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.

Streamlining the Server

Just as our lives accumulate cruft over the decades, so do our servers. The Nomadic Research Labs Internet presence began back in 1990 while I had the Bikelab at Sun Microsystems, then it hopped to Telebit, spent some time at Qualcomm, followed me to UCSD, and lived at a succession of hosting companies… picking up new tools as technology…

Transition to the Dark Side

This post marks a major transition in my life. Not only am I making the move from sail to the dark side, largely due to my back and other age-related realities, but I am also broadening the scope of this archive. Until now, I have thought of this as a museum of media coverage and…

Gonzo Engineering Slide Show at Google

I took the Amtrak Coast Starlight to Silicon Valley in May of 2015, a trip that included a week-long visit with a group at Google to discuss possibilities, a pilgrimage to the Computer History Museum to see BEHEMOTH, and an afternoon at the Maker Faire. The surreal week in the Googleplex began with my first…

Playing with Phone Transparency

I just love “transparent mode” on my Samsung Galaxy S6, one of my favorite smartphone photo tricks… It works close-up as well, since it is not dependent on focal plane… And you can tweak it to give different effects. Ahh, technology.

Datawake and Nautical Gizmology

Planned Ranger 27 console sketch

Phew. I was in irons for a while, taking over a year to complete a tack, passions luffing as I eased my bow through the eye of the wind. I wondered if the sails were ever going to fill again, and held my breath as she hung there… weathercocking with indecision, a confusion of wavelets…

Phantosmia and SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome

This article is my own theorizing based on a systems-engineering approach to neurological analysis. In other words, please note this disclaimer and don’t make life-changing pharmacological decisions based solely on this! I present it as a data point of possible interest to others affected by similar phenomena. (There is related subtext in the graphic above,…

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 19, 2021 item count: 962

Microship Status 94 – Extracting Her Lines

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California January 21, 1996 Spreading Her Wings This is starting to look like a shipyard! Last week, shortly after posting #93 of this series, I called John Marples in Port Orchard, WA (near Seattle) and asked him somewhat offhandedly if he’d like to fly down for…

In Death: Unchained – Literature Review

by Steven K. Roberts updated September 21, 2021 The more I engage with the virtual world of In Death: Unchained, the more I see things from the point of view of the characters. Monks, knights, abominations, maddening cupids, banshees, skeleton archers, ghosts, incubi, orphans, and bosses… all have stories to tell. I decided to become…

Microship Status 93 – MacWorld

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California January 14, 1996 Hello from the Microship lab, where attention has mercifully turned from moving and unpacking to project-related activities. In this quick update, we begin chipping away on many fronts at once… Macworld Expo First, this was MacWorld week, and spending a day there…

Microship Status 91 – Apple Sponsorship

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California December 25, 1995 (NOTE: This issue is being cross-posted to the invitation-only Microship Status mailing list for frequent technical updates and the technomads listserv… as well as being archived as usual on our web site. I rarely cross-post these, and humbly apologize to anyone receiving…

Microship Status 92 – Lab Setup Complete

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California January 8, 1996 Lab Setup Complete! Ahhhhhh. This is the official close of a very long and frustrating chapter in the Microship project — the quest for and implementation of the lab. This all belongs in the overhead category, but it is so critical to…

Microship Status – Issue 90

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Colorado & Florida November 3, 1995 Hello from Colorado… Ahhh, lemme tellya — it feels GREAT to be moving! For a confirmed technomad, periods of limbo are maddening (albeit relaxing). After the UCSD lab shutdown, we spent two months in Del Mar catching up on publication projects, taking…

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.