Working out is boring. Running on a treadmill is especially unbearable. If you pay a monthly membership for that privilege, you’re probably accustomed to some high-tech machines with gadgetry to keep you occupied. But if you exercise at home and are on a budget, maybe your cheapo treadmill could use some more bells and whistles to keep your mind off the endless-running-while-never-getting-anywhere thing.
I have a basic treadmill that I decided to modify by integrating an old 15″ LCD display and iPod dock into it. Here is what I needed to get started:
- Treadmill (one with some empty space at the top of the controls area is preferable)
- Small LCD TV (15″ is probably the sweet spot)
- Small TV Wall mount (tilt)
- iPod (optional)
- DLO Homedock Deluxe or similar (optional)
- Nuts and bolts
- Cables (A/V, power extension cord or power strip)
- Tie-wraps, cable wraps
- Tools (drill, screwdriver, wrench, measuring tape, Dremel w/ cutting attachment or jigsaw)
- Additional hardware – brackets, supports, etc. (optional)
Lucky for me I had all this stuff already, that’s why I dreamed up this plan. Assuming you already have a treadmill, the first thing to do is decide how and where you can mount the LCD. My particular model had a large empty space of plastic on the console above the controls, a perfect spot to attach a TV mount. If your model doesn’t have enough space for a mount or the LCD panel, you may need to use a pole or brackets to extend & float it away from the controls. Mine had just enough space for to attach this mounting bracket that frequently goes on sale for $11.99, like today!
This bracket is a two piece design – plate and bracket. I attached the bracket to the back of the LCD panel (VESA Compatible, 4 screws). I then measured out and marked two holes to drill and used 1/2″ machine bolts to attach the mounting plate. One thing I discovered with this mount on this application is that the built-in bubble level is deceiving when you’re not mounting on a flat wall. Just ignore it. I had to mount the plate at an un-level angle, tilting to the left, to compensate for gravity. I suggest holding up the actual LCD panel (to make sure IT’S level) on the plate and adjusting it to mark your drill holes. Once the mounting plate is in place, slide the LCD with bracket into the plate until it clicks. Run the power cord, cable/satellite, and any other A/V cables and you’re ready to roll.
The LCD might be a little wobbly when you are running at a speed of say 4+, like it was in my case. This was due to the flexible plastic that the LCD was mounted to. I decided to bolt a 12″ steel plate to the plastic for additional support. This worked very well.
I took it a step further and added a DLO Homedock Deluxe (the one that used to live in my Jeep) to the setup for music and videos. I decided to mount it underneath one of the cup holders on the treadmill. I cut a hole (Dremel with cutting attachment) out of the bottom of the cup holder and bolted the Homedock underneath it, with the dock popping through and up into the cup holder area. You could use brackets to mount the Homedock, but I chose to dismantle the Homedock and drill holes in the plastic on top to bolt it directly to the treadmill. If you choose to do this, be careful to choose where to drill the holes wisely based on the electronic components that might be in the way. Also make sure your bolts aren’t too long, you don’t want them butting up against the hardware board! Run (organize and hide) the cables and you’re g2g.
The DLO Homedock gives me the ability to listen to my iPod music through the LCD TV speakers, view the album art and information on the big screen, and control the music with the little remote while I’m jogging. I also ran a RCA Audio cable (red/white male) to 1/8″ Stereo (female) from the TV’s audio out jack. This allows me to plugin a pair of earphones instead of listening to the speakers if I choose. Obviously, the setup is also great for watching movies and tv shows that you have loaded on your iPod.
Is running on the treadmill more enjoyable for me now? Definitely! Will I keep up with it, or will it again turn into a coat rack? Who knows… but it was a fun project nonetheless.