My name is Benjamin, and I am the founder of Duck Battery Systems. I am a 20-something dude living in Portland, OR (97220, get at me and lets skate) who has a passion for esk8 and PEV's of any flavor. I've been esk8ing since April '19, building my own esk8's since October '19, and making batteries for myself, my friends, and my happy customers since November '19. I'm also a member of the Derelict Robot Industries cuddle puddle, and I am the lead (read: "only") battery builder for the official DRI PCB Batteries.
My passion for building esk8 matches or even surpasses my passion for riding them, and building batteries is one of the most fun and rewarding parts for me. Because of that, I quit my day job in July of 2020 to pursue esk8 and PEV's full time. What that means for me is likely financial ruin. But what it means for you is (hopefully) faster turn around times than someone who does this as a side gig.
Now, for a little backstory.
In September of 2019 I was working a dead-end, soul-sucking job as a telemarketer that put just enough cash in my pocket that I was able to pursue this absolute money-pit of a hobby (hobby, life-style, totally valid mini-van replacement for a soccer mom, whatever). At the time I was on my 3rd esk8, a Backfire Ranger X2, riding it to and from work Monday through Friday, rain or shine (and here in Portland Oregon, it was mostly rain). I love that thing and I still have it, but when I found the Esk8.News forum I started to dream of more.
Cue an 80's movie style montage of reading, learning, and planning. Before that September I read e-books in my spare time. Now all I read was the forum. I tore through post after post, dug into every build thread and tutorial I could get my hands on, ate up all the excellent (if, in some cases, outdated) articles on Esk8.News, and settled on a parts list that I felt proud of. No cutting corners (since my life will be on the line), no buying cheap electronics (since I would end up spending more replacing them anyway), and went all out on a total beast machine.
At the time, battery building scared the crap out of me. It's dangerous, requires expensive equipment and materials, and there are a million fiddly little things that have to be done to not make a time-bomb. Past-Benjamin said "No thanks" and opted for remixed N.E.S.E. compression packs. This seemed like a smart, simple solution at the time, but it turned out to be the mistake that would kill that first build, and put me on a path to where I am right now making this post.
The battery I built turned out big. Too big. WAY too big. I was so excited it worked that I didn't think through how "too big" it actually was. Eventually I had to accept the truth of my error, and dismantle that build entirely, only to be re-born once I taught myself to make a proper battery.
What I learned from that first battery is that there is a place for N.E.S.E. packs, but if you want to stuff your enclosure asshole-to-elbows with kickass you will be losing a lot of volume to plastic. It also taught me the importance of planning ahead, and building your electronics to suit your enclosure instead of the other way around. This is when I began researching proper battery building, and started shopping for a spot welder.
I read through many online resources and soaked up as many of the best-practice tips and safety measures I could. "If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right," I told myself. I ordered a Malectrics spot welder and some pure nickel, and decided to start small for my first pack. I made a 10s1p p42a as a replacement for the trash LiPo battery in my TeamGee H5 (I know, I know. It was my first esk8, give me a break). It turned out pretty well, especially for my first pack, and I'm confident its safe.
Safety first, and that starts with a safe pack.
That first little battery was a great learning experience for me, and it gave me the confidence I needed to plan out my next pack, a 12s3p 30Q for my new build "Midnight." This one turned out even better. Small, light, built to the spec I planned to use it for, and most importantly, safe.
Around that time is when Andrew, the owner and founder of Derelict Robot Industries) approached me to ask if I was interested in building out a FlexPCB battery from his new kits, and making a build guide for it. Being a weld-aholic, I couldn't refuse. I pounded the battery build out in a night, took a million pictures, and wrote the 12s4p FlexPCB Build Guide. That went so well (and Andrew had so little spare time due to DRI spinning up) that he offered me the contract to build a 12s9p HG6 brick pack for a customer of his.
That was my first welded brick pack (I had previously made a 14s8p compression pack for my buddy's e-bike), and so I took it slow and steady. It turned out really well, and I hope Justin is really happy with it.
Now our story has brought us to the end of July 2020, and the day job I had been working since 2019 had nearly completed sucking out my soul. I learned that if there is anything more depressing than telemarketing, its telemarketing from my bedroom in pajamas. I was ready to quit without even having something else lined up, when I started considering the idea of doing battery work professionally. I knew this would be a big financial risk to take, but I felt that I owed it to myself to pursue my passion. Speaking to all the wonderful esk8 friends I have made, there was an outpouring of support and discussion of how they can help me succeed, for which I am forever grateful. I couldn't do this without y'all's help. Thank you.
Andrew graciously offered to be my first battery customer under my full-time self employment, and he also offered me a place at DRI building his newly-launched PCB Batteries to sell on the shop. He has been an incredibly amazing mentor, patron, and friend through this process, and has been a huge help in getting me rolling on full time battery work. We continue to work together on many projects, and I just try to make myself useful enough that no one notices me riding their coattails.
Since launching Duck Battery Systems in August of 2020 I have made many batteries for lots of happy customers. I look forward to the future of this business, and PEV use in general. Thanks for reading!
Update 01/2021: Andrew and I struck a deal, and he has sold off the DIY Supply portion of his business to me! I will now be stocking and shipping all manner of DIY battery building materials and equipment. Onwards and upwards!