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

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE


Microship Seeks Geeky Skipper

by Steven K. RobertsNomadic Research Labs A decade of my life (1993-2002) was focused on the development of this gizmologically intense amphibian pedal/solar/sail micro-trimaran, but as the project neared its end, my own nautical desires were shifting. She sat in my lab for a few years, nearly forgotten… then had a swan song in 2013 with dozens of…

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Microship Hydraulics

These tattered drawings recently turned up in the lab… and it occurs to me that I have never done a proper article about the rather too-elaborate engineering of the hydraulic systems on the Microship for rudder and landing-gear control. Here is a quick overview of this essential subsystem. The boat’s hydraulic system is made up…

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Microship Electronics Photo Essay

by Steven K. RobertsNomadic Research Labs As I settle into Datawake, wrapping myself in a console of rackmount blinkies, I often reminisce about the obsessive Microship project that occupied me for almost a decade (1993-2002). This amphibian pedal-solar-sail micro-trimaran is still in my life, though really should find a new skipper one of these days…

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Microship Revival

I didn’t expect this nautical non-sequitur, but even a career technomad needs to get shaken out of a rut now and again. Way back in 1993, after ten years and 17,000 miles of wandering the US aboard my “computerized recumbent bicycle,” I decided to build an amphibian pedal/solar/sail micro-trimaran and chase the same crazy dream…

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Microship Wordplay docked on Bainbridge Island

Microship Available for Vancouver Island Adventure

Updated January 12, 2018:  I am leaving this post here just so I don’t break deep links from Out There, but this offer is no longer available. When I wrote this post, I was planning to pull together a group of boats to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, and would have loved to have the Microship come along…

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Microship System Architecture

Designing Technomadic Systems – Dr Dobb’s Journal

This was the most substantial published Microship system architecture discussion, and still, over a decade later, reflects the basic design concepts underlying my machines. Although the hardware implementation is completely different, the model is the same: distribute low-power networked nodes throughout the environment and provide a means for anything to talk to anything (even cases…

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Embarking on a Non-Sequitour

During the decade-long Microship project, I published 138 Status Reports as well as a few more general pieces in the old Nomadness series, and for years those have been squirreled away in a rather obscure corner of my website as clunky text pages without any images. Eventually, I want to fold everything into this archival…

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The Video Turret

“The time required to complete a task is inversely proportional to the number of words required to express it.” — The Roberts Law of Creeping To-Do List Complexity ABSTRACT:   This is the complete design for a microprocessor-controlled, environmentally sealed 8″ video turret with two cameras, remote or autofocus, zoom control, sun damage protection, 450-degree azimuth…

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Sea Moss Microship – IEEE Potentials

This article was the first substantial published description of Microship design, kicking off a decade of development. The wide-ranging text describes the trimaran hull and mechanical structures, operating modes, embedded controls, data collection, productivity systems, audio/video tools including crosspoint switching, radio communications, networking, power generation and management, harsh-environment packaging, and life support. This was the…

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The Microship Project Catalog – USCD

by Steven K. Roberts to UCSD Microship Student Project Participants October 13, 1993 In 1993, I landed at UCSD as adjunct faculty for the first two years of the Microship project… and this detailed “project catalog” was written to attract students to our development team. It was structured as a projects course (ECE-190B), and I…

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