The Library of Technomadics

BEHEMOTH

In 1983, I left Ohio on a "computerized recumbent bicycle" named Winnebiko to begin a career of technomadic publishing, then after the first 10,000 miles built a new machine that would let me write while riding. After another 6,000 miles, it was time for the mega-cycle... a 580-pound monster named BEHEMOTH. All three bike versions are described here.

Microship

After 9 years of pedaling around the US on geeky bicycles, it was time to port the whole adventure to water. The Microship project spanned a decade, with three different labs and multiple design revisions... at last yielding an amphibian pedal/solar/sail micro-trimaran. This massive project was fueled by about 160 corporate sponsors and a team of brilliant geeks...

Nomadness

By the time the Microship was "done" in 2003, I wanted something more practical... large enough to live aboard with crew, piano, and lab. After a year with a rocketship 36-foot trimaran, I bought an Amazon 44 — a steel pilothouse cutter. With the intent of preparing for open-ended global voyaging, I cruised and lived aboard for 6 years while immersed in nautical geekery.

Datawake

In my sixties, it was time to move to the Dark Side... so I found a new owner for Nomadness and acquired a Vic Franck Delta 50. I now live aboard this floating lab in the San Juan Islands, with communications, virtual reality, underwater vehicle, piano, audio studio, data collection, machine shop, and deployable micro-trimaran for local exploration.

(Click title for our film digitizing business in Friday Harbor.)
(Photo by Mel Lindstrom)

New Posts

This column showcases new activity, and may include articles about the Datawake boat project, dives with the ROV, photography, and other real-time content.

Stoneville Grammar Graduation – 1927

Just to help people doing ancestry and Worcester historical research, here is a bit of data… Stoneville Grammar School graduation exercises in 1927. This includes the credits and list of graduates (of which my mother was one). The principal was Grace M. Buckley. She went on to the Worcester High School of Commerce, and the…

Gyroscopic Action – A Menace to Aviation

Gyroscopic Action - A Menace to Aviation

I was adopted, and my biological grandfather was an absolutely fascinating fellow named Ralph M. Pearson. Of particular note is that in his teens (late-1890s), Ralph may have been the first person in history to accomplish the Great Loop… though others say that distinction goes to three boys in a sailboat.  In any case, he…

Hall Family Photos, Matlack and Biddle Street, West Chester PA

Circa 1890… some Roberts family history I have never understood my own genealogy very well, yet I am the last of a line on my father’s side, in possession of precious photos and papers relating the history of this distinguished Quaker family from West Chester, Pennsylvania. I’ll gradually post a few things here, just to…

Civil War Soldier Letter to Ebenezer Hafford re Lieutenant Courvoisier

I wish I could provide more context for this letter, which was in an envelope of Civil War papers in my father’s estate. I don’t know the family connection, but am placing it here on my server to preserve its contents. If you have additional perspective on the drama discussed herein, or genealogical context (like this)…

JH Potter Manufacturer of Mineral Teeth – 1848

A relic in the old family archives, posted here for its dental history value.  Resumption & Removal J. H. POTTER, Manufacturer of Mineral Teeth After a temporary absence, has RESUMED HIS BUSINESS, and REMOVED To No. 29 Sansom Street. Having a superior assortment of MINERAL TEETH, Gold and Tin Foil, Gold Plate, Wire, Solder and…

Recent Archive News

Changes to the library are automatically shown here... whether newly scanned articles, digitized videos and movies, historical documents, or edits to existing material. August 10, 2020 item count: 900

GEnie Press Release – High-Tech Nomad second 10K miles

Between the first 10,000-mile journey aboard the Winnebiko and the 6,000 with the Winnebiko II, I moved my network operations from CompuServe to GEnie. This press release was the first public exposure of that fact, and came as we arrived at Expo ’86 in Vancouver to display the bike before heading down the Pacific Coast.…

Westbound at Last

Maggie Victor on Linear Recumbent

by Steven K. Roberts Granby, Colorado August 22, 1986 And so it begins. I am writing from a motel room in Colorado, Columbus far behind, the road suddenly a reality. Before I start telling stories, two bits of additional background are necessary. First, the general plan. We’re driving a van to Vancouver (then a car to…

Plunging into New Mexico

Computing Across America, chapter 36 by Steven K. Roberts Villanueva, New Mexico July 15, 1984 Wilderness. The word itself is music. Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire We did a little dance, the three of us, a sort of farewell boogie to Texas. I had just passed the 6,000-mile mark, and Jürgen and I were getting along…

West Texas in July?

Computing Across America, chapter 35 by Steven K. Roberts Lubbock, Texas July 11, 1984 You’re crazy . . . It’s uphill all the damn way! Oh sure, you’ll go downhill sometimes, but even when you do, you’re gaining elevation. —Advice about West Texas from a fellow in East Texas She woke beside me and stretched,…

Key Wasted

by Steven K. RobertsKey West, FloridaMarch 7, 1988 Ah, tourists. With every street encounter I am distanced further from the picturetaking plague of bustling intruders who descend en masse on every place immortalized in brochures. You can see them in the tour trains, faces turned to follow the amplified prattle of the driver; you can…

The Austin Phase Shift

Computing Across America, chapter 34 by Steven K. Roberts Austin, Texas June 27, 1984 *Austinfornia: where hippies and capitalism peacefully merge into oneness and bliss. Caron DuFrane Transitions are usually only recognized as such in retrospect, and I was due for one despite having just emerged from my action-packed New Orleans Sabbatical. A phase shift…

Panel-Mounting the Home Patrol Scanner

Keeping my ear to the ground… by Steven K. Roberts One of the central themes aboard this geeky ship is expanding the sensorium. I’ve always been fascinated by data collection in all its forms… not just sensors that reveal system health or the state of the environment, but real-time information that shifts my awareness into a much larger…

Read More

Building a Feline Outhouse

Take it Outside, Kitty… Building a Boat Cat Litter Box by Steven K. Roberts, aboard Datawake OK, so I admit it… I love this cat. Isabelle lives aboard with me, and her tubby cuddly awesomeness increases the quality of life in lots of ways. But even a quirky Russian Blue who pushes all the right feline buttons but…

Read More

The Datawake ADS-B PiAware Receiver

One of my obsessions over the years has been collecting data, probing the radio spectrum, sensing outside my limited visual and hearing range, and deploying probes to expand my awareness of the environment. This leads to recognition of patterns, better understanding of how things work, and the voyeuristic thrill of peeking behind the curtains of technology or human activity. Tracking…

Read More

Cat Scratching Posts for Boats

I can’t imagine living aboard without a cat, and Isabelle moved with me to Datawake after three years aboard Nomadness. She’s a constant joy, but there are still feline realities that have to be considered: dining, elimination, and scratching. All are challenging on a boat, given space constraints and the need to handle dynamic conditions. Telling a cat…

Read More

Building a Heavy-Duty Piano Drawer

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs A key requirement for my floating lab/studio was to have a digital piano aboard, but limited space dictates a deployment system that lets it stow away when not in use. I designed the console around this, and built a piano drawer that can handle a quarter-ton. It was important that the drawer…

Read More

The Shacktopus Portable Power Cart

These are the voyages of the hand truck, Shacktopus. Her continuing mission… to seek out new loads and strange environments… to boldly blink where no one has blinked before. On a voyaging sailboat, stable power goes with the territory: a huge battery bank charged by isolated shore cable and solar panels, diesel genset with a…

Read More

Harbor Digitizing and other Services

I live aboard in Friday Harbor, and offer a variety of services using some of the tools that have become part of the ship: 8mm & 16mm film digitizing, thermal imaging, 360 photography, ROV exploration, 3D printing, and system design...

Microship Store

I have an online store for my technomadic publications, along with a few special items of historical interest. (This is in addition to the Microship eBay store offering an eclectic mix of gizmology, collectibles, and antiquities.)

1974 Homebrew 8008 System

In 1974, six months of geek obsession led to one of the first personal computers... a homebrew 8008 that is now on display in the Computer History Museum. The story of that machine is here, including complete schematics. This predated the computer kits that kicked off the personal computer revolution, and it was in daily use for years.

The Polaris Mobile Lab

I have occasionally needed a capable laboratory that is not constrained to a fixed location, so I built one into a 24-foot utility trailer. Featured in MAKE: Magazine, this is a detailed description that includes preparing the space, inventory storage, furniture, fixturing, and power.

Isabelle

I live aboard Datawake with this magical being, and have a massive backlog of photos and stories. In the meantime, this is just a teaser... this 7-year-old Russian Blue has a lot to do with my quality of life. Here's her high-tech litter box, with carbon filter and webcam:

The Shacktopus Power Cart

A universal power system, built into a collapsible hand truck for use in emergencies.