Dual-monitor work stations aims to keep you on the treadmill longer

In an effort keep his workout schedule on track [Jamie] built himself this dual-screen treadmill work station. He picked up the treadmill for about $50 on eBay, and after some follies with its shoddy construction, ended up with a pretty nice setup.

The first rendition of this project was just a wooden shelf to hold a laptop. But after the treadmill fell apart, sending his laptop tumbling, he reinforced the machine and added a bunch of stuff in the process. There’s now some custom electronics used to track his progress. He painted a white square on the black belt that makes up the running surface. That is monitored by a PIC microcontroller via a phototransistor and op-amp. He uses a USB data acquisition card to feed the belt-revolution count to the computer for use in tracking his workouts.

The presence of a computer in his setup would make Internet logging a snap too. The exercise bike we looked at on Saturday used a direct Ethernet connection for its logging, but [Jamie's] setup could be used in the same way. He just needs a script to bridge the collected data with an Internet logging site’s API.


  1. hawkeyeaz1 says:

    My work has been doing a big push for improving health, weight loss, etc (I work at a call center), and I was just thinking yesterday that something like this would be interesting.

    My only fear is a next logical step is seeing FaceSpam “I just walked 300 miles today! Do I care? No.

    • grbgout says:

      To ease the transition, suggest (to your employer) a progression of seated desk (presumed current) -> standing desk -> “exercise” (treadmill, stationary bike, whatever) desk.

      I made the transition from seated to standing with great results: I find I’m more productive, and I’ve lost weight (16, +/-, hours sitting versus standing).

      I highly recommend getting a cushioned mat to stand on, though.

  2. bawb says:

    i think this is the coolest hack i have seen all year

  3. Ren says:

    And he can use the Google street level map thingy to make the “stroll” more interesting.

  4. TheDoktorJ says:

    I’m in the process of building one of these myself. I’m using 1″ PVC for the frame and MDF for the shelving. It will hold 2 monitors, and a small side table for other stuff. Glad to see more of these builds. I get more ideas, each time I see one, and with PVC it’s so easy to change my design halfway through. That’s probably why I’m not done with it yet.

  5. therian says:

    you do realize it will be abandoned in a week ?

    • JJones says:

      why do you think we find such good deals on craigslist? ;)

      I picked up a top-of-the-line-in-07 used treadmill recently and tried it with a laptop ( just put a sidetable on top of the dinnertable in front of the treadmill ) and was surprised that a slow walking pace didn’t interrupt my concentration. Four hours passed very quickly. Usually I’d be tempting deep-vein thrombosis so this was a nice change.
      I’m going to build a proper laptop table mounted to the treadmill now.
      I may try to decode the signals from the control panel and let my laptop help with my workout too as now I’m manually controlling my intervals.

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