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.

Film and video digitizing, performed aboard our floating lab in the San Juan Islands...
(Photo by Mel Lindstrom)

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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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.

Louisville Regional Science Fair winners 1969

After three years of working on speech synthesis, I finally made it to the International Science Fair with a machine that showed promise… a working model of the vocal tract based on X-rays of my own head. With an arcane user-interface that included a voicing foot-pedal and fingers inserted into a tongue-emulator, I could create…

Hacking Calculus Class

Much .edu about nothing cartoon

by Steven K. Roberts Seneca High School — Louisville, Kentucky March, 1969 (written in 2019) I was nearing the end of my time at Seneca High School in Louisville, and there were a lot of things on my mind other than calculus. The cute and brilliant girl in front of me, driving me crazy with…

Ed Roberts with Derek Fort – 1969 Science Fair Rocketry

Just a moment of family history… my father was the director of the Louisville Regional Science Fair, and Derek Fort was a frequent winner with interesting model rocketry projects. This was in the Feb 21, 1969 issue of General Electric News (he was a refrigeration engineer in Building 5 at Appliance Park, and for many…

Oliver – 1968 Seneca HS Senior Play

One of the more formative and worthwhile endeavors of my high-school years at Seneca (Louisville, class of 1969) was this wonderful senior play — largely because the director, Eugene Stickler, was brilliant. I was Mr. Sowerberry, the undertaker, and sang a solo that still resonates in my head nearly a half-century later (“He’s a born undertaker’s mute.…

Civil Air Patrol Communications – 1968

Besides my obsession with science fairs and random electronics geekery, my most visible “extracurricular activity” during high-school years was the Civil Air Patrol. Memory is hazy, but I believe I was in for three years… I became a lieutenant before dropping out during my senior year. These two photos are from 1968; I was the…

Speech Compression in 1968

Photo above: STEVE ROBERTS, son of Household Refrigerator employee Ed Roberts, demonstrates his exhibit at the recent Louisville Regional Science Fair held at Jeffersontown High School. Steve’s project, “A New Method of Electronic Speech Compression,” won him six awards and a number two spot at the fair. This article appeared in the weekly General Electric…

Recent Additions to Archive

Changes to the library are automatically shown here... whether newly scanned articles, digitized videos and movies, historical documents, or edits to existing material. May 28, 2020 item count: 894

High-tech nomad in Slidell – 1984

One of my fond memories of Slidell was getting a tour of the National Weather Service facility… which ended up becoming a chapter in the Computing Across America book. This is the local newspaper coverage of my visit to town in April, 1984… a couple of others are here. Timeline date adjusted to compensate for…

Solar Wheels in Slidell

I had a most enjoyable visit in Slidell, Louisiana – including a visit to the National Weather Service center where my host worked. This led to a chapter in the book called “The Winds of Change.”  These two articles were published on the same day, and a longer one appeared earlier in the Slidell Daily…

Cyclist, computer team up – Hammond

This 1984 article was in one of my unexpectedly favorite towns. All I knew about Hammond before arriving was a song by the Roches, but before long I had met a fellow cyclist who remains a friend to this day, over 3 decades later. I stayed for two or three weeks, relaxed, getting to know…

My Brief Employment at Discovery Systems

After the Computing Across America phase (10,000 miles with the Winnebiko), I returned to Columbus to finish the book, deal with publishing hell, and resume freelancing. I rented an apartment, and really had no idea what would come next… but quickly found myself back in hand-to-mouth freelancing mode. An optical disc startup was just flickering to…

The Winds of Change

Computing Across America, chapter 29 by Steven K. Roberts Slidell, Louisiana April 10, 1984 Science is spectrum analysis; art is photosynthesis Karl Kraus When you live on a bicycle, certain things take on larger-than-life significance. Hills, for example, never mattered much when I drove a car, and back roads were just that: back roads. And…

Going Pro

Computing Across America, chapter 33 by Steven K. Roberts Lake Livingston, Texas May 23, 1984 Thanks for all the excitement! The owner of the Cafe Texan in Huntsville, after I ate lunch there Amazing what a book contract can do to you. In tiny Toomey, on the edge of Texas, I hung up the pay…

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.