Its going to be some time before the TESLA CYBERTRUCK is going to hit stores. For those of us in Singapore, it is pretty far fetched before we see one. For now, the only way to own one is to build one yourself. Well, just how hard could it be…Elon must have designed it while he was having breakfast. I needed to do some trials with my sheet metal bending skills and roverbotics for other projects and this would be one good way to get it going. I also really wanted to see how many people would be interested to follow my cybertruck build. Seems like we have a good audience we can work with for this project to be worth it. Christmas is coming. – B.KANESH, 11 Dec 2019
Tesla Cybertruck Facts
The Cybertruck starts at $39,900 for the single-motor rear-wheel-drive version and goes up to $69,900 for the tri-motor all-wheel-drive version; self-driving features are a $7,000 add-on. Production is expected to begin in late 2021.
- The truck Seats 6 People
- The truck has an almost impenetrable body made from “ultra-hard 30X cold-rolled stainless steel” and “armour glass.
- The truck’s stainless-steel shell mitigates dents, damage, and corrosion.
- Meanwhile, the “ultra-strong glass” is designed to cushion and avert impact force.
- The Cybertruck will come in three configurations: a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version, a dual-motor all-wheel-drive version, and a tri-motor all-wheel-drive version.
- The single-motor version has a range of 250 miles, the dual-motor one can achieve 300 miles, and the most expensive tri-motor version can go 500 miles
- According to Tesla, the tri-motor variant will be able to hit 60 mph in about 2.9 seconds …
- … as well as tow more than 14,000 pounds …
- … and carry a payload of up to 3,500 pounds.
- Tesla says that the rear cargo area is lockable and that the truck has a total of 100 cubic feet of enclosed exterior storage.
- It also comes with a “magic tonneau cover” tough enough to withstand the weight of a person standing on it, according to the automaker.
- The truck also has onboard power for plugging in tools and other appliances …
- “adaptive air suspension” that raises and lowers the Cybertruck’s suspension by four inches for easier access. There is also a “self-levelling” feature.
The Design Process
I wanted to replicate the exterior of the Tesla Cybertruck as close as possible to specifications. There were lots of online models out there already, however, I have to start recreating the dimensions from photos etc because I have to follow the wheelbase dimension of the radio control truck I already have. The CAD drawing is a full 3D model with dimensions taken from pictures. I will not be sharing the CAD file openly, however, you could email me if you are interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get as close as possible accurate dimensioning, you need to use a method called proportional scaling. It can be done with reference to one printed picture of the front-end-plan view or projected view photos. Also taking the dimensions given by TESLA. You can create an Actual Model: Picture Model scale dimension. Then I convert this scale to Picture Model: My Model scale dimension. The angles won’t differ much in projection. Therefore your proportion would be pretty accurate. This process took about 2-3 working days. Then you have to draw the CAD Model. From the CAD model, you have to calculate physical compensation for metal bending radius, in our case almost negligible.
Preparing for some trucking fun…
Ideally, the Tesla Cybertruck project gives me the opportunity to refresh my CAD skills and sheet bending skills like mentioned earlier. P.S there are also other reasons. I was trying to sheet metal bend an aircraft fuselage. This would actually be a practice run. The project also offers me an opportunity to get some video editing skills out. My brother has gladly come forward to make an episode out of the make. Hopefully, I’m able to spend sufficient effort tracking the progress using my GoPro Hero 3. Im going to warn everyone that beyond this point it might get a bit technical. However, for entertainment do feel free to watch the videos or just enjoy the photos.:) – B.KANESH , 26 Dec 2019
Instead of a body sitting on top of a frame, the TESLA Cybertruck is built around a “metal cage”. It’s known as a unibody construction., However, this would be possible if we took the 3D printing route. I felt that 3D printing won’t replicate the exact texture of the TESLA Cybertruck, so I chose aluminium sheets. 3D printing was used for selected parts such as the wheel rims. Eventually, it was decided a 1:20 scale truck would be built which would be suitable for the wheelbase dimension.
Not $39,900, BUT $139
I tried my best to keep the overall cost low for this project. However, if I factor in the true cost of the chassis, it would amount up to about 130 dollars. The remainder will be spent on a good meal once this project ends.
- Aluminium Sheet 0.3mm thickness – You can get enough at artfriend
- C24K Chassis Assembly, you can purchase of shelf or carousell
- HobbyKing X-Car 45A Brushed Car ESC (Only for 2S)
- 12V White/Red/Blue LED, 4MM strip
- 2S Lithium Polymer Batteries x 2
- STEP Down buck converter 12V to 7V for ESC
- 180 Brush Electric Motor
- JST Connectors (Male /Female)
- On/Off Switch
- Black (matt) Spray Can
- Polishing Compound for Metals
- Plastic Standoffs / Screws
Tools & Others
- Dremel/Hand drill
- Cutting Bit/ Mill Bit for Profiling
- Mallet suitable for sheet metal bending
- Bending Jig – You can DIY one or get small blocks within dimensions
- Straight Snip
- Measuring Tools
- Hot Glue Gun / Goop / Other suitable glue
- Clamps for drying glue, do not use metal clamps directly!
- Safety Gloves & Goggles
- Soldering Set
- File Set
- 80GSM Card Paper A4 or A3 if you have larger printer
Making an Impression
It took about five iterations of the design before the final template was created with a card sheet. Several times, I tend to miss out the smaller details. But with adequate time, you should overcome these challenges. Its always good to get someone to cross-check your design.
Some CAD software has sheet metal drawing functions which allow you to print accurate templates. In my case i was rushing for time so i quickly used the digital model and paper template for final dimensions. For example, the paper template would print the top view of the car, but when you cut that view out on the sheet, it will not be suitable. The length of the body is extended on the aluminium sheet to accommodate the bent angle of the vehicle.
What the Sheet…
Cutting – After drawing the design and staring at it for several hours, I finally had the mental strength to decide to cut. I knew I had a couple of tries but I really had to finish this project on time. The end of the year is coming… I need this TESLA CyberTruck by 2020! The first cut template was used for the bending test, the second one was an improved version of the first template. You need to make slight adjustments for angles etc. The strength of the sheet metal will start to give way after being cut to profile. Some parts are just too small and easily prone to accidental bends. You will see the aftermath of it in the final model.
Bending – The sheet metal bending was absolutely tricky without a proper jig, normally you need to make the basic shapes with the necessary bending angles that will accommodate the design of the car. Each bend process must take place sequentially or you will end up with extra work and mistakes. I did one pre-body fold to understand the sequence of bending. NOTE: Some bends might require special clamping. Use the mallet whenever possible but don’t make the mistake of using a hammer!. Strictly MALLET only. I bend some parts with my hand, however, it is not advisable. Imagine if used the ultra-hard stainless steel Tesla actually used…
Sheet Metal Joining – The joining process, was a tricky milestone. I was contemplating on what methods I should use. Since I was aware of all the possible ways I could have done it… I simply couldn’t say no to using a glue gun. It was just too tempting to pass on. Glue gun’s biggest advantage is the short time it takes to cure. The second advantage is the “instant” strength. Without it, I would be struggling using clamps on each segment one by one. Note that aluminium sheets can have a “spring” effect. Two sections after bending do not perfectly line up because I did not use a jig to bend. This means some bends can be more angled than others causing some distortion. Only an accurate bending process will overcome this. The other option i had was using spot welding. The machine, however, draws a high amount of instantaneous current causing a trip in the lab’s circuit breakers. Guess i have to save this for another time.
Sanding and Polishing – Well, working with sheet metal. I did explore with different tools and methods to get my final shape out. However, in the process, some parts of the sheet do get damaged or scratched. In one segment, I forgot that I was using a mallet, and instead used the hammer that was around. Only to realised it caused some serious gashes on the body. Ended up sanding for several hours and then end up polishing to get back my final smooth finish. Some cuts that were done with the snips also required some rework. The reality is that I was struggling with choosing the “right path”. When you are aware of shortcuts, it’s ever so tempting to take them. But at the interest of time… some decisions are worth it. They always say the laziest person will find the shortest way of getting things done.
3D Printing Parts – I decided that I wanted to 3D print the Hub-Cap and Fenders of the tesla truck. However, the 3D printer needed lots of attention because of the equipment was getting old. It was a painful process constantly trying to get the printer to print parts. Occasionally the filament broke or the extrusion nozzle clogs. My 3D printer, however, is able to output pretty precise components regardless. The post-processing of the printed part also required “delicate” attention. I will post another article on the 3D printing processes. My printer uses PLA type filament.
My printer (MAKERBOT 2X), however, was also giving me troubles with the printing. I had to drop the printing quality to get the parts out in time for the project. I suspect the creeping heat from the extruder was going up the heat sink where the melting of the plastic happens too quickly. This means that the hot end is too close to the heatsink nozzle. I have ordered new replacements for them. Extra Work, Sigh
The most important part of the construction was the attachment of the body to the chassis. The body is suspectable to warp due to the nature of the material. However, with some hot glue and plastic standoffs, i was able to secure the body to the chassis. It is not a perfect construction. But i managed to pull of a simple method.
The other challenge was ensuring the lights are mounted sufficiently well. Now I almost forgot that the body is aluminium. Which means my exposed LED strips could short giving me a good fireworks show. So I started insulating the lights with transparent heat shrinks. Once again the worst effort because I was rushing it in the lab. There was this guy always staring at me wondering what I’m doing playing with RC cars. But who cares right?
The electronics configuration works like any other radio control setup. Ideally, I had a few radio receivers from my aircraft. Not the receivers you would use for RC vehicles, but it works. The forward/backward control works on one channel, while the servo that controls the steering works on the other channel as depicted below. For aircraft receivers normally you plug the motor to channel 3, however, this is not possible for the control of a car motor. You need to connect to a channel with (up/down) control with a spring-loaded joystick. Once I hook up the system, my range is extended as much as I have for an aircraft. In this case about 4-5km. Now, that means the RC TESLA CYBERTRUCK can be converted to a more autonomous operation with a Pixhawk controller.
The Final Showdown
This post was to test out my other skills in making videos and content online. However, the project turned out well enough for me. I do know i could have done better with more time to iron out imperfections. Specifically with the front of the vehicle. The issue with warping was pretty common working with the aluminium body. A Light diffuser was also added from a cut out plastic file that was translucent. It helped diffuse the light to fill the gaps. The blue LED strips (about 3 units each side) gave the vehicle a bit more charisma.