Meet Doug Bradbury. In MAKE Volume 27, Doug wrote an article describing how to make a treadmill desk, that is, a desk with a runner’s treadmill below it. The idea is to stay in shape while you work. It turns out that if you set a treadmill to move its belt at 1.5 miles per hour, you can walk and still use your computer and make telephone calls without discomfort. Treadmill desks are an easy way to walk about five miles a day and avoid the mid-afternoon slump that people who work sitting down often experience.
We wanted to get to know Doug a little more, so we asked him a few questions.
Where you live, what you do for a living, and what you are interested in? I live in Glen Ellyn, IL with my wife Jen. During the day, I take the train into Chicago to write software with a small software consultancy called 8th Light. We write super high-quality software for our clients and have an focus on craftsmanship and learning. We fill our “dojos” with apprentices and teach them how to become professional software developers. Our company is a part of the larger “Software Craftsmanship” movement. I was the primary author of the “Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship,” which has been a unifying document bringing like-minded software companies together. I spoke to this community last fall at the Software Craftsmanship North America Conference in Chicago. My talk was titled “Made to Make” and was about the innate desire that is built in to so many of us to make things, especially software.
One of my biggest hobbies is RC airplanes. I love building them in my basement workshop and flying them in the park across the street or at one of the many local club fields in the area. My favorite modeling subjects are World War II era birds.
I’m also super lucky to have a hackerspace in Glen Ellyn, just down the street. I’m a member of Workshop 88 and enjoy getting involved in their projects. They are a great bunch of people working hard to build a quality hacker-space in the Chicago suburbs.
How did you become interested in making a treadmill desk? I first became interested in treadmill desks when we were setting up our first office for 8th Light. We aren’t your typical cubefarm kind of environment. We like open spaces for collaboration and each of our offices includes a hammock for solving those particularly difficult problems. We were all trying to stay healthy and an active workstation sounded like a great idea. What we found was too expensive at the time, but later, I was at a Chicago hacker / maker conference called ORDCamp and listen to someone describe how he had strapped a laptop to a treadmill to try out walking and working. That was enough to convince me that I didn’t have to shell out the big bucks, but could make one myself.
I’ve since partnered up with a company to sell lower priced treadmill desks and am currently working on reverse engineering the control interface to these treadmills so that I can build a completely computer-controlled version. I’ll be sharing the results on Walkncode when it’s ready to go.
Tell us about one of your favorite tools One of my favorite tools is a the Syscomp CircuitGear (CGR-101). It’s an open-source USB oscilloscope/waveform generator/pwm generator/Digital IO/ whatever you want it to be. It is a super affordable way to get what would otherwise be thousands of dollars of equipment.
From the Pages of MAKE
MAKE Volume 27, Robots! The robots have returned! MAKE Volume 27 features a special package with robotics projects for every age and skill level. They play music; they outwit your pets; they learn from their mistakes! In addition, we’ll show you how to build a special aquarium to keep jellyfish, create pre-Edison incandescent lighting, spy via the internet, and make a go-anywhere digital message board! All this and much, much more, in MAKE Volume 27.