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.

Interview with Laidback Bike Report

In January of 2017, living aboard Datawake in Friday Harbor, I did a live video interview with Gary Solomon of the Laidback Bike Report. This proved to be an interesting and lively event, and is embedded below. Gary has done a huge collection of interviews related to the dynamic recumbent bicycle scene… something that quite…

The Datawake Console

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Much of my past year has been spent integrating a wide range of equipment into the 8-foot console aboard Datawake. It has been a huge project, but is already paying off… making everything feel like a single system, simplifying interconnects, and minimizing clutter. It is not yet “complete,” but it’s far enough along for a…

Microship Hydraulics

These tattered drawings recently turned up in the lab… and it occurs to me that I have never done a proper article about the rather too-elaborate engineering of the hydraulic systems on the Microship for rudder and landing-gear control. Here is a quick overview of this essential subsystem. The boat’s hydraulic system is made up…

Video Tour of Datawake by IEEE Spectrum

Back on August 24, I welcomed aboard a delightful visitor named Kristen Clark from IEEE Spectrum, and she spent the afternoon asking good questions… getting me to show her around the boat while the camera rolled. The article just appeared on the IEEE site yesterday, and the video is embedded below… a fun 3-minute snippet of the Datawake project, complete with…

The Boat Machine Shop

by Steven K. RobertsNomadic Research Labs For the first few months aboard, every attempt to fabricate a part involved clearing a tiny space on the bench, plugging in a funky desk light, and trying to find tools that I had just seen only minutes before. This was demoralizing, so I finally fixed it. This post is…

No Pressure – the Maiden Voyage

News from No Pressure (formerly Nomadness) Saturday, Nov 12 – 3:00 PM Friday Harbor to San Diego transit complete! NOTE: this was live-blogged during their voyage, and is in reverse sequence with the most recent posts at the top. Saturday, Nov 12 – 12:45 PM – Arriving San Diego Saturday, Nov 12 – 10:30 AM Final approach…

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 21, 2020 item count: 909

Trollo – Kinetic Sculpture Artists Invent Tricycle Polo

One of my fondest memories from the Winnebiko II epoch, traveling both US coasts with Maggie, was our time spent in Humboldt County… hanging out with a group of loony artists obsessed with the Kinetic Sculpture Race. In this little article for Northcoast View (published from 1982-1989), I report on their invention of tricycle polo,…

High-tech nomad – Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

High-tech nomad writes while he cycles By Joann Garlington, Staff WriterPress-Democrat January 27, 1987 Ohio freelance writer Steve Roberts likes to write his magazine articles and books while on the road, the pavement whizzing only inches below his typing fingers. While his feet push the pedals of the 8-foot-long recumbent computerized bicycle, his hands control the…

Couple Riding High-Tech Bikes Across Country

By Dave Harlander Independent Coast Observer Coast Visitors January 23, 1987 Steven Roberts happily makes a living simultaneously punching keys on a word processor and pedaling his custom-built 8-foot bicycle. Self-proclaimed “high-tech nomads,” Roberts and his friend Maggie Victor, riding a similar bike, pedaled down the coast last week on their way from Seattle. After…

Life and Death

Computing Across America, chapter 41 by Steven K. Roberts Crested Butte, Colorado September 25, 1984 There’s never enough time to do all the things you don’t have to do. Anita Simon It’s startling to stumble depressed into a strange town, expecting nothing, knowing no one, and find there a home. Homes are usually things that…

Traveling Journalist – Sheboygan

This local newspaper article came out during a dreamy phase of my wanderings… not only was I at last on the road with BEHEMOTH after 3.5 years of development in Silicon Valley, but I was traveling with a lovely friend named Susan, barely visible in this photo… out in front of my bike. She was…

Accident and Aftermath

by Steven K. Roberts Healdsburg, California January 23, 1987 11,450 miles It began dramatically, as befits the coast. Looking down through Minolta 8×20’s on the backs of soaring hawks, wingtips like splayed fingers playing the thermals with precision. Wide-eyed flight down a tightly coiled road, losing 700 altimeter feet in moments only to hurl ourselves…

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.