Art without engineering is dreaming;
Engineering without art is calculating.

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE

Early Years

My USAF Motorcycle Accident

I had an oddly contentious relationship with my superiors in the Air Force, long ago, when I was 19 and obsessively building a lab into my dorm room. In the middle of all that, a friend bought a new motorcycle and invited me to go for a ride… an adventure that led to a broken…

Read More

International Science Fair 1969 – Speech Synthesis

Science fairs, quite simply, kept me sane through those dark school years. The allure of the project, the deadlines, and having a justification for obsessive focus on things other than boring homework… these events shaped my life. Every year from 5th grade on, I had a science fair project, and this one was the last:…

Read More

Oliver – 1968 Seneca HS Senior Play

One of the more formative and worthwhile endeavors of my high-school years at Seneca (Louisville, class of 1969) was this wonderful senior play — largely because the director, Eugene Stickler, was brilliant. I was Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker, and sang a solo that still resonates in my head nearly a half-century later (“He’s a born undertaker’s mute.…

Read More

Civil Air Patrol Communications – 1968

Besides my obsession with science fairs and random electronics geekery, my most visible “extracurricular activity” during high-school years was the Civil Air Patrol. Memory is hazy, but I believe I was in for three years… I think I became a lieutenant before dropping out during my senior year. These two photos are from 1968; I…

Read More

Combo Mowing Rig – 1966 home movie

When I was a kid in Kentucky, we had 5½ acres… and it was pretty much my responsibility to keep it all mowed. Our old Bolens tractor had a reel mower attachment, but it was awful… so my father (Edward H. Roberts) designed a rig that used the tractor/sulky to pull a pair of properly offset…

Read More

Morse Code Translator – 1966 Science Fair

As a budding ham and paleo-geek, I was naturally drawn to the idea of building an automatic Morse Code sender instead of, you know, actually learning to do it competently with a straight key! This was not my design, though it had a number of modifications; it ended up mounted on the side of my…

Read More

Sailing at Camp Mountain Lake – 1965

My father, Ed Roberts, was an avid sailor for many years before I came along, and only after his passing did I discover the extent to which this permeated his life. As a child, I picked up a bit of nautical lore and sensed the allure on family vacations, but I didn’t really learn to…

Read More

1964 Science Fair Project – The Computer Plus

I have often joked over the years that I never outgrew science fairs… showing off the various technomadic machines at trade shows and other events was eerily reminiscent of those early years, complete with passion, demo effects, marketing, and procrastination followed by despair. I credit science fairs with giving me a lifelong project-oriented perspective, and…

Read More

Why we need new classrooms – The Dayman

I was but a wee third-grader here, and this is certainly far outside the mainstream geeky content of this archive, but I just couldn’t resist. In my first published article (Louisville Country Day School paper), I agitate for new classrooms at the Rock Creek Lane campus. Judging from the cartoon in the same issue, I…

Read More

Kite Flying Contest in 1959

My “most unusual kite” was a lovely airplane design called the Sky Flyer, now just a memory. For decades, it hung in the basement of the old homestead, gradually fading. In 2005, I sold a batch of old kites on eBay, and it included the box… shown here clipped out of the ancient image.

Read More