ole money pit - build journal

Hello all!

I wanted to start a build journal for my 2 y/o DIY project board as well as get some input on if some of my designs makes sense. This community has been an awesome source of information while learning DIY esk8 and I figured its my time to share what I’ve slapped together!

This board has kind of been my introduction to CAD design as a hobby and I have no formal education on design philosophy or best practices. I do have a little electrical experience from FIRST robotics back in high school. Budget was originally (still sort of is) a big factor in the parts I chose. That being said, rip me a new one if I’m wasting my time with the parts I settled on, input is welcome!

My inspiration for the build are the wide 90s style cruisers with big urethane wheels and those dope neon-green skid plates on the sides. I went with a “Relic” from eastside longboards since it has a nice bathtub concave to lock my feet in as well as rear truck mounts far up enough to get that kick tail look.

To keep the cost down I selected and stuck with a relatively off-the-shelf set of parts.
Battery: Four 4S 5000mAh Turnigy batteries connected in a 2S2P config for a total of 8S2P. These are high output 70C batteries picked specifically to never worry about overdrawing and to avoid the complexity of a DIY 18650 pack.
ESC: Motor controllers are two FS VESC 4.20 connected with CAN. The idea behind buying standalone ESCs is I was sure I would burn one of them out as some point and I’d like to be able to skate home on a single motor when that does happen (surely enough it did!)
Motors: Two Flipsky Battle Hardened 6354 190KV. These have been absolutely bullet proof for the 2 years I’ve dogged on this board.
Trucks: Your standard set of Caliper II trucks. The rear trucks have developed a slight bend, probably from pivoting while riding :grimacing:
Wheels: Orangatang Kegel 80mm 77a and later Caguama 85mm 80a after ripping some large chunks out of the softer compound
Drivetrain: 15mm Belt driven 15t motor 36t pulley

I can hit a top speed of ~23mph with the 8S batteries though I’m sure there’s a lot more to give with increased voltage. I can travel 15 miles with no power limits and up to 25 miles with a 300w cap.

That about sums up performance. Battery capacity, voltage, drivetrain, and deck haven’t changed much throughout this build. Lets get into some photos and a timeline.

Here is my board today after over 100 rides and a completely unknown number of miles

Now rewind back to June of 2021
Something convinced my foolish brain to try 3d printing both the motor mount and the pulley in PLA or PETG, because reasons. This ended up being a complete waste of time but great CAD experience. It turns out these parts experience a lot of torque and heat. Who’d have guessed?! I could skate maybe 1.5 miles at a time with batteries velcroed to the deck before these started warping or cracking.

Moved on to some tried and true aluminum parts that can handle the stresses.
My first rideable design was a large 3d printed bottom mounted electronics enclosure. Printed in 2 halves in PETG then plastic welded together with a soldering iron. This was held to the deck with just 3 bolts, 2 in the rear & 1 in the front next to all the heavy batteries. This lasted exactly as long as you’d expect, 7 miles or so until I hit a bump in the road and the batteries fell through the floor.

I refined the enclosure design and reprinted. Thicker walls, a properly fitting contour to the deck, and thicker geometry around the 3 mounting points. This design is where I finally started putting some miles on the board and learned the ins and outs of riding with a remote. (my background is analog LBs) Somewhere along the way I switched to slightly larger slightly harder wheels due to chunking.

The cool part (not) of this design is when you inevitably break the front half because you attached it to the deck with only 3 bolts, you have to reprint the entire enclosure again and re-plasticweld it. This was painful after a handful of 20 hour prints. I decided it was time for a more modular approach, something where I could break a segment of the enclosure and reprint/replace with ease, something with more than 3 measly points of attachment.

I should point out that to charge the batteries, I would have to remove the entire enclosure and untangle the battery cables, connect each battery to a balance charger, then mangle them back into the enclosure. This didn’t do the battery’s lead tabs any favors.

Enter v2.0 of the money pit’s enclosure. Panda colors were chosen this time around. The enclosure is split into 4 unique sections front to back. The rear holding the ESCs, rear-mid with the loopkey and battery wall, front-mid and front pieces contain the batteries. Several iterations of this design were printed and ridden on before the next major failure.

Battery leads :frowning: Due to the aforementioned charging situation, one of my batteries had the positive lead snap off. I couldn’t get the lead to hold solder at any temperature and I don’t have a spot welder so I had to write off these 4 batteries. Everything I read online said not to mix batteries of different health so a new 4 were in order. Found a deal on some 5100mAh Turnigy packs with the same dimensions.

With the board out of service, I once again spent some time redesigning her enclosure and battery situation. This time I thought if the battery cables never move then they can’t break. I’ve always liked the idea of having cold swap-able battery packs for extended rides so I make a battery enclosure (also PETG) that allows me to connect everything with zero modifications to the batteries themselves. (lithium fires scare me)
Everything connects with XT-90s epoxied to the PETG. This way I can charge the batteries without breaking them. Due to the extra space needed for the front face of the battery pack, I moved the battery wall further to the rear. The battery wall now doubles as the female end of my XT-90 connectors allowing me do away with bulky XT-90 series adapters. The curved black wires in the pack are 12 gauge solid core wires from the hardware store. These are awesome and take up way less space than stranded cables.

This worked swimmingly and kept my new batteries intact. The size of the pack and it’s proximity to the front trucks forces me to remove the top half of the enclosure when I need to install it. Completely defeating the plan to have it be quickly swapable. I have to pull over, power the board off, bust out the skate tool to remove 4 nuts and then swap the battery with a half size one I made. The lack of a BMS will be my wallet’s demise however. I got home from a long ride recently and forgot to pull the loopkey out. Wake up the next morning and every battery was drained to near 0v. This killed one of the four and damaged another.

So here I stand with my current battery failure wondering if I’m wasting my time not investing in a custom 18650 pack. My hesitation is I would likely have to scrap my entire design. Am I overthinking the danger of making my own custom 18650 pack? Does spending another ~$180 on some Turnigy hobby grade batteries make sense? Any suggestions on bolt/nut alternatives that would make removing the top of the enclosure quicker?

Overall I’ve had a lot of fun building this bad boy, breaking it, and building it again.
Future goals are to:

  • add minimum voltage cutoff circuit to save batteries from a boring death
  • implement custom wireless telemetry stream to a 1" oled added to the remote (think wireless davega)
  • replace trucks with Boardnamics billet aluminum trucks
  • maybe helical gear drive down the road

Nice deck dude.

I love little thane boards.

Batteries are a pain in the ass.
I would not suggest building one, if you don’t planbon building 5.

There are other reputable battery builders here.

But these days I show these MBoards batteries as an relatively affordable and viable option.


Thanks man! I’m real proud of this PITA

Sounds like I’ll be staying away from building my own pack. Those Mboards options are an attractive price. Appreciate the suggestion!

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It should be noted that these batteries likely have the bms bypassed for discharge, which will not provide you any undervoltage protection


Feel for you on reprinting the enclosure, the build is sick. How do the 3dp pulleys hold up?

My b i see aluminum pulleys now. Love the wheels!

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A little after the panda design, I tried my hand at the remote telemetry mod I mentioned. I can do CAD all day long but programming is my achilles heel. Aspiring to use BLE from the vesc connected UART bluetooth adapter to send voltage, speed, battery life, etc to a little ESP or NRF in the remote. I haven’t quite made sense of it yet. Tried arduino libraries and reading the VESC tool github repo but I can’t make sense of it at my current level. One of these days I’ll figure it out.


That was a good read. I appreciate your candor. :pinched_fingers:

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Been thinking about battery options lately. I’m very interested in making a couple removable batteries and carrying spares in a backpack. Yes, my current battery is removable but it sure is a pain to get that puppy out and charging.
Thoughts are to increase from a 8s2p battery to a 10s2p with a charge only BMS integrated into the pack along with a redesign of the enclosure. Currently there’s 2 layers of plastic and some craft foam between the road and the lipos. Those are the battery casing and the external enclosure. Some googling later and there are removable battery longboards on the market already I’ll be taking inspiration from.


My battery is going to be larger than these but notice how the removable pack doesn’t have a ‘lid’ on it. Now I don’t at all trust one layer of PETG to protect the lipos, but could I make the base of the pack out of a suitably thick sheet of aluminum or steel? 14-18 gauge sheet metal and a cushy layer of neoprene between the batteries is the hope.

The BMS being on pack would ease charging, I’d like to make something as simple as a drill battery charger. Set it on the dock and forget about it.

What do you guys think? Is sheet metal a safe choice for a battery barrier? I’ll probably add some CAD screenshots of what I’m talking about soon.

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Awesome, love seeing more compact kicktail builds.

I’ve got swappable battery, that I charge externally too. The whole enclosure hinges out, so I can quick swap the battery under 20 seconds on the side of the road:

You said your pulleys were warping, did you print them with PLA? Lately I’ve been using PETG pulleys reinforced with m4 screws, wondering if mine are gonna melt in summer too.

Yes, building your own battery is a real pain, and can take a few days even after you have all the tools and materials. Because of all the current carrying and vibration resistance requirements.

For li-ion I would definitely recommend going higher voltage, they sag more than lipos (just go 12s! you won’t regret). I used to be skeptical about li-ions, but after using them for a year, they are fine, they can still deliver enough power and show very little degradation after 200-300 cycles. And the cells are way easier to acquire that lipos.

That sounds a bit sketchy, I usually turn off wifi and BT on my phone to avoid interference. My vx1 can sometimes failsafe for half a second with phone BT turned on.

I’ve managed to talk to vesc, I’m making a small telemetry screen, if you need help I can send the code.


Check out @glyphiks BOTY build, he did exactly that with aluminium sheets screwed into 3d printed walls:


Love the board btw! Cool to see some other builds with changeable batteries.

Yeah, I tried it with PLA, PLA Pro, and PETG. To be entirely fair, this was before I kinda knew what I was doing with esk8 hardware. They were made on an old printer with a (maybe?) warped bed and the 5 bolts through the wheel didn’t do it any favors as far as alignment is concerned.
I did recently get a new printer that’ll do 300c, I might try again with CF nylon or something just for the hell of it.

I found a good deal on some 5s 5ah lipos so I’ll be rocking packs again until these crap out on me. I am eyeing li-ion land though! I really want to built a skatepark friendly deck like @rafaelinmissouri has going. Thinking li-ion would keep it low profile and damage resistant.

Haha, yep, agreed. I decided against the telemetry screen idea after finding out I can hook a positive lead to my vx1 receiver and see capacity with the remote lights :expressionless: Took me way to long to find that out.
I may still hit you up on talking to the vesc. I’ve had the idea to run a little 10 strip of LEDs to the top of the deck run by an arduino that’ll show rough battery percentage or maybe different colors for statuses. yellow for LVC start or something like what the floatwheel has. Probably just a direct UART connection.

I’m currently in the process of redoing the enclosure out of CF PETG. Wonderful looking stuff btw, we’ll see how it holds up once it’s all together. I need to write an update here


I want to build a new one… similar to the existing one…
I have most of the parts actually, just need to put in the time…

But there are a couple wish list items. I want to see if I can make an enclosure that can handle rock and rolls, and possibly rail slides,
and I want to make some sort of coper for the trucks to do a 50-50 stall…

Apparently I have dreams of grandeur, but it would be cool.

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Do It Episode 3 GIF by Star Wars - Find & Share on GIPHY

How would you keep everything secure enough to handle the shock of big hits? Pot the whole enclosure in hot glue or something?

Grandeur or not, it would be pretty badass to do some slides. I think a sheet of wood over the enclosure would make rail slides feel authentic. Metal might shoot some cool sparks

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Luck dude.

That is all I can really count on…

I honestly expect every esk8 I ride to break anytime I take it out.

these things are so finecky…

But the ATV ditch live has held up amazingly well, despite taking some pretty significant hits.
and there is no super special padding in there.

Things I have considered for this one is taping the battery and esc and switch to an ABS sheet as a base before putting it on the deck. and using lots of kapton, and butyl tape, and maybe hot glue…

So, not quite potting everything, but something similar, to a lesser extent.

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this was a pretty good hit I would say…
and it has been fine.

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You can say that again. Most rides I carry a small backpack with spare belts, bandaids, and tools. Maybe snacks too

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Overdue for an update here so lets get into it.

I managed to get ahold of four 5ah 5s batteries this time around and upgraded the money pit to a 10s board. The speed is intense and I am hooked. These packs are hooked up in a 2s2p configuration while ridden, same as the black & red removable battery I made, except this time the parallel connections are done on the battery enclosure’s end instead of from behind the firewall. The series connection for the 5s groups is still done from XT-90’s in the firewall. Balance wires for the 5s groups are paralleled as well.

This has been working fine so far. I balance charge the 5s groups to storage 3.8v ASAP after every ride and charge to 4.18v not long before I take it out. I am curious if anyone thinks the way I have these connected is risky or bad practice.

The current removable pack is made from PETG and is honestly more of a working prototype than anything. Plans for the batt enclosure’s replacement are brewing. Because this is my only board, many of the improved 3d printed parts were designed so that they work with existing parts and still function as intended. I don’t like waiting on my ADHD ass to finish the second half of a design and 3 days running a printer before I can use my board again. This has led to some stupid hacky parts I should have started fresh.
Welp, I’m kind of doing that with this upcoming enclosure and battery enclosure design. But first, pictures! The mint toothpaste battery. It needs work…

For Christmas I got myself a pair of Boardnamics 184mm trucks to replace the bent Caliber II hangers. I was skeptical whether I would like the look of the extended axles but WOWEE do they look nice on this board. I am a sucker for wide-bodied vehicles and these are just dope.

Side note, I started wearing high tops while riding and now don’t want to go back to my regular vans, the support is so nice.

I’ve gone though a couple iterations of pulley/belt covers and forgot to show them off in the original post. They fit nice and do the job, getting way fewer rocks stuck in my pulleys now. Just for the fun of 3d printing, I tried my hand at making a transparent pair from some PETG but they aren’t clear enough for my liking. Maybe annealing would help. Getting a food dehydrator soon I’m going to dedicate to filament drying and annealing. If it turns out worth a shit I’ll post some pics.

Got a pet since I updated last, meet Doom. MF Doom, Dr Doom, Doom guy, he’s got aliases.

Last but not least, the new enclosure is ~75% complete. I started almost completely over with the design in Fusion360. Only borrowing a few measurements from the last enclosure. I made a hard shift aesthetically from chamfers to fillets, and went all black with a carbon fiber filled PETG filament. I’m not entirely sure if this is due to the geometry changes or the added CF but these prints feel strong as hell and have very little flex. Bonus that the CF texture hides the layer lines fairly well.
The major changes are:

  • D-nuts embedded into the enclosure
  • top two parts combined into one
  • replaced epoxied in place XT-90 connectors with XT-90E-M secured with heat-set inserts
  • added recess in lip for gasket material
  • dedicated motor wire cutouts & printed TPU guards
  • relocated VESCs & printed custom TPU guards/vibration dampeners
  • replaced bottom design. Triangles > abstract lines

The embedded d-nuts are my favorite change so far. They make installation and removal so so so much easier. I’m pretty sure they are intended for wood but that’s nothing my soldering iron can’t fix. Couple seconds with the iron, couple turns with a hex key, and repeated until flush. Can’t complain!

When I found out panel mount XT-90 connectors existed, I clicked purchase like my life depended on it. Uploaded a model into Fusion and cut a negative into the firewall to get the fitment right. I think they looks fantastic.

I still don’t understand why older VESCs were designed without any form of enclosure but in hopes of extending the life of mine, I’m designing some TPU guards to fit around them. I have a 350w 70c limit set on each controller so I don’t expect this to insulate the heat too badly. Like everything else on this board, we shall print it, skate it, and see. Still working on designing the rear piece and need to order some more CF filament.

That’s about it!