ABOUT THIS PROJECT
Tell us briefly about your project. Is it a work of art or does it serve another
This project was actually my first real hands-on project, where I was able to create what once was a mere thought. I'd say it is a work of art; the project to me strikes a balance between being aesthetically pleasing to the eye and maintaining its ability to take me around with ease.
When did you start working on this project and how long did it take you to complete?
Well I came up with the idea late November 2009 but started actually building the project in the beginning of February 2010. I knew what I wanted the board to do, but I didn't know exactly how to go about with regards to design. I spent weeks researching what is currently on the market, what is and isn't currently being utilized, different designs, and then after a while I just decided to start building the thing. It took a month and a half to get the board working, from construction to debugging the electronics. It first was controlled with a PlayStation 2 controller, but I decided this year to make it work with a glove. It took a few weeks to research, design, build, and debug the glove and get it working with the board.
What was your goal in building this project?
When I first started it, my goal was to design a trick board where I could do 180's and jump down stairs. After realizing how heavy the board would be and the risks involved with attempting those tricks, I went with a different approach: design the board for solely getting around. My goal then was to just have a board run on electricity and use cutting-edge technology to make it the strongest and lightest board out there.
Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?
It does solve the "riding a skateboard, hitting a rock, and falling on your face in front of an outdoor frat party" problem. This board allows you to cruise through tough terrains without stopping, and it's a very smooth ride. It actually rides on the grass pretty nicely too, which was surprising since the board is powered by one wheel.
What makes your idea unique?
I love to surf and skimboard; there's a sheer joy I get from riding a wave, but riding a skateboard with loose trucks has been the closest I have gone to it living up in Illinois. It's a bummer to be landlocked in the midwest and that method just isn't the same as riding a wave. While having a board run by itself is a start, other electric boards out there are stiff, straight skateboards while mine is a bendable, strong mountainboard. Mountainboards are meant to be abused and absorb lots of the movement you get from a bumpy terrain, so it really feels like I'm gliding on the street. The way the trucks are attached to the board also allow me to have a lower center of gravity, which really gives me the opportunity to carve the street and really give me the feeling that I get when I surf.
My idea is also unique because of the technology that it utilizes. All the boards I came across used technology of the last century, from brush motors to lead batteries. Lead batteries can be about 15 pounds per battery and a brush motor can weigh around 10 pounds. I used a lithium iron phosphate battery, a battery technology leading the way in the hybrid car industry. The battery I picked is only 6 pounds, has around 240 watt hours, and I also used a brushless motor that weighs about 3 pounds, and has around 2 horsepower. My project is also unique because it uses a wireless glove control that I built. I just bend a flexible sensor with my fingers and the board changes the speed based on how far I bend the sensor.
In what capacity are you using bearings and what type of bearings?
I am using Kingpin bearings, a brand with great quality since I am able to really cruise for a long time on my board, even after I stop powering the motor.
What is the most important thing you want people to know about your project?
I want people to take this out of my project: when you follow your dreams, ignore the naysayers, and push yourself to your full potential, you end up achieving things that you previously had never imagined. People far too often underestimate their own strengths and skills, and many brilliant ideas end up just being an idea and nothing more. I want my project to show everyone that they can make anything a reality if they go for it. When I first started the project, I didn't really know about motors and I had to refresh my memory on some of the topics I learned in my classes. If you have the motivation, you can learn everything about a certain topic, as well as master it, and make it your own. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something if you truly believe in what you are shooting for. Also, remember what renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'"
How will you use the $5,000 prize?
I'm planning on going for a Ph.D in the audio and digital signal processing field so I'll be needing the money to use on tuition fees, room and board, books, food, and expenditures of that nature.
If you have any questions or concerns, just ask! Again, sorry for taking so long but there were many question and I wanted to make sure you received a good application. Take care and Happy Holidays!