At TI, we celebrate the makers and hobbyists who enjoy creating and innovating on their own time. In our ongoing DIY with TI series, we share their do-it-yourself inventions that use TI technology.
Why walk when you can scoot faster? Better yet, thought engineer Lucas Schulte while hoofing it from the train station to his office in Dallas, why buy your ride when you can build it for less?
And so began his homebuilt electric scooter project. The scooter hits a top speed of 20 mph and cost just $300 to build. Not bad for an applications engineer with no prior experience with DC motor control or lithium-ion battery cells. "I'm not the first person to make something like this," Lucas said. "But others are significantly more expensive than $300."
Born to DIY
Lucas is no stranger to DIY projects. He was born into it, even though he only discovered electronics while in high school. Growing up in rural Goliad, Texas, he and his family did their own home repairs. But, most importantly, they made things.
Once bitten by the electronics bug, Lucas went on to earn an electrical engineering degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and then joined our company. He and his colleagues build and test reference designs for our customers looking to incorporate our company’s components into their own products.
He started with a pre-built scooter frame, to which he added batteries, a motorized wheel, a microcontroller, and a motor driver booster for getting signals from the controller to the motor and other components.
A major challenge turned out to be the scooter's power supply. Lucas wanted speed and range, and for that he ended up having to build his own battery pack out of 13 lithium-ion battery cells. Connecting those cells required Lucas to design his own case out of 3-D-printed parts and short lengths of PVC pipe. "It's bolted and uses mechanical pressure to hold everything together rather than welding," he said.
Lucas is already planning enhancements for his next scooter design. A new frame will allow him to hide the battery pack. He'd also like to add an active cooling system to keep the battery pack from overheating in the Texas summers. And, he said, "maybe even fantasy things like regenerative braking."
Lucas leads our TI Makerspace, a grassroots initiative that gives employees an open space to collaborate and innovate. The makerspace launched in December 2016 and has grown to about 100 members in the United States. The club offers a collaborative environment during off-hours where TIers can network, learn and work on innovative projects while surrounded by technical expertise from its members.
With the scooter complete, he’s already starting to think about his next DIY project. “Maybe an electric four-wheeler,” he said.
Great project Lucas! I can personally vouch that this thing is fun. Always love to see motors spinning.
Such passion. Such technique.... :D
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