How Electric Skateboards Work?
In the 80’s classic Back to the Future movie, a teen from the future rides a hover board in the legendary scene. The movie’s future date is already past to us, but hover boards are still not a reality (ignore the Segway-like devices!) Yet, what we have today on the streets, more and more often, are e-boards.
The e-boards in use today are for fun, but also for commuting. Adults, not only teens, use them as alternative transportation devices since taking a bus or driving a car as a daily routine can be very stressful in city areas, often full of traffic jams.
They are an efficient and fun way to get from A to B, but how do they actually work? What makes them different exactly to traditional skateboards? Let’s check out e-boards in action from all angles.
The main difference between traditional skateboards and e-boards is noticeable at first glance. There is usually a black box under the deck of the e-board. While you ride the traditional board manually, using your foot, the e-board is powered by a battery.
It supplies the e-board’s motor with the energy which rotates the wheels. The battery and the engine are placed under the deck and they are the largest parts of e-boards.
The great majority of skateboards on the market today use Lithium-ion batteries.
The Lithium-ion batteries you probably already use frequently as a part of your smartphone or a laptop. The difference when we talk about the e-board battery is its energy capacity. E-boards use significantly more powerful batteries than the devices mentioned above. The more power, the larger the battery and greater range you can take with one charge. The battery’s capacity is measured in Watt Hours, and it is usually printed somewhere on it.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have a certain life span. They lose their capacity slowly during usage. Some models of e-boards come with a spare battery, which doubles the range and the life span of each battery. It is needless to say how useful extra power can be when it comes to long-distance traveling, however, the more weight of the batteries, the more power is needed, so there is a level of diminishing returns!
When charging the battery, always read the user manual and avoid overcharging, which can be hazardous and even cause a fire.
You make a traditional skateboard move by putting your foot down and pushing it, but how do you start an e-board? By simply pressing a button of course! Just as you start the great majority of other electrical devices.
During a ride, you hold a wireless remote in your hand and control using your fingers how much power the battery will give to the engine: more energy, greater speed, and vice versa for braking. If you choose to accelerate, the correct amount of energy will be drawn from the battery to the motor, with the help of a Bluetooth transmitter/receiver and control board.
The Bluetooth transmitter is located inside the controller and sends a signal to the Bluetooth receiver.
In that way, seamless wireless communication between remote and e-board is possible.
So, it’s a simple principle, yet one should master it for a safe ride. Practicing to start, accelerate, slow down, and stop while standing comfortably on your board is highly recommended before hitting the streets!
E-boards have a specific braking system, and we talked about it in more detail in one of our earlier articles.
Obviously, you don’t need to use your foot to stop. Still, it is highly recommendable to master this action if you get in a situation the braking system fails for some reason.
Usually, a braking system of an e-board is a combination of regenerative and dynamic braking.
That combination is the best solution because a handy regenerative braking system (the one that recharges the battery when slowing down an e-board) has its limits. Once the battery is 100% full, the braking system can no longer proceed with its purpose, as the power cannot be sent to the battery. One can only imagine how dangerous it can be to lose braking control during a ride, so avoid going down steep hills with a full charge!
Never forget to practice first and wear your protective gear, especially a helmet, even during practice. Anything with an engine powerful enough to develop speeds of up to 45km/hr can do serious damage!