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.

Homebrew 8008 Computer – 1974

An Early Personal Computer (complete schematics) by Steven K. Roberts October 31, 1974 Below are the original schematics of the homebrew computer I built long, long ago… an 8008-based machine that resides in the Computer History Museum (that link will open in a new window and show you four professionally done, zoomable photos). The six…

Baudot Teletype Interface – Electronics

Teletype Interface article

This was my first published article, and fell out of my work on the homebrew 8008 system that is now in the Computer History Museum (that link includes four detailed photos). It’s basically a one-way simple UAR/T, though those devices were pricey back then… and this design induces the host micro to wait while a…

Bluegrass Engine Show – Harrodsburg 1973

8mm movie by Edward H. Roberts digitized by Steven K. Roberts Harrodsburg, Kentucky August, 1973 My father left behind a huge library of 8mm home movies from his various explorations ranging from 1940 to the mid-seventies, and I have been converting them to video and selectively uploading to YouTube. Sometimes I also join a relevant…

Geeky Dorm Room at Mountain Home AFB in 1972

Looking at these ancient photos now, I can see why I often got “written up” after room inspections. My bed, not shown here, was a crawl-in cave behind the workbench, and I had a cat living with me. The tall equipment rack was a homebrew HF transmitter with a pair of Eimac 100TH tubes in…

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…

USAF Letter – Waveform Generator

1972 was a strange year for me… as a geeky 19-year-old college dropout in the Air Force, I was hardly on the sort of career path that I had imagined. The Vietnam War was in full swing, and I was stationed in Mountain Home AFB, Idaho… doing avionics maintenance for the F-111 fighter aircraft. Of…

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. October 15, 2021 item count: 972

The Easy Riding Hacker – Telocator

This article by Alan Reiter really captured the technological intensity of early cellular phones… I mounted one on my bicycle in 1988, and became something of a celebrity for that alone. I remember riding the bike through Silicon Valley, and a couple on regular upright bikes passed me. The woman called out, “Look, honey, he…

It’s a Bytecycle Built for 2 – The Columbian

I always loved visiting sponsors… getting to know my contacts face-to-face, taking plant tours, demonstrating the bike for employees, and doing a bit of local media to give the company some fresh high-tech human-interest PR.  This was a fun one, the maker of my favorite ham antennas, Larsen Electronics (now Pulse Larsen). The local paper…

Larsen Outfits Unusual Office on Wheels

Larsen was my favorite antenna vendor, and I was in regular contact with my connection at the Vancouver Washington company throughout the Winnebiko II and BEHEMOTH projects. I even dropped by for a visit, giving a presentation for employees and interviewing with the local paper. This piece is in a Larsen house organ, and was published…

ARRL 1988 National Convention

Portland, Oregon September 10-11, 1988 I appeared with the Winnebiko II in the Larsen Antennas booth at the ARRL national convention in Portland, and this photo survived the years. The fellow in the red tie is Larsen’s David Phemister WB7ESV, my primary contact there. His antenna-design wizardry was a huge factor in Winnebiko II and…

In Death: Unchained – Literature Review

by Steven K. Roberts updated September 21, 2021 The more I engage with the virtual world of In Death: Unchained, the more I see things from the point of view of the characters. Monks, knights, abominations, maddening cupids, banshees, skeleton archers, ghosts, incubi, orphans, and bosses… all have stories to tell. I decided to become…

BEHEMOTH at SAE Electric-Hybrid Vehicle Conference

I was the keynote speaker at this electric vehicle workshop hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers… a most interesting event, including some brainstorming time with Amory Lovins. My talk covered the BEHEMOTH bicycle epoch, then shifted to peak-power trackers and monitoring/control systems (the Microship project was well underway). SAE Electric, Photovoltaic, and Hybrid Vehicles…

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.