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About a year ago, i joined a group of hackers to take part in the Nokia Push Challenge, which was basically a hacking contest brought up to advertise the N900 smartphone that was released at the end of 2009. The teams were asked to come up with creative ideas to use the phone.
The Solderin’ Skaters wanted to equip a skateboard with motion sensors in order to use it as a real life gamecontroller for a skating game running on the smartphone. the skateboard sends 6-DOF IMU-data to the phone via Bluetooth. a software on the phone uses datamining in order to detect the tricks the skater performed and award those with points in the game.

skateboard complete

i was one of the two hardware people that build the skateboard. the electronics were designed by the other guy and my main task was to mount them to the skateboard, sp o in this post, i will only focus on this aspect of the project.
what sounds simple at first is in fact fairly difficult. besides the strong vibrations while riding the skateboard, huge g-forces are applied to the electronics when you land a trick. another problem is that almost every part of the skateboard is exposed to kicks, scratches and impacts, which has to be kept in mind when searching for a spot to mount the electronics. additional constraints are Bluetooth connectivity and the sensitive LiPoly battery that powers the system.

spacer closeup

we decided to put everything between the deck and the trucks of the skateboard. therefor i designed a special mounting consisting of four important parts. first a frame that holds the electronics in place and protects them from impacts. second a set of transparent covers that allow to observe the status LEDs on the PCB. another important component is a custom foam rubber cushion that surrounds the PCB in order to damp vibrations and impacts. finally a thin piece of PVC separates the LiPoly battery from the PCB and keeps it safe inside the truck.

spacer montage

all parts were designed in a CAD software and CNC milled afterwards. after some try and error in the design, the results were pretty satisfying. the skateboard has been in sporadic use for about a year now and it still works fine.

besides the Push Challenge, we presented our work at the ACE 2010, the 7th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology in Taiwan.

demo of the application:

links:
solderinskaters.net, infos about the project
Solderin Skaters @ Flickr
Nokia Push Challenge

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