Originally published at: http://esk8.news/loaded-motherboard-it-is-not-what-we-were-expecting/
Late last year, I was contacted by Loaded Boards. They mentioned that they were coming out with a new deck called the Motherboard and asked me if I would be interested in “seeing what I could do with it.” This is the company that Boosted used for their decks, and they’re pretty popular in the long boarding community. As a member of the esk8 builders community, I’ve seen my fair share of their decks used for electric builds as well. Needless to say, I was thrilled to even be asked. I may be a big fish in my pond, but this is a really small fucking pond.
They sent pictures of it via instagram and chatted me up about it for a while, sending images and asking what I might be able to put on it. Based on what I saw in the photos, I mentioned I could probably squeeze about 400 watt hours on there without making it look stupid with a bulbous or oddly shaped enclosure. They promptly asked me if I had some kind of “engineering vision.” Obviously I do.
We kept chatting, and at some point they mentioned a texture on the bottom of the deck. It was really hard to see in the image I received, but I figured it could be worked around. After all, they also mentioned that this deck was targeted at the electric skateboard builders’ market. I had to assume that meant the features of the deck would be amenable to building DIY electric skateboards. Features such as extremely limited flex, a concave that wasn’t too deep and had some sort of flat-ish basin, a decent wheelbase for plenty of room, and plenty of foot placement options that felt great while both accelerating and cruising. Drops and micro drops are popular. Maybe it would have some of those.
What showed up
They sent me a new board that they said was targeting the electric skateboard market. What I received was a wild, almost nightmarish juxtaposition of both dreamy and deal breaking features. Before I dive into that feature set, I want to make it clear that this deck confuses the shit out of me. I don’t not like it. I don’t want to tell you not to buy it or not to try building a box onto it. What I will tell you, however, is that it’s not going to be easy.
Frankly, I didn’t know what to do with it at first. I kind of don’t know how to build anything under 400 watt hours. I also prefer non-flexy decks as it is easier to stack cells and components. On a flexy deck, you have to build a flexy box. Flexy boxes take up more volume per watt hour than monolithic enclosures, and for me, range is king, not top end. And if top end really is your thing, you’re not going to want to go past 30mph on a flexy deck unless you’re a masochist or have mutant hulk ankles. Once wobble grabs the deck in a wave of sympathetic motion, your face will be streeted. However, this deck wasn’t so flexy as to eliminate any top end at all, in fact it seemed like it could be made very stable in spite of its flex. It was only flexible enough to ruin your chances on a monolithic composite enclosure, such as fiberglass (what I use) or carbon fiber (what people who like interference in their remotes use).
There is hope. A lot of it, actually.
After all of that bitching, I am prepared to say that the Loaded Motherboard is not only redeemable, but could potentially make a rather inviting finished product. The remaining features it has are not only intriguing, but yearned for in some circles. The concave is ever so slightly aggressive for esk8, but its workable and shapes like this tend to give you better control while carving. Another fascinating aspect of this deck is the wheel wells. They’re pressed into the shape of deck, not carved out. They’re fully integrated and allegedly allow up to 100mm wheels to be used without bite.
Between the concave and the wells that are shaped into the deck, you have foot lock for days. I can already tell I’m going to feel planted as hell on this deck. Just standing on it in socks on the carpet was enough to tell me I would enjoy the shit out of it if I could sort out the electronics enclosure problem, and that’s really the rub, isn’t it?
Enclosure options, errr.. option.
For DIYers, the texture means you will need a fatter silicone foam gasket to get a decent seal against filth ingress if you’re going the ABS monolithic enclosure route, but the level of flex suggests that you’ll have it on there less than a month before you notice cracking and tearing around the bolt holes. That may be fine for you, though. You might even be able to make it last longer if you stay planted over the trucks while riding.
But for me, that texture is like a slap in the face. I can see the appeal of something like this along the grab edges, but not across the entire bottom of the board. I use monolithic composite enclosures as a rule because, as I mentioned, watt hours. It became clear as day that on this deck the only real option was a segmented enclosure that would allow flex, but limit watt hours. We’re looking at 40 cells on here in a monolithic enclosure if you stick to a single layer, but for a segmented flexible enclosure such as found on a Slick Revolution or Lacroix you’re at 36 cells maximum.
Another option would be discreet ABS compartments, meaning seperate enclosures for each group of cells and the electronics. You would need to be sure to seal all the places you were running wires in and out of each segment, but it could be done very cleanly. This option would entail using 6 or possibly even 7 small enclosures for a 12S3P battery configuration, with most of them holding cells and the last holding either the remaining cells along with the ESC and BMS and receiver or just the electronics. Probably the cleanest way to jump balance and mains wires between the segments in this configuration would be to drill and route small channels from the top side, then lace the wires through, then fill the cavity in with silicone or even black hot glue (its pretty tough) and grip back over it.
At 12S3P, the range limitation on belts would be more noticeable than on larger packs. The best options for maximum range would likely be direct drives, or even hub drives. If you can find a really nice set of gear drives, those would work well too. Based on our experience with the Carvon direct drives running on a 12S3P Samsung 30Q pack, plenty of range can be had in that configuration and hyper-miling behavior (very conservative throttle, push to start, coasting whenever possible) can get you even further.
However, belts with properly loose tension can still get you over 20 miles on this size battery if you don’t ride like a total dick. The wells definitely make larger, more range efficient wheels and gearings an option. As a place to start, we were planning on using a 16/36 on 100mm Boas, or a 16/32 on 85mm Caguamas. Either of those setups would give you a nice grippy carve and a comfortable ride, with enough of both range and startup torque to make a happy balance. If you want ABEC wheels, I would go 16/35 on the 97mm options, but you may have an interesting time finding belts for that tooth count depending on what mounts you’re using.
I plan on building this out to see how it rides. Sculpting and shaping a form for a segmented flexible composite box on this deck without destroying the deck will take me a minute, but look for it here in the coming weeks. In the mean time, I look forward to seeing what everyone else does with this thing.