Free treadmills from Craigslist are a great source of DC motors and motor controllers for machine tools. A quick search will yield several examples of people repurposing these motors and drive for drill presses, lathes, and various other equipment.
From what I’ve seen, the MC-60 type controller is by far the most common in low end treadmills (the type you typically can get for free). Three out of the four treadmills that have passed through my garage have had the same MC-60 controller, and nearly identical permanent magnet DC motors. This controller is relatively easily repuroposed as a machine tool drive, as the input is a simple voltage divider circuit driven by a potentiometer. Just take the pot off the treadmill’s dash, mount it to your bench, and you’re up and running.
The MC-2100 proved to be a bit more complicated. My first clue was the all digital dash on the treadmill it came out of. A quick google concluded that the MC-2100 required a 5v PWM signal with ~50ms period. I found a good reference circuit on the All About Circuits forum (Link):
This circuit has two stages. The first is an astable 555 vibrator. Tapping off the capacitor charge pin (Pin 6 on the 555) results in a sawtooth output, with the frequency set by R1, R2, and C. This sawtooth is then fed into a LM393 voltage comparator to convert the sawtooth wave into a square wave.
Here’s my final circuit sketch:
And a quick first test video:
In my opinion, it was worth the effort to figure out because the MC-2100 is a high frequency PWM controller, as opposed to the MC-60 which is an SCR based controller that operates at line frequency. This results in a much quieter motor. Also, based on a couple quick test cuts, the MC-2100 seems to have a higher current capacity.
Check out the rest of the MC-2100 Project Here