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.

Worcester High School – 1931 Graduation

My mother was in this class, and this program was in our family archives. I am parking it here in my timeline to help those looking for history of the Worcester High School of Commerce. (These are just scanned images, alas, not derived from searchable PDF… I didn’t want to have to edit all those…

Swarthmore High School Senior Play – 1931

Pomander Walk February 27, 1931 The gorgeous photo below is from Swarthmore High School… and I was fortunate enough to find the program as well in my father’s old papers (he was one of the stage managers). The photographer was Lewis Studios, and the 7×16-inch photo is remarkably well-preserved. I have scanned it and placed…

1929 Pennsylvania Learner’s Permit

Just a snapshot of a time long ago. This was my father’s learner’s permit, and the photo above is his first car (a 1910 Hupmobile).

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…

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. June 13, 2021 item count: 945

Computing Across America – Epilogue

The Computing Across America tale closes with a look from 2 years down the road… aboard a new and more geeky version of the Winnebiko.

ConneXions – Computing Across America review

This short commentary on my book was published the month after the author’s ConneXions piece about BEHEMOTH. Computing Across America: The Bicycle Odyssey of a High-Tech Nomad by Steven K. Roberts Learned Information, Inc. (Medford, NJ: 1988) 347 pp., ISBN 0-938734-18-0 reviewed by Carl Malamud ConneXions Volume 6, Number 9 September, 1992 Normally, we don’t…

Windows in the Ha-Ha

Computing Across America, chapter 47 by Steven K. Roberts San Clemente, California February 14, 1985 Wait a minute — are you sure we’re talking about the same San Clemente? —The average San Clemente resident, upon hearing of my experiences here It began slowly, subtly. First it was just a pair of corduroy pants, then some…

Life in the Desert

Computing Across America, chapter 46 by Steven K. Roberts Palm Desert, California December 31, 1984 Visits always give pleasure — if not the arrival, the departure Portuguese proverb It’s odd to be in a place where everything looks familiar, even though you’ve never been there before. At first, from the north, Las Vegas was just…

What is the Frequency – Newsweek

An early look at the emerging technology of wireless data… Full article is readable in the image above (control-click to open in new tab if you wish to embiggen), and the closing paragraph about my adventure is extracted below. by John Schwartz Newsweek August 17, 1992 Ultimately, users will always need to temper their love…

Hi-Tech Nomadness Journal

From 1987-1992, I published 12 issues of an on-the-road ‘zine. This began as the Journal of High Treknowledgy, and then grew into the more substantial Journal of High-Tech Nomadness. The absolute pinnacle of this series of publications was Issue #11, produced by Doug Brightwell at his home office in Cupertino… and the magazine itself became…

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.