Building a Treadmill Gaming Rig

2016 treadmill Gaming World of Warcraft
2016 treadmill Gaming World of Warcraft

Playing computer games while walking on a treadmill is one of the few weird skillsets that I’m proud of developing over the years. Thanks to Nerd Fitness and their 4 week challenges, I’m finally getting up off my duff and playing again! 🙂

My old gaming treadmill setup worked fine in the old house, but in the new house things are arranged a little differently and I hit the added hump of having two people who are going to be using the treadmill… of drastically different heights.

So a simple shelf on a wall with some wooden shims wasn’t going to cut it this time. (To be fair, it was never a very good setup last time either, I could never get the angle quite right).

With that in mind, I worked out a way to combine an Ikea bookshelf and a desk-mounted monitor swivel arm into the perfect adjustable setup!

Materials Used

Positioning

Treadmill Gaming - Starting Over
Treadmill Gaming – Starting Over

Quick list of things to keep in mind when you are setting up the treadmill (and why I set mine up the way I did.)

The treadmill is heavy… 253 lbs of heavy. So it’s not going up or down stairs without friends and/or family vowing not to help you move it again.

It has to be in a place that makes it easy to use. If you pick a side room or bedroom it needs to be one that you like hanging out in. It’s incredibly easy to find excuses not to walk, so make sure the room isn’t giving you any easy outs! Mine ended up in the kitchen because it’s one of the sunniest rooms in the house and one of the few where there was enough space that the treadmill didn’t have to stay folded up.

Beyond that, make sure it’s a place where you won’t be annoying other members of your household and where the sunlight won’t cause monitor glare. This setup is very mobile, so it can take some tweaking! 🙂

Sidenote: Treadmills also work better on tile (and one a mat), although I never had an issue with them for the years I used them on carpet.

One Bookshelf to Rule Them All!

Bookshelf and Monitor Mount
Bookshelf and Monitor Mount

I knew I was going to have to have a monitor arm and I didn’t want to make this an immovable setup so I started playing around with bookcase combinations. I needed something nice and solid with adjustable shelves and sturdy enough to hold both the desktop tower and enough books to counterweight the monitor arm.

Thankfully Ikea had just the thing! (Doesn’t it always? 😉 )

My first idea was to attach the mount to the front of the shelf, but that would have been seriously top-heavy. Thankfully it turned out there was enough room at the back of the shelf to slip it in there.

The shelf is made of multiple pieces of wood combined, which means it might be prone to cracking lengthwise. To counter that I added pieces of 1×4 lumber to help divide the stress over the back two boards of the shelf.

Monitor Mount - Underneath
Monitor Mount – Underneath

The 1×4’s also help to keep the shelf from tipping forward– I made sure to add heavy items (Magic:tG cards) to the shelf directly above the monitor mount. That adds a downwards force to help counter the upwards tilt from the monitor weight. The three paperback books serve a similar purpose and help distribute the weight from the monitor onto the front of the shelf.

I used cardboard to help protect the shelf from the clamp and the 1×4’s, but I might swap this out to wood later if the shelf starts to warp at all. The clamp has enough range of opening that it would easily fit over wood, but right now I’m too lazy to bother. 😉

Monitor Mount - Topside
Monitor Mount – Topside

The bookshelf is filled with heavy books to keep it in place and I adjusted the bottom legs of the bookshelf so that it leans slightly backwards. Since the treadmill isn’t in contact with the bookshelf, there isn’t much movement to it, but it helps a lot when it comes time to move the monitor around (yay physics and lever arms?).

We assembled the arm in pieces, so that the full arm with the monitor on it was added last (and we were ready to take it off again if anything started to break).

The arm doesn’t have full range of motion because of the shelf above it and there is one shelf that doesn’t fit in the bookcase at all, but it’s worked out pretty well so far!

Keyboards, Mice, and Comfort

Treadmill with Keyboard and Mouse
Treadmill with Keyboard and Mouse

Now that the computer itself is setup, it’s time to harness up the treadmill!

The keyboard and mouse setup is a mimic of what I used to have, since that worked pretty well over the three years that I used it.

The two boards are attached with loops of string and sit loosely on the two folded towels. This allows me to shift them around as I play without fear of anything falling.

The boards have kitchen cupboard grip liners, which keep things on top from sliding around. It’s just wood glued to the boards, nothing fancy, and you can see I need to go back and trim them so they don’t wrap around to the bottom side of the board. (I used to have the boards directly on the arms of the treadmill and the grip kept them from sliding.)

I’m thinking of grabbing some seat cushion foam from the fabric store and using it to replace the folded towels, but for now it works just dandy. I can tweak the level of the keyboard with the towels and then use the bag of beans to tweak the level of the mouse.

Over the years I’ve waffled over having the mouse on a raised surface. I like having the keyboard slightly below the level (which science agrees is good for me!), but having the mouse at the same low position just doesn’t work. I lucked out and found a box that works perfectly, but a hardback book would work just as well.

Sidenote: If you use a hardback book instead of a small box to raise up the mouse you can use some of the shelf liner to hold the mousepad on if it doesn’t grip well enough on it’s own.


2 responses to “Building a Treadmill Gaming Rig”

    • Glad you liked it! 🙂 I don’t play anywhere as much as I ought to, but the setup has been pretty sturdy over the years. I even had my cat jump onto the top of the bookcase using the monitor and it didn’t fall apart! I do probably need to check the shelf again…

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