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EXTREMELY LONG (was Re: Re: Robert Mcqwier)

STeve Andre' wrote:
> First, it would seem to me that correctly spelling Robert McGwier's
> name would add substance to your cause.   Certainly the lack of it
> detracts.
> Your statements, even if completely accurate could not be the whole
> truth--any project consuming hundreds of hours of time is a complex
> task, with problems and decisions along the way.  I am not a party to
> the events you are talking of, but your presentation leaves a lot to be
> desired.  Rather than crab, explain.  Venting here does little to solve
> anything except raise the heat to light ratio, all to common on mailing
> lists.
> --STeve Andre'
> wb8wsf  en82

Folks. I do not need a defense (if any of this was meant as one) and the
correct spelling of my name is sufficiently different from the usual
that I don't even notice the misspelling of it anymore.  I knew who the
individual was talking about.  My family jokes that some ancestor forgot
how to spell (or never knew is the more likely explanation!).  I would
ask that anyone who is in agreement with the individuals contention that
I am evil incarnate, please write the AMSAT bod at bod@amsat.org.  There
is no originality on the individuals part in that thesis and the support
of that hypothesis will not be the last.  Given history, I suspect I
will still be here when the individual has long since given up the
vengeful quest.  Anyone who is in disagreement with the individual ABOUT
ME, just drop it altogether.  Anyone that wants to discuss what little
of the content merits discussion, stay tuned. The writings have raised
some pertinent issues however and I will discuss them here to the best
of my limited abilities.

Having been awarded every single major technical award that I know of
and many I didn't know about in amateur radio says that I have fooled
the entire world or I must be doing something right.  I leave that to
you to decide. I do not work for awards and I do not ask for them.  To
me, they just happen because I always seem to be lucky enough to be in
the right place at the right time to get involved. I am happy to get
them because they are ALWAYS based on team work. I am a gregarious, even
communal kind of fellow and I take partnerships further than almost
anyone I know.  ALL of my close friends are people who have partnered
with me for almost a lifetime.  I have many of them and I keep them
because while I do not withhold criticism to spare their feelings,  I
always stand right next to them to find the solution. The ones that
remain are friends forever.  That said, it is a responsibility that if
you find fault, to help find the answer.  This is what many of you, and
the individual in particular seem to have forgotten.  It is my single
greatest personal asset and attribute. I live for the interaction and

That I have been awarded many of the nation's highest possible awards as
a civilian working for the U.S. government says that I am a trusted
individual making valuable contributions.  At work, to put it mildly, I
am a BMOC.  I have been attacked by much worse than the invidual and,
just as before, I will be standing when they are long gone because I do
not do things to serve myself.  My father was the single greatest
example a man could have to learn how to live a life.  I can be
argumentative and even frustrated but when the argument is over,  it is
over and I move on.  Any personal success in amateur radio and at work
is achieved PRIMARILY by building TEAMS and then gaining the fiercest
possible loyalty from the people that work with me because I ALWAYS give
away credit to them.  Take any speech for any award I have ever given
and the content is simple "Thank you for the award and I accept it on
behalf of the team that got me here."  I then thank the individuals who
inspired me to do the work I have been lucky enough to be involved in.
I do not do this to be artful.  I just realize day in, and day out,  I
am a person who works best in groups,  I use my strengths and I NEVER
try to do what I am not good at without saying I am not good at it and
thanking those who did the pieces I am not good at doing.  I always
climb on the shoulders of others and I never fool myself that it is
otherwise.  Enough about me. The individual has not hurt my feelings.
The individual is simply not important enough to hurt my feelings. His
significance to me is strictly limited at this point to those valid
issues raised and the fact that he has clearly demonstrated that we are
failing at telling a story.

The continued pursuit of this open tit-for-tat in the AMSAT-BB is
detrimental to AMSAT. I am regularly tempted to do what some of my
fellow board members have done and that is unsubscribe to AMSAT-BB
altogether.  The shutting down of AMSAT-BB completely barely misses a
affirmative vote every time it comes up (which happens more and more
often).  I hope this does not happen.  I have opposed it as throwing out
the baby with the bath water just because the baby "could not wait and
the water is nasty".  I believe that we need to answer incorrect
statements passed off as fact and on occasion (a rarer occurrence than
it used to be) a diamond comes out of the rough.  I will bring up some
facts as I see them and deal with them in the order that comes up in my


This latest incident came about because an individual decided to violate
the most basic principle of net etiquette. An email that was sent
privately to the primary recipient and the board of directors of AMSAT,
was transmitted to the entire world.  Therefore, the individual
transmitting the note is PERSONALLY responsible for any insult that has
been given senior citizens in general and amateur radio in particular.
The former contributor in question has become so angry and disenchanted
with AMSAT leadership that any disagreement is taken as a personal
affront.  The threshold for going off like a bomb has become lower and
lower.  Once we had a moderately valuable volunteer who took forever to
deliver anything at all.  The utility to the organization has now been
overcome by the bull in a china shop approach to perceived insults.
Believe me, when this note is done, you will know that this started at a
much lower volume, and in a much calmer way than where it has landed.

As to the content of my private violated confidence, there are several
facts in evidence that need to be observed about the current situation
amateur radio in general and AMSAT in particular finds we are facing.
The demographics of our population is just plain awful. The projections
are basically catastrophic.  I am frustrated that I do not see truly
wealthy and/or influential individuals stepping up to fight hard for the
long term survival of amateur radio. I know of ONE that is really
swinging hard to the best of his ability while leading a very busy life
(Joe Walsh). There should be hundreds who owe the entire trajectory of
their lives to amateur radio stepping up and helping change the outcome.
 These many individuals need to take a long look in the mirror and at
their careers and ask themselves how much amateur radio did for them. I
can give you the name of a handful of teachers, with a tiny amount of
support put who amateur radio classes into their curriculum in school by
arguing that it shows many different aspects to students from technical
to public service and more.  With modest resources, this could be done
all over the country.  The necessary individuals need to ask why they
are not giving back.   The ARRL is doing what it can do with the
resources it has and the leadership we have elected.  The ARRL (and
amateur radio) need the help of individuals who are capable of bringing
in THOUSANDS of new hams to revitalize our hobby and take it in new
directions.  It needs to be done soon or we are doomed. It is just that
simple.  The metaphor I chose to demonstrate this in a personal private
email was not intended as an insult to anyone but an attempt to answer a
person who has become irrational on certain subjects and has taken what
he perceives as personal insults (not delivered by me) and turn them
into a fight with the organization he purports to support by attacking
the individuals that the membership of AMSAT has voted to run its

AMSAT leadership is looking DIRECTLY at the demographics.  When I see
these attack notes about "THOSE GUYS IN AMSAT ARE STUPID" or "THOSE GUYS
DON'T CARE ABOUT ME",  I get angry and then I get philosophical.  But
let me say in our look at where we are, we are not swayed by emotion on
this matter.  We have the facts at our disposal because we sought them
dispassionately.  We are not losing membership primarily because of lack
of HEO satellites (though this is indeed a contributing factor).  We are
not losing membership because the technical people in AMSAT have gotten
weak.  Go check out any project in amateur radio where interesting or
new things are being pursued.  You will find at least one well known
AMSAT person involved AND influential in the endeavor.  Amateur radio
has the LEADING authorities in many areas contributing directly.  Then
what do we as AMSAT board members see happening? We see exactly what the
ARRL sees.  We see the aging and the attrition it causes leading
inexorably to the end of our piece of the hobby (and the hobby in
general) in the U.S. and similar places.  We seeing our technical and
user parts getting increasingly thin and lacking depth. If AMSAT does
not turn this around by finding NEW members (not renewing old members),
we will be unable to face the inexorable march towards the insufficiency
of our membership to support the very existence of the organization.
This means that we need to balance attraction to new with service to the
old and I do not mean age though that is a contributing factor.  It is
absolutely irresponsible to build a resource that we will have on orbit
for 15 years ,if we are given a go, to serve a population that will be
greater than HALF dead at the end of that time. That is a harsh
calculation, but it is just the facts ma'am.  I used a frustrated
sentence at the end of a long exchange that began with others and wound
up with me after I had had enough silliness and I undermined my own
position with the rhetoric.  The previous paragraph contains the real
message without the frustration of dealing with the individuals
intransigence (he's hard headed) and the perceived (but not real)
insults to his volunteer labor.

Amateur Radio in general and AMSAT in particular faces a serious decline
in members in the next three decades.  The statistics are so clear that
you would have to be hiding under a rock not to see.  The AMSAT
leadership is trying to address its long term survival.  Two more AO-40
campaigns and there will be NO ONE LEFT to use them.  Is that clear
enough?  We cannot serve the dwindling graying membership by allowing
the organization to die.  We need new members because it is
irresponsible to serve only those individuals that are currently members.

I returned from a 13 year absence and began my return very quietly
indeed.  At that time I had been back in amateur radio period for two
years following the release of the Flex Radio SDR-1000.  I had to have
my arm twisted to come to a meeting in Orlando in 2004 to deal with
Eagle.  Yes, believe it or not, I was absent from AMSAT from 1991 to
2004.  And though it may seem like I have been here forever, my return
to AMSAT is in its third year.  It was clear to me even then that many
things had happened in my absence.  We have fantastic volunteers.  They
are simply amazing. In the face of a serious and devastating blow in the
life of AO-40 and that project,  we still had very valuable people
giving of themselves to our cause.  It also became clear that there was
no serious system engineering going on.  There was lots of talk about
"we need this and we need that" and there was no serious study of the
implications of the "we need" to the bottom line: build a satellite to
serve a community that would insure the long term survival of the
organization and certainly we had not addressed any way to increase the
technical health of the organization.

I suggested we consider doing a software radio transponder.  I gave
arguments as to why it should be done.  I was not in a leadership
position at all then.  I had no real horse in the race and I was
completely uncommitted to taking on large pieces of the AMSAT
responsibilities again.  An individual, who is a tremendously gifted and
talented manager, was given responsibility for Eagle.  The person was
not chosen by the Vice President for Engineering (I was just returning
remember and not in that position) and there was absolutely ZERO small
satellite space experience.  I viewed this as  Mission Impossible but I
was determined to help.  I went right on doing my software radio work
since it was directly applicable.  I made many new friends that AMSAT
needed and they have since been recruited to help us.   Two years and
two months ago (yes, that is all) I was asked to accept the VP
Engineering role.  It took me a month to say yes.  My friends were
telling me I was crazy and I knew they were right but AMSAT gave my
entire life its direction and I wanted to help.  I've made a complete
life "doing what Tom Clark told me to do".  I went to Pittsburgh in
October 2005 in our emergency "annual meeting" and was made VEEP E.  I
took six months to get my legs underneath me but I knew the answer to
many questions shortly after the New Year.

I did what any decent system engineer would do (which is what the VPE is
in this organization.  He is the overall systems manager, not the
designer of each piece).  I asked myself what services are we trying to
deliver?  What are the requirements on the payloads to deliver these
services?  I did my analysis and I presented my conclusions to the
organization.  It gave us a stark choice.  They could scale back our
desired set of services and totally give up on supporting a new class of
member or they could change the satellite.  There was simply no choice.

The basics of the analysis are easily understandable by anyone when
presented correctly.  I was so shocked that this level of analysis had
not been done that I was (unusually) reticent about pushing it forward.
I was entirely too timid for my nature.  Dick Jansson is a close
personal friend and we have known each other for over 30 years and
worked closely together over a span of over 20 years.  He is
tremendously valuable to us.  His entire life's contributions to this
organization is deserving of a medal.  Nevertheless,  my friendship with
this man I have known forever could not keep me from fulfilling my
responsibilities to the organization.   In the note you are in receipt
of, the implication is that I decided to throw Dick's work out in a fit
of ego.  Thank you Steve for realizing that in the calm of logic, there
had to be more to it than this.

Leaving out the people who had made the critical mistakes,  I called
ONLY communications engineers and those who had been directly
responsible for delivering communications electronics systems together
in a meeting hosted for us by our long time member, Franklin Antonio, in
San Diego.  We discovered that one of the greatest recruits we have had
in a long time was 30 years old and was not just some friend I had
brought in on a whim.  We flew Jan King in from Australia.  Never let it
be said that I fear having tough experienced peers reviewing my work. I
welcome it.  Matt and I had been discussing what Eagle needed to look
like for six months by June of 2006.  Matt is one of these FANTASTIC
technical friends you rarely make in a life.  He is like Tom Clark.  He
never lets friendship get in the way of a good technical argument.  He
argues forcefully, carefully, rationally and he ONLY cares about what is
technically right or wrong.  Both of them are nobody's yes men.  They
are the kind of people that you should ALWAYS surround yourself with
unless you have a truly failed ego structure. Matt led our thinking for
the entire weekend and we came to a firm conclusion based on cold hard

We needed twice as much power and more antenna than the cube Eagle could
deliver.  This paper has been on the AMSAT web site in Eaglepedia for
1.4 years.   Jim Sanford made no secret whatsoever of its contents.

In addition,  it was clear that we were NOT getting on an Ariane.  We
MIGHT get to GTO but not in a useful orbit.  Here is where experience
and good intuition brought about with years of experience and
calculation on these matters.  We were scared to death of rocket motors.
 If you mentioned motor to AMSAT people who were involved before, the
pucker factor would go up so much that I thought of getting AMSAT a
lifetime supply of Exlax.

So I told the organization several things.  We could throw off
everything, and I did mean everything, that made Eagle new and we could
even scale back on what Eagle was going to deliver on the "old" or

a) we had to have a motor
b) we had to have larger antennas
c) we had to have more solar panels

Given that we needed a motor to get on a much more likely U.S. launcher
as a secondary payload, the spacecraft had to be stable enough to
support a high rate of spin and support the burning of the motor.
Furthermore,  the magnetorque design of the cube was coupled through the
inertial dampers so badly on the cube Eagle frame that it would take
WEEKS to turn the spacecraft and have it stabilize.

I take it that by now, you realize, I am not an idiot.  I did not do
this out of ego or malice.  We made a choice.  At that the time, we
could throw ALL of our weight behind P3E or do a different Eagle.  I
took NO position on this.  I supported P3E and I have risked my personal
situation considerably in so doing.  I spent hours and hours and
successfully brought up IPS-32 for the first time on the IHU-3.  I have
been the leading board member in support of our involvement in P3E and I
managed to overcome the feelings left by AO-40 to do the good job for
our members.  The entire board has argued this forcefully and while it
is NOT unanimous, the organization supports P3E with our money and our
limited talents.

The organization was not emotionally prepared to abandon what was Eagle
altogether.  We knew that Karl was coming to the end of his career.
There was some doubt as to the day to day survival of the ZEL.  AMSAT-DL
has a clear tradition of not making these kinds of internal decisions
and matters available to even those who should be considered its
partners.  We were left simply without a single choice.  We could not
abandon our own efforts and then hit our knees and pray that P3E would
survive the end of the ZEL and Karl's tenure.  We have helped our
friends in AMSAT-UK and AMSAT-DL keep the ZEL functioning while the
satellite is finished.  Go look at the record of the board meetings.  I
made EVERY motion in support of this.   My fellow board members, being
persons of good intention, listen to the arguments and supported this.
It was not always unanimous but it was done.

So, given that state of affairs: a complete re-engineering of the
spacecraft was done.   I will now tell all of the facts.  Matt Ettus and
I did the calculations and design in January of 2006 sitting at the
table of Eric Blossom, K7GNU in Reno, Nev.  A good manager makes it his
teams decision to do things.  Since I KNEW the answer because Matt and I
screamed at each other for days until we knew, I just kept asking the
right questions and all tumbled to the right answer.  That helped smooth
the hurt feelings in EVERY CASE with one exception.  We are dealing with
that one exception now.  Every single argument given to the offended
individual has been ignored.  We have asked that work be done by the
incensed individual and when we found that the work would not meet the
exigencies of our current situation, we apologized for the work being
done and rejected it but assured the individual the contribution was
valuable.  The result has been ad hominem vituperation and played out
everywhere.  The hard decision that the work would not meet our
engineering needs has met with the harsh criticism that sounds to me a
whole lot like "How dare you not consider building your entire project
to suit what I have done rather than decide what the project actually

I have dealt with VERY difficult choices in the last two years.  I had
to change the direction of an organization based on cold hard
calculation after it had gone down a road without adequate guidance for
years.  We have tried so hard we have literally broken down and nearly
cried at times over how frustrating it is to even get an audience with
organizations who can lift us to orbit.  We received the news of P4 Lite
from Lee McLamb and we have jumped ALL over it.  The ball is not in our
court.  We are doing technical work that will be shared between Eagle
and P4 Lite while we await responses and action items ACCEPTED by
Intelsat.  We are awaiting the outcome impatiently.  I have made
engineering management DECISIONS supported by the organization through
the granting of my budget for 2008 that we are going to take a risk and
assume the Intelsat opportunity will proceed.  Frankly, I do not know
how to do otherwise at this point.

The organization needs restructuring.  The executive team knows this.
Rick has been  proactive in preparing the organization to move out with
new opportunities which seem to be running over us in waves at last.  We
have serious marketing directors.  We have engaged serious IT help.  We
have a serious fund raising PROFESSIONAL organization who did a very
detailed study for us and then told us to wait on the outcome of the
negotiations with Intelsat before making final fund raising decisions.
We are not asleep.  What we are is many super over worked individuals
who have lives and we are sitting on top of one of the greatest
technical organizations any of us have ever been involved with but it
has insufficient depth.  THIS NEEDS NEW BLOOD.  I do not fear new blood,
I desperately want to recruit my own replacement. This is not a life
long dream.  It is a thing I want to recruit my way out of.

I am burned out on this conversation.  This is all I can give it until
the next time an individual thinks they are more important than the good
of the organization and choose to defecate all over it by targeting half
truths, innuendo,  release of private conversations, etc. to try and
target the people who have made hard decisions.

This is my last note on this. I do it because I love AMSAT and I do not
understand why you do not.


AMSAT Director and VP Engineering. Member: ARRL, AMSAT-DL,
“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why
must the pessimist always run to blow it out?” Descartes
Sent via AMSAT-BB@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
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