Apr. 10, 2015 | By Alec

All skiers and snowboarders will confirm that speed is the name of the game where these wintery sports are concerned. Snowboards look the coolest for obvious reasons, but are sadly not the most practical. Everyone who has ever opted for one of those will have experienced getting stuck in the flat parts or paths, while being ridiculed by passing skiers. Fortunately, one San Francisco-based engineer said “no more!” and decided to 3D print a jet powered snowboard that can cruise over flat areas with ease.

Jude Gomila is a British-born engineer and entrepreneur, and as he explained on his website the 3D Printed Electric Jet Powered Snowboard was born out of frustration. ‘A snowboarder has two realistic options [when getting stuck]: either completely bomb it down the approaching slope at dangerously high speeds or build a 3D printed electric jet-powered snowboard. I chose to do the latter,’ he writes on his blog.

The design itself was inspired by a Dreamscience design for a jet that you can hold in your hands while snowboarding. I was not too keen to wear a backpack or to hold a bulky bar but rather reach the freedom of the mountains by putting the electric jet directly onto my board,’ Jude explains. So why not incorporate it into a board itself? Fortunately, Jude has shared all its 3D printed designs here and, together with his tips, you can recreate this cool contraption at home. Just a word of warning: this thing can be dangerous. It requires a lot of power, and if you’re not careful you can fry off your fingers or even cut them off through the sheer force of the board. Jude therefore advises everyone to only give this a try if they have a lot of experience with electronics and mechanics.

As he explained, the 3D model itself was designed in Tinkercad software, relying on a board he had lying around. ‘The design is pretty simple and allows for a battery to be placed at the front with enough support to hold around 22lbs of thrust from the jet. There is a small hole carved out for the electronic speed controller,’ Jude says. The actual design was 3D printed in four parts using an Ultimaker 2, after which they were glued together using regular superglue.

But of course the engine is where things get complicated Jude relied on an electric ducted fan with a max thrust of about 22 lbs. However, this needs some serious power to run: 120 Amps, with a max capability of 6000 watts. This was also mounted on the board using Gorilla glue.

To give the user some level of control over the board, Jude wisely included an electronic speed controller as well. ‘It is pretty industrial and can run up to 150Amps @ 50V. The ESC is connected to the battery. The LiPo battery can have 120 Amps drawn from it at 44.4V (12S) and is rated at 4000mAh, meaning I would have around 4 mins of battery time at max thrust (or 8 mins at half power),’ he explains. This entire setup will need some detailed wiring to connect everything up, so soldering experience is crucial. ‘I bought a cheap wireless throttle that essentially outputs a servo signal. The receiver of the wireless throttle was powered by 4 AA batteries,’ Jude adds.

Indoor test.

If you’ve carefully followed all of these steps, its time for the fun step. Test all the subsystems to ensure everything is safely and properly connected, and jump onboard (preferably indoors, rather than on the slopes). In Jude’s experience everything eventually worked perfectly (after a few iterations), even out in the snow. ‘I tested it in Kirkwood, Tahoe, US and it worked! Holding the gopro camera and throttle was a little tricky but the ride was smooth. I got speeds of up to 15 mph on the flat,’ he says.

Testing the board in the snow.

While this already a fun (albeit dangerous) construction as it is, Jude is already envisioning several upgrades for his 3D printed electrical jet snowboard. These plans include adding greater flexibility and movement options to the board, increasing safety through finger guards, waterproofing and a cut-off switch, and even a gas jet engine that can power boards uphill. It looks like Back to the Future’s hoverboards are finally becoming a reality, thanks to 3D printing technology. 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Bub wrote at 4/14/2015 9:03:35 PM:


Jon S wrote at 4/10/2015 5:07:41 PM:

This is a ducted fan, not a jet.

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