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.

360 Views around Datawake

I’ve started playing with 360° photos, and of course the first application is to create a virtual tour of the boat. The tool I used for the photos on this page, back in 2017, was the Samsung Gear 360, driven my my S6 phone, but here in 2021 I can recommend something much nicer… this Insta360…

Every Starship Needs a Holodeck

The Oculus Rift aboard Datawake Years of watching Star Trek convinced me of the importance of holographic environment simulators, but my little ship is too small for the imagery and matter-conversion subsystems used on the Enterprise holodeck. We had to await the development of personal-scale tools that present the illusion of virtual realities without requiring a significant physical…

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…

BEHEMOTH in CyclingAbout

A delightful interview with Australian cyclist Alee Denham in December 2016 led to this story, which can be read on his website, CyclingAbout. It ends with some commentary on what I would do differently now, always fun to contemplate given the stunning technological changes that have taken place.

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

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…

High-Tech Biker Hits the Road – Good Times

The first year or so of the BEHEMOTH project was in Santa Cruz, and in early 1990 I had lab space at Borland International. The photo above is on that street in Scotts Valley. This is a local free publication, lively and fun, and it was nice to have the new version of the bike…

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…

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.