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Issue #37: The Hack that Nearly Hammered Amateur Radio

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Apr 11, 2024.

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  1. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Which was a spoof of the actual quote from Commodore Perry.
  2. WA5UZB

    WA5UZB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm like you ... only my tech savvy buddies (they actually make a great living out of this stuff) understand. Me, plug and play and hope my defense software does it's job. A great read though.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  3. WA5UZB

    WA5UZB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pogo was the only one telling the truth in 1969 <sigh>
    K2HAT likes this.
  4. W5NYV

    W5NYV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I do find that amateur radio is not inclusive. After a couple decades of weird experiences, I did the demographics study work to find out if what I was seeing as an individual could be supported by facts. And, it was.

    We are going to slip below 10% US women licensees in the very near future, we are almost 90% white, and there is a bimodal distribution with respect to age.

    This is objective proof of a lack of inclusion.

    I tried to make it very clear in my study that the lack of diversity does not prove individuals are sexist racist monsters. There is no proof for that, and I cite widely accepted professional work in this regard.

    However, individuals don't generally stick their necks out or raise a fuss on behalf of people that are unusual in any way. If you've seen the movie Hidden Figures, then you'll see what I mean. Going with the flow means that problematic cans are kicked down the road, and we're weaker overall as a result.

    Sure, we all would like to think we stick up for others when they are treated unfairly, but deeply unfair and deeply unpleasant experiences might be largely hidden from you, just like it was at NASA during the Mercury program.

    Being stuck in a local maximum isn't fun, but it's where we're at. We have nearly half of our potential operator pool completely uninterested in a hobby that has enormous technical, social, and regulatory relevance. That lack of interest largely stems from being made to feel unwelcome. The proof and stories and anecdotes are plentiful. The lack of repercussions for bad behavior, and the prioritization of comfort over collaboration, have both combined to reduce the quality of the amateur service from something truly valid and quite essential (as you say) which really can be an important service to each and every community in America, down to something much less. This is of great concern to me. I speak up about destructive issues in amateur radio because I believe that we can realize the potential that both of us clearly are seeing.

    Realizing this potential won't just happen, though, not without a lot of hard work from here.
    W7DGJ likes this.
  5. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    See Michelle's excellent commentary in the new article on T&E about the future of ham radio -- Issue #39. Dave, W7DGJ
  6. W5NYV

    W5NYV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can clarify some things here.

    The initial grant request was for work already done that was paid for by individuals. The work absolutely needed to be done in order to reduce risk for volunteers. AMSAT refused to do it (in writing, multiple times). ARRL declined. TAPR didn't see it as a priority. ORI volunteers were already working on the technical parts and making progress. It was morally repugnant to the ORI leadership team that we allow people to pursue technical truths without backing them up legally and reducing their risk down to an acceptable minimum.

    The money was donated. The legal expenses were much less than originally estimated. Volunteers worked hard to reduce costs and the legal team was amazing, supportive, and incredibly competent.

    ARDC directors were stunned that the legal effort was entirely successful. ARDC did fund the first part, and three different directors *verbally* assured me that the final set of work would be funded. I had no indications that there would be any problem with them funding the very small amount of legal work required to finish the process. So, we went ahead. Because we were told we'd be covered.

    But, ARDC reneged. And, they reneged with insults and threats. It was bizarre, I have no real explanation, and they really should fix their broken attitudes, they really should apologize, and they honestly should support people that take risks and are making a difference in high-risk areas for amateur radio. I'll never not be personally disappointed at the shitty way ARDC has behaved towards high tech R&D and regulatory efforts in amateur radio.

    So, we went to ARRL, who said they really couldn't fund this particular set of legal work, and they were very limited in how much they could give. No problem. When you do R&D and get funding, you get rejected a lot more than you get supported. We all know this and moved on. We next went to IEEE Foundation, who said we weren't the right type of organization (they have rules), but sent me to four different other foundations, *ALL* of which all sent me back to ARRL, because "we don't do amateur radio but ARRL does". I then went to YASME, and they were initially enthusiastic about the opportunity to correct a serious problem in amateur radio satellite service participation.

    Unfortunately, it took two years for them to weigh and consider the request to fund successful work. And, we recently received a rejection letter, where I was lectured about how YASME was about youth involvement and technical work, and the grant request would be an inappropriate use of their funds. I was so taken aback by this, since our corps of volunteers is very young, international, and almost all of what we do (all of which was enabled by this regulatory prep work) is very technical. The whole point of fixing the scary regulatory issues was for young people to do technical work. We made this clear in our grant paperwork.

    When people show up and do the work, when they provide all of the documentation and call things correctly, is it so hard to simply support them? These financial requests were very modest and were for work already completed.

    To be clear - The work was already paid for, but paying people back for donating something of broad interest and effect really should not be this hard. That was the point of posting about this particular experience (one of many).

  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Michelle,

    I believe the disconnect is th asumption that 'good works' invokes 'good partners'. It seldom works out that way: every niche NGO seeks its own glory and seldom sees the ADVANTAGE to 'sharing' obligations.

    An observation of how the dysfuntional world works...which, more often than not, is poorly.

    Chip W1YW
  8. W5NYV

    W5NYV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Directors should have access to business communications of their organization. Those documents include all of the inappropriate communications ORI reported from ARDC directors and employees, all of which were sent directly to the ARDC board mailing list as soon as the harassment and interference began. After multiple attempts to stop the harassment and bad behavior failed, we published an account so that others would know what they might expect to be dealing with. We aren't alone here, as over time other people have reported similar experiences with ARDC. There's of course plenty of happy teams that get fat wads of cash, but I think Dave fully explained how enormous amounts of money attract people who love the power and control they get from the process, and how it can be misused and weaponized. ARDC has set itself up as a private gatekeeper of value that already belonged to the community, and they've been truly awful on multiple occasions about how they "administer" the extracted funds.

    Here is one account.

    Another very disappointing experience that happened at about the same time was Great Scott Gadgets and ORI's grant request to ARDC on GSG's behalf. The documentation hasn't been published yet, but this forum post really has inspired me to consider digging up all the email from GSG and ARDC where an ARDC employee admits directly interfering with the grant request, assuring Michael Ossman he will get funding if he simply dumps ORI as his chosen fiscal sponsor. The employee went so far as to instruct Michael he *couldn't even have ORI as a technical partner*. Michael sought out ORI, and ORI contributed directly to the editing process of the project and the grant request. We do an excellent job of getting things done and increasing community capability. This was an uncontroversial request, and the interference was honestly stupid and childish. Whatever is going on is wrong.

    ARDC eventually "assigned" the Great Scott Gadgets grant to TAPR in a backroom deal, and cut ORI out completely. TAPR probably got the same communication that Michael Ossman received.

    Ironically, I had personally reached out to TAPR and had three phone calls with Scott Cowling about involving TAPR in this particular grant! Inclusion and broad support attempts, which all take time and effort and planning, were rewarded with TAPR simply accepting the backroom deal and dumping all of the cooperative planning work on the floor.

    Scott didn't reveal to the TAPR board *any* of the conversations he had had with me about making this project work well for our communities, or the attempts to increase collaboration and involve TAPR members alongside ORI technical support. I found this very disappointing fact out accidentally during a conversation with another TAPR board member many months later. I was stunned at the lack of respect. We'd had multiple successful collaborations with TAPR in terms of joint forum presentations at HamCation and providing material and technical support on several projects, and an attempt to domestically produced SATNogs stations through (aka sold by) TAPR. After all of these projects, an infusion of cash from ARDC meant much more than a history of volunteer collaborative labor or personal relationships. Showing up for TAPR meant nothing to TAPR if money was on the table. It's good to know what a non-profit organization like TAPR truly prioritizes. When that is not relationships and collaboration, then you have no choice but to move on. So, we did, and things improved.

    We think what we saw is evidence of a pattern of power mongering and bullying from ARDC, and we do not believe that this belongs in amateur radio. We believe that anyone defending the type of behavior that we reported is in the wrong.

    Whatever is going on with ARDC is not normal with respect to philanthropic institutions, and is not normal with respect to generally accepted volunteer collaborative practice. It's deeply embarrassing for amateur radio and has caused damage and harm. As long as people say things like "might makes right" and "those with the gold make the rules" and as long as communities simply let community assets be confiscated and privatized and directed by a small set of people with some sort of hidden personal agenda without a fight, then vibrant growth and a true culture of innovation and risk taking will remain out of reach.


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