My greatest weakness is that of procrastination. I have so much to do I never get anything done.
One project I have had on my mind for a long time, long too long, was to find a way to watch movies on my recumbent exercise bicycle.
If you go to a health club, or purchase a high end exercise machine, they will have built-in flat screen televisions to help with the inevitable boredom of pedaling or running like crazy, but not getting anywhere. I have seen quite a few of these, and all of them work like crap. The reception is fuzzy and intermittent, the sound is tinny, and the selection of programming is inevitably as boring as watching the sweat drip off your own nose.
I have a cheap recumbent exercise bike I bought off of ebay years ago for a song. It works well, but it doesn’t have a video screen. I wanted to change that… and I wanted to put on one there that actually worked, worked well, and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Actually, it couldn’t even cost an arm.
My first idea was to mount an old laptop to the handlebars. I could watch Netflix, Hulu, and DVD movies while I rode. There are a lot of instructional ideas on the Internet on how to do that, and I did my research. I designed a contraption of aluminum bars that would support a laptop… but it seemed awfully complex and flimsy.
Then I realized there was no reason to actually mount the laptop. I wasn’t going to be able to type – I only wanted to watch. All I had to do was to mount a screen and then connect it to my laptop with a cable. I keep my laptop on a stand next to where my bike is… easy peasy.
I bought a used monitor down at the computer sale for thirty bucks. I thought about it for a long time, long too long, and came up with a simple way to mount the thing.
I removed the metal plate from the monitor stand and screwed it to a block of wood I made from a two by four. A heavy angle iron went on the other side of the block. The use of the wood block gave me a little space between the monitor and the handlebars and made it easy to attach everything – screws in wood are a lot easier than bolts in metal.
Then all I had to do was attach the angle iron to the handlebars with a couple of worm clamps. It’s surprisingly strong, yet I can adjust it and remove it easily if necessary.
I connected the power and video cables and I had a picture. The sound was not satisfactory, though. I wanted the sound to come from close to the picture, not a tinny laptop across the room.
A trip to the thrift store a while back had yielded a pair of small Sony Vaio Powered Laptop Speakers for two dollars. I knew these would come in handy… they would be perfect for this – I didn’t need a lot of volume and they were of decent quality.
I removed the screw that held the base on the speakers and pried it loose. I then mounted the bases to each end of a piece of square aluminum tubing.
It was a simple job then of screwing the aluminum to the top of the wooden mounting block I had put in earlier. I had my speakers.
Here’s the whole setup. Actually the biggest job was cord management. There was power to the monitor and speakers, plus cables for video and sound running from my laptop – it threatened to be a tangled mess and I didn’t want any of it to get down into the pedals. If you look closely, you can see a thick black cable tube running down – I was able to cram everything into this and then wire-tie it all down.
The pictures is excellent and the sound is good, if not too loud. The bike is comfortable and this is actually a pretty good way to watch a movie or TV show. I don’t ride very hard, but the idea is to get a long cardio workout.
Now I’m trying to ride at least an hour a day for a start – some in the evening (though I am so worn out when I get home from work) and I’m working on getting out of bed earlier and riding for at least a few minutes before I leave for work. There is Netflix, and Hulu, and DVDs from the library and my kids extensive collection.
Now, maybe a little table with a wireless keyboard and mouse so I can select what I want to watch without getting up. Also, maybe some small weights on a rack nearby so I can get some arm work in at the same time….
I’m so busy I never get anything done.