Using the computer from the Nordic Track ski machine on your DIY kayak ergometer

I had a customer who purchased my plans for the compact, DIY kayak ergometer reach out to me to ask if it is possible to use the computer from the Nordic Track to track time, speed, distance, etc.

He was not the first person to ask.

The short answer is absolutely yes!

The longer answer is I do not show you how to do this in my video plans since 1) It is relatively rare to find one of these devices with a still-working computer 2) The computer types vary greatly and 3) Many times the magnetic sensors are missing and even they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

20181030_120028_resizedThe Nordic Track computer mounted on my kayak ergometer, right in front of the flywheel, underneath my lower legs.  I used Velcro to secure it to the main deck and I drilled an additional hole through the deck to run the wire from the underside.

To use the computer, you will need the magnet that is mounted on the flywheel shaft and the sensor for it.

20181030_203409_resizedThree types of the various magnet assemblies (that I’ve come across–there may be more) used on the original machine.  The magnet is the silver cylinder mounted into the black sleeve and the sleeve was mounted on the shaft of the flywheel.

As you can see, some of these magnets were on a sleeve that clipped to the shaft and others were fully encased and more securely mounted on the shaft.  It is not uncommon for the “clip on” type to be missing from these old machines.

Sometimes these sleeves will fit onto the shaft on the final kayak ergometer machine and sometimes they will not because there is not enough room between the flywheel and the side rail.

You might have to shorten the length of the black, plastic clip-on housing or remove the magnet entirely and glue it to the flywheel shaft.  As far as I know, the magnet itself was always the same length and it will fit, but the sleeve that holds it might be too long.

The sensor is easy to identify as it will be mounted on the underside of the deck of the original ski machine, mounted very near where this magnet rotates, and have a wire running from it.  It is typically mounted with 1 screw through its bracket.

20181030_203435_resizedMe holding the magnet next to the sensor (with the wire) on its original bracket

Once you mount the magnet onto the flywheel shaft, then it is a matter of figuring out a way to mount the sensor very near the rotating magnet so it senses it with each revolution of the flywheel.  You might have to remove the sensor from the original bracket and get creative on how you mount it.

In my case, I removed the sensor from the bracket and hot glued it onto a nail that I pre-bent at a 90-degree angle so I could mount it.

20181030_205554_resized_1
Sensor mounted next to the magnet on the shaft of the device, photo taken from underneath. Notice the sensor is hot glued to a nail bent at 90-degrees and then driven into a small shim I attached to the inside of the side rail.

20181030_205529_resized_1One more view of the mounted computer sensor from underneath the device

So as you can see, yes, the computer from the Nordic Track ski machine can be used on the ergometer, but there were so many variables and variations on the original equipment it was impossible to show you how to do this in the instructional video.

You might have to get a little creative, but the computer is worth the effort since it allows you to track time, speed and distance and maybe even heart rate if yours came with the heart rate sensor/clip that plugs into the computer.

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Click here to see the kayak ergometer, read the story and purchase the video plans and parts list to build your own.

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