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.

In Death: Unchained – Literature Archive

by Steven K. Roberts updated: January 20, 2024 Latest updates: A stunning performance of the Velvet Vanguard battle ballet by Abyss Knights, 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 full collection…

The Consoles of my Life

Over the years, there has been one stylistic constant in my pursuit of übergeekery: equipment consoles. It started one 1964 afternoon in Louisville, when this skinny 12-year-old electronics-obsessed geeklet got a peek at how the big boys do it. Via a ham radio friend, I had wangled an invitation to visit the avionics maintenance shop…

Digitizing in a Pandemic

Coronavirus will echo for decades. Everything was normal… then suddenly we were on sabbatical from our own timelines, routines disrupted by intimations of mortality… priorities shifted, values inverted, unspeakable things whispered, stats obsessively reloaded. We watch the news in horror, contemplate de-facto partnerships, ache at disconnections, and muse about the messes we will leave behind…

An Underwater Exploration Toolkit for Boats

Tools for exploring the aquatic environment by Steven K. RobertsNomadic Research Labs — May 4, 2018 One of the strongest motivations behind the Datawake project is to extend my human sensorium, letting me see into otherwise invisible realms. This takes many forms: data collection systems fed by environmental sensors, embedded probes that report conditions I would never otherwise…

Maritime Mobile FT8 Amateur Radio

I’ve recently been enjoying immersion in a sort of ham radio for introverts… a new digital mode called FT8 that allows weak-signal communication on all the HF bands from 160 to 6 meters via tiny 50Hz-wide signals exchanged by time-synchronized computers running WSJT-X. A complete exchange takes a minute and a half, with the connected machines…

Using a FLIR ONE Thermal Camera Aboard

A driving force in my years of building technomadic machines has been a toolset for seeing the world beyond the limitations of my usual senses… something that is not only intrinsically fascinating, but essential for diagnostics. The latest addition is a FLIR ONE thermal imaging camera (the Gen-3 USB-C model for Android; there is also…

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

Have Mac, will travel – by bicycle… MacWeek

The decision to use a Macintosh Portable in the console of BEHEMOTH was significant, and led to a very interesting bicycle-mobile work environment (with handlebar keyboard and ultrasonic head mouse, both mapped to the Apple Desktop Bus) than would have otherwise been the case. Apple donated the machine, and the Mac-related press loved it. MacWeek…

Orbiting Bulletin Boards, Networks in the Sky – InfoWorld

This is the third and final part of my little series about wireless networking in InfoWorld, and like the others (packet radio and cellular data), it fell directly out of a subject dear to my heart. I was an avid amateur radio satellite user, as well as being deeply involved in packet radio. This article…

Call to Nomadness

Here’s a fun bit of personal technomadic history from 1990… an earnest attempt to broaden the nature of my adventure by building a community of fellow wanderers with a wide range of skills. The possibilities were enchanting, and this document generated loads of interesting correspondence while BEHEMOTH (the third bike version) was in development. Although…

The Adoption Perspective

This is a book review of Computing Across America (by Steven K. Roberts, shown in the photo above at age 1), focusing on the author being an adoptee who tracked down and reconnected with his biological parents back in 1980. The reviewer makes some very interesting observations, and this was published in a newsletter of…

The Loma Prieta Earthquake

On this date, something huge happened… shaking me to the core. It was the Loma Prieta earthquake, and I was living in Santa Cruz, working on what would become BEHEMOTH. The HF ham radio in the trailer was working (Icom 725). We had no power for weeks, phones were out, and cellular was yet rare…

Packet Radio: Networks Without Wires – InfoWorld

Technology UpdateVariation on X.25 Communication Provides Viable Alternative to Fragile Information Links By Steven K. Roberts InfoWorld June 26, 1989 Dataspace. For some it has become home — a not-land of beings whose locations are no more relevant than their alma maters. For others, Dataspace is a vaguely perceived substrate for electronic mail and on-line information…

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.