Track your speed and distance while skateboarding

Fight the urge to chant the Avril Lavigne song as you cruise the streets on Pieter Thomas’s speed- and distance-tracking skateboard.

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

Instant approval

“That is sweet!” exclaimed Ben Nuttall when I shared this project on the Raspberry Pi Slack channel. And indeed it is — a simple idea, perfectly executed, resulting in a final product that actually managed to coax a genuine and positive response from Ben!

Prove your worth ☑

Project creator Pieter Thomas, a student at Howest Kortrijk University, needed to show off his skills by building a ‘something’ for his course. His inspiration?

I came up with this idea because I like to skate and cruise around. While I’m cruising, it would be handy to see how much distance I’ve travelled and see my speed.

So he decided to incorporate an odometer, a speedometer, and an RFID reader into a skateboard to produce this neat build.

Make and skate

While Pieter has an Arduino manage the onboard RFID reader, he’s put a Raspberry Pi 3 in charge of everything else, including the speed and distance readings taken with the help of a hall effect sensor (a transducer that uses magnetic fields to manage voltage output).

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

Pieter added the RFID reader to identify different users, with databases allowing for session data collection — perfect for time and speed challenges among friends!

Home-brew casing

All the electronics live in a Tupperware-like container that Pieter screwed to the bottom of the board. Holes in the deck display an LCD screen, a potentiometer, and a buzzer.

Speed and distance tracking Raspberry Pi skateboard

To allow speed and distance calculations, Pieter drilled a hole into one of the wheels and inserted a magnet. Once per wheel rotation, the hall effect sensor recognises the passing magnet. The build records the time taken between passes, computes the speed and distance covered, and shows them on the LCD screen.

Pieter’s Instructables project page goes into a lot more detail of how to build your own skate-o-meter. If you’ve used a Pi for your skateboarding project, make sure to let us know!

Skateboard + Pi

Other impressive Raspberry Pi–based board builds include Tim Maier’s motorised skateboard, aka the first blog post I ever wrote for Raspberry Pi, and Matt ‘The Raspberry Pi Guy’ Timmons-Brown’s 30kmph longboard, aka the project that resulted in this video of Raspberry Pi’s Director of Software Engineering:


Martin O'Hanlon avatar

BRILLIANT project. Love the use of a wheel mounted magnet to measure the speed – simple, reliable and effective.

Where is the nearest hill I need to find the top speed!

Alex Bate avatar

This is Cambridge. There are no hills.

M1st3r.C avatar

Come skate Castle Hill with me and we will re-evaluate your opinion.

Simon Long avatar

As a cyclist, I beg to differ – there are certainly things that feel very much like hills when you are struggling up them… Admittedly not in the centre of town, though!

Martin, try the hill on Madingley Road past the American Cemetery – it’s about a 1 in 12 gradient at the steepest part.

Ben Nuttall avatar

Not only did this project invoke a positive response from me, it inspired me to take up skateboarding again.

Janina Ander avatar

There is a skateboard under my desk at Pi Towers right now — Maker Day project, anyone?

Alex Bate avatar

If we took inspiration from all the Raspberry Pi skateboard projects out there, I think we could make something quite spectacular.

Shannon avatar

You mean you retired from skating? I don’t think a person ever stops being a skater. They just let responsibilities make them think they don’t have time for it any more. Something about the project pictures of the well worn board that had stickers on it at one time makes it so real. Awesome build.

Nat avatar

Talk me through the advantages of this over my endomondo on my phone or a garmin wristwatch? My shoes have the same technology in them and also measure footstrike, cadence as well as distance and speed.

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