When you hear the word “Hoverboard”, do you get nostalgic and think about the one used in the “Back to the Future” movie franchise? Though the hoverboard depicted in the movies can levitate, we haven’t been able to witness it in real life just yet.
Rather, what we have are self-balancing scooters (considered as hoverboards). These self balancing scooters are nicknamed hoverboards because of their ability to make you feel like you’re hovering over the ground.
They are loads of fun to use and are pretty great for commuting as well. But what makes them move? How are they able to move autonomously?
Read on to find out how hoverboards work as I take you through the main contents and their functions.
How Does A Hoverboard Work?
Hoverboards are self-balancing scooters that use wheels to get around and can’t actually hover. They’re considered hoverboards because of their sensors that help them maintain balance. These sensors read the user’s body movements and accordingly move in the appropriate direction.
Now, I know that most of you won’t be happy with the hoverboards of today, but fear not. Levitating hoverboards are not far off and they would use the force of magnetism to hover over the ground and get you places.
The Main Components of a Hoverboard
To understand how the hoverboard of today works, let’s take a look at its main components:
- The Logic Board
- Two Gyroscopes (situated next to the wheels)
- Two Hub Motors (situated in the wheels along with Tilt and Speed sensors)
- A Battery Pack
Let’s take a look at how each of these components work.
The Logic Board
Similar to all electronic devices, the hoverboard has a logic board (motherboard) that acts as the brain of the device. It receives information from the sensors and gyroscopes and relays commands to the other working parts of the hoverboard such as the battery and motor to drive the wheels.
For example, there are some hoverboards that come with different riding modes. These modes are controlled by the logic board.
In simple terms, the logic board connects all the components of the hoverboard together to form a single unit. Without the logic board you’d have a pointless piece of tech with no apparent use for it.
Two Gyroscopes (situated in the wheels)
The gyroscopes in a hoverboard are what help them “self-balance”. They are normally situated right next to the wheel and use the speed and tilt information generated by their respective sensors to maintain balance with the help of the logic board.
You can find a gyroscope in many devices today such as your smartphone, cameras, drones and so on. These chip-sets can be calibrated when they act up or if they seem out of sync and that’s what makes them user friendly.
Hoverboards normally would face issues after a point in time with their gyroscopes, all you’d have to do is basically re-calibrate the gyroscopes to zero to fix the issue.
Two Hub Motors (situated in the wheels along with Tilt and Speed sensors)
Hoverboards are equipped with two motors, one in each wheel. This is done so that each wheel can move independently from the other at different speeds. If there was only a single motor in the hoverboard, you would not be able to turn and only travel in one direction, talk about a boring ride.
Anyway, these wheels are geared and come with tilt and speed sensors that track your bodily movements and send instructions to the gyroscopes and logic board to either increase speed, turn, slow down or stop.
They might look like plain old wheels, but underneath all that rubber there are quite a few technological things happening out of sight.
A Battery Pack
The battery pack is what keeps the hoverboard going, it powers the motors and helps run the logic board which enables you to move around. There are different battery packs available out there but most hoverboards come equipped with 36V 4400mAh battery packs.
It’s good to note that if the hoverboard costs relatively less than others in the market, it’s probably using a smaller capacity battery pack. So make sure to check the wattage and capacity of the battery pack before buying a hoverboard.
The Technology That Runs Your Hoverboard
Hoverboards don’t run with the help of an application on your smartphone or by using a remote. Everything that you need to control your hoverboard is situated beneath your feet.
Underneath the foot-pads, you would find a total of 4 switches two on either side. It’s these switches that control how you move around on the hoverboard and which direction to follow.
The switches are positioned in such a way that if you apply pressure on the switch in the front, you’ll signal the hoverboard to move forward. Similarly, if you apply pressure on the switches at the back then you’d slow down, stop or move in reverse.
So if you’re looking to turn around or follow a certain direction, you can try either of the following.
- If you activate the right front switch then only the right wheel will accelerate forward.
- If you activate the left rear switch then the left wheel will accelerate backward.
This will make you turn left, in order to turn right use the left forward switch and the right rear switch in unison.
So basically, hoverboards work by following this pattern.
- When you stand on the hoverboard the floorboard switches trigger an infrared LED light that activates the sensors to keep the board stagnant and in one position.
- When you lean forward or apply pressure only on the front switches, the switch will turn off the infrared light and sensor notifying the logic board to run the motor.
- The tilt sensors situated in the wheels let the logic board know when to go faster or slower. Leaning forward on the hoverboard activates the tilt sensors that inform the gyroscope how far forward you’re leaning. This then gets relayed to the logic board which will determine the speed the hoverboard should travel at.
It takes a little getting used to but riding a hoverboard is fun and can really bring a smile to your face.
So there you have it, hoverboards are quite similar to skateboards or scooters but rely on your body weight to move around. In short, they work by using your center of gravity along with the gyroscope, motor and logic board to propel you forward, backward, left or right.
How Do I Work My Hoverboard?
Hoverboards may not seem like everyone’s cup of tea as there’s no support when you’re on it. It will take a bit of falling down before you can actually get the hang of riding one. So, if you’re disheartened, don’t worry because I’ll guide you step by step on how to ride a hoverboard without falling down.
- Start by placing your hoverboard on a flat and even surface. This is done to calibrate the gyroscope and set the balance. Also, starting off on a flat surface eliminates the chances of you slipping and falling.
- Now that the hoverboard is on a flat surface, turn on the hoverboard (you must turn on the hoverboard before stepping on it to activate the self-balancing function.)
- Place one foot on the hoverboard as close to the wheel as possible (choose your most dominant foot so there’s no loss of balance).
- When you know that you’re stable, place the second foot on the hoverboard close to the other wheel (this is done to give you a wider stance which results in better stability)
Stand straight and stay still until you’re certain you are ready to begin.
Tip: Most hoverboards come with a Beginners Mode. If you’re skeptical and would love to learn then start with one that has this mode available and start from scratch.
- Once you’re ready to move around, start by gently leaning forward. Make sure your ankles are the only joints moving and maintain a straight waist for optimal balance.
- The turns are similar to what was explained earlier, to head left, push your right toe downward while keeping your left foot still. You can also try leaning in that particular direction. Similar for turning left but with the opposite feet.
Another thing to remember is that while stopping a hoverboard things may get tricky and you’ll fall down.
Here’s how you can safely dismount your hoverboard:
- Begin by shifting your weight to your dominant foot.
- Proceed to step off backward with the other foot and then step off completely.
Stepping off forward can result in the hoverboard shoot out from under your feet. It’s safer to step off backward.
Hoverboards are compact, don’t cost too much and are fun to use, if it was not for the advancement in technology we’d still be using skateboards today. So, now that you know how hoverboards work, why don’t you head on out there and give one a go.
Trust me, you won’t regret it