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Hoverboards, otherwise known as self-balancing scooters, use the rider’s own momentum and bodyweight to offer control to the onboard motor. Some riders, however, would prefer a remote-controlled motor or motor driver, such as a brushless DC motor (BLDC), to juice their hoverboards. These motors have become popular in recent years, as they allow for remote control via a Raspberry Pi-enabled controller.
The most popular hoverboards use the body’s balancing mechanism in order to allow for precise control. Some users, however, prefer the option of remote control via a third-party and the motor’s built-in commutator. Here are some reasons why this would be done.
The biggest reason why users would be looking to control the hoverboard motor with a motor driver is the option for remote control. Once the hoverboard motor driver, and in some cases the motor itself, has been swapped out to a model that eschews the self-balancing mechanism in favor of a standard DC circuit, it can be wirelessly connected to any number of third-party remote control devices. This means you can stand on a hoverboard and control it via one of these remote controls or, in some cases, a smartphone app.
Another benefit to changing up the motor and/or motor driver is the ability to create hoverboard robots. Modern motors and motor drivers can be connected to a wide range of third-party devices, including many popular Raspberry Pi single-board computers. With a bit of programming know-how, you could actually make a robotic hoverboard that follows predetermined paths. These robot hoverboards can also be programmed to avoid common obstacles. Beware, this requires a fair amount of knowledge before you take the plunge.
Some people have a need for speed. Swapping out a hoverboard’s motor or driver can allow riders to bypass the product’s built-in safety systems. The end result? A much higher top speed, as many hoverboard motors are dampened by firmware so that the board can qualify for UL safety certifications. As a word of caution, we do not recommend hacking a hoverboard’s motor to achieve a higher top speed, as this will certainly void the warranty and could lead to dangerous accidents.
Hoverboards come in many different shapes and sizes, each with its own maintenance requirements. In other words, there isn’t one catch-all process to inform DIY enthusiasts how to switch out the motor or motor drive. If you are looking to go with a sensorless BLDC motor, however, there are some steps you can take to make the installation procedure go as smoothly as possible. Make sure you brush up on how to take apart your hoverboard’s wheels before you get started.
Time Required: Varies
Total Steps: 3, though can vary
Tools Needed: Screwdriver, soldering iron, and related tools
Preparing a hoverboard for a motor swap can be a time-intensive process, due to the sheer amount of research involved. Take your time to find the right DC brushed or brushless motor that will integrate nicely with your make and model of your hoverboard. As a tip, there are many online stores throughout the Internet that stock these kinds of motors and drivers.
If you are new to the world of DIY hoverboard hacking, you are going to want to find a good guide to follow along with as you complete the installation procedure. Make sure the guide is specific to both your hoverboard and the third-party DC motor you have purchased. This guide should cover the installation procedure itself, and also offer tips and tricks regarding third-party control options.
Once you have successfully transferred out the sensor-based motor with your brand-new sensorless model, it is time to decide what to do with it. You can purchase a third-party remote controller, or a Raspberry Pi circuit, each with its unique uses. Be sure to check your hoverboard motor controller for compatibility with the available firmware connected to your remote controller, Raspberry Pi motherboard, or related third-party accessories.