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

Steven K. Roberts

System Documentation

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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WANDER: A Portable Linux Data-Collection System

By 2002, the Microship project was starting to feel like work… creeping featuritis, endless landing-gear refinement, and complex integration of electronics that we had developed so long before that the whole network side (originally done in FORTH on 68HC11 boards) was being re-designed with modern tools. I had started the Inside Microship book project, but there was…

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Microship Network Architecture drawing

This huge drawing (done in ConceptDraw) was my snapshot of the system during the heyday of its development, and it even lived on the server with image-mapped links in some of the boxes, intended to become a graphic front-end to the documentation library. A few notes are below; you can click it for a big…

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Ship of Dreams: New Adventures of a Technomad – CQ VHF

There was a point in the 10-year Microship project that I think of as the peak of system design, and only two articles really capture it… the one below, and another in the venerable Dr. Dobbs Journal. I wrote both during a 2-month layover in a rented house in Bellingham where we stayed after first…

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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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BEHEMOTH Project Sponsors

The bicycle adventures never could have happened without wonderful help from sponsors, volunteers, and media… something I came to think of as a symbiosis and wrote about in the Reaching Escape Velocity book. BEHEMOTH in particular, being so technology-intensive, was built from countless goodies provided by industry along with about three years of intensive lab work.…

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The Brain Interface Unit

One of the most visually distinctive components of the BEHEMOTH bicycle system was the BIU, or Brain Interface Unit. This was based on a Bell Tourlite helmet, and included a head-mounted display, three ultrasonic sensors for cursor control, stereo and communications headsets, boom microphone, spot and flood lights, rear-view mirror, and a fluid heat-exchanger to…

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The BEHEMOTH Folding Console

Over the years of taking BEHEMOTH onto stage for speaking gigs, one of the biggest crowd-pleasers (especially among engineers) was the folding console. This is where it started… a mechanical design by David Berkstresser, lots of sheet-metal parts, then an arcane assembly of hinged surfaces attached to a shock-isolated aluminum substrate and held in place…

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Winnebiko II Console Operation

An ancient green binder has followed me around from lab to lab through the decades, and it contains all the hand-drawn schematics, software, design sketches, and operating procedures for the Winnebiko II system. This machine rolled out of the lab in 1986, and kept me amused until 1988 when rapidly advancing technology seduced me into…

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Anatomy of the Winnebiko II

This article was long-buried in an obscure corner of my ancient website, and is a good tech overview of the second bike version. The Winnebiko II flickered to life in 1986, was exhibited (incomplete) at Expo 86 in Vancouver, spent a month or two of intense hackage in a Bainbridge Island lab, then covered 6,000…

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