to lock them down with set screws.
Finish and Ride!
With those essential pieces in place, there were a few more brackets and such that he needed to complete his board, including replacing his non-hoverboard tires with something better suited to road use. He also put additional holes in his trucks to allow the wheel wiring to go through. After he got these details into place, Giles was ready to try it out, and has ridden about 75 miles with it. For reference, Giles weighs 180 pounds, and he notes that he can go about 11 miles per hour with a 4 mile range.
He puts the project cost at around $350, with a build time of about a month from when he came up with the concept to completion.
As seen in the video, he’s been riding it around Tampa, which looks like a lot of fun, especially since the weather is finally getting moderately cool here, in the same metro area where I live.
I was curious as to how law enforcement would handle a vehicle that doesn’t neatly fit into a vehicle that should be on the sidewalk or on the road. Giles reports that he hasn’t had any issue, but always wears a helmet and tries to be respectful to others. He reports that he has, “Been stopped by 2 police officers in downtown Tampa at cross walks who complimented my board and were interested to hear where i got it. That was pretty cool.”
Now that Giles has overcome the problem with shaft removal/truck modification, he encourages other would-be builders to, “Go for it! It was a really fun experience building, and even more fun riding it. I haven’t met a person yet who wasn’t interested to hear about how I made it.”