Friends. Acquaintances. Creepy lurkers. NSA agents. That one guy I wont speak to anymore (he knows what he did). It is I, The Duck. Seems that we have had a couple folks in the last few weeks with the same idea, and here I am as well.
Officially announcing my battery building services to the public.
Wait, who? 🤷♂️
Now I know what some of you must be thinking. “While this aquatic bird is devilishly handsome, I dont for the life of me know who he is.” So let me tell you.
I am a 20-something dude living in Portland, OR (97220, get at me) who has a passion for esk8 and PEV’s of any flavor. Ive been esk8ing for well over a year, building for 11 months, and making batteries for myself and friends for 8 months. Im also a member of the DRI cuddle puddle, and I am the lead (read: “only”) battery builder for the official DRI PCB Batteries (available now )
My passion for building esk8 matches or even surpasses my passion for riding them, and building batteries is one of the most fun and rewarding things for me. Because of that, I have quit my day job to pursue esk8 and PEV’s full time. What that means for me is likely financial ruin. But what it means for you is (hopefully) faster turn around times than someone who does this as a side gig. If you’re interested in hearing more about my personal journey and what led me to this arguably terrible financial decision, check out the “Backstory” section below.
Backstory (⚠️Warning: Long⚠️)
When I hit the scene September of '19, I never expected I would be making a post like this. Then again, I also never expected that I would have learned so much in such little time, or that I would have met such great friends both in person and through the interwebs.
Eleven months ago I was working a dead-end, soul-sucking job as a telemarketer that put just enough cash in my pocket that I was able to pursue this absolute money-pit of a hobby (hobby, life-style, totally valid form of transportation, mini-van replacement for a soccer mom, whatever). At the time I was on my 3rd esk8, a Backfire Ranger X2, and I was riding it to and from work Monday through Friday, rain or shine (and here in Portland Oregon, it was mostly rain). I love that thing and I still have it, but when I found Esk8.News I started to dream of more.
Cue an 80’s style montage of reading, learning, and planning. Before that September I read ebooks in my spare time. Now all I read was the forum. I tore through the entire Noob Question thread (over 6000 posts at that time), dug into every build thread and tutorial I could get my hands on, ate up all the excellent (if, in some cases, outdated) articles on Esk8.News, and settled on some parts that I felt proud of. No cutting corners (since my life will be on the line), no buying cheap electronics (since I would end up spending more replacing them anyway), and went all out on a total beast machine.
Or so I thought. With the benefit of hindsight (now knowing what a true monster esk8 looks like) my aspirations look tame.
At the time, battery building scared the crap out of me. Its dangerous, requires expensive equipment and materials, and there are a million fiddly little things that have to be done to get it right and not make a time-bomb. 11-months-ago-Benjamin said “No thanks” and opted for remixed N.E.S.E. packs. This seemed like a smart, simple solution at the time, but it turned out to be the mistake that put me on a path to where I am right now, making this post.
The battery I built turned out big. Too big. WAY too big. When I finsihed it I was so excited it worked that I didnt actually think through how “too big” it actually was. This blunder doomed that first build of mine to be dismantled in several months, once I actually had to accpet the truth of my error. It still sits, dismantled, in my workshop, waiting to be born again (thoon).
What that taught me is that there is a place for N.E.S.E. packs, but if you want to stuff your enclosure asshole-to-elbows with kickass you will be losing a lot of volume to plastic. It also taught me the importance of planning ahead, and building your electronics to suit your enclosure instead of the other way around. This is when I began reading the Battery Builder thread, and started shopping for a spot welder.
I read through that thread and soaked up as many of the best-practice tips and safety measures I could. “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right,” I told myself. I ordered a Malectrics welder and some pure nickel, and decided to start small for my first pack. I made a 10s1p p42a as a replacement for the trash LiPo in my TeamGee H5 (I know, I know. It was my first esk8, give me a break). It turned out pretty well, especially for my first pack, and Im confident its safe.
Safety first, and that starts with a safe pack.
It was a great learning experience for me, and it gave me the confidence I needed to plan out my next pack, a 12s3p 30Q for my new build “Midnight.” This one turned out even better. Small, light, built to the spec I planned to use it for, and most importantly, safe.
Around that time is when Andrew approached me to ask if I was interested in building out a FlexPCB battery from his new kits, and making a build guide for it. Being a weld-aholic, I couldn’t refuse. I pounded the battery build out in a night, took a million pictures, and wrote the 12s4p FlexPCB Build Guide. That went so well (and Andrew had so little spare time due to DRI spinning up) that he offered me the contract to build a 12s9p HG6 brick pack for @Venom121212.
That was my first welded brick pack (I had previously made a 14s8p compression pack for my buddy’s ebike), and so I took it slow and steady, but I think it turned out really well, and I hope Justin is really happy with it.
Now our story has brought us to the end of July, and the dayjob I had been working since last year has nearly completed sucking out my soul. I learned that if there is anything more depressing than telemarketing, its telemarketing from my bedroom in pajamas. I was ready to quit without even having something else lined up, when I started considering the idea of doing battery work professionally. I knew this would be a big financial risk to take, but I feel that I owe it to myself to pursue my passion. Speaking to all the wonderful esk8 friends I have made, there was an outpouring of support, nd discussion of how they can help me succeed, which I am forever greatful for. I couldnt do this without y’all’s help. Thank you.
Andrew graciously offered to be my first battery customer under my full-time self employment, and he also offered me a place at DRI building PCB Batteries to sell on the shop. He has been an increasingly amazing mentor, patron, and friend through this process, and has been a huge help in getting me rolling on full time battery work.
So I build out a few more PCB Batteries that are now available for sale on DerelictRobot.com, and built a 12s5p 40t prototipo battery for Andrew. That brings us to the present. In my roll with DRI I will continue to build the PCB Batteries and try to keep up with demand and keep them in stock (no promises), as well as being a general shop hand and test monkey. Really I just try to make myself useful enough that no one notices me riding their coattails.
And now its time for me to hang my shingle out for custom battery work. Welcome to now.
Now enough about me, lets talk shop. I have experience building all kinds of packs; flat packs, flex packs, brick packs; PCB-based builds, non-PCB-based, etc. Here’s some pictures of my progression as a builder. For an in depth explanation of these packs, check out my “Backstory” section.
My first welded pack:
Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of it finished, but you get the idea.
My 12s3p 30q pack.
I didn’t plan for this to be a flex pack, but rigid series connections are a recipe for disaster.
Anyone who has been around the block a time or two has seen my 12s4p FlexPCB Build Guide. There’s all the progress pictures you could want on that page, so here’s the final product:
I have built several more of these to have in stock for sale on DerelictRobot.com.
The brick pack for Justin:
And most recently, the sexy, flexy, 40t pack for the Robot himself:
With my personal assistant keeping me on task:
And now I finally have ebough time to work on rebuilding my own 12s4p p42a battery (at least, until the next order comes in ).
“Alright Duck, thats all well and good. Those pictures make me a little tight in the jeans, ill admit. But what is a sexy pack like that going to cost me?”
Great question, future customer.
These prices are a base cost, and I reserve the right to change them at any time:
- $4.75 per cell for labor and basic materials (nickel, fish paper, wire, connectors, etc.)
- Cell cost, BMS cost, Shipping cost, and PayPal fees are covered by the customer.
Before any money changes hands I will provide an invoice estimate for your battery build with a full breakdown of the cell, material, BMS, and labor costs. If you decide that I’m the builder for you, then I require the full cell cost upfront as a deposit (if you are purchasing your cells through me). The remainder of the costs will be charged when the battery is completed to your satisfaction and ready to ship.
If any event changes the costs that I quoted you, I will be up front about why and let you know so we can decide how to proceed. I can not guarantee a shipping cost beforehand, as that is calculated based on the final size and weight of the packaged battery. Therefore, I will add shipping costs and PayPal fees onto the final invoice before final payment is made.
All payments should be made through PayPal “Goods and Services” upon completion of the build as well as the QA/QC process, and before the battery ships. I am legally only able to ship my batteries via Ground Shipping, so unfortunately I can only offer my services to the Contiguous United States and Canada.
DBS QA/QC Process ✅
“Ok that sounds fair. But how do I know the battery you build me is good?”
Every battery I make in the DBS workshop follows strict guidelines for safety and durability, to ensure you are getting a pack that is going to last. All best-practice guidelines will be followed, and each pack will be tested and validated in accordance with the DRI standards. I will always do my best to build to a customer’s specifications, but not at the cost of safety.
After-Sales Support 🏨
“That’s good to hear! What if my pack has a problem after I receive it?”
Duck Battery Systems offers a free limited warranty on all packs that I make. The exact terms of that warranty will be included with your battery, and are also available upon request at any time, to anyone who is interested.
My philosophy on this is simple. If something goes wrong, I will do my best to make it right. Exactly what that looks like is going to be situation dependent. If something is obviously my fault then, in addition to feeling really stupid, I will be happy to fix it for you.
That said, this is DIY. We all know what we are getting into. If you fry your pack, or drain it down to 2V/cell, or get your esk8 run over by a car, I cant help you.
Its a fine line for a small time vendor like myself to walk between “great after-sales-support” and “I cant afford to eat because I am spending time fixing this pack.” My best case solution for that is “dont let a bad battery out the door.” But that is idealistic, so I have to have a plan in case the worst comes to pass. I will do my best to be up-front and honest with you, and I expect you to do the same with me. We are all mature, sane people who love going fast on skateboards. Im confident we will be able to work things out.
“I’m sold, where do I sign?!”
All orders and inquiries will be responded to in the order I received them. Ill let you know if I am able to start on your pack today, tomorrow, next week, or next month, depending on the backlog of orders I have. Either way, I will not take a dollar until I am ready to start working on your build.
So dont be shy! Reach out, lets talk. Lets see how we can make your zoom-zoom dreams come true!
PS: Cool Stuff 😎