By Ryan Needle, A 14-Year–Old High School Freshman
One day I woke up with an idea in my head; several months later, I was riding on a self-designed and self-assembled fully functioning work of engineering. The idea of turning the hilly roads of my neighborhood into an endless downhill slope was made possible by creating an electric skateboard. With my experience with remote control cars, boats, helicopters and drones, I knew it was the next project for me. After weeks of research and persuasion of my parents to give me the go ahead, I began my project.
In the initial stages, I used a computerized design program to create a 3D model of the board I was going to build. When designing and building the board, it was important for me to consider safety, durability, ease of use, appearance, top speed and maximum distance. I personally designed the custom deck and the motor mount on the board.
To cut out the deck, I printed out a full size image of the deck to tape to the wood and act as cutting lines. The length and width of the deck was designed to provide stability when riding at high speeds. I also added a protective sealant of polyurethane to keep the wood in good shape and bring out its natural color.
At first, I had designed a 3D printed motor mount that would clamp onto the trucks of the skateboard. After a few test rides, it was apparent that the plastic 3D printed part was not strong enough to remain in the same place during a ride. After this failure, I designed a motor mount to be cut out of a sheet of aluminum and welded to the trucks. I had the mount cut out and then had it welded to the trucks. During this process, I found a welder and machinist to provide the necessary assistance. They were both impressed and delighted to see a young student pursuing something as complicated as this project.
Choosing the right motor and gearing were important because I needed enough torque and acceleration to propel a rider up hills as well as generate enough speed to make it an efficient mode of transportation. The motor is a brushless motor, and can spin at a maximum of 6,370 rpm with the batteries I had selected. These batteries were lithium-polymer which are a lightweight but powerful option. I wired two 3S lipo batteries in series to create a 6S battery; when fully charged, it produced 25.2 volts. I then used a smaller gear on the motor and a larger gear on the wheel to keep the speeds of the board safe, not overheat the motor, and provide enough torque.
The board was controlled by a handheld remote. The remote controls the speed of the board and can also control the brake. The motor used a brake, which slowed down the board and also used regenerative braking to recharge the battery powering the board.
Finally, I thought it would be beneficial if I could charge my phone while riding the skateboard, so I created a charging system which used the motor as a generator. This required changing the AC current coming from the motor into DC current to charge a phone. To do this, I used a three phase rectifier which converted the AC current into DC. In order to charge my iPhone, I needed only 5 volts. I was generating 12 to 24 volts from my motor, so I used a transformer that converted this down to 5 volts.
During a number of test rides around a high school track, I reached a top speed of 25 MPS and a maximum distance of about 4 miles. If more distance was necessary, I could use batteries with a higher capacity or add two more batteries wired in parallel to double the maximum distance. During one full ride, the board can boost an iPhone’s battery level by 40%. Riding the board is an exhilarating experience where I can carve up hills, move on flat ground and down hills.
I entered this project in a local Science and Engineering Fair and received many awards. I won first place in the United States Air Force Outstanding Engineering Fair Project, first place in the Achievers League for Most Creative Project, and third place in The American Society of Mechanical Engineers for Excellence in Engineering.
Looking back on this project, I think about how much I learned about mechanics, electricity and so much more. I am grateful for the assistance and wisdom from the people I met along the way. The board is a blast to ride. Every time I hit the throttle and zoom uphill on my board I put one more person in awe.
The Skiffs is something new from the folks over at Orangatang Wheels.
Like everything these guys do, the video is very creative and the press release humorous and irreverent. It’s good to know that no flamingos were harmed in the making of this wheel.
The wheels was designed for all-terrain use. It is a utilitarian alternative to a traditional street wheel for riding faster, steeper, rougher, and longer.
The pink AF core increases speed to blinding proportions and is specifically designed to annoy friends, family, and passersby. The 35x38mm core with a deep valley-shaped cross section keeps the rounded lips firmly supported, promoting smooth, consistent slides and even wear. The stone-ground contact patch ensures predictable and buttery slides right out of the box.
The Skiff is poured in our tried-and-true Happy Thane for a balance of high speed, comfortable roll, reliable traction, and clean slides.
How did you come up with the idea of Gorilla Palms?
I started skating at around 8 years old, but by the time I graduated college I had gotten away from it for a while, mostly just skating through campus with my dog. But I started to get back into it, and new concrete parks were popping up everywhere. So there I was skating; I don’t go huge, but I love the beauty of the tricks.
Slams were painful, but most notably on my hands and I work with my hands. So I was trying to be smart and protect my hands from the bruises. Wrist guards didn’t have any padding and wearing two of them was obnoxious and restricting. Wrist guards also slid on the concrete, which I didn’t want because I couldn’t catch myself like I normally do. So I would wrap my hands up in an Ace bandage but those got disgusting.
Then, one day at the skate park, I had the idea to make my own product and I started trying to figure out how to make Gorilla Palms. I came up with the name instantly – it just seemed to make sense.
I personally don’t go that big, or skate vert, so I don’t really want to wear a normal wrist brace unless I have an injury. But I do like to put a little padding between my palms and the concrete. I think if they made a wrist guard with padding I might have just bought them, but no one did that I knew of. The main thing I dislike about typical wrist guards are the plastic splints; they always jab into the back of my hand, and don’t cushion the impact. There are a few good pair of wrist guards out there now, but no real options; they are all basically the same design.
Why do you call Gorilla Palms “the anti glove”?
I like to call them the anti wrist guard because they are designed for your palms and not as much for your wrists. Gorilla Palms don’t actually restrict the wrists from motion, they’re smaller and more low profile and give you a little cushion over the palm of the hand. They’re great for people who already have a palm injury, cuts or bruises, and those people normally aren’t looking for a wrist guard.
I know that you’re a proficient art director. How has skateboarding influenced your art and your work as an art director?
Skateboard art has been a major influence for me artistically and professionally. The bright graphic printing and the subject matter have definitely influenced my art. As an art director, it’s great to be able to follow the art and trends of skateboard graphics. The photography also has been a major influence. Skateboard lifestyle photography and trick shots are all really inspiring action-oriented works that I try to interpret and borrow in my own work.
It seems like skateboarding is at an odd place at the moment. Penny is the largest skate– the constant social media, images and videos. Does anyone have time to actually skate?
Yes, it’s crazy! You go to the skate spots and see everyone is trying to film on their phones, or with GoPros – there is so much out there now. I try to focus on only watching the most creative stuff. There are a couple of cool Instagram accounts that I follow, like Skate Crunch Mag, and Shralpin. They usually show the clips that are fun, creative, and different, not just huge, death-defying stunts.
I think I’ve fallen away from the Thrasher mentality, and am much more of a fan of the beauty of technical tricks, and the feeling of smooth concrete under my wheels. I make time to skate, but it’s hard, and never enough. The hardest part is trying to skate and having all your homies say, “Film this trick for me”. Then it takes an hour of tries before you maybe get something on tape. It really does show how good the guys were back in the day, to put down on expensive tape, with huge clumsy cameras.
One thing that is true for skateboarding now is that the tricks have become so technical. I think that is awesome. Flip in and flip out of ledge tricks was something of a legend back in the day – and now your average skater does tricks like that on his or her Instagram account, and it’s clean. More people filming also means more inspiration, and it’s that old fact that once someone does something and everyone finds out, more and more people start to be able to do that thing, and then do it better.
Lastly, I think pump tracks and flow sections are coming back to parks, and that too is awesome. If you’re going to build a million dollar skatepark, don’t just put stairs and ledges – we can find that on the street. But the flow bowls and pump tracks are fun! And they can even broaden the range of skaters who participate. It’s like a revamp of the 70’s style snake runs, but more evolved.
Current #1 downhill skateboarder in the world, Max Ballesteros, is always charging and looking to go faster. The RAD Team worked closely with Max to develop a proprietary high rebound urethane formula to increase roll speed without compromising grip. After over a year in development, they finally found the wheel Max has been looking for.
This Pro-model features a proprietary high rebound urethane to maximize roll speed. While the shape is based off the Advantage, the unique urethane changes the ride characteristic to suit Max’s go-fast style of riding. After finalizing the urethane formula, Max settled on the softer 77a durometer to maximize grip with the higher rebound urethane. It features the crown Core with a 74mm diameter and 61mm Contact patch. This wheel is designed to have fun in the fastest way you can.
Check them out on YouTube.