Electric Unicycle Motorbike, One Wheeled Skateboard, Two Wheeled Skateboard, all Self-Balancing.

John Dingley      email: self-balancing-skateboard@sky.com   
A site about all things that self-balance from around the world and in particular the machines I have built myself.
Yes, they existed long before Christmas 2015 "hoverboards" gave self-balancers a bad name.
Why do this? Because there is still much to learn in this area and you can genuinely innovate even as a hobbyist.
You can only do so much on a computer, you then have to actually build something. These days that last part often never happens.
Above: November 2016. More to come on this. Now has 800W motor, new lower frame, custom sprocket for zero backlash. Safety skid now electrically deployable!

Feb 2017: Project underway to try to make a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for this. Very few electric CVT projects exist on the web so once again developing almost on my own with this one. If it works it will be really useful i.e. slow on hills with high torque, faster on level ground, all seamless, assuming the CVT can be made to work AND it doesn't upset the self-balance computer.....quite a few variables then. I have a separate website logging my CVT built efforts: Click Here
"Blue Streak" machine testing mid-2016. Works really well at last, great fun to ride. Would make a great beach patrol vehicle. On right, Nick Thatcher on his "Jackal".

YouTube Video

Main updates late 2016 in this video clip. Bigger motor, large sprocket for zero backlash, new lower frame.

YouTube Video

Artistic video riding the Blue Streak on the beach. Actually easier to ride on hard sand than on tarmac. I have no idea why.
This version was been featured on Hackaday in June 2016: Click Here
If you want to watch a similar video in side-by-side 3D on Google Cardboard glasses, here it is: Click here
The "Skid": I knew the "skid" would be the hardest thing to get right. A wheel out front for safety would be fine but look rubbish so I tried a skid type design (below).
I also tried a thing that looked like a rocket on a pylon (above). 3D printed nosecone was deliberately super thin and broke off to reveal a roller skate safety nosewheel.
In the end I redesigned the skid so it electrically extends or retracts.
Looking good on the beach. Cannot help thinking this might make a really fun personal moon rover!
Much was made in the comments on the Hackaday site over the fact that our selfie-stick was actually made out of, wait for it, a stick.
If you are on a beach and only have some cable ties in the mini-toolkit, a piece of driftwood is the only way to go...

YouTube Video

Riding around at a local classic car show May 2016

                               PROJECT UPDATE RECENT HISTORY
June-Nov 2015: Redesign of the MediCycle Urban Responder, now is the "Blue Streak" (above). 
Named after the cancelled (of course) Blue Streak 1950's British intercontinental missile with Rolls Royce engines. 
(If you see one up close it is amazing - thin stainless steel with complex strengthening ribs and thousands of flush rivets) 
Deployable skid added Dec 2015: After bad fall I needed some kind of front mounted tiny safety wheels or similar. Very hard to make this look cool. The Ryno has a big metal frame out front which is functional but not pretty. Furthermore it mustn't dig into ground if I fall forwards else will go over handlebars, I actually want it to skid along the ground as I hold my legs out each side and slide to a halt. So, why not have a front skid type design which is airborne normally, with a nice chromed/alloy coil-over-shock damper in it? This has now been made. Pad at front of seat for protection when fall forwards. Alloy bodywork with flush fasteners. Going for the 1950's early jet aircraft look.
Jan2016: Twin wheeled PneuSkateV2 skateboard with Bluetooth Nunchuck hand control (scroll down for more).
Jan 2016 to Nov 2016: Various crash structures tried but settled on retractable skid. 800W motor, redesigned lower frame, large custom sprocket gives no backlash.
If a skid is good enough for a SHADO Moonbase UFO Interceptor, it is good enough for me.

YouTube Video

Two crashes, one (accidental) without and one (deliberate) with the front skid. The first one hurt a lot !
Note how skid still digs into ground and does not "skid", may need tiny wheels after all. Damper worked well though.

Future plans: Fly by wire steering system, yes really. Replace the VW Beetle damper with a linear actuator and get the thing to steer itself - in straight line only as the initial goal. Entering totally uncharted territory now, where the real excitement is of course, this is why I do this hobby.
Taking a rest in the bunker. The helmet and armoured jacket are essential when you fall off, which does happen.

YouTube Video

MediCycle-Mini and Jackal unicycles running together with on board cameras. Oct 26th 2015
October 2015: The machine now had no data readouts at all, just an LED. 
Data on Torque, Angle and Battery volts was sent via wireless to a wearable display in front of the right eye.
Here I am adjusting it. This has now morphed into a potential commercial product, the ViVi wearable data display click here for VIDEO.
Website:   www.vivi.vision       ............looking for further investment capital.

Twin pneumatic tyres. LiFePO4 disability scooter 24V battery. Arduino Nano. Wireless Bluetooth steering and deadman switch within a Wii Nunchuck shell.

YouTube Video of PneuSkate2 2016



Twin-wheel chopper, a one wheeled Vespa scooter styled machine and an early big dangerous one wheeled motorbike as part of a Hackaday competition.

Raleigh Chopper inspired unicycle (well, actually it is a di-wheel). 
Winter 2014.        This is finished now and I have an "Instructable" with build instructions for this here: Self-balancing Chopper

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Video of the ultra-dangerous full sized original Hackaday-competition MediCycle at Maker Faire 2015 Newcastle UK.

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 Video of the Chopper project in action.
                        MEDICYCLE URBAN RESPONDER Summer 2014 (The full sized ultra-dangerous MediCycle).

JUNE 2014: I entered the Hackaday Competition with Nick Thatcher and David Williams. 
The entry was the Medicycle, twin-tyre unicycle design. Best project yet hopefully, here is the link:
OCTOBER 2014:  We reached the semi-finals from 800 entries which is not bad. The rules required the device to be "connected"
as part of its core functionality, and, to be honest, our medical data streaming to the web was a little contrived and clearly not absolutely 
essential to the working of a self-balancing unicycle! Thanks to everyone who supported us. We were also filmed by Discovery channel for 
their "Daily Planet" programme, due for broadcast October 2014 in North America and Canada.
 Click on link below to watch this, we are lead story of this episode.

Link to Daily Planet Programme (NOTE: this only will work in Canada), select 17th October (episode 155) from menu:

YouTube Video

Uni-Mig at Newcastle Maker Faire UK April 2014. Video below along with Nick Thatcher and his Jackal one wheeled motorbike. The Uni-Mig was an experiment where I built something with a single wide tyre and low weight distribution, very much like a Vespa scooter, but with just one wheel of course. Worked pretty well and had good low speed steering control.

YouTube Video

Thanks, Rebel Legion UK. Stormtrooper demonstrates the Uni-Mig.

More on the UNI-МИГ 01 (Uni-Mig) in Link (19) in left hand menu.

For many more examples check out the links page in left hand menu.

1) "Parallel bicycle" developed in 1987 by Kazuo Yamafuji. Japanese patent 1996: Link to paper in Japanese

2) Segway unveiled 2001 3rd December. Dean Kamen.
Based on iBot wheelchair which introduced 1999, in development for several years prior to that.

3) First one-wheeled self-balance skateboard was made by Ben Smithers in 2007 the UK and had a wide go-kart tyre. Steered by leaning onto one edge of the tyre.

This is the project that got me into this hobby. Web page

4) I had no idea how the balance software worked. To the rescue came Shane Colton who lectures at MIT 
and had put a lecture up on the web explaining how the complementary filter that fuses the outputs of an
accelerometer and a solid state gyro actually works: Balance filter lecture notes as a pdf file

5) Trevor Blackwell made one of first DIY Segways but also a one wheeler, also with example code I could study.  Trevor Blackwell page
This was enough for me to get started making something.

6) Rodger Cleye Leviskate of 2008. Also an early home-built one wheeled skateboard: Video
There is another video of him riding it while playing a guitar, as you do..........Video

7) Kyle Doerksen, 2008/2009. An early hobbyist who also built a single wheeled skateboard type machine.
Remember the name as he will pop up again a few years later!

8) The Emanual 2004 by Justin Lemire-ElmoreMatt Chudleigh, Don Clarke. Twin wheeled skateboard which can turn on the spot etc.
Presumably this must be the first self-balance skateboard ever made by anyone. Used downward facing ultrasonic and Sharp infra-red distance sensors at one end.

9) The Einrad-Fahrzeug 2001. Was first self-balancing unicycle in the world. 
Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Klaus Hofer from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, 
the University of Applied Sciences (FH) Bielefeld. Link to web page: Click here

10) The Enicycle 2008. Aleksander Polutnik from Slovenia. Unicycle but crucially demonstrates a steering linkage that moves wheel
onto one edge so machine has better steering control than just leaning to one side. This linkage is operated by pushing on the foot
pegs but obviously you could link it to handlebars for example. Also note that it has a steering damper. 
It was also featured on UK Channel 5 "The Gadget Show"                  Enicycle video

11) RYNO 2008. Chris Hoffman and Tony Ozrelic. First attempt to make commercial one wheeled motorbike with 
steering linkage etc. More on Ryno below (Chinese seem to have tried to copy it). Ryno website

12) SBU Self Balancing Unicycle (SBU) Daniel Wood. Approx 2008. Focus Designs. Making small commercial unicycles that self-balance.

13) SoloWheel 2010. First of the stand with foot each site, no handlebar, no seat, self-balancing one wheelers.
Actually, the electronics design and some mechanical features of the SoloWheel were done by Focus Designs, i.e. is close to an SBU with the seat removed. 
Bear this in mind as stand up electric unicycle clones of this basic design now saturate the market from China, the Airwheel being a well known one.
I really doubt the SBU or the SoloWheel guys derive any benefit from sale of all those clone machines.
Here is a very interesting article on Shane Chen's disputes with the counterfeiters in China, worth reading: Article LA Times
You could argue that these machines infringe the Segway patents as the Segway patents do describe a concept with one wheel and footrests each side.
However you could also argue that the Japanese Kazuo Yamafuji robot was the first to use an accelerometer and gyro to self-balance and this was public domain information predating all self-balancers no matter how many wheels they might have. A bit of a mess really.

14) 2014 Kickstarter for commercial production of a one (wide) wheeled skateboard: The OneWheel
$630,000 raised. Includes Kyle Doerksen who started out as hobbyist remember around 2008/9, see above. Well done for following your dream!
Has some kind of special small but high torque hub motor.

15) Clint Rutkas. Experimenting with a twin wheeled board around 2009. Inspiring as he went for quite a complex approach,
clever coding and documented all his struggles to get it to balance, including it punching holes in the walls of his apartment.

16) Charles F Taylor, a farmer from the US, who worked on the other way of doing this, i.e. big spinning gyroscopes to mechanically keep a 
vehicle level. His work was almost forgotten but then some old video was put online: Amazing CF Taylor video
and then two bikers decided to recreate one of his machines, now called the CTRIG.............
One is Sidecar-Willy, incidentally also featured further down as a pioneer of one wheeled sled-type motorbike racing
and the founder of the American National Unimotorcyclists Society (ANUS).

17) Nick Thatcher who built a Segway aged 19, then moved seriously into one-wheeled motorbike designs. 
Has just started University in the same town I live in in the UK, which is good as he is probably the only other person in the UK with this hobby.

18) What about those monowheels where you sit inside the wheel?
Modern versions seem to rely on user shifting their weight. Here is a current example by Dave Southall, TV star!:Click Here.
However, in 1930's there was at least one that had a steering system tilting the wheel onto edge of its tyre while, crucially, 
it kept the contact point under the rider. Engine/seat moved left/right on a kind of concealed curved track front and rear. 
I know of no modern equivalent. 
Any university engineering depts. want to have a go at a modern version, Adelaide perhaps? Here is the only video I 
have seen with one of these steerable machines in action called "L’invenzione della moto-ruota", 
an Italian machine, filmed in France:     Click Here

First of all, what are these "hoverboard" things from China that have reputation for catching fire?
OK, think of standing with two solowheel type devices, with one foot on each as below....
If you tip both feet forwards (tips of toes downwards) you will move forwards. Tip one foot down and the other up and you will rotate.
Join both machines together at the centre with a pivot, and you essentially have a "hoverboard":
........and that is all on hoverboards.



New one June 2015, the "Eight-Ball" made by "Furbi". No idea which country it is from, does anyone know?

YouTube Video

Eight-ball looks really good on this video. Motors and battery within wheel, steering linkage.

"RoboWell Juno" unicycle from Russia. Bluetooth controlled from your phone. Hub motor. Proper steering system.
01/12/14 I have just been sent a link to this brilliant DIY one wheeler from Russia on YouTube built by Vyacheslav Kulakov. He has a 2 wheeler as well but the monowheel is really good. 

YouTube Video

Robowell Juno


My own classification of self-balancing one wheelers (so far):
1) Stand-on (skateboard style).
2) Stand-astride (Solowheel type design)
2) Unicycle (i.e. seat on top of wheel like a unicycle, e.g. the Enicycle or a one wheeled motorbike e.g. the Ryno)
3) Seat-forward ("Riot wheel" for example, seat in front of large wheel    http://www.theriotwheel.com/  )
4) Seat-behind (See Russian patent diagram at bottom of this page, where seat is behind a large wheel)
5) Prone-forward (See concept CAD image towards bottom of this page where rider is ahead of a large wheel lying prone).
6) Prone-unicycle (rider is more or less prone but above the main wheel.
7) Inside-wheel (Large hollow wheel with seat inside the rim of the wheel) as in older fully mechanical designs.

Note: There is also a Prone-behind category of drag motor bike where the bike drags itself along by a single front wheel with the rider hanging on behind. 
These do not self-balance though and are more like a powered sled: http://www.unimoto.ch/histoire/histoireeng.html

One wheeled skateboard and Segway style machines.

2008 First machine that actually worked.                        The "Hot Wheel" variant.                                            The "Thing" V1. See link (4) on left.
See link (16) on left.

Two wheeled skateboard style machines
Twin wheeler, batteries in deck.  "Easy build" version.              With carbon fibre deck                    With ply deck.                           "Pneu-skate" with pneumatic tyres.
See link (1) on left.                    See link (3) on left.                                                                       See Link (6) on left.                    See link (2) on left.

Special ones:
Concept to put mechanism in a rucksack                  Best Skateboard so far. Compact, has Headway LiFePo4 cells and pneumatic tyres.
Extending handle also acts as handlebar and             I am unlikely to significantly improve on this skateboard type design. Wii-Nunchuck is for steering and trim.
is ridden like a small Segway.                                  Now running as PneuSkateV2 with different battery and electronics plus wireless bluetooth.

Also see my "Instructables" DIY skateboard page for build instructions for a skateboard design with 2 wheels.

Solowheel type machines where you stand on the footpegs each side.
Abandoned for now as too dangerous. May work eventually but high chance of injury while ironing out the bugs!  See link (17) on left.

Monowheel projects

The "Thing" version 2 Derby Mini Maker Faire UK November 2013 with Nick Thatcher and his "Raptor" machine (far left and far right). This used all my 
old large monowheel skateboard parts to create a unicycle. Welded on unicycle seat and handlebars. It worked much better than expected.

The Tumblebug science fiction one wheeled motorbike.      The Uni-Mig 01 (UNI-МИГ 01), many parts now in the MediCycle (see top of page).

Assorted other curiosities...........
 Horseless 2 wheeled chariot seen in 1896 advert for first motor show ever in United Kingdom
 (Brown County Democrat, December 28, 1900.)   - The "Footomobile" of the future!

YouTube Video

Video of the "Easy-build" version I put up on the Instructables website in 2010. Had Arduino "brain" and lead-acid batteries.

YouTube Video

Video of the fully developed compact twin-wheel skateboard with LiFePO4 batteries and pneumatic tyres, May 2013. 
As you can see, the more you try, the better you get!

Has anyone else built one of these?
Oh yes! Ages currently range from 12yrs to 81yrs.
This Instructable is over a year old now, so yes indeed, people have. Here are a few I know of:
1)   Skateboard:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSW7YXLCjqk
2)   Skateboard:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-uUidBZEnM
3)   The Velociryder:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvfUIxusPZw&feature=player_embedded
4)   Great board video - Buffalo State College senior project:
5)   Another board based on this Instructable:  
6)   A board based on old FIRST robotics parts + code from this instructable (FIRST robotics was started by Dean Kamen who also invented the Segway, to encourage youth to get interested in engineering):   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh9LpNQ_S0k&feature=related
7)   Carbon fiber racing car seat with 2 wheels also based on this instructable - the SciChair:
8)   Carey's self-balancing platform, good video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngMJcxeB7og


Could this be ridden?                                                            Here is a similar one with a rear swivel caster for good measure.
Well this guy, Jackie Chabanais could probably ride it 
using good old fashioned circus-style skill:      Click Here




Would need a pretty big rocket to get 
that to the moon!

This look as if it was drawn (for a computer game) based on my original 1 wheeled "Thing" (link 4 on left) but who knows?

This is so cool. Was it ever built? Looks like a Soviet era patent. Does anyone have any information? Seat-behind design.

Inside-wheel designs.

Prone-Unicycle design
Dave Southalls' Red Max monowheel and "Sidecar Willy" pioneer of unimoto racing (Prone-behind design)
Here is a video of the American National Unimotorcyclists Society (ANUS) in action: Click for video
Dave has his own website "Dave Southalls' Engineering Experiments from the shed"
and recently had his own TV show on the Discovery "Quest" channel.

I think I might have to build a full-scale one of these - that works.


Unusual Prone-forward design. Riot wheel.

So called "Redneck Segway."   Not sure how well it balances though.

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