We were SURE this was it. After 3 years of steady electronic development but wrong turns on nautical substrate selection, we were damned ready for a final choice. When the lovely and eccentric Hogfish entered our lives, we knew it was the right boat. But space at UCSD was not only inadequate but going away, so first we had a few logistical problems to solve...
4/9/95 News Flash... we have a boat! We luck into a great deal on a piece of multihull history, a folding 30-footer that predates the Corsair F-31 (though it's a bare hull). Rhapsody on this theme. We zoom to Seattle to swap the Libra kayaks for a pair of rotomolded Storms, and the turret and manpack are becoming successful student projects. Digital Ocean, Digital Vision, and Yakima join the sponsor roster.
5/6/95--The boat in our face, even if parked in a storage yard off-campus, introduces reality at last and we start thinking about rigging. We also do some more work on audiovisual switching, do a few turret tweaks, start on a "wireless webcam" demo to schmooze for lab space, and refine the solar array design.
5/30/95 -- This posting to our BIG mailing list (though the Status Report list had grown considerably) recaps the recent events in a cogent retrospective way and issues a call for help in the quest for lab space.
6/3/95 -- A-quiver with excitement and a twinge of guilt, I steal the bicycle control processor from BEHEMOTH and repackage the Microship Hub system, in the process adding a suite of I/O cards. I speculate about Hub tasks, talk about a turret app and related string handling, and report on the reverse engineering and FORTH control of the Sony D-7 DAT recorder. Faun describes her wireless turret/webcam system, based on AppleScript, Apple Events, image conversion, and HTML... a project she knocked out while publishing four NRL hardcopy monographs
6/19/95 -- Random student project updates, but it's summertime and the campus has died. Gino Morrelli joins us in nautical brainstorming, and calls for a weight study. We puzzle more over rigging and kayak mounting, while the Fulmar sits tarped-over, for sale. I sell my Sealution kayak and an old ham rig, then buy a sextant.
8/3/95 -- The UCSD era is over! We move out of the lab and dump it all into storage next to the boats in La Jolla, then rent a room in Del Mar with no idea what's ahead (but for a few intriguing possibilities). We launch with an amusing couple on a week-long sailing adventure to Catalina.
8/9/95 -- Ahhh, a taste of adventure! This tale, the last of the Nomadness series before it was merged with Microship Status, evocatively relates the mad and erotic passage to Catalina from San Diego, the dolphins, the island, and the return to our unknowns....
11/3/95 -- Another adventure... this time a 10,000-mile speaking tour around the US, with plenty of added amusements (including Key West Fantasy Fest, kayaking, mountain clambering, and much more).
12/25/95 -- High times: On the Outer Banks of North Carolina we receive word... Apple agrees to sponsor a building in Silicon Valley! We transport both boats and a truckload of lab equipment from San Diego to Santa Clara and set up shop.
1/8/96 -- The lab setup is complete, and I can start thinking about the boat again... starting with an epic PERT chart and some hacking with the hydrophone preamp.
1/14/96 -- We cruise the Sausalito nautical community, and hack a bit with a used tillerpilot. I bring the Hub back online and find some communication glitches, order an HF automatic tuner, and start looking for a new home-base manager.
1/21/96 -- Beauty emerges as we hack the trailer to free one of the floats, then gingerly unfold one side of this lovely trimaran in preparation for a visit by multihull marine architect, John Marples. We then go to work extracting hundreds of 3-axis data points from the hull so David Berkstresser can create a lines drawing in AutoCAD.
2/1/96 -- John Marples extracts all sorts of key numbers from the boat, and helps define a number of fiberglass projects. New key software tools arrive: FileMaker Pro, MacProject Pro, and Design Works. And we take a day on a nearby reservoir to remind ourselves why we're doing all this.
2/13/96-- We put out the call for a new development team and set up our web server at Zocalo.
2/26/96 -- I spend a few days hacking and building FORTH tools to bring the network back online and start preliminary data collection. 54 people respond to the volunteer request, and we start rig-shopping (with the first $6,000 quote causing major sticker shock). I sell the Fulmar to a chap in Texas for use in the Turks & Caicos Islands... and Faun goes to work at West Marine for the employee discount.
3/4/96-- A volunteer party yields interesting contacts, and with some net collaborators I start working on the virtual console spec for the web server. We dust off the turret, solar, and graphic front-end projects, and start puzzling over an integral trailer design.
3/18/96 -- Lab ham antenna, fabrication of access steps to the boat, Hub temperature transducer, peak-power tracking, rigging, Fulmar transport to Texas, Motorola marine radios, and utterly unrealistic plans for our new weight machine (I would occasionally sit on it and wait... but I never got any stronger).
3/26/96 -- We start using the bike's Icom HF rig from the lab, further investigate rigging issues in some detail, Faun reports on web updates and a cardboard galley model, and Steve Orr builds a magical clock.
4/1/96 -- The sudden influx of a few million dollars changes everything.
4/11/96 -- The April Fool's posting of the previous week is revealed, along with a couple of people who took it very seriously. I also generate a DesignWorks CAD document on the Hub from a mess of paper scratchings, and discuss its role and design in some detail. Minn-Kota donates a pair of electric thrusters, prompting considerable analysis of their implementation. And we start a coastal navigation class.
4/24/96 -- Wistful maunderings on the theme of wanderlust, report on a major repackaging job on the Sexbar, acquisition of a decent color camera for the turret, more thoughts on rigging.
5/2/96 -- A major push completes the Sexbar project, and I begin writing software tools.
5/17/96 -- The Sexbar tools work, including a high-level command to automatically detect RS-232 polarity and "swap pins 2 and 3" if needed. I start integrating Sexbar and Auxbar, since they're so similar. We start looking seriously into a lower-cost rotating rig, and get in a bit of kayaking time.
6/3/96 -- Auxbar/Sexbar integration is complete, making Grand Central Station, the major interconnect layer of the Microship Control System, complete. Ken Glaeser and I integrate the zoomable color camera into the turret with a homemade NTSC combiner, and build a servo-controlled vane that parks in front of the lens to block the sun. We begin fabrication of an underwater color camera, make progress on catamaraning the kayaks (hmmm), start playing with batteries and thrusters, and fly to Los Angeles to inspect a rotating rig
6/20/96 -- Remote zoom, focus, and camera power control are added to the video turret, Ken mounts the 24V battery bank in the boat, we tour Coherent Radiation, GeoQuery donates mapping software, Apple donates Macs, and Jim Antrim consults on rigging and structure.
7/9/96 -- High on the turret success, we publish a hardcopy design package. Faun brings up a hydroponic garden, and we start working on a control system that waters based on light, temperature, and humidity. I design the solar peak power tracker and knock out some noise problems in the video crossbar (Vixbar). And David Berkstresser conjures a fiberglass model of the boat in his magic moldmaking machine.
7/31/96 -- Lots of power work... the new wind generator is enroute and we refine the power control design. I go to work on the Hub's various major tasks in node management and data collection, upgrading to 32K. We hire a fiberglass guy to do some of the major Hogfish structural hacking
8/12/96 -- A nasty, itchy, sweaty day with Sawzall and grinder removes internal structures that had to go, preparing the boat for new bulkheads and mast-support crossbeam. And at the other end of the spectrum, I spend a week building the Hubnode task that integrates the whole FORTH network into one apparent system.
9/6/96 -- It's starting to seem a bit more real... the 40-foot aluminum rig arrives and is lying next to the boat; lots of design work and phone calls to the marine consultants are happening in preparation for the next step. Meanwhile, our NewtonScript guru writes tools for the wireless Tarpon, giving us walkaround graphic control over the FORTH network (in particular, the turret).
9/19/96 (Issue #112) -- The fiberglass team gets busy, installing major deck and main beam structure to prepare for the mast step. I start working on bulkheads, along with below-decks console enclosure and further progress on the Newton front-end tools.
10/14/96 -- The bulkheads are almost done, a pair of hollow-core plywood structures glassed heavily under the mast step. Meanwhile, we host other technomads, get some wiring help, play with an astounding race-car simulator, do a bit of kayaking, and more...
10/29/96 -- We start adding photos to these updates. I spend ages filleting and glassing bulkheads into Hogfish. Interesting people wander by. The hydroponic garden's control system takes shape.
11/21/96 -- Our Newton team produces the final, spectacular version of the turret tool, environmental sensors go online and receive a matching graphic tool, and we get Sony VCR control working (and operable from the wireless Tarpon). We also take a tour of the Western Flyer, the new oceanographic research vessel and ROV mothership, and, at the other end of the technological spectrum, spend a wonderful day aboard a 46-foot trimaran.
12/22/96 -- Staring at 1/5-scale models gives me wild thoughts of tiny boats again, especially with sad hints of the possibility of traveling solo. But a lot of work goes into console design, more Newton tools, and noise-elimination. Five new sponsors arrive on the scene.
1/21/97 -- Changes, changes. The loop tour around the Eastern US is postulated, and the epoch of Faun appears to be ending. Bill Vodall arrives to spend a few weeks bringing up PACTOR, Icom control, and some new FORTH signal routing applications for ham radio; I stay busy working on plumbing design and LP tank installation under the starboard lazarette.
3/14/97 -- Faun is gone, and Suzy arrives; emotional life is in a bit of turmoil. But somehow, the project goes on -- a trade show, new sponsors, and the effective quest for a whole slew of new Microship teams
Unbeknownst to me on the the date of that last posting, my life was about to change abruptly once again -- in two ways. On March 23, I struck up an innocent email correspondence with a woman in London... and I also stared at Hogfish, wondered where the motivation had gone, and had the startled realization that tiny boats really do turn me on a lot more. Insane, I know, but there was a powerful certainty about this. Within days, it all came together in a rush, with the unexpected bonus that the vaporous "percentage completion" figure more than doubled overnight. The final phase of this huge project was now launched...