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.

Edward Roberts and Phyllis wedding – 1946

They met on the Manitoba during a Lake Superior cruise in August, and were married in November (much to the concern of parents and friends). Here, Phyllis (in white) was introducing her new beau to her sister Barbara and her husband, Frank (along with kids, Patty and Bruce). Somewhere near Boston: Edward, Phyllis, and the…

SS Manitoba – Lake Superior 1946

8mm film by Edward H. Roberts Digitized by Steven K. Roberts August 8-13, 1946 In August of 1946, a 33-year-old GE engineer named Edward H. Roberts stepped aboard the SS Manitoba for a Lake Superior vacation cruise… using his trusty 8mm movie camera to film scenery, crew, passengers, cargo handling, other ships, and a shore…

Swarthmore College 1946 Reunion

This was my father’s 10-year reunion after graduating from Swarthmore in 1936 as a mechanical engineer, and he captured about a minute and a half of home-movie footage… which I digitized 75 years later: Swarthmore College Reunion 1946 from Steven K Roberts on Vimeo. He has a little cameo at the top of the page,…

1946 Memorial Day Dismasting in Erie

As I digitize the massive film library of my father, Edward H. Roberts, I find lots of glimpses of events from times long past… often wishing I had been able to do this while he was still alive to answer questions. This is one of those. Through the 1940s, he actively raced his Star-class sailboat,…

Edward H. Roberts designs Navy rocket launcher tubes

Caption to colorized 1946 photo above: Certificate and lapel emblem are awarded to Edward H. Roberts, refrigerator cabinet engineering section, for his contributions to research and development of plastics products for the Navy during the war. The award was made in Pittsfield March 25, by Captain Ralph O. Phillips, Naval Ordnance, Washington, D. C, shown…

Erie Snowstorm – December 1945

I am not certain of the exact date; these stills were from an 8mm home movie by Edward H. Roberts, and he had written “December 11, 1945” on the box. But the reel also contained a trip to New Orleans, so it may have been referring to that. In any case, he lived in Erie…

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. September 19, 2021 item count: 962

Microship Status 91 – Apple Sponsorship

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California December 25, 1995 (NOTE: This issue is being cross-posted to the invitation-only Microship Status mailing list for frequent technical updates and the technomads listserv… as well as being archived as usual on our web site. I rarely cross-post these, and humbly apologize to anyone receiving…

Microship Status 92 – Lab Setup Complete

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California January 8, 1996 Lab Setup Complete! Ahhhhhh. This is the official close of a very long and frustrating chapter in the Microship project — the quest for and implementation of the lab. This all belongs in the overhead category, but it is so critical to…

Microship Status – Issue 90

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Colorado & Florida November 3, 1995 Hello from Colorado… Ahhh, lemme tellya — it feels GREAT to be moving! For a confirmed technomad, periods of limbo are maddening (albeit relaxing). After the UCSD lab shutdown, we spent two months in Del Mar catching up on publication projects, taking…

BEHEMOTH at BBN

This is one of the recurring themes of my technomadics… machines that opened some of the most amazing doors. It was an honor, during three successive days in 1992, to speak at BBN, Thinking Machines, and MIT Media Lab. BBN (originally Bolt, Beranek and Newman and now part of Raytheon) was best known in the…

Microship Status – Issue 89

It has been a month and a half since my last update… and believe it or not, this is my first free moment to sit down and write. We are now halfway through the lab-relocation — we’ve moved out, but don’t know what we’re moving INTO just yet. Ahh, the nomadic life. (Photo above: Michael…

BEHEMOTH in Kijk – Dutch Magazine

…ONLY TOO HEAVY (Google Lens translation from the original Dutch with corrections in 2021 by Thor Galle and PE4KH. The American Steven Roberts came up with the Behemoth: Big Electronic Human-Energized Machine… Only Too Heavy. A recumbent bicycle that costs more than a million dollars, but it also has a few nice extras. Such as…

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.