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.

Boat Solar Array Installation

The Nomadic Research Labs Geek’s Vacation Program is back in full swing, bringing back excellent memories of the Olden Days in the BEHEMOTH and Microship labs. Brilliant techies would arrive from far-away places to dive into a project with me, contributing not only their own formidable expertise but giving mine a much-needed shot in the…

Friday Harbor – the new home port of Nomadness

I’ve been quiet in this blog lately, not wanting to write a series of posts about the numbingly boring topic of moving, but now it is essentially done but for one final trailer load to bring the Microship from Camano Island. I am no longer based in La Conner, where a long shoaling channel with…

Sailboat Desk Fabrication

This is a major step forward; I finally have a lab desktop aboard Nomadness. For about a year, my work surface has been but a crude plywood visualization model in place of the original cramped dinette… saggy, rough, and not dimensionally accurate enough to use as a basis for any subsequent design. But thanks to…

Preparing for My Final Voyage

The Nomadness Emulation & Telepresence System April 1, 2012 I want to tell you about the skunkworks project that is underway here at Nomadic Research Labs, shepherded by a hand-picked team of engineers. We ran an extrapolation of my progress on nautical technomadic projects, including Microship. In 20 years, a staggering amount of human time…

Microship Available for Vancouver Island Adventure

Microship Wordplay docked on Bainbridge Island

Updated January 12, 2018:  I am leaving this post here just so I don’t break deep links from Out There, but this offer is no longer available. When I wrote this post, I was planning to pull together a group of boats to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, and would have loved to have the Microship come along…

A Single System Perspective

In an early issue of the Nomadness Report, I found myself discussing the mental model necessary to take on something so insanely complex as a homebrew starship of sorts. Companies handle this sort of thing by creating a hierarchy of departments and design groups, but I’m working more or less alone on this tour de force…

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. October 15, 2021 item count: 972

Thanksgiving

Computing Across America, Chapter 14 by Steven K. Roberts Savannah, Georgia November 26, 1983 Birth and death were easy. It was life that was hard. — Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume Ashepoo, South Carolina — the day before Thanksgiving. I stopped to take a much-needed break from the two-lane truck route known as US 17, and…

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…

Farewell BEHEMOTH

King of the Information Highway by Mike Cassidy, SV Dispatches San Jose Mercury News Sunday, June 2, 1996 Photo above: “Steve Roberts and his talking, computer-equipped bicycle have traveled thousands of miles together.” RICK E. MARTIN — MERCURY NEWS Steven Roberts is an analytical man who knew better than to become too attached. He and…

Microship Status 104 – SeXBAR Schematics

SEXBAR wiring

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California May 2, 1996 THE SeXBAR IS ALIVE! Ah, the simultaneous joy and frustration of debugging: the joy of finding that a suspected problem is OK after all and the frustration of having absolutely no new theories about why the damn thing’s still not working. This…

Microship Status 103 – Wanderlust and SeXBAR

Microship Serial Crossbar

by Steven K. Roberts Nomadic Research Labs Santa Clara, California April 24, 1996 Oh Yeah… Wanderlust It’s a strange phenomenon, this technomadic life. The past few days, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting a couple of travelers who independently wandered by and crossed paths here at the lab. Ryan McKenzie is off on a bicycle…

BEHEMOTH on Hoe is het Mogelijk – Dutch television

I do not speak Dutch, so this was an easy interview! All I had to do was sit there, and occasionally demonstrate something… this took place near Orlando during one of my speaking tours, and then aired in the Netherlands in April. Hoe is het Mogelijk – BEHEMOTH Fiets “How is it Possible?” BEHEMOTH on…

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.