In 2008, I put together a guide on Instructables about upgrading the power system of your small personal electric vehicle . It was a primer on the basics of an electric vehicle power system and offered resources and tips specific to compact electric scooter conversion. As of right now, it has a solid 5 rating – I didn’t know you could write that much on Instructables without telling anyone how to build anything and still receive perfect reviews.
I am delighted to report that in 2011, three years after the fact, that putting together a compact, powerful, and efficient electric vehicle drivetrain for local commutes (such as your campus, neighborhood, or urban area) using both R/C hobby hardware and specialized EV components is now cheaper and easier than ever. Price competition, new technologies, and just plain increased availability of fabrication and material resources means that building an electric personal transport device is now within the capabilities of just about everyone.
I will assume that you already know the fundamental parts of an EV or have built them before. If not, you’re welcome to refer to my previous Instructable on this topic (linked above), or check out one of the many great Instructables on EV systems. This Instructable is intended as a conglomeration of resources, and so will discuss the pros and cons of component choices, specific vendors, design strategies, and other high-level considerations. It will also offer tips and tricks that I’ve found or had passed on to me pertaining to building small electric scooters. The guide will be overtly calibrated towards said scooters, since I favor them over electric bicycles, though much of the advice is just as pertinent to e-bikes. It should also be helpful for the occasional odd electric skateboard or other unconventional vehicle.
The format of the Instructable will primarily be a page or two on each primary component of an EV – such as the motor, controller, battery, and drivetrain (and associated mechanics).Then I’ll present some designs that have emerged as being relatively easy to execute and fabrication advice for fully custom vehicles (i.e. not conversions).
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.