Hooking Up a Treadmill to PC Game




After running thousands of virtual miles in a plethora of MMORPGs, we wondered how hard it would be to keep up that pace in the real world. After concluding that the in-game characters are running at about 12mph, we decided that keeping up 6mph on a treadmill to achieve the same thing would be a fair start. Add some wood, a bike wheel, optical mouse and bicycle wheel into the equation, and you'll be burning mad calories every time you log into your favorite server.

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Step 1: List of Materials

2x 44" length wood 2"x4"
1x 25" length wood 2"x4"
2x 15" length wood 2"x4"
1x box 6 x 1 1/4 all purpose screws
1x 23" bicycle wheel and tire assembly with axel
1x 20" x 20" corrugate cardboard
2x screw-in eyelets
1x 8 1/2" round mousepad (Staples)
1x USB gaming joystick
1x push treadmill (Amazon.com)
1x Logitech MX Revolution mouse
1x PC
1x InMotion 2 push-style treadmill (no motors- user pushes the belt with their feet)
2x 5" x 5" x 1 1/4" L-brackets
2x 6" x 6" 1 1/2" flat L-brackets
2x 6" x 5 1/2" x 1 1/2" flat T-brackets
2x adjustable bungee cords
1x roll of masking tape
1x roll of duct tape
1x can of permanent spray adhesive
1x scissors
1x Exacto Knife
1x electric screwdriver

Step 2: Base Assembly

Arrange and "H" pattern with the two 44" pieces of wood using the 25" pieces as the middle support. Tie them together with the two T-brackets secured with the all purpose screws. The length of the 25" middle piece was determined by the overall width of the treadmill we used. Since the 44" help keep the assembly in place by bracing it against the treadmill, check the overall width measurement for your specific model of treadmill.

Step 3: Axle Guides

Drill guide holes for the wheel axle in both of the 15" pieces of wood 3/4" from the top of the section. Use a bit just slightly bigger than the outer diameter of your axle.

Step 4: Fork Assembly

Secure the two 15" pieces of wood on the "H" frame with the 5" x 5" x 1 1/4" L-brackets at a 3 3/4" distance from each other. This distance will vary depending on the overall length of your bicycle wheel axle.

Step 5: Bungee Secures

Drill eyelet guide holes in the two upright 15" pieces of wood 5" from the top. Screw in eyelets.

Step 6: Mousepad Disk Assembly

Trace the mousepad on the corrugate cardboard twice. Cut out the circles of cardboard with scissors. Cut out a small hole in the center of the mousepad, then cut out the same size small hole in the two pieces of cardboard. Spray a generous portion of adhesive on one of the cardboard pieces and place them together. Spray more adhesive on the back of the mousepad and line it up with the cardboard circles. Place stack of two cardboard circles and mousepad under a heavy box to set and let dry for time recommended on adhesive bottle.

Step 7: Attach Mousepad to Wheel

Fit mousepad and cardboard disc assemble snugly onto bicycle wheel axel as close to spokes as possible. Secure the cardboard disc to the bicycle spokes with several strips of duct tape.

Step 8: Add Cardboard Spacers

Cut out a couple of small cardboard spacers and fit them onto the cardboard disc side of the axle.

Step 9: Insert Wheel Into Fork

By prying apart the 15" uprights, fit the axle into the guide holes, securing the wheel in place so that it spins freely, the spacers giving about 1/4" max clearance from the mousepad to the fork.

Step 10: Reinforce Fork

With the wheel in, it is a good idea to strengthen the pliable fork assembly so that if you are close to the treadmill's 250lb limit, the wheel doesn't pop out of the fork. Screw the flat L-shaped brackets to hold together the front of the 15" uprights to the H-frame.

Step 11: Mouse Bracket Assembly

Fix two screws about 1 1/2" apart on the end of the mousepad-side of the upright 15", leaving 2" of space on the right. Using masking tape, secure the mouse snugly to the mousepad and against the top of the 15" upright piece. Be be careful not to tape any of the many buttons into the pressed position. Wedge a small piece of cardboard between the mouse and the two screws in the top of the 15" upright piece to hold the mouse firmly against the pad. Again, be careful that the cardboard or anything else does not press any of the mouse buttons. When a good position is determined, secure the cardboard with masking tape.

Step 12: Secure Treadmill to Wheel Assembly

Place your InMotion 2 treadmill (this is the model we used) into the H-frame of the wheel assembly so that the treadmill belt is resting securely against the tire on the wheel assembly. Connect the two bungee cords to the eyelets on the upright 15" pieces of wood and secure the other ends to the support beam under the belt on the front of the treadmill.

Step 13: Set Up Your Gaming PC

Place a monitor in viewing distance of the treadmill and a PC close enough to make the cable connections but far enough that it doesn't get kicked or act as the brake pad for the wheel.

Step 14: Adding Directional Control

Although you'll have to keep running on the treadmill to move forward, left/right taps on the joystick will keep you from running into trees and light posts. Using masking tape, packaging tape or zip ties, secure the joystick to the front corner of the treadmill handrail, routing the USB cable away from the wheel assembly and into the PC.

Step 15: Set Up a Computer With a Script

The hardware is done. Now all you have to do is get this bizarre contraption to interface with your game. This part is easy, and you don't have to be total computer geeks
like us to do it.
1. Download GlovePie from http://carl.kenner.googlepages.com/glovepie_download and install it
2. Download the GlovePie script we wrote off of this instructable.
3. Go to File/Open in GlovePie, select the TreadmillControl.PIE script you just downloaded.
4. Click Run

Now the forward movement of the treadmill will be seen by the computer as tapping on the 'w' key, and the joystick will simulate the 'a' (left) and 'd' (right).

**Read below only if you need to use other keys than the ones for most movement in games (WASD setup).
If you need the treadmill to tap a different key besides 'w', all you need to do is replace the variable "key.a" with "key.whateverLetterYouWant" for example, if you wanted
to tap on the 'r' key instead of 'w', just change "key.a" to "key.r." I told you it was easy!
Here are the lines that control forward movement and left and right. These will allow you to customize the script.
key.a = var.keya
key.d = var.keyd
key.w= var.moveit
The second part of the script you might want to customize is how fast you need to run for your character to run at full speed. All you need to do to change that is alter the
numbers in the lines of the script that look like:
if var.speed >= 15 then
Just set the 15 to a lower number, and it will be easier to make your character run full speed.

*You can download our script here. When saving, if the file saves as .tmp, simply rename the extension to .PIE

Step 16: Make Stupid Videos, Race Your Friends, Get in Shape!

We want to see your homebrew version! Send your photos, alterations, and developments to manapotions.com!!!

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    27 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Say, wouldn't you be able to set up a transistor switch connected to the speed sensor built into the treadmill and hook it into a joystick? If it's read how I think it would be with a slotted wheel and a magnetic sensor, then it'd be pretty much what you've set up in code only it'd be physical. Just a thought, I'd really like to discuss this with you, I'm trying to think of ways to interface this with an xbox controller, for the hell of it.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    @kscchmidt2 Did you ever follow up with this idea of hooking up to the speed sensor?


    Reply 2 years ago

    Well, I started looking into how to do with with a controller but time became an issue. The particular speed sensor on my treadmill used a magnet and a Magnetic Reed Switch to give a square wave pulse. Not good for an analog joystick. What I ended up doing was getting an electric motor, an LED, and a light sensor. You drive the motor off the treadmill, connect the lamp in series with the motor and connect it to an amount of power to dimly light the LED. Then you point the LED directly into the light sensor and connect the sensor across where the joysticks POT goes. Center pin only I believe but I'm not sure. What happens, when you're not moving the light is at a level that the light sensor lets the same amount of voltage through to the middle pin as the potentiometre would. When you walk backwards, the light dimms causing less power to go into the Controller, when you walk forwards the light gets brighter allowing more power to the controller. From what I remember it worked, but I never got it set up and working on the treadmill because I had some issues mounting it. The motor I used was a DC motor out of a CD drive, the one that ejects the tray.

    You can always give it a go, otherwise I might make some time and make an instructable out of it.


    3 years ago

    This has been available for 7 years? What planet have I been on? Does anyone know the scripting of adding a run feature (Shift button) For games that have W for move and Space for run?


    5 years ago

    Amazing instructable! My thoughts are to add an oculus rift or similar device for ultimate virtual reality.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Couldn't you make it so that the speed that the mouse tracks is read like a joystick distance, so the faster you run the further the virtual joystick gets pushed, that way the movement would be smoother, I beleive anyway. Then you just have buttons for everything else.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hold on... I wish there was a summary at the beginning or maybe I missed it. You are physically running in the game when you run on the treadmill - that's the concept? I like it as it is unique, but I'm not sure how that might affect gameplay and such if you're moving up and down running, while needed to press buttons on the keyboard. Or maybe I'm missing something =D Cool idea again!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You wouldn't have to paint lines on the treadmill if you used a ball mouse...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    In a word, yes.

    However you'll need to modify the script as described in step 15 so that the keys are properly mapped.

    Also, since TF2 uses the mouse for look control, consider adding a joystick-to-mouse adapter program, google shows tons of them. You might be able to just script it into Glove pie, also.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     when you fly, you need to make a rig that turns a fan on so as your flying ur getting blasted with air!!


    10 years ago on Step 14



    10 years ago on Introduction

    Can you move your camera view ( look around you) with this setup? I usually use my touch pad and hit the button and 'scroll' around to see 360. Is it possible to do that with no mouse controller? ( since the mouse is used for the w button control)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesum,but can you use another mouse normally (as in to aim etc)


    10 years ago on Step 15

    Can you use a second mouse for aiming and shooting intead of a joystick?


    10 years ago on Step 15

    When I run the script my character just keeps running and can't be stopped. Also, how do you keep the mouse from looking up and down?

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 15

    Hmmm. That's unusual. Did you make any alterations to the script? Also, the "swallow" command may fix the mouse looking up and down.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Awwwwwww remember the time I was playing WoW wasting my money and my time that incredibly addictive


    wow, how wouold really use this every time they played a game? Not me... cool man