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.

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)…

Thomas Hall Railroad Passes

Thomas Hall was my great-grandfather (his son was Chester Roberts of West Chester, and the next generation was Edward H. Roberts… my dad). Thomas was a railroad man for most of his career, treasurer of the first railroad to West Chester from the intersection of the Pennsylvania RR at what is now Malvern. He then…

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. January 2, 2023 item count: 1,072

New Orleans and St Paul in 1945-46

My father traveled extensively, always carrying his 8mm movie camera. I have inherited a mountain of film, and have been gradually digitizing the footage… often sharing it with historical communities. Here are the two short videos from those adventures, combined into a single archive post. The New Orleans trip was in December, 1945… documented with…

Arrival in the Promised Land

by Steven K. Roberts Klamath, California November 19, 1986 The anticipation began building as it always does before a state line — but more so, given the fact that we were approaching California. California! This is it! Arbitrary and political or not, the state line took on grand proportions in my imagination: I squinted into the…

Rain Country Hospitality

by Steven K. Roberts Lake Oswego, Oregon October 29, 1986 The warnings were true. It does rain in the Pacific Northwest. The trip from Castle Rock to St. Helens was a 42-mile marathon of spray and puddle, drizzle and bubble. Trucks blew by in a rage of wild grayness, my microphone tube filled up with…

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…

Hacking Calculus Class

Note: the photo above is a plaque in the lobby of my old high school, since I was inducted into the Hall of Fame. This makes me smile, as I was often warned a half-century ago that my various behaviors would go into my permanent record. I guess that was true! by Steven K. Roberts…

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…

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 linked above for technomadic publications and cards, along with a few special items of historical interest. (This is in addition to the Microship eBay store offering an eclectic mix of gizmology, nautical geekery, 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.