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 & video digitizing business in Friday Harbor.)
(Photo by Mel Lindstrom)

New Posts

This column showcases new additions with current dates, and may include articles about the boat project, dives with the ROV, photography, new toys, or other real-time content.

Bell Labs speech synthesis – audio

This wonderful relic from the dawn of speech synthesis is a 2-minute recording from Bell Laboratories, first published in 1962, showcasing the work of John L. Kelly and Louis J. Gerstman for the Visual and Acoustics Research Department.  I acquired this 45 RPM soundsheet in 1966, in the 9th grade, when I began working on…

Family photo – 13th birthday

Steven K. Roberts September 25, 1965 This is just one of those studio shots, probably taken at someplace boring like Sears in the Mall, showing the birthday boy with parents Edward and Phyllis. We were living in Jeffersontown, Kentucky – a suburb of Louisville, and I had just spent a few weeks at Camp Mountain…

Combo Mowing Rig – 1965 home movie

Combo Bolens Mowing Rig – 1965 – Jeffersontown, Kentucky from Steven K Roberts on Vimeo. When I was a kid in Kentucky, we had 5½ acres… and it was pretty much my responsibility to keep it all mowed. Our Bolens Power-Ho tractor had a reel mower attachment, but it was awful… so my father (Edward…

Sailing at Camp Mountain Lake – 1965

My father, Ed Roberts, was an avid sailor for many years before I came along, and only after his passing did I discover the extent to which this permeated his life. As a child, I picked up a bit of nautical lore and sensed the allure on family vacations, but I didn’t really learn to…

Andrew the Robot at 1965 Louisville Regional Science Fair

My father (Ed Roberts, at left) was director of the Louisville Regional Science Fair in the 1960s, and this delightful photo is from his archives. The robot was named Andrew, and his builder, Ed Ramsey (center), went to school at Trinity, then went on to study electrical engineering at Purdue. The robot had magnetic hands and a tape-recorder…

Harmonograph – Science Fair 1965

This was my third science fair project… in 8th grade. The full title was The Harmonograph’s Lissajous Curves Duplicated by Servomechanisms, and it won first place at Louisville Country Day School (General Division) as well as first place in the Kentucky State Science Fair (Junior Division). The only photo of the machine that remains is…

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. July 22, 2022 item count: 1,053

NTKnow Update – Technomad Romance

This little snippet of history came across my Twitterfeed exactly a quarter-century after it was published, so I screen-capped the ancient news bit from the UK and dropped it into the archive timeline. Transcription of the paragraph about our Microship-era geek romance is below. Good times… NTK – Need to Know (weekly high-tech sarcastic update)…

In Death: Unchained – Literature Archive

by Steven K. Roberts updated July 2, 2022 currently 26 pieces Latest updates: Gabriel does an IDU run with a smuggled VR headset, we turn up a 1934 pulp sci-fi magazine with a story from the Pit of Immolation, and we have a chance to chat with Salvo the Unmerciful (author of Brutal Arrows). The…

Nomad for the 90s

This piece in the Santa Cruz Sentinel was published during the intense BEHEMOTH epoch, while I was still in the lab at Sun Microsystems. Anywhere can be home in the age of instant communications by Peggy R. Townsend Santa Cruz Sentinel February 15, 1992 Steven Roberts’ bike stands In a windowless gray office in the…

1909 Great Loop – 2 – Leaving Chicago

by Ralph M. Pearson May 13, 1909 (note: chapter 1 is here) At last I was free. For the first time in seven years I was free from the chains of business, free from the stern, monotonous call of duty, free as a bird on the wing, with my home under me throbbing to the…

1909 Great Loop Adventure – 1 – Retrospect

This marvelous text is by Ralph Pearson, my biological grandfather, who embarked from Chicago on an epic Great Loop voyage on May 3, 1909. There is a newspaper article from a couple of weeks later that gives a bit of an overview, but his unpublished book about the adventure begins here: Retrospect by Ralph M.…

Popeye and the Dawg

Witnessing an inter-species encounter photo ©2016 by Steven K. Roberts (All rights reserved – please contact for large version and usage info) Now available as a greeting card! Every now and then, a photographer gets lucky… the right palette of colors, a self-organizing composition, and a sweet vignette all align at the moment of shutter-release. This was one of…

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 Boxby 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 lives…

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

YouTube and Vimeo Channels

I have a large collection of videos including media coverage of bikes/boats, speaking, digitized film treasures from long ago, gizmological delights, and a few rarities that clients have allowed me to post. See my YouTube and Vimeo channels.

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.