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Re: Re: Open questions for the Board of Directors candidates


Thanks for your questions. 

1.    How are you planning to advance AMSAT as a professional 
organization in terms of management, membership service and transparency?

The new engineering approach is predicated on open access by members and 
the public in general to the process.   As I took office as the VP 
Engineering last October,  at the same BOD meeting and Eagle design 
review in Pittsburgh,   we formulated an approach to open engineering.  
This has not been without cost or dissension in our ranks but the 
leadership (engineering and managerial) has been firmly convinced it is 
the way to go.   We started doing Eaglepedia and, thanks to Emily, we 
have a very nice tool.    We have undergone a painful 9 months of review 
and decision making on Eagle.  I was the "johnny come lately" on Eagle 
and I did stir the waters quite a bit.  I called the design meeting in 
San Diego,  where we made terrific headway in applying science and 
engineering to the design of our next spacecraft from a strictly 
"services provided" point of view.  In the next journal,  you will see 
Eagle project management describe some of the outcome of the San Diego 
meeting and in my Engineering Notes,  you will see a brutally honest 
assessment of the spacecraft missions currently under design and some 
frank admissions.   I do not do engineering in the dark or in a smoke 
filled room and I will help run your organization that way as well.

2. How are you planning on keeping members informed about your own 
personal accomplishments as BOD member during your term?

That's a good question.   Why don't I guarantee that I will keep a blog 
of this (and my other activities).   I already have a blog but it has 
been madness in the last few months with Flex Radio, HPSDR,  AMSAT, 
GnuRadio, and (oh yeah) work related activities.  The latest entry is a 
few months old.  I will update it and post my blog address here.  Count 
on me having a corner for this kind of reporting.  Bug me when I get tardy.

3. How are you planning on advancing the knowledge of our organization, 
particular our members as it relates to education, training?

We are doing this now with Eaglepedia.   When I went to Germany last 
fall,   I received permission from Karl to take a lot of his work and to 
make it public and open.  For example,  he has allowed as to how the IPS 
of AO-40 (IPS-D) could be publicly released under the GPL.  This was one 
example of many.   Here is what I believe and let me say it again with 
more emphasis.   I am a smart guy.  Everything in my life says that I 
am.  I have constant examples reminding me that I have been given 
terrific gifts for which I am grateful.   YET,  I make mistakes.  I can 
be blinded by personal preference,  or ignorance.  I don't know 
everything.  None of the AMSAT engineers and scientists can make this 
claim.   We recently made a really hard decision not to do some snazzy 
sounding things.  These decisions were made by an open, peer reviewed 
process.  This is a serious lesson learned from past experiences.   The 
dissension I mentioned earlier has resulted in a two step approach to 
Eaglepedia.  First stage, or early versions of documents are marked "not 
public".   As our peer review process goes forward,  or as we publish 
the results/details in our journal, we remove this "not public".   Then 
all our members can see how we have moved forward, how we got to the 
decisions we made, and may question them easily.  Eaglepedia,  less than 
one year in existence,  less than one month open to all,  is in its 
infancy.   It will undergo transformation in the coming months as the 
designs go forward.  It will be my pleasure to guarantee you will see 
the engineering thinking and process on Eagle through this medium.

Another candidate has said that we are a divided organization into the 
have's and have-not's,  the engineerings and the users.  I do not agree 
with this altogether.   All through AO-10, 13, etc. I operated 
satellites.  I helped design, build, and operate Microsats.  I operated 
Microsat's.  I am a user, past and future.  Our new processes and our 
"Eaglepedia" approach to engineering are part and parcel of our 
currently held beliefs that while we are engineers and scientists and 
might have a few more letters behind our names,  we do not have a 
monopoly on good ideas and we are not perfect.  We do not have a 
monopoly on dispassionate analysis.   Our engineering will be done in 
the open and past engineering work needs to be put into consumable form 
and we have permission to do so.  We need some volunteer work done on 
this since we have one paid employee!

4. How often have you been using our existing satellites (e.g. AO-51) in 
the last year?

One year ago,  I took down all of my satellite antennas.  I put a new 
roof on my house.   My daughter graduated from high school and is the 
last one.   I am deciding now if I will continue to live in NJ and pay 
all of the taxes or if I will escape this by moving across the Delaware 
River to Pa.   I do not want to leave Packrats land and I wish to 
continue working, for the foreseeable future,  at the job I have held 
since 1980.  (Part time through graduate school, and the two years I was 
on the faculty at Auburn,  and full time since 1986).    As such,  my 
5400 rotator,  my 2m, 70cm, offset fed dish, etc. are all in the 
garage.  On the other hand,  I am operating.  I operate contests a lot.  
I placed 7-th in the country in a recent ARRL SSB contest, single op at 
the QTH of N2NT.   I operate N3NGE during VHF contests in January and I 
try to get to K3LR to operate that contest station.  W2GD and I have 
operated several Field Days together and our last effort as battery two 
transmitter put us in the top ten and we are perennially in the top 
ten.  (N4HY is the GOTA call sign so it is W2GD/N4HY).    I am a member 
of the Frankford Radio Club and Packrats.    I operate.  I will operate 
satellites again after I make my personal decisions which include put 
them up here or wait until I move.

5. What do you consider as the greatest asset AMSAT has?

Does this even need answering?   It is the people who give of themselves 
selflessly and often without a single word of thanks from the 
membership.  I stand in awe of these people.  I get to stand up and be 
seen publicly all the time.  That has its plusses and minuses but the 
ego stroke is not a minus.  ;-).  These people that almost never get 
mentioned publicly are owed our thanks every single day for what they 
do.  The people in AMSAT are our greatest asset.

6. What do you consider as our greatest weakness and how will you 
address it?

Besides our lack of a long access time spacecraft in orbit, our greatest 
weakness at the moment is the horrible change in environment for 
launches.   They are the life blood of our missions.  Without them, we 
do not have missions.  Our membership and our leadership has decided 
they want long access time satellites to be our primary goal.  The lack 
of "engineering" or "test launches"  by all sorts of entities 
(government and commercial) has forced us to do the most difficult 
engineering job you can imagine.  We have to design a "satellite for all 
seasons".  We must design Eagle to 1) meet the functional requirements, 
provide the services we want and 2) be able to fit on almost any 
launcher going to GTO.   This is hugely difficult.  We have never been 
faced with this before.  We have always had an identified launch and 
built to fit it.   The alternative to our old normal approach is to "buy 
a launch" with real dollars.   That will make Eagle a $10,000,000 
program (at least).  In fact,  we have a truly serious effort in the 
planning to raise serious funding.  We have an approach underway to get 
a sponsored launch and that has been folded into our engineering 
thinking on the Eagle spacecraft.  We are providing for more power than 
our experiments will require to provide power for paying customers.   
None of this is decided or firm.  But let me sound off for a moment.   I 
dislike hearing that "we are doing nothing".  Because, nothing is _/*not 
*/_what we are doing.  We are struggling feverishly against the 
exigencies of our current situation.  I have to say that we have not 
played this ongoing set of dramas on the public stage.  I agree with 
this approach even though I dislike it.  We are in delicate discussions 
and we do not wish to scare off potential partners that can help us.  
This must be done this way whether our members understand it or not.  
That is not an elitist statement.  It is a simple statement of fact.  
That is why AMSAT is not a direct democracy.  It is an elective, 
director-run corporation.  You entrust your sector of the hobby to these 
people.  I suggest that you work hard to figure out which one of these 
people running have the ability to help the organization get through 
these tough situations.  If it isn't me,  vote for one that can.

One of the brutally honest assessments I make in my column is that 
AMSAT-NA needs Phase 3 E as much as AMSAT-DL needs to succeed with their 
project.   I want to lead us to a full and complete rapprochement  with  
AMSAT-DL, officially.  I want us to commit to P3E as if it were ours.  I 
suspect they want us to commit to all of their projects since P3E is a 
precursor to their ultimate goal.  We are currently sending and funding 
volunteers to work on P3E/P5A projects.  We need to do more.  It will be 
one of the things I will push for the hardest if elected.  If you do not 
want this for any reason, repudiate my candidacy.   I will work hard not 
to repeat any past mistakes in engineering leadership.   I feel I have a 
good working relationship with all former VP of Engineering and with 
Karl Meinzer, Heike Straube,and Peter Guelzow.   I believe I can pull of 
the engineering leadership to do these projects but I will need to have 
the organization support this stuff officially.  This is highly placed 
in my reasons for running.


AMSAT VP Engineering. Member: ARRL, AMSAT-DL, TAPR, Packrats,
"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be
made in a very narrow field."  Niels Bohr
Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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