Monday, March 05, 2012

Treadmill Desk Odds And Ends

Just a few things that aren't worth individual posts on their own...

Better Warranty

A LifeSpan VP posted in the comments of my original product review, indicating that their web site now shows improved warranty terms.  My original complaint was that their warranty specified a maximum of 3 (or 4, in the manual) hours per day, which I considered to be too low considering the intended usage.  The terms are now 6 hours per day, a considerable improvement. This is clearly listed under the "Commercial Warranty" section, so I still don't know if it applies to residential use or not.  They do not specify a limit under the "Residential Warranty" section.

I still feel it should be at least 8 hours, though 6 hours easily covers my average daily use so far.  If I wasn't dealing with the plantar fasciitis, I'd like to think I would be doing 10-12 hours or more per day, but as-is my average is under 5 hours (drops way down on the weekends).

Still, kudos to LifeSpan for tracking down my review and making a policy improvement based on those comments.

Whacky Pedometer

I commented in my original review that the step counter seemed reasonably accurate.  Over the next few weeks, I really started to doubt this accuracy.  I keep track of all of my statistics each day, and I was never getting to 13K steps.  All kinds of days with 12K steps, but for some reason I just wasn't getting to 13K, even with close to 8 hours of walking.  This started to raise my suspicions, so I'd keep a better eye on the step counter.  Step, tick, step, tick, step, tick.  It always seemed to be ok in the morning.  Then I'd check again in the afternoon, and it would be more like step, step, step, tick, step, step, step, step, tick.  Uh oh.  The counter was clearly missing steps.  I tried deliberately walking with heavier steps, lighter steps, pauses between footfalls, etc.  Didn't seem to change anything, and the counter would only increase sporadically.  But in the morning, it faithfully noted every single step.  I was confused.

I can't honestly say how the idea popped into my head that cleared up the confusion.  The issue here is that the display only has 4 digits.  I was handily exceeding 10K steps, so I needed a 5th digit that simply wasn't there.  I was using car odometer logic.  If you look at a 10 year old car that has an odometer with 5 digits and see 11345, you can pretty much assume that the actual mileage is 111,345 or maybe even 211,345.  I would look at the treadmill in the afternoon, see something like 2350, and assume this meant 12,350.  Thus, lots of 12K results.  It suddenly occurred to me that the step counter might not roll 5 digits the same way.  When the step counter started misfiring in the afternoon, I made it a point to count steps between digit changes.  Sure enough, every 10 steps the counter would increase.  Ah ha!  So 2350 was not 12,350, it was in fact 23,500.  The treadmill handles 5 digits in an odd way.  I probably would have picked up on this faster if I had ever seen what happened after 9999, but I leave the display on Time normally, and I always missed it.

So, crisis averted, the step counter still appears to be quite accurate.  I went back and recalculated my numbers with this new knowledge, and it turns out that the number I was never quite hitting was 30K steps, not 13K.  I was routinely exceeding 20K.  If you have one of these and share my confusion, add a 0 to the right side, not a 1 to the left side.  And yes, I did verify that the manual makes no mention of this behavior.


Well, it wouldn't be a typical expensive purchase without eventually buying add-ons, too.

First up is a floor mat.  Since I intend to use this treadmill for a while, and quite heavily at that, I decided it would be prudent to follow the maintenance schedule.  LifeSpan recommends lubricating the belt every 50 hours of use, which is less than 2 weeks of walking for me.  They sell a silicone spray lubricant, and note that you should have something under the treadmill that can be easily cleaned.  Also, just in the course of regular use, dust and fur/hair gets deposited at the end of the treadmill, making a nice dust mouse pile.  I had it sitting on carpet, and I'm in an apartment (so I don't own the carpet) so getting some kind of mat seemed like a good idea.

After poking around on Amazon a bit, I landed on the Stamina Fold-to-Fit Folding Equipment Mat.  It was amongst the thickest I found (1/4"), and there were several positive reviews mentioning use on carpet.  I assumed that these things were typically used on hard floors, so wanted to make sure that carpet use was ok.  And so far, carpet use is ok.  The mat is wide enough that it also fits under the desk legs with a couple inches to spare on either side.  It is long enough that there is at least a foot of extra length available.

Pro tip: buy one of these when you buy your treadmill, and lay it down first.  It's annoying to have to get everything torn down and repositioned.  Also, likely due to the use on carpet, rolling the treadmill back into place is extremely difficult.  The wheels sank down and then pretty much refused to roll, so I had to basically walk the treadmill back into position.  Otherwise, no complaints, although I guess the test will be what the condition is like the next time I relocate.  So far I do not see any indications of punctures or tearing, so it seems durable enough.  The surface is easily dust-able, so collecting the bunnies is not a problem.  I haven't found the lubrication process to be messy at all (probably means I'm not sufficiently lubing), but at least there is now a protective surface in the event of spillage.

Lastly, I was starting to develop headaches originating from the back of my neck.  I attributed this to my monitor being too low.  Elevating the displays was always the intention, I just forgot to do it.  I would love to get a couple of those swing arms that hold displays in mid-air, but for a variety of reasons that isn't practical right now.  All I really needed was a riser on the desk to provide the elevation I needed.

Due to the arrangement of my primary monitor and laptop dock, I needed something reasonably wide and pretty deep.  Most dedicated desk risers I found were far too shallow to accomplish the job.  I like to poke around on IKEA Hacker, and had seen a post where someone fashioned a riser out of a shelf and some Capita legs.  Seemed like a good approach, so then it was just a matter of locating a suitable shelf to use, which turned out to be a bit of a challenge.  I eventually landed on an IVAR (any programmers reading may now giggle) shelf.  It's actually a couple of inches deeper than I need, but pretty much everything else I found wasn't deep enough.  The Capita legs are available in several lengths, and I wound up going for the 8" ones.  This puts the center of my primary monitor at roughly eye-level.  The shelf is thick enough, although just barely, to use the screws that come with the legs.

I've only had it for about a week, and the headaches have stopped.  Picture below, but here are the specific items:

I suppose if I was smarter, I could have just used a piece of particle board.  Oh well.  Here is the end result:


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