Pullman Light-weight All-terrain and Inexpensive Driver

Or Simply Project P.L.A.I.D.

I’m not a huge fan of walking. It’s not so much the effort and workout of it as it is the inefficiency. Why would I walk to class in 15 minutes when I could bike there in 5, or even better ride something motorized and not be all sweaty and hot when I get there? Yes, of course there’s an argument to be made for physical health from walking and mental health from being outside but I’m already a college student so it would be a drop in the ocean. lucky for me I’ve got the electric moped and the $24 motorcycle and they are way too much fun to ride to campus. That is they are great when the roads look like this. Bone dry and uncomfortably hot.

“Girlfriend for warmth Scale”

And not like, two feet of snow and ice rinks where there used to be roads.

“Girlfriend for cold scale”

Point is, Pullman has some cold winters with a lot of this slippery white stuff. Two wheels can only get you so far in the winters and most of the time it’s just outright dangerous to try.

Design Criteria

The goal is to build a vehicle that has the stability of a car in the snow but the weight and portability of the electric moped. It also needs to comply with WAC 504-15-930 which defines what kind of personal transportation is allowed on campus. I’ve had some issues with the moped not complying so I want to do it right this time.

The best idea that came to mind that fulfilled the criteria was an electric mountainboard. Mountain boards are skateboards with much larger pneumatic wheels, a better suspension, straps to hold you to the board, and often a brake. The four points of contact would make it much more stable on loose surface, the straps would make it easy to manipulate, and best of all it would Comply with WAC 504-15-930.

(1) The riding and use of bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and roller skates is prohibited on all building plazas, all pedestrian overpasses, interior building spaces, parking structures, parking structure ramps, all stairways, steps, ledges, benches, planting areas, any other fixtures, and in any other posted area.
(2) Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and roller skates may be ridden and used on sidewalks outside the prohibited areas when a bike path is not provided.


WAC 504-15-930 has no different definition for an electric skateboard so the electric mountain board should be able to go anywhere a skateboard is allowed to go.

Powering a Mountain Board

There are some retrofit kits out there to power a mountain board but they come in at around $500 for the cheapest and only use one motor and only power one wheel, there is also that I don’t own a mountain board. The ideal situation would be to use one of the motors and speed controllers I already have from the electric bike and electric moped project which should have plenty of power for plowing through snow, set it up to power two wheels off only one motor to avoid any of the countersteer and traction issues from only powering one wheel, and be able to easily ad a mechanical brake. Most e-boards use regenerative braking to slow down but the speed controllers that can do that safely are really expensive. All the ones I have are super cheap Chinese e-bike speed controllers with an e-brake setting that would probably get me killed. That’s why I used disc brakes on the moped to achieve progressive braking. After looking around and doing some research on designs I found this awesome youtube video by homesteadonomics where he makes a mountain board completely from scratch, including the trucks!

The best part about his style build is it would allow me to build the skateboard trucks myself. I wasn’t aware until I saw this video that skateboards turn by angling the trucks in such a way that when the deck is tilted it forces the wheels to turn into the direction the board is angling. On most skateboards, this angle is built into the design of the truck itself so the skateboard deck can be flat. Saber trucks have a good picture demonstrating how this is accomplished along with a awesome description on their website.

Image result for skateboard truck angle

Mountain boards accomplish this angling differently by building the angle into the skateboard deck itself. This makes the trucks a lot simpler to manufacture compared to ones with a built-in compound angle. Best of all this will allow me to design a live axle transmission into the rear truck. This means I can use a single motor to power both rear wheels and even attach a disc brake that would stop both. Finally with the general design concept out of the way I’m going to get started piecing it all together in CAD. Stay posted for the next update where I’ll show you how the CAD model turned out and the design choices I made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.