NordicTray: an integrated keyboard table for the NordicTrack treadmill

In an effort to improve my writing workflow, I want to add an unobtrusive keyboard and mouse to this treadmill so that I can move quickly from my desk to the treadmill with minimal distraction or interruption to my writing.

I’ve tried a number of cordless “walking around” keyboards and I love them (especially the TREWGrip) for their mobility and cordlessness, but when it comes to writing fiction, I find them alien enough that they are interfering with my ability to walk and write at the same time.

The TREWGrip came close, but I’ve never been able to get proficient with the built-in gyroscopic mouse system, and I find I subconsciously miss the anchoring of that fixed keyboard in front of me. I don’t want to blame my tools for my frustrations with writing, but there’s a point at which some tool choices really do conspire against productivity.

In my previous writing space (a cramped corner of the basement) I had a keyboard shelf bolted to the wall beside the treadmill, but now I’m in a much nicer, finished office and the clunky wall-mounted solution doesn’t suit the more professional atmosphere.

It’s true that I could look to any number of 3rd party solutions. There are loads of add-on tables and trays to be had, but everything I’ve seen is some combination of: a) bigger than I want; b) bulky/ugly; and c) awkward or time consuming to move out of the way. (For the family members who don’t want a keyboard in their face while they exercise.)

So the challenge I’ve set myself is to design a new, custom-built solution. There were two irksome functional problems I had with the wall-mounted system from the basement, so I’ll want to keep those in mind while designing the replacement.

First, because the shelf was fixed to the wall, the keyboard seemed to “shimmy” in the air in front of me as I walked, making it a bit difficult to find the keyboard and get my hands over the proper keys using just my peripheral vision. So this replacement will be integrated to the console where it can sway back and forth in time with my stride.

And second, the shelf was rather long (3 feet) and made of solid pine, so it was rather heavy and awkward to adjust the height. Especially while walking. Whatever scheme I come up with will have to permit rapid adjustment.

Hopefully, with a better design this time around, I’ll be able to get back to writing on the treadmill, and bringing some much needed exercise back into my working day.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.