Tread lightly.

Last week I was using my treadmill when the motor unexpectedly stopped.   In the days since then, I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the inner workings of my treadmill (a 12 year old, well-loved Schwinn 845P).

The important bits under the cover include the digital display console, a hydraulic incline motor, a DC motor that drives the belt, a sensor that measures the speed at which the treadmill’s belt is turning, and an electronic board that controls all these things.

The symptom:  The motor and belt just stopped abruptly during a workout.    The console still works.  The incline motor works as well.   Any time I subsequently turn the treadmill back on, the console lights up, prompting for the usual inputs.  Then when I press the start button, I hear a “click” after which the motor used to start-up, but now doesn’t.  And after a few seconds the console just displays the message “Err LS” (looks also like “Err L5”) which apparently stands for Loss of Speed, which is an error message related to a number of different failures.   I had to figure out which component had failed, causing that error.

Disclaimer:  I am in no way suggesting you do this at home yourself.   I’m not an expert. 

The patient:


The diagnostic process in my case:

  • No belt movement at all.
  • The circuit breaker next to the power switch has not tripped.  And, besides, electricity is able to power the console and the incline motor.
  • None of the capacitors on the control board appeared to be swollen or visibly failed.
  • All of the wire harnesses and leads seemed to be seated firmly – no loose connections that I could see.
  • The fuse on the motor control board is not blown.
  • If I move the belt with my hand, I can see the “SPEED” led on the control board flashing as it turns, meaning the speed sensor is not the problem in my case.  It appears to be working and sending a signal to the control board, which is receiving it and flashing the LED as the magnet on the drum passes the speed sensor.
  • I disconnected the (DC) motor (P/N KK 2566) power leads from the control board and hooked them up to the terminals of a 12V car battery to test it by itself, and the motor worked fine.  An inspection of the brushes also showed them to be in good shape.  The motor is just not apparantly getting power from the control board as it should be.
  • I can hear the relay click after pressing the start button, but the board is just not sending power to the motor, or at least not the right amount of power.   A multimeter showed 3 Volts coming from the board to the DC motor.
  • I googled “Err LS” and “treadmill” and read as much as I could find.  There are alot of problems that can cause an Err LS message.  I
  • I called Schwinn to got their take, and even though the treadmill is out of production, I experienced great customer service from Joseph as he talked me through things to check to narrow down the problem.

The consensus diagnosis:   Through process of elimination, the problem appears to be a failed control board (motor control board, actually).   Apparantly this is a very common failure on treadmills of all makes and models.

The fix:  I found a website called FitnessBoardsDirect, that carries such things.  The replacement for my motor control board (P/N QQ 2197) is a new-from-the-manufacturer item, not a refurbished one.   I called them as well.   A guy named Nick answered the phone and was very nice and helpful;  he confirmed the diagnosis and gave me a little more confidence that the item I would order might actually fix my problem.  So, I decided to shell out $225 plus shipping for a replacement motor control board.   Not cheap, but much less expensive than a new treadmill – a comparable new model retails for $800-$1000, depending on who you buy it from.

My replacement board arrived tonight and I installed it, and it worked.  I’m back in business!   🙂

Crit sittin’.

Yesterday afternoon I was pulled into a critical situation with a client (aka a “crit sit”).  This usually means 24/7 phone calls with a dozen or more people from all corners of the planet to diagnose what caused a problem in a client’s IT environment, and then fix it.  So it’s been a long day or two… and will be a long weekend.

But…. look what Monte made me today!     🙂

A nice thing.
A nice thing.

First world problems.

The culprit.
The suspect.

We, in the modern and developed “first world,” enjoy luxuries that are inconceivable by those living in developing “third world” nations.   In the real scheme of things, any woes that we complain about related to technology are nothing more than noise.  But it doesn’t make them less annoying because of that…

Our latest first world problem:   when I use the treadmill, our DSL modem drops its connection to the internet.

Ah yes.   Quite a quandary.  A recent development — and an unacceptable one.   Imagine the fun we’ve been having trying to talk to AT&T about it for the last few weeks to get help with troubleshooting.  So we’ve been trying to debug our modern conveniences ourselves to find the root cause.  We suspect a new DSL modem which we got a few months back (a Netgear), because the old one (a 2wire) worked fine when the very same treadmill was on.

If we plug the treadmill into an outlet on the other side of the house, it does not interfere with the modem.  So we could move either the treadmill or the modem.  Both of which would be a major pain.  So in the mean time, I hope to find another solution… i.e., finding another brand of modem, like the 2wire that we had for many years until it went kaput.

Anyone out there have a better suggestion?

Update:  I think we fixed the problem!!  (through no help of AT&T, by the way).  After a month of trying to figure out what the problem was, in desperation and frustration I dug out our old 2wire DSL router out of the closet.  It had worked (and coexisted with the treadmill) for about 10 years before crapping out this summer.  When that happened, we replaced it with the AT&T-recommended netgear DSL modem product, which is the one we’re currently struggling with.  In the old 2wire DSL modem box I found the original  DSL phone line filter dongle thingies that we also replaced when we got the new netgear modem.  The ones we got with the netgear modem say “Pace America” brand on them.  In a desperate attempt to try just one more thing, I changed out the Pace-America brand DSL phone line filter dongle with the 2wire brand one that we had used with the previous 2wire modem for many years.  And…(drum roll) it fixed the problem!    I post this update in the hope that it will help some other poor schmuck that has resorted to google for help on how to fix their treadmill / DSL router interference problem.

Best of luck!

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