Some Feedback/Direction on my First DIY Build

Hi there! From what I’ve seen, this is a fantastic community and I’m really excited to get started in esk8 and be a part of it. I’m new to electric skateboarding, used to longboard ~5 years ago and stopped after college. Finally have some extra time and money to get back into it. I’m also an engineer and a maker so I thought this would be an awesome project to take on. While I’m a quick learner and capable builder (plenty of experience with electronics, 3d printing, etc.), I could use some help getting started with a few topics. I’ve been lurking for a while now, soaking up as much information as I can, but I have a few questions that I would really appreciate some direct assistance with. Or if you can point me to any topics/threads that I may have overlooked that would be excellent as well!

So here’s where I’m at right now. I’m looking to build a respectably powerful board. I don’t see myself going downhill at 45mph+ anytime soon, but would like to be able to have the option for more power in the future. Will use mostly for commuting around flat, relatively decent pavement in Denver. But again, would really like the option at least to be able to handle some decent hills as well as perhaps AT in the future if possible. Cost isn’t a huge factor, although I would like to keep the total below $2k.

Drive System
At first it seemed like direct drives would be a great choice, and I have spent a lot of time looking at the torqueboards 75kV DD kit (@torqueboards). This would no doubt be a solid option, but after reading some dissenting opinions, I’m starting to think I should explore gear drives a bit more. I really don’t know where to begin on gear drives. I’ve read a bit about the different vendors and tradeoffs, but if anyone could point me to some useful resources on these - or convince me that direct or gear is right for me - any feedback would be appreciated! I will say that one of the big pros to direct drive for me is the ability to push without the motor. I also like the idea of not sounding like a jet engine roaring by, but some amount of noise probably wouldn’t bother me much. Not quite sure how gear drive compares in these categories.

I’m really interested in somewhat flexier decks, from back in my longboarding days. I’ve seen a lot of builds with the loaded Icarus flex 1, and so far I’ve been pretty set on going with that deck. I realize there are some challenges with a flexy deck, and it may be less than ideal for top speed and downhill, but would like to make it work if possible. However, depending on the rest of my setup, I could be convinced to go with a different option (LY switchblade or evo) if that would clearly be the better choice.

My biggest concern with the Icarus deck is making a custom enclosure that can fit and protect all of the electronics and a fairly large battery. I’ve seen a few threads on this that have inspired me to look into the custom 3d-printed route (build from @TranxFu) (Icarus enclosure discussion from @eBoosted and @Deckoz). I would consider buying from the eBoosted shop or using the file @TranxFu shared on thingiverse, but would like a bigger battery (12s4p) if possible and more ability to customize my layout. Does this route seem feasible for this deck? There are some comments in those threads about larger batteries (12s4p) being difficult for the space, but nothing really concrete. Would love some additional feedback on if this seems like a good way to go or too difficult for the trouble.

As I said, looking for a fairly large battery, as one of the things that put me off of the Revel and similar kits (besides wanting more DIY) was the range and power available with the smaller battery. Beyond that, I know very little about the battery choice for these builds. Would 12s4p be plenty of power? Should I consider 10s4p? I’m interested in making a custom battery, but if I could buy one that would fit my space and work for me I’d consider that as well. Are there any essential threads on battery choice / making DIY battery packs that someone could point me to?

This is where I still have some more research to do. Not sure on VESC choice and any other remaining electronics components, but haven’t yet spent a ton of time pouring over threads on these subjects. Is there any essential reading I should get to wrt VESC, controllers, or any other electronic components for my build? Any parts that are hand-down the best option for my build that others could recommend?

I think that covers it for now. I’m really looking to start buying parts soon so I can finish the build in the next month or two before the weather starts to get colder. Sorry if any of my questions are a little bit basic for the DIY Builds topic. Really appreciate anyone taking the time to respond to my post and looking forward to any sort of feedback the community can offer. Thanks!


Whoops, first post and didn’t realize I couldn’t check formatting and edit after the fact. Just commenting to correctly link to the Icarus enclosure discussion reference above:

(Icarus enclosure discussion from @eBoosted and @Deckoz)

Don’t think you mentioned what wheels you want - thane or pnum-pnums?
Everything else will depend on that choice for the most part xD

I think thane. Been looking at the TB 110s, mostly because I was looking at the TB DD, but also seeing great things about them in other threads on this forum.

Honestly not sure though. Cruising and carving on relatively flat roads is probably the major usage I’ll get out of the board. But would also really like the ability for more speed/downhill (probably still good with thane) and ultimately some AT (think this is where pneumatic comes in correct?). So if there’s an option that could give me versatility to change later on that may be the best. But if not I’d probably choose thane and sacrifice some AT ability.

I also understand DD may not be the best for AT wheels/riding. Which is one of the reasons I started questioning Direct vs Gear Drive. DD seemed like a great option for me but if I can get some additional functionality out of Gear Drive without sacrificing much I would consider that route instead.

Belts would probably be best for switching back and forth.
But for thane only, it almost doesn’t matter, belts/DD/gears are all good, mostly a matter of taste and packaging.

I would suggest starting with a deck that has an eboosted enclosure for a solid building platform and then thinking about the rest.


Thanks for the feedback!

I think I would ideally like to avoid Belts for this build. I like some of the maintenance and other advantages from DD/Gears. So if there isn’t a better gear option for having the versatility to switch to pneumatic/AT later on, think I will probably elect to stick with thane and DD for now.

I hear you on the deck, definitely seen lots of recommendations for eboosted fiberglass enclosures. Given my 3d printing ability/access, I would be interested in trying to design and print an enclosure in PETG myself. But I realize the eboosted enclosures are a known quantity and probably make it much easier to choose electronics and other parts. Not sure how difficult fitting a custom enclosure would be or how durable PET-G is as a material for protecting sensitive electronics under the board. But if anyone has recommendations or good experiences after going that route I would love to hear about it!

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My first (and, probably last) exp with petg enclosures is not happy at all. I let one 220 lbs dude to try my board in the club and deck’s flex cracked the enclosure in it’s weakest spot. So, to be noted, make sure your design is flexy (or short) enough, otherwise forget about it:

Heyyy, another Denverite.

The icarus/vanguard enclosures tend to be small because the deck isn’t very wide and to allow for the flex. You end up bottoming out the enclosure all the time unless you keep the center of the board clear. If you’re set on that deck, I’d keep to that form factor. One thing you can do though is put a battery enclosure at both ends to fit more than 40 18650 cells.

Besides that, two things to note. The vanguard isn’t a very imposing deck, and direct drives are WIDE. I haven’t seen a pic of a DD on a vanguard, but it might look a little silly.
Lastly, I wouldn’t 3D print your enclosure, especially if you want to get this thing on the street before it’s frigid out. You almost certainly won’t be happy with your first rendition, assuming you can get something usable in that short of a time-frame. Also, fiberglass ftw.

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Thanks for the input! That certainly makes sense… I was aware of some of the shortcomings of going with the Icarus deck but seeing some awesome Icarus builds here got me excited. I’m not sure yet but likely leaning away from it now. The biggest issue for me is getting a large enough battery in there with the enclosure options on an Icarus… just doesn’t seem worth the trouble for my first build. Might look more at the switchblade or a similar deck now instead.

Okay, update on progress here…

I think I’m going to go with the Switchblade. I really like that deck and it seems to be universally loved for esk8. Think it will be good for my use case of mostly commuting but with more stability for some hills. I’m going to go with the 38". I’m aware there is no enclosure for that size but I found the thread on making custom fiberglass enclosures and I really want to give that and/or custom PET-G enclosure a try. I also think I’d prefer a board a bit shorter than 40’’. I had a 38’’ supermodel in the past and it was the perfect size for me. Going to try to get a single 12s5p 21700 battery in there. Will be tight but I think it will work. If the enclosure doesn’t come out large enough will go to 12s4p.

Now I’m getting back to the drive and starting to lean away from the TB DD. Did some research on gear drives and from what I’ve seen, I think the @3DServisas Urethane v5 Gear would be a good choice. I’d like to pair it up with TB 110s. But I’m a bit lost on the ideal gear ratio and motor here. The 1:2.4 helical gear ratio is out of stock, so I’m looking at the 1:2.6 helical gear ratio, but I want to make sure I don’t limit my top speed to significantly. Would this gear drive go best with 170kV or 190kV motors? I’m thinking 190kV so I don’t sacrifice too much speed for torque here. But I just started reading about gear drives yesterday so looking for any direction the community has to offer.

Also looking at hanger width. What would be the main factors in going with 240 vs 260? I’m assuming 240 would be a little more carvy and responsive but less stable? Would both fit fine on the switchblade deck? Anything else I should consider here?

To clarify, my target performance would be to have a large amount of torque and be able to climb hilly pavement well but still would like a top speed of 35-40mph if possible.

Do you really need to go faster than 35mph?
Gearing too tall (fast) will hurt your acceleration, efficiency and thermals.
1:2.6 with 190kv is perfect IMO.

I had 230/240/260/275 on the same deck and I haven’t noticed too much difference.
For urethane I would stick with the smaller ones - 230 or 240.

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I guess I would say 30mph at a minimum. I mention 35mph because the TB DD 75kV I was looking at supposedly topped out at 35mph I think… and now that I’ve seen all that DIY boards can do I just can’t help myself haha. But that setup looks good, thanks for the recommendation! What would you expect the top speed to be for a build like that with the 1:2.6 and 190kV? And it would still have pretty ridiculous torque - definitely no need to consider 170kV in your opinion?

Around 35-37mph

Torque will depend on motors and motor amps.
TB6380 190kv running 100 amps each would be extremely punchy, you’re not gonna be wanting more torque xD

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Perfect :sunglasses:

Yeah that sounds about right haha. Would I need a VESC capable of that high amp output then? I’ve been looking at the Stormcore, seems like a no brainer with the quality of parts I’m using. I’m assuming the 60D would be a good choice here (or 100D if I went 13S). Should I consider anything else or would that be the perfect option for maxing out this setup?

I really like trampa vescs, but it’s a lot more $$$.
60D would be perfect :+1:

13s is a weird voltage, too much for 60v systems, but not enough to justify 100v…

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@Boardnamics just announced a new affordable gear drive. Definitely check that out.

You can get a 12S5P 21700 fit on a 40" switchblade. I don’t think it’s doable on the 38", it is really really tight even on the 40". You also need this layout (forgive my terrible drawing skills):

And if you want the ESCs in the same enclosure I am afraid you have to find something really tiny, like the small makerx ones, or go for “only” 12S4P. I recommend the Molicel P42A cells btw.

I am also building a 12S5P P42A pack onto my Switchblade, the enclosure is done but the epoxy is still drying. Since I have pretty big vescs I chose to place them on the tail in an other enclosure. I will make my own build thread after I finish my board hopefully this or the next weekend.

Good luck with your build :wink:

Oh damn that looks perfect for my setup. $230 for the drives and hangers :open_mouth:. I wanted to get this build ready asap but I may have to wait for these. Any idea when he’s going to start shipping the M1-S helical version out? One thing I’m really unsure about is if I’ll like the noise and was aiming to get a quieter gear.