Use a Treadmill DC Drive Motor and PWM Speed Controller for powering tools

Picture of Use a Treadmill DC Drive Motor and PWM Speed Controller for powering tools
Power tools such as Metal cutting mills and lathes, Drill presses, bandsaws, sanders and more may require .5HP to 2HP motors with the ability to fine tune the speed while maintaining torque.

Coincidentally most Treadmills use a 80-260 VDC motor with a suitable HP rating and a PWM motor speed controller to allow the user to change the belt speed and keep a good constant speed and torque while running on it.

There are Commercial DC Motor/PWM controllers available or you can build the PWM circuit from scratch and buy all the components seperately but you will spend a lot of time and money either way. All the parts you need are on the treadmill.

Tear your own apart or get one on Ebay.
(shameless self-promotion below)

Motor/controller combos on Ebay

Safety and Disclaimers- You should have some knowledge of electricity and the dangers of household current and know your abilities/inabilities. Serious injury may occur to you or others from use/misuse of these motor set-up. If you are in doubt DO NOT ATTEMPT. IT CAN KILL YOU. Any Crazy Ideas found here REQUIRE your testing. Your appliction and use of any ideas here are all on you and you agree I cannot be held liable. You equipment should have On/Off safety switches, Fuse protection, ground wires on your machine as required and your power source should have ground fault interupters, circuit breakers,properly grounded sockets and cords and always unplug equipment before tinkering and any other safety practise I am forgetting to mention.
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Step 1: Motor Vid

Picture of Motor Vid

Testing the motor/controller
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matas111 days ago
well, for rpm, you want it on the spindle or on the chuck, anyways

so, you might want to use something like this

position the sensor in the right spot, and thats that :)
CementTruck10 months ago

I have a 2.5hp treadmill motor that I will be using to power my lathe/mill combo (the motor burned out last weekend in the middle of a project). Anyway, I would like to combine the lathe's capability of fwd/rev and the treadmill's speed controller. Here's what the wires look like coming from the switch to the motor through a junction box. I'm pretty sure that this is where the splicing is going to need to happen.

I don't want to run reverse polarity through the speed controller and fry something.

I want to do what this guy did (almost the same exact machine as mine but I have the older model with a mechanical chickenhead knob switch), but for the life of me can't figure out how he wired it up. If you could help me out with a simple hand drawn schematic or a link to someones page who has already managed it that would be great.


Well, is your treadmill motor a DC motor? if so, you'll need to wire a switch between controller and a motor. there is a good instructable here:

I figured out the wiring. I was over thinking it.

Now I have to figure out how to convert the original treadmill board's reading of MPH to RPM.

gfreed3 years ago
Any idea where to get a pulley to fit on a 17mm shaft? I guess I could drill out the center of 5/8 inch bore but I would think it would be difficult to keep it perfectly centered.
HughL gfreed18 days ago
old,I know, but just in case... 17mm shaft is very common for USA car alternator pulleys, only it is often referred to as .67 inch. I just put one on my 17mm motor shaft and it was a great fit. I had to drill and tap for a set screw and fields flat on the shaft for the set screw to engage. runs great! marked as 2hp, so something less. ran a jointer and a planer with no problems.

needs to be bored on a lathe, after being carefully centered in a 4 jaw chuck.

I suggest you get a .040 thick shim and us a 3/4" bore pully, find some aluminum sheet that thick and form a little ring so that it fit snugly between the parts. some similar diameter tubing might work, 035"wall is common and might be close enough. Good luck. If you can make your project work with a 16mm it is almost identical to 5/8"
tpetersen37 months ago

So are these DC motors actually servos or not?
I am assuming there must be some kind of signal coming out of the motor to the control board if the motors turn on and off to maintain a set seed. At least with the 4-wire units, and the two wire I guess would have an internal circuit to adjust to speed.
Anybody know for sure?
I am trying to find an fordable servo to power a bench-top lathe and I require spindle feedback to the control software for treading.

Thanks for any guidance!!

These are not servos, and they do not have any sort of position or velocity feedback. It could be possible to add an encoder, resolver, tachometer, etc in order to get the feedback you want, but you would have to work that out to fit your specific system and needs.

mrbreezeet14 months ago

Can I wire some type of spdt switch in this set up, so I can reverse the drive motor.

I want to use it to power my metal lathe lead screw, but I need it to go in both derections.

Efis79934 months ago

anyone know if the mc-68 controller can take dc input voltage? i have 120vdc system and am looking to control speed of ironworker with it. . will it work?

aliragaie9 months ago


aliragaie9 months ago


Alextread610 months ago
kaighn801 year ago
Hi, wonder if you have the pcb schematics for a motor controller, I found a 180v dc treadmill motor but I can't seem to locate a controller for one, I've decided that I'd be better off just building one. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My email address is
Thanks in advance.
kernbigo4 years ago
I have a threadmill board 4f33 nordic track, reebock, sears bought on ebay trying to figuire where to wire the 5k potentometer? help Kernbigo
put it between either the input or uot put wire to the motor. an thier u go
DanW131 year ago
Thank's For these PDF's the 1 for the VitaMaster really save my Bacon, I retrieved the motor, PWD an Control Panel but the idot tht I was/am I forgot to take pics to remind me how to wire everything back after tearing all the parts from the TreadMill. After stumbing upon your Thread I was lost, as I'm not an electrical engineer when it comes to figuring out how these things work outside wiring household wiring & 220/240 Machinery….Thank's for the wiring Diagrams !!!

P.S I wired everything up lastnight & did a Test run hoping nothing would burn up and all is good so far, I adjusted the Min/Max Speed adjustment & Torque alittle bit lastnight as well & if your willing to do so it won't hurt anything but I guess it all depends on what your Min/Max need for speed is & the amount of Torque is required.

The 1 item I'm going to test out this am. is removing tht Transformer between the Motor (Yellow Wire) in/Out of the Transformer into the PWD, I'm going to by pass this & see how the motor/PWD work if nothing goes wrong….I'm thinking this Transformer is merely a safety feature not sure….?
Cacho5091 year ago
I do not know what to do with 4 wires red black white and green , i want to put a cord to the wall what wires should i connect, this is a tread mill motor, i want to use it to roast a pork
hmagdi1 year ago
Thanks a lot, I just have a question, are the field windings of treadmill motors connected in series, parallel or separate from the armature? How can I identify the connection of my motor?
ncblu3 years ago
add an elbow and a length of 3"pvc and you have a machine gun for tennis balls
Use 1-1/2" PVC 1120 instead of 3", and use golf balls instead of tennis balls, and you've got an undead-mulching emplacement gun for the Zombiepocalypse.
ncblu3 years ago
is that what i think it it is - that is sweet. i could use one to launch tennis balls for my dog to chase
...your dog, and all the others at the dog park. Simultaneously. ;-)
anectine2 years ago
Your unknown PDF comes from the Horizon t64 repair manual. I have this motor and controler. Can you advise me how to use it?
akatsuki_922 years ago
Hi, can you tell me what was the model of your treadmill which you opened? I looked at some but none of them had a sliding pot control, dont want to decode the protocol for the menu selction.
Lokisgodhi2 years ago
I'm looking for something to power a tricycle or a rickshaw/pedicab for personal use. Would a motor and controls from a treadmill be powerful enough to get the job done?
anibioman5 years ago
 can you use a dimmer switch for lights as a speed control
No, not likely. A dimmer switch is a rheostat which controls the voltage.
mkoziol22 years ago
I don't have any of the nomenclature you mentioned on my board, it has a digital display as mentioned above. From the schematic attached I only see the one wire which mentions PWM. I have read that i might need a 555 timer?? I havent been able to find a clear answer anywhere. Can anyone guide me in the right direction as to what I need to do to have manual control of my treadmill motor?
gfreed3 years ago
Any photos of the sewing machine project?
dblahnik3 years ago
Type O, its a Lifestyle 2808 treadmill sorry :(
dblahnik3 years ago
I have a motor and control from a Lifestyle 2802 treadmill.
It has a delayed start feature,does any one no how to adjust or disable the delay start . I am going to use the motor for a pig roaster (spit) and I dont want my Piggy to burn before this thing kicks in. I havent timed it but it seems to take 30 seconds to 1 minute before it kick on ?
Radionics3 years ago
Hi great information base for treadmills..

I've got a Power First Treadmill here with a 180V DC motor and controller board.

The interesting thing is, the board has L W H as you have already covered. But it also has an additional H M.

Any ideas what the extra H and M are?
ezra19765 years ago
I built a pitching machine out of a treadmill motor and used all the same controls from the treadmill but the motor speeds up to the desired rpm but then will slow down for a bit then speed back up...does anyone know a solution to this?
ncblu ezra19763 years ago
did you pull the flywheel off, the motor needs it to maintain an steady constant speed, moreso than without one. when the motor reaches speed the controller will dial back a bit and unless there is something to keep momentum, the motor will slow down some, then the controller plays catch-up so you get that rise/fall speed effect.
rjeblogue (author)  ezra19765 years ago
Brilliant-Excellent-I hope you don't mind that I posted a vid link & pics. I'm afraid I didn't catch your name so I can give credit. Thaks again!
rjeblogue (author)  ezra19765 years ago
Does it slow down from the resistance of shooting out the ball? Did you incorporate the motor with or without the flywheel. If the answer is: it slows down when shooting the ball and the flywheel is incorporated-Try designing it without the flywheel-perhaps
The flywheel is still attached with the wheel mounted to the flywheel...the motor doesn't miss a beat when the ball hits the wheel..just annoying when you have to wait 30 sec after every 2 pitches or so.
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