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.

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 1909, 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 the 1890s.  In any case,…

Catherine M on the Great Loop – 1909

I was adopted, and when I was 28 I was lucky enough to track down my birth parents after many months of research. My bio-dad, Ronald Hayes Pearson, was an artist and sculptor of considerable renown… based in Deer Isle, Maine. As I got to know the family, I heard about his father, Ralph M.…

1909 Great Loop – 3 – Pearl Fishers

by Ralph M. Pearson May 15, 1909 Chapter 3 of the Great Loop adventure aboard Catherine M, beginning on May 3, 1909 When we ran into Peoria we had seen two or three men in long, flat-bottomed boats with what appeared to be long poles or hand rails supported on notched uprights, running the length…

1909 Great Loop – 2 – Leaving Chicago

by Ralph M. Pearson May 13, 1909 (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 steady…

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.…

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. March 23, 2023 item count: 1,080

BEHEMOTH on NPR All Things Considered with Noah Adams

This was a delightful interview, and I wish I had taken a photo of Noah sitting on BEHEMOTH, holding a tape recorder and chatting with me. I had come to Washington DC to exhibit at Interop Spring (photo with Vint Cerf), and somehow ended up visiting NPR. Noah was so relaxed that my own nervousness…

In Death: Unchained – Literature Archive

by Steven K. Roberts updated: April 28, 2024 Latest updates: Two tracks from the Songs of Cupid album by Ichor are now available! Also, Gabriel does an IDU run with a smuggled VR headset and we chat with Salvo the Unmerciful (the author of Brutal Arrows, modeling his formal robes in the photo above). The…

The BEHEMOTH – Bicycling Magazine

BEHEMOTH photo by Mel Lindstrom

This was a significant article in the annals of BEHEMOTH. It came out while I was on the road in the summer of ’91, struggling to get my body back in shape while dealing with a machine that was a lot heavier than I had anticipated. The photo was taken in the Palo Alto studio…

Bikelab Report #5 – On-the-road Scenario

This posting in the Bikelab series featured a speculative tale of technomadic adventure that helped crystallize the vision of the bike systems. Even with specific references to long-obsolete products, it holds up decades later as a compelling geek fantasy. (The original post also announced my weekly open-house for Sun engineers, as well as the urgent…

Photos from 1981

The photo above is from my trip to the National Computer Conference, which I covered for Byte Magazine. And speaking of Byte, when I visited them in March, I spent an evening with the prolific Steve Ciarcia at his famed Circuit Cellar: I don’t know the story behind these next two photos – they are…

William Calley Conviction Photo

Here’s a random bit of history from the archives, unrelated to everything else on this site… picture me as a 19-year-old hippie geek in 1971, working for Sylvania as a technician installing Autovon central office telephone equipment at Fort Benning during the Vietnam war. Morbidly fascinated by the My Lai massacre trial, where William Calley…

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 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…

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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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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.