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.

Wizard with a Time Machine

By Kelley Balcomb-Bartok Journal of the San Juan Islands July 19, 2022 Located in an unassuming building in Friday Harbor is a magical place inhabited by a wizard of technology bringing history back to life for clients and friends. Steven K. Roberts is his name, digitizing old films, videos and slides is his game. Harbor…

The first digital nomad – Fast Company article

It is a treat, here in late 2021, to see this article make a splash on that newfangled “social media.” How far we’ve come in a third of a century… with the essential tools to enable a truly mobile lifestyle now in every pocket and backpack. When I took off on a “computerized recumbent bicycle”…

A Cruiser for Mobility

by Steven K. Roberts Friday Harbor, Washington As this paleo-technomad pushes seventy (!) there have been a few reminders of mortality… not to mention a noticeable reluctance to go gallivanting up hills every time I need something. This has become more of an issue lately with a little medical distraction, so my first solution, given…

The Himiway Escape – an electric moped

Steven K. Roberts Friday Harbor, Washington June 8, 2021 Long-time readers of these technomadic tales know my history… including nearly a decade wandering 17,000 miles around the United States on a computerized recumbent bicycle. There were three versions of this high-tech machine from 1983 to 1991, whereupon I donated the bike to the Computer History…

In Death: Unchained – Literature Archive

by Steven K. Roberts updated July 2, 2022 currently 26 pieces Latest updates: Gabriel does an IDU run with a smuggled VR headset, we turn up a 1934 pulp sci-fi magazine with a story from the Pit of Immolation, and we have a chance to chat with Salvo the Unmerciful (author of Brutal Arrows). The…

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…

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. August 15, 2022 item count: 1,056

A Simple Hinged Instrument Panel

It is nice to be able to report that the first Nomadness pilothouse helm control surface has been completed, fabricated with King Starboard material and carrying a basic suite of instruments: network displays, AIS transponder, autopilot, and weather monitor… flanked by VHF, clock, and spotlight remote control. The operating position shown here is becoming the home…

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…

All the comforts of home – Stars and Stripes

This short photo/caption piece in Stars and Stripes, the news service of the US Military, appeared shortly after my speaking gig at the Mobile World conference and expo in Boston (Hynes Auditorium) in early March of 1993.  Steven Roberts sits on his custom-made, 105-speed, computerized bicycle at the Mobile World Exhibition in Boston on Wednesday.…

A Languid Week of Mad Intensity

Yarrhhh… I remember this feeling from the bicycling epoch: adventures stack up, accumulating in my brain so fast that they merge into generalities if I don’t hit the PAUSE button and do some writing. “Had an amazing time over the past week” is hardly sufficient commentary when the reality consisted of a close call involving…

BEHEMOTH Helmet in (Google) Glass Menagerie – Make Magazine

The caption reads:  Proto “Glass” hacker Steven Roberts and the “Brain Interface Unit” for his 1991 nomadic “BEHEMOTH” bike project. The BIU offered a heads-up data display (via The Private Eye), a head-gesture-controlled mouse, radio communications and entertainment audio, spot and flood lights, a rearview mirror, and even a helmet liquid cooling system. My BEHEMOTH…

Familiar Rhythms

It suddenly struck me in the last day or so that this is what I’ve been missing: a pace of life that is unhurried, driven only by “whim, women, and weather” as I used to quip during my bicycle epoch. Small craft advisory in the Strait? A new friend in the Harbour? A little boat…

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 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.