A Riverside secondary student who wasn't fond of the daily trudge from the bus stop to his home after school did what any engineering-minded kid would do, and built himself a motorized skateboard.
Vlad Pomogaev, a Grade 12 student, started the project two years ago and, four prototypes later, is whizzing along at speeds of up to 32 km/h (yes, he wears a helmet). The modified longboard can run for up to 10 km if it's sustained at top speeds or, if going a bit slower, can be extended to as far as 15 km.
"This board will go faster than you can push it," Pomogaev said.
Pomogaev's interest in designing and building a mechanized skateboard was piqued partly by a desire to make his trek home a little faster but also by the simple challenge of it — there were pricey kits available online but no detailed plans so that he could build it himself, from scratch.
"The whole idea is kind-of new so I didn't have many examples to go on," said Pomogaev, who hopes to be in UBC's engineering physics program next year. "There are some online but they weren't really comprehensive enough."
So he tinkered away, experimenting with different concepts and getting the occasional bit of input from his father, a computer software engineer; his dad also had the misfortune to be testing an earlier, pre-waterproofed model, when a bit of moisture stopped the motor in its tracks and sent him flying.
The latest model uses a chain to turn the wheels and is operated by an Android phone app that Pomogaev also designed, crediting an internship at his father's company about five years ago for the coding knowledge.
And the result is one that, at about $300, is a lot more affordable than the powered skateboards currently on the market, which can cost $1,000.
Pomogaev is happy with the results but, in addition to his current project — a weather station for the school — he is leaving the door open for future tinkering.
"There are definitely improvements I can make," he said. "The biggest trend now is integrated components that are built right into the deck."