Budget $250 campus cruiser build

This is my first board build. For my first board I want to stay in low budget, because I think that I will make lot of mistakes and will gain knowledge that I can later apply to more expensive build.

My budget should be around $250, maximum at $300. I’m located in Europe, there aren’t cheap parts locally, so I will be buying most of the parts from aliexpress. I don’t count tools, 3d prints, chargers, some misc that I already have available.

My board will be used to getting around campus or city faster, etc. I won’t be riding long and fast trails.

Requirements:

  • cruising speed 18km/h

  • travel distance 8km

  • low budget around $250

  • able to do sharp turns

Deck [$17]

Firstly I wanted to buy second hand nickelboard, but I wasn’t able to buy it cheaply enough. Decks sold locally either don’t suit my needs or they are crazy expensive. Found this cheap 27 inch deck on aliexpress and it looks like exactly what I wanted. I don’t want longboard since that won’t be able to turn as sharp and will be harder to carry in hands.

Trucks and wheels [$46]

I’m total noob here, I picket what I randomly stumbled upon and liked. I picked the third trucks option, they seem to be similar to Caliber II. There are only 7 inch trucks, but it should be fine for smaller board. I wanted biggest wheels possible, so I picked these 83mm ones. I don’t think that my setup would be able to handle bigger wheels.

Motor [$44]

I have good experience with Racerstar quadcopter motors, so this was my choise. Was also thinking about Flipsky, this this motor is cheaper. Will be running it in single motor setup. Haven’t decided on gearing ratio yet, I will most likely try multiple ratios.

Motor controller [$56]

VESC seems to be popular here and it looks to be better option than RC car ESC or that cheap skateboard ESC that is commonly used here. At $56 I hope it will not break after few weeks of use.

Battery [$60]

I will rather buy complete lipo pack than to build my own 18650 pack since I don’t have the skill. Having only 6 cells is not much, but it should work. Downside of the battery is that it is 45mm high and I’m afraid about the ground clearance.

Remote [$20]

The best choice without thinking, cheap, powerful and diy.

Drive train and enclosures [$0]

Will be 3d printing them. Motor mount and gears will be from thingiverse and enclosure will be my own design. Will update later.

Misc [$10]

cables, connectors, bolts, nuts, etc.

3 Likes

Overall not a bad set of parts. reasonable expectations for the price. Though I think youll find yourself closer to 350 and be a bit happier. and for that price, you should look into prebuilts from China if all you want is a cruiser.
You’re not really getting much more performance at this price. DIY is more about customization and performance than budgeting.

2x 3s should fix that
or 2x4 even, Dont go above 10s with that ESC.
Im using 2 x 4s at 10Ah batteries (they were free from my school) in an enervation enclosure.

See if you can find a Jet Spud? Haven’t seen anyone build a board on this deck. You might have a hard time finding enclosures. I suggest Kydex for a custom form in that case, cheap and very good. Just takes time since you need to do it yourself. Im actually building a Spud 29" with very similar specs.

If you manage to build one for $20 , Ill buy another off you for $40. Seriously, in need of a remote, want to build this one, just haven’t found the time yet.

This one is dangerous. Drive train is the most vital component really. When it fails, all else fails. You won’t be blowing up hills with this setup. So you may actually be ok. I’d love to see what you come up with

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Starting at $300

Basically your build/specs, no assembly required

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Lot of new and useful information in your reply, thanks.

Why is that? Are there problems with it?

WOW. I just fell in love with this deck. I lurked on the other forum for some time, but I haven’t heard about it yet. That board is perfect. I think that I will stick to that cheap 27 inch board for now, but for my next build it’s highly possible that I will go for Jet Spud.

I will design and 3D print my own enclosure so that shouldn’t be a problem. I might consider Kydex in the future. I have no experience with it yet, but I know that stuff is hard, my brother has some Kydex handgun holsters and it’s amazing material. I didn’t know you can make it at home without some professional equipment. I will look into that.

I can post here part list tomorrow it should be around that price, bought parts at aliexpress.

I’m only considering 3D printed drive train since it’s low power build, won’t drive it on hills either.

SolidGeed designed good motor mount, there is remix for it for 50mm motors Electric skateboard motor mount - Caliber trucks by SolidGeek - Thingiverse

And of course pulleys will be from JuniorPotato93 Longboard ABEC 11 Flywheels - Flywheel Clones - MBS All Terrain Wheels - CNC 40T Single Piece Pulley for 9mm, 12mm, 15mm Belts by JuniorPotato93 - Thingiverse

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Yeah, pretty similar. But shipping it to the Europe would be expensive. Also making board myself will be more fun.

I have a build with drivetrain, same motor, same esc, jet Spud 29" and e**tion enclosure. All partially assembled. I wonder would shipping would be from CA to you.

I’ll reply in length after my workout

You should listen to the advice and get @Boardnamics mount or @dickyho mount. They are both solid options and cheap.
For enclosure, go search IKEA for plant/cutlery tray or 3d print or get from @BigBen . He also has some @BuildKitBoards Taytos, that’s a Spud with a tail.

3 Likes

Yeah, they use cheaper components that are much closer to the tolerances. So in short. yes everything is theoretically rated for 12s, but under certain transient (brief time) periods, voltages can swing over their ratings. THis has to do with something called ringing due to capacitance and inductance. for example: a 10s battery may ring up to 12s (thats fine cause everything is rated for 12s) . a 12s battery may ring up to 15s (im making these numbers up to get the idea across). and 15 s will kill the VESC unless its made with more high quality components (See focbox single)

Buy it nice or buy it twice :man_shrugging::

:pray:

:pray: :pray:

Grozniy is a good guy but I was told this when I started and I didnt listen. Bought it twice, built it nice. I survived. If youre in it to build it then yeah might as well make your own experience.

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Trucks and wheels arrived yesterday. I ordered these variant C and black 83mm wheels

Keep in mind that I’m noob when it comes to boards, but I will give you my first impression.

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Trucks
I picked them because they seemed to be similar to the popular Caliber II. I just picked original Caliber II 44 184mm version, so I can give you little comparison. Aliexpress ones are black and originals are midnight green.

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Ali trucks are little bit shorter, they are 178mm. Not much of a difference here.

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To my surprise, ali trucks are a lighter, 441g compared to 470g Calibers. However they are more bulkier. There is more material in the base and hangers are thicker. I assume this is because less quality metal was used.

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Here you can see that hangers are thicker. Dimensions are 18.3x19mm compared to 17x19mm Calibers. This means that motor mounts made for Calibers won’t fit.


I will be 3D printing this motor mount, which was originaly designed by SolidGeek for 63XX motors and then remixed by gustaffjaestad for 50XX motors. I will have to remix the mounting to fit my trucks.

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Axles are same. On ali trucks threading is a bit dirty and the nut is hard to turn.

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Bushings are way more stiffer than on Calibers. I can bend Calibers in my hands, but not ali trucks, not even little bit. How will it perform while riding? I have no idea. But I think that bad bushings should be easily replaceable.

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Wheels
They are ABEC11 Flywheel 83mm clones. Clones has already been disgusted a lot, they perform worse, but are significantly cheaper.

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Weight is 214g per one wheel. Duro seem to be really hard.

First impression
This bundle of wheels and trucks costs only $45, it doesn’t seem to be total garbage and I’m sure it will be rideable. Calibers and ABEC11 would cost significantly more and I think that this is a part where you can save most of the money. Sure the quality and performance won’t be as good, but for someone who is building budged board that is expected to go only low speeds I’m sure it will be fine. I will be building another board with better better components later, so I will be able to compare.

Thanks for the advice, I bought the Boardnamics mount you tagged me, but it will be used for my second build.

IKEA plant tray looks promising, I might pick one just for fun. But I will be designing my own 3D printed enclosure. I will use PETG and foam padding.

How’s the build going? Keep us posted as i want to build a board just like this one

1 Like

Welcome to the forum, it’s so cool that you are following my build, thanks. Lot of parts had arrived, actually I think I have everything for the board, what I’m missing are the parts for Firefly remote.
I’m busy now working on one project for the school, but I should finish it in following days. My plan is to start working on this esk8 this weekend and hopefully have it working next week, so I will post some updates. Today or tomorrow I will try to post first impressions of the parts that I have.

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More parts had arrived, here’s little overview.

Battery

I ordered ZOP 6S 8000mAh. ZOP brand is known for lower C-rating, so I wouldn’t trust what’s written on the packaging. I ordered two pieces, but for this build I will use only one and later upgrade to two.

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Batteries have nice form factor, they are only 42mm wide, 48mm tall and 184mm long. There are the flattest 6S 8000mah I found. The length is a bit downside, especially with deck like mine where you don’t have lot of space between trucks.

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Weight is 913g, it is lighter than other batteries in this size, so that is a great indicator that this battery is not rated for 30C. Haven’t tested the capacity yet, they should have 8000mah as other users report.

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Unfortunatelly, one of my batteries arrived damaged. Or better said it’s not damaged, but the cell is bend. I will dispose it since I don’t want to risk fire and I will ask for refund from banggood. The package where this lipo was shipped was weak, only protected with one roll of bubble wrap.

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Motor controller

Going with cheap Flipsky VESC 4.12, you can get it as low as $43 during a sale on aliexpress. Not much to say here, this VESC is widely used here. One thing that I find strange is that there are no holes in the heat shrink for the connectors, but it’s not a problem to cut them myself.

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No connectors solderes on battery side and motor side.

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Weight is 84g.

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Motor

Again, not much to say here yet.

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I will test it’s performance once the board is finished. I’m not sure about the gearing ratio yet, I kinda want to use 15-36, but might consider gearing it for higher torque.

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Cables are wrapped and well protected. It has mt30 connector that I will be replacing for 4mm banana connectors.

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Weight is 481g, lighter than 63XX motors.

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Deck


The deck is really hard, it has almost no flex, which is great for my esk8 since I won’t damage components underneath. I tried standing on it and jumping on it a little, it’s sturdy enough. For the speeds up to 25km/h I see no problem with it.

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It kinda looks like wooden version of Penny Nickel 27 inch board, but can’t directly compare them.

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Overall length is around 69cm or 27,15inches.It’s one of the shorter boards you see here.

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Widest part has around 18cm.

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Distance between the trucks is 32cm, which won’t be enough to fit all the electronics including motor from the inner side.

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I tried to move the trucks, truck distance expanded to 39cm, this should be enough to fit my components. I want to ask if it is fine to drill new holes and move the trucks wider than they were originally meant to be.

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Deck weight is 663g.

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Misc

Some other parts arriving as well.

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I ordered two kinds of bearings, booth were cheap since I got recommendation to buy cheap bearing and replace them more often.

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First type, the purple ones, are ABEC9 high performance. They are spinning freerly which indicates that they won’t most likely be lubed up.

Other ones are even cheaper, there are rated ABEC5, but they have double shielding, so they should last longer.

Ordered 15mm 270mm and 295mm belts. Hopefully one of them will fit.


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And some screws from local hardware store.
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Moving the trucks and new holes is fiiiiiiine. It’ll even prevent wheel bite.
The only reason you’re not using 2x6s is because one is damaged?

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I plan to use only one 6S first since this is budget build. I want to try it out, upgrade later and compare. I’m building this board primary for gaining experience. I will upgrade it to two batteries later and at the end of the summer I will build another more expensive dual motor board.

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Little update.
I drilled new holes using the tool I designed. It allows you to shift your old holes and mark where to drill new ones.

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I shifted my old holes for 38.25mm, booth front and back to make the wheelbase wider.
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I mounted the trucks, wheels, bearings, griptape. So far I have made rideable skateboard, but it has no electric parts.

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I have never ridden a skateboard before so I decided to spend some days to learn basics or riding. . Managing balance on the board is not that hard how I have imagined. What I have noticed that road surface matters a lot. Before I didn’t pay much attention to the asphalt, but grainy asphalt and smooth asphalt makes huge difference. I’m bit slow at the moment, but I will get there. I’m no expert, but bushing seem to suck.

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I used 8mm spacers, there is no wheelbite at all. I could have gone with smaller spacers, but once enclosure is mounted, it will be sticking out a lot so I will keep them there.

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I started designing my own 3d printed enclosure and motor mounts, will post more about that tomorrow or the day after.

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3D Printed parts update

I have been trying out different designs from various members of esk8 community and also I have been designing my own.

Wheel pulleys

JuniorPotato93 did a really good job designing wheel pulleys for ABEC11 style wheels, I will use his design without modifications.

I just can’t decide between 36 and 40 teeth version. I would rather have 40 teeth to compensate for lower torque of my motor, but it seem to be quite big for my my 83mm wheels.

Here is 40 teeth version. I printed 9mm version to save some fillament, but I will use 15mm in final build.

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And here is 36 teeth 15mm version.

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Booth pulleys were printed from old PLA just for fitting purposes, but in the end I will reprint them from PETG. Pulleys are strong enough even now, so I have no worries using them in final build.

Motor pulleys

I will use 12 teeth pulleys. Original plan was to 3D print these as well. I tested deakbannok’s design.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be strong enough. I mean he did a good job designing it, it is just problematic to 3d print part like this. I used PETG and printed it slowly with higher temperature so it’s more sturdier. I used 3mm screw to attach it to the motor shaft and then used pliers to test how much force it can withstand. It didn’t do well in the test. I will try to reprint them differently and see how it goes. For now I may use them, but I will order metal pullies as well.

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Motor mount

SolidGeek designed good motor mount, but it is made for 63XX motors.

gustaffjaestad made similar mounts for 50XX motors.

I printed boot of these, but I found out that my Racerstar BR5065 motor has unique mounting holes and it doesn’t fit any of these. And originally I tought that none of these will fit my trucks, but once I printed them I must say that they fits well on my trucks despite there is few mm difference from original Calibers.

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I decided to design my own motor mounts that will be inspired from previous two designs. My design will have truck mount directly attached to it, so I won’t be able to change the angle once it’s printed. But I think it will be more sturdy this way. I also decided to add cover for the motor, similar to SolidGeek’s one, but mine will be attached to the mount as well.

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I made a testing print that is only one tenth of the height to test if angle is right, if trucks fits and if motor fits. All of these tests passed.

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This part is not finished yet, I have few more things to test and problems to solve.

For attaching it to the truck I plan to use two bolts that will screw on nuts inserted into the print. I haven’t tested this ye, I need full print for this.

Also I’m routing the cables from the top, but I think that I will have to rather rout them to the back so they don’t collide with the deck.

And I may add motor pulley cover. This one won’t be able to be part of the mount so it will have to be printed separately and attached later with bolts.

Mount will be printed from PETG.

Battery enclosure

I have no other option here than to design my own. The battery will be parmanently attached to the board. Cables will be sticking out of the enclosure and they will be put into small openable plastic container where they will be connected to the VESC. Here I will be able to disconnect it and connect the charger. I may put the xt90 loop key here as well if it fits. Enclosure will be printed from PETG, that’s my favorite material.

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Enclosure will be made out of two parts. The main part and the cover.

Main part does have a hole from the deck side. It will be attached with 6 M5 bolts. Between the enclosure and the deck I will put either 1mm or 3mm foam. There will be also 3mm foam around whole battery. Front and back walls are 4.5mm thick, the front wall has some cutouts for cables. Side walls are 8mm thick and reinforced with triangle thingies so I’m not worried that about strength of the sides.

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The cover is 4mm thick in the middle and 2mm thick on the sides. It will be attached with 12 M4 screws. I’m not sure about the strength of it, but hopefully it will hold well. I may redesign it.

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VESC enclosure

Haven’t worked on this yet. There is good design from Montiey available. I may use his design or make something similar myself.

Component fitting

I tried to estimate how I will fit my components on the board. After I widen the trucks I have 40cm of space to work with. Battery will be in the front followed by small plastic box for charging. VESC will have to be mounted on the side.

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I’m missing parts for the Firefly remote, it takes ages for them to arrive from China. Also I forgot about motor bolts. In the meanwhile I will try to finish my 3D printed components and hopefully I will get somewhere following week. I will spend lot of time printing since battery enclosure will take around 16 hours to print and motor mount will take 8 hours. And most likely I will find bugs in my designs so I may need to print them more than once. That’s a lot of printing time, so next update will not come soon.

5 Likes

The board is finished now, I have been riding on it for like two weeks or so, here’s the update.

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3D printed parts

Finished designs, uploaded everything on thingiverse. I ended up remodeling every part.

It’s printed in one piece, battery is not removable. Walls are only 2mm thick, but it’s strong enough unless it takes direct hit, which should not happen on the road.

Same thing, one piece, 2mm walls.

I made motor pulley for racerstar 5065 motor, but after many many tests I came to a conclusion that it’s no way reliable. I bought normal 15T metal pulley.

Designed my own motor mount. Two versions available, with and without cover. With cover it has less flex and it’s stronger. I learned a lot about the strength of 3d printed parts here. I had few of these mounts fail on me, but to my surprise, they didn’t fail where the motor bolds are and the part is thinnest, they failed at thick points. Vibrations of esk8 caused the plastic to fail, not some strong hit.

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After some tweeking, printing at higher temperatures and covering with rubbery glue I got mounth that does not fail anymore, or at least it has almost 100km on it without cracks. It’s possible to print it, but actually I wouldn’t recommend it, because you will have anxiety that it’s gonna fail at some point. I still carry spare mount with me on every longer ride.

Build

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Here is how I mounted the components. Black box is receiver, white is vesc and green is lipo.

I’m not using xt90 antispark key at the moment, because I have accidentally spilled supper glue on only pair I had. But I will add one very soon.

Performance

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To my surprise it’s performing very well. Top speed is 24km/h, not that fast, probably due to lower voltage, but it’s faster than majority of cyclist. Range is what surprise me. My record is 23,0km and I used 7,20Ah of the battery, so it can go bit further. This was done at smooth road with no wind. Usable range in the city should be at least 14km.

The deck is a bit uncomfortable, it’s small so you can’t have good stance on it and also it’s less wide than feet. After long ride my feet gets uncomfortable.

Wheels are fine for good roads. Trucks are ok as well, would recommend.

What I don’t recommend is lipo battery ZOP Power 6S 8000mAh 30C. I was so frustrated due to these batteries. I have 3pcs in total. One is kinda working, other one arrived damaged. Third one arrived damaged as well. It’s shipped only in thin cardboard box without any foam or bubble wrap. Third time I even told Banggood stuff to use extra packaging, they didn’t. So two out of three batteries were DOA. One that is working is also sketchy. It has the capacity, but it’s self discharging fast. Also cells are getting unbalanced. Once the winter comes, I’m getting rid of it.

Conclusion

Cheap boards are definitely possible to build and they will perform well. It’s faster than cycling, has ok range, why not.

I originally wanted to use this for getting around the campus, this board would be good for it with some more tweaking, but my plans had changed. Firstly I got caught up in esk8ting and secondly I will have to commute greater distance to school since I didn’t get dormitory this semester. That means another build is coming, this one will be more serious, every part will be replaced except vesc.

Do I regret building this board? No, it was great learning platform, I didn’t know anything about skating before. Learned how to build skate, how it feels, what’s the difference between cheap and good skating parts. Learned how to setup vesc, what features it has, what can I expect from it.

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Damn dude, this is amazing. I know we dont get a lot of budget builds on here, but if anyone ever asks again. Im sending them here.

Do you know your final cost? Without the cost of a 3D printer?

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I got some listed parts cheaper, because I ordered them during sale, but I bought some stuff I didn’t need so I overpaid it. But if building it second time, I would be able to hit $250 budget. But it’s only estimation, I lost track of prices.

Was able to get something for cheaper, for example Flipsky VESC for only $43, I bought multiple of them. But I overpaid a lot on lipo, since two out of thee were damaged, for one I got partial refund, for other I got nothing, lot of money went to nothing here.

I also used almost 2kg of filament for printing prototypes, it cost 20euros per kg. I wouldn’t need that much if I didn’t design my own parts.


I think that these low cost builds are still worth to build. I’m faster than majority of cyclists, it is actually useful for getting around small city.

I won’t be using it for cruising around campus, since I didn’t get dorm this year and will need to commute greater distance. That means I will be getting higher end board.

Covering motor mount with rubber glue helped a lot. I rode more than 150km on it and it doesn’t crack anymore, even did rough streets with it.

But what happened is that my battery mount cracked. It was my fault, because I threw the esk8 hard on the ground several times. But still it failed.

I didn’t printed new one, since I’m building new esk8 and don’t think this one is worth spending more time on. I just put duck tape and zip ties over it. It works, so whatever. Just grip suck.

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I had my first fall two days ago. I can say that this thing is powerful enough to hurt. Was going full speed 25km/h during night. My flashlight stopped working, but I still decided to ride. There was pothole hiding in shadow I didn’t see. I scraped booth knees, elbows, side of pelvis and hurt my elbow. I was wearing helmet, but I see that I should buy other protective gear as well.

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