A DIY electric surfboard is a good option if you don’t want to invest 10,000 EUR or more for buying a complete Jetboard or electric hydrofoil. How to build an eFoil is probably most interesting as the electric foils do need much less energy once they are flying. More energy, means not only larger batteries but especially better cooling which can be challenging.
Motorised surfboards have a history since around 1930. Projects like the Surf Scooter, Scimboat, Motorboard, jet surfboard Surfjet and Skidaddle were all developed in the last century. Also some of them were supposed to be commercialised they all looked pretty much as a DIY electric surfboard.
The first DIY electric hydrofoil was developed in 2009. Prof. Jakob Kuttenkeuler and Prof. Stefan Hallström, both from the Royal institute of technology, KTH, Stockholm in Sweden published their Evolo project which is proven by several publications. With a group of 15 students Kuttenkeuler and Hallström started the electric hyfrofoil project in August 2008. The goal was to design a vehicle which should be able to carry one person at 15 knots with an electric, environmentally sustainable and silent engine while not generating wakes. Steering should happen only by gravity movement.
Most of the early DIY electric surfboard builders did build electric skateboard first. This allowed them to build experience with remote controls, brushless motors and ESC controllers. This was helpful but to bring this experience on the water much more energy was needed. And of course everything needed to be water-proof.
How to build an eFoil
One of the pioneers in the DIY electric hydrofoil scene is Merten (aka Pacificmeister). The German engineer based out of Los Angeles started with DIY electric skateboards, but as a passioned kitesurfer he picked up on the eFoil quickly after he saw the first videos of the Jetfoiler. Merten also built the DIY eFoil forum called efoil builders, which became the no. 1 place to go to if you want to learn how to build an eFoil.
I visited Merten a few times and was able to ride one of his early DIY electric foil boards. I did share this experience in my article “How to ride an electric hydrofoil“. The following video from Mertens Youtube channel shows how he is mastering his DIY eFoil and you can see me with my first try on an electric hydrofoil in June 2018. Obviously Merten looks much better 😉
Another early DIY electric surfboard project came from Canada. Chris Vermeulen however had the idea to commercialise his DIY components. Through his Kickstarter project he raised some money (we were an early supporter) in order to let build components in bulks from China. The idea was that the components such like brushless motors, remote controls, etc. would become cheaper when ordered in higher quantities. Chris planned to offer the components for both DIY Jetboards and hydrofoils. This was already in 2017 and later on he decided to offer a complete electric hydrofoil called the VeCarve. It is however still not released now in March 2020.
DIY electric surfboard components:
So what do you need in order to build your own electric surfboard or hydrofoil? At first there is of course a surfboard and most people use an older surfboard they already have as you can see in the picture above. The problem with a standard surfboard is that the batteries and the electronics would need to sit on top of the board as it is too thin to integrate them. Better would be to use a thick wind-surfboard, so that you at least can integrate the components to a certain degree. For an DIY eFoil you would probably need to shorten the board in order to have a better experience. Some companies such like MHZ from Germany offer different components such like a board which would fit their components. They offer kind of DIY electric surfboard kit. MHZ was the provider for some components of the early Lampuga Jetboards.
Next you would need a motor. Inrunner motors with internal rotors and Outrunners with external rotors. Inrunner motors already start below 200 EUR but have only power enough for an Electric SUP or Bodyboard. An Outrunner motor which offers 22.4 kW which is enough power to reach 31 mph to 37 mph (50 km/h to 60 km/h) is recommended for a jetboard. Even more heavy riders should have plenty of power here. This performance comes with a price tag. It is selling for about 1,000 EUR.
As mentioned above a DIY eFoil would need much less power and as such the motors would be less expensive. Jetboards (as the name suggests) are using jets while most of the electric hydrofoils are using propellers. The electric surfboard using a propeller we know about is the Waterwolf.
Other components you would need are a hand controller, an ESC (electronic speed controller) and of course a battery. While you can get hand controllers, ESCs and other components from different manufacturers as advertised in our DIY forum, you will need to build the battery yourself. You will find help in our forum as well a the efoil.builders forum which cells to choose and how to build them.
Recently the amount of DYI electric hydrofoils built from students as part of their studies is increasing again. Remember their first project mentioned above was from students as well. But there are many more projects out as we explained in several articles.
The latest DIY articles:
- DIY electric hydrofoil – More and more projects from students
- VeFoil DIY waterproof remote control
- PinniJet – Electric Jetsurfer from Italy
- DIY electric skateboard / longboard Tutorial
- DIY electric surfboard kit by MHZ Watercraft
- DIY Electric Hydrofoil Forum – efoil.builders
- DIY ELECTRIC FOIL SURFBOARD MADE IN NORWAY
- Onewheel DIY portable charger tutorial
- DIY ELECTRIC SURFBOARD – ELECTRIC HYDROFOIL
- DIY ELECTRIC SKATEBOARD – CONVERSION KIT