Electric skateboards are powered by a system of batteries, motors and electronic speed controllers.
Figure: Overview of the components within an electric skateboard. The main parts are the battery (pink and blue), motor (yellow), and controller (orange).
Provides electric power for propulsion to the motor(s). For e-boards, two types of battery cells are commonly used. The quality of cells impacts torque, top speed, durability and safety.
Lithium Polymer (Li-Po)
- must be balance charged but holds a large amount of energy per cell
- Fast Charging and resistant to leaking
- Smaller and safer technology and used in array with a battery management system (EMS)
- Cells degrade at high temperatures or when stored at high voltage.
Battery Management System
- Safely controls the balance of charging and, in some cases, discharging of cells.
Gives mechanical power to the wheels of an e-board. There are two types of motors used on e-boards - belt driven and hub motors. All motors are rated using kV measurement - or how many rotations per volt.
In this setup, the motor is mounted to the trucks with a bracket and connects tot the drive wheel sprocket with a belt. The gearing ratio of the motor and wheel sprockets can be varied somewhat and helps either produce more torque or speed.
Figure: This type of motor utilizes a set of pulleys and a belt to deliver power to the skateboard's wheels.
A simplified setup, where the motor mounts inside the drive wheel. The rotation of the motor directly spins the wheel. Because gearing isn't an option, typically hub motors provide less torque.
Figure: A hub motor is housed within the inside of the wheel delivering power directly to propel the board.
(ESC/VESC) Electronic Speed Controllers
Uses power from batteries to control the speed of the electric motors.
How does it work?
The ESC is controlled by a pulse with modulation (PWM) signal. That signal controls switches and transistors that manage the power from the battery and deliver that energy to the motor.
What does it control?
a regular ESC controls the voltage to the motor. A VESC (named after its creator, Benjamin Vedder) has more controls and is customizable based on a specific boards components, including regenerative braking - which can send power back to the batteries when slowing the board down.