Thursday, April 04, 2024


 I'm sure many of you reading this have heard about the xz vulnerability. To be very brief, a backdoor was discovered in the xz Linux utility. This is a big deal. First, the fact that it was discovered and reported proves that open source "works". But, the cost was very high. This incident exposes severe cultural problems in open source that Open Research Institute (ORI) has sought to address, with some success. ORI is a non-profit R&D firm that specializes in open source digital radio. Amateur radio is the primary beneficiary of this work. ORI practices a behind-the-scenes supportive and inclusive approach, and has had objective, clear, and continuing success. It creates a vibrant reality. Unfortunately, even ORI projects that directly benefit amateur radio have fallen prey to bullying, powermongering, and targeted harassment from time to time. 

An accurate summary article about the xz hack can be found here.

There are many very important things covered in this article and others written about this hack. Open source work powers virtually all of the internet and a large swath of critical communications infrastructure. The unquestioned importance of open source work in our modern life is one of the reasons why this incident is important. Nearly 100% of internet infrastructure runs on Linux. If you like the internet or use it, you care about xz. Linux is absolutely essential to modern amateur radio. If you care about amateur radio, then you care about Linux. 

Secondly, people, out of altruism and volunteerism, motivation and agency, donate their time and talent to make all sorts of open source things. The costly squandering of goodwill and good effort, which was how this hack happened, is another reason why this incident is important. The reason it almost worked is because, like we see with traditional amateur radio organizations, individual people with small amounts of power will actively exploit the good will of many volunteers in order to promote selfish and harmful aims and purposes. These aims and purposes are corrupt. When they are found in our hobby they harm amateur radio. These views are unfortunately very real and they are widely held. These views hurt amateur radio because people take actions based on their unexamined and unconfronted views and prejudices. The way that bad culture harms individuals in amateur radio is similar to the way that the xz hack has hurt the Linux community. 

We, as a society, have benefited enormously from open source work. Yet, open source volunteers have tolerated a huge amount of abuse and "yanking the rug out from underneath" for decades. This contemptuous treatment of the goose that laid the golden egg has had predictable results, multiple times. The xz hack is not an unexpected or unusual result. There are important parallels to the way women's unpaid work is treated. We can find a way out of this mess by confronting the root causes of these related symptoms. 

The technical is social before it is technical. If the social framework for technical work is broken for many, and I am here to assert that it definitely is, then technical work is stuck at a local maximum *at best*. Sure, it might work quite well for some. Now, if you only care about how you're doing and your personal projects, then this might be enough for you. But, something that is broken and manipulated in your favor yet leaves out others means that a lot of your peers will not have an easy time of it, and they won't be able to help you in the long run. If they haven't already quit a long time ago, they may in the near future, or will simply not have the energy or margin to support you and your work even if they do hang around. This fact of life will harshly limit how far *you* can expect to proceed. After all, you need a lot of peers and a big audience for the project you care about to be recognized or appreciated. 

Have you stood by and watched while a bunch of your most enthusiastic and capable peers get run off? We've lost 20% of US women licensees over the past decade alone. Are you even aware of this exodus? If not then please consider why it might negatively affect the adoption of your personal pet project or tech. Women are in control of spending in 70-80% of US households. If your project is ham radio related, and there are statistically significantly fewer women licensees, you have far fewer people that may be inclined to green light either a purchase or be ok with a bunch of time spent away from the family for a hobby that is increasingly unwelcoming to women. 

In the writing business, we're told (top to bottom) to "Buy other author's work. Just do it. Every chance you get. Promote their work. Show up for them. We are all in this together." Do you wonder why this is the case? Do you find this to be weird? You shouldn't. Producers and creators tell each other, and have been telling each other for decades, to stand together and support each other, because a rising tide lifts all boats. Otherwise, the entire writing economy fails. Why exactly this (imperfectly) successful method is largely absent in open source, I don't know. 

The xz maintainer was targeted and manipulated in a way that's totally acceptable in open source work. The shitty way they were treated is normalized. Those of us at ORI have spoken up against this sort of thing in the past and will continue to speak up against it as long as it is a problem. In some circles, and by some people (several specific people in amateur radio come to mind), the mentality that led to the xz hack has a positive connotation. Attacking anyone that might be a "threat", no matter how twisted the logic, and isolating and targeting the people that want to be collaborative and productive? Actions taken out of jealousy and spite are widely acceptable behavior in amateur radio. This is a behavior that is distinct and deeply inferior to peer review, which can also be painful but follows a different, and in my view, a more productive social contract. 

Ethics matter in tech. It's deeply unethical to simultaneously define "critical internet infrastructure" as also "just a hobby done in your free time". Disappointingly, this works - because people can, and absolutely do, amazing things under bad circumstances when they clearly see an unmet need. Society gets *something for nothing*, by burning people out. We burn people out by letting them publicly stick their necks out, work hard, and publish extremely useful results of all sorts, while failing to back them up, protect them, compensate them, credit them, or include them in the eventual profits or success. 

What's the difference between the people society lets burn out and the people society insists on rewarding? Quite often it's their race and gender. In the case of open source maintainers, the people most often taken advantage of are the people that *act* supportive and nurturing (in other words, they "act like a woman"). Blowhard bullies get more of a pass, no matter how absent or infrequent their work. People that altruistically care are frequently a target, or are ditched or ghosted or made to feel inferior in whatever way is convenient to keep them "silently productive".

Eventually corrupt code is published in the supply chain as a result of this cultural dichotomy of value. The missing ingredient? Just like the work of unpaid housewives, donated open source work is not properly valued and can be socially exploited, just as it was in this particular case. Money can't save the day, even though funding does help - but it helps only if it is properly administered. We've seen that when it is not properly administered, money really ruins things. There is a reason we say that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money doesn't help if the social parts are still broken. 

What we are talking about beneath the surface is the repeated insistence by larger society to relegate open source work as something very much like "women's work", or unpaid labor that is "owed" because "that's your job so shut up and do it really well" because "we honestly can't get by without it but as long as we can trick you into doing it by humiliation or force then we'll continue to get away with it". Bullies are allowed to show up and produce mediocre work. Male bullies and blowhards especially get rewards that the altruistic people of any gender simply do not ever receive. 

The internet is super important. The internet should "just work" and "those nerds don't have much of a life anyway, so why can't they just get this right". It's the exact same situation as "dumb housewife just effing do all this scut work without bothering me so I can get back to focusing on my real job". The long term effects on society of devaluing the work, while expecting it to be done for free, have been studied and are negative. I think we can see the same story in open source. You can literally see the contempt for open source maintainers - with the exact same language directed towards housewives - in github comment after github pull request after github comment. 

Treating people badly is a security risk. Failing to value hard and meaningful work gifted to the general public (or a household) is equivalent to treating people badly. This isn't very hard to figure out. It has been incredibly hard to fix, even when the costs are painfully clear.

The bad actors in the case of the xz hack (and yes, this was a long con hack) were able to do this with impunity because they used the same nasty tactics that *work* in many open source projects. Shame and doubt and insinuations that the maintainter is a failure that needs to atone to "the community/household" forever, without real support? This is common. 

This has been written about before. It is promulgated by the current open source culture and echoes strongly in amateur radio. Amateur radio is a culture that is extremely homogenous and VERY resistant to change. You all have seen how harshly punished our modest efforts at ORI to be competent, selfless, collaborative, and supportive have been treated. I can assure you, working well and hard, and watching incredibly talented technical volunteers getting kicked in the teeth as a ''reward", is not fun at all. 

Bad amateur radio politics are so well known at this point, that amateur radio has been largely written out of emergency communications plans and actively avoided by the professionals in public service communications. Universities are extremely cautious about including us. It's a disaster for an international radio service to have the bottom fall out like this. But, it's happening. It's happening because of the same problems that lead to the xz hack work so well in ham radio technical culture. 

These issues really do affect our frequency allocations. We'd have far more frequencies and be much more deeply involved in the regulatory process if we were socially healthy and inclusive.

Being honest about addressing the social problems of ham radio is the key to solving nearly every other problem in the radio service. We can continue to deny this fact and barely survive with flat or negative growth in the US while watching other countries experience steep licensee declines, or we can change course and take full advantage of the best it's ever been for the radio arts. 

What are we waiting for? 

-Michelle Thompson

Saturday, January 06, 2024

The Technical Part is Never the Hardest Part

Adapted from a presentation at the University of California San Diego for IEEE in November 2023. 

Video of the talk can be found here:

When we think about technology and society, and how our technology should serve people, we often think of efficiency, entertainment, and productivity increases. We tend to believe that technological advancement is inherently good, and we set things up to where not much stands in the way of claimed technical progress. Many engineers produce highly technical work, throw it over a wall, and expect it to be used as intended and for positive purposes.

However, the technical part is never the hardest part. The people part is always the hardest part. And if you do not design with this in mind, what you work on can fail to achieve your goals, or even worse, do much more harm than good. 

I’m Michelle Thompson and I’m an engineer, executive, and entrepreneur. 

Let’s address something right away. The technical part is actually very hard. People spend years in training and many more years more employed doing difficult technical work before achieving even modest success in science or engineering. There is very little worth doing that is easy. The technical challenges we tackle are highly complex. Failures, setbacks, and roadblocks are ahead of you, all the time. It’s easy to think that’s the whole story. But, it isn’t. 

This is a talk about advice on how to be a better engineer or scientist. And the first and most important bit of advice I have for you is Do Not Give Advice. Unless it is asked for. And unless you can give it as a gift. Listen carefully to the person you want to help by giving them advice. Are you being asked for a Solution or are you being asked for Sympathy? If it’s not clear, then ask. If it’s sympathy, and in a professional context, then provide it. Ask them to keep explaining until they have complained themselves out. And then keep this confidence to yourself. There are exceptions to this, such as mandated reporting of abuse, illegal behavior, or self harm. 

Are you being asked for a solution? Do you have something productive to say? Then offer your solution as a gift. Gifts have no strings. Advice given with an expectation of control or compliance is not advice, it’s management. 

The purpose of a system is what it does. Not what it was designed to do. Not what you want it to do. Not what you need it to do. Not what it is expected to do. Not what you hope it does. The purpose of a system is what it actually does. That is the purpose.

It can be very difficult to listen to people that are telling you that your system or procedure or rule or code or product hurts them, or others. You may believe that it’s their own fault, that they are using it wrong, don’t deserve to have access to the product or design in the first place, or do not understand what you have created or enforced. That’s fine, and there’s space for disagreement. Not every system serves everyone. 

However, the purpose of a system is what it does. When people bring proof to you that your system is doing something harmful to them, it is much more likely that they are right, than you are wrong. A good engineer prioritizes fixing the system instead of attacking the messengers, users, members, or customers. There are times to defend the status quo from unnecessary changes. Be very sure you are defending a status quo for solid reasons. Be willing to do an honest review. Document what you see, even if changes are not possible. The next design will be much better informed. Science publication often ignores negative results. However, these results are incredibly valuable. Do the thankless work of recording what you see. You will benefit yourself and others.

The purpose of a system is always emergent. The effects and consequences and repercussions of a system really do not care about your intentions or assumptions that drove the design. Don’t argue with ground truth. Learn from it. 

And, there are always unintended consequences. A good engineer looks for these, anticipates these, and welcomes these. They will teach you what you should be looking at to fix the current design, and what you should be starting off with on the next design. 

Things worth doing are rarely easy. Exceptions are things like brushing your teeth. If it’s worth doing, other people probably haven’t already done it to death. And, not all hard work is worth you doing it. 

A system is defined not by the rules but how they are enforced. Rules that are enforced capriciously or only against one particular group indicate corruption or a police state. 

There’s a big difference between rules and boundaries. Rules are things we expect others to do or not do. We expect rules to result in changes or modifications to other people’s behaviors. There are penalties for disobeying rules that are usually enforced by some sort of external authority. 

Boundaries are conditions that are enforced by ourselves. We notify others that we have a boundary condition, like if you yell at me again, I will leave the room. Or, if you don’t pay me on time again, I will quit. Boundaries provide a clear description of what an individual will do if certain behaviors continue, but do not attempt to control or coerce changes in behavior in others. The choice to change the behavior is entirely up to them. The repercussions are enforced by the individual affected on what they can control, which is themselves.

In situations where rules are not enforced or do not help you at all, boundaries give you control and agency. Boundaries reduce harm and provide a framework for surviving difficult situations. What boundaries do  you have? What would you do if you saw something illegal, immoral, or unethical? What would you do if you found out you were being treated differently than others? What if that difference caused harm to you or others? Is there a situation in your life where you really wished someone had behaved differently? Is there something you wished that you could have done differently in the past? These are opportunities for developing boundaries that will make your future self happier and more capable as a designer and problem solver. We can’t make our best designs when we are afraid or stressed out. 

The technical is social before it is technical. Nothing technical exists in a vacuum or apart from people. 

Do not trivialize use cases. Poor use cases lead to poor implementations of otherwise excellent technology. Use cases need to involve actual humans. Use cases need to involve a variety of humans. If you do not do this, if you do not have or listen carefully to feedback, your design may end up hurting people. 

Your intentions and expectations of how the design is going to be used is not a replacement for what you get from listening to current and future users. You get to decide what’s worth listening to, but in order to get good feedback, you have to put in the work to make it possible for people to give it to you in the first place. 

You will be constantly confronted with unethical behavior. There may be no repercussions for unethical or illegal behavior. You will have to decide what you are going to do about it. Choose carefully.

This can be very hard. Your job or funding or relationships or reputation may be on the line. Everyone else might be doing it. People will make fun of regulatory processes, safety requirements, end users, management, and so on. Stick up for the right way to do things, especially when no one is watching. 

Money or power doesn’t change people.

An influx of money or power simply reveals who they really are.

Good governance is the entire game. Be part of good governance, even when it’s hard, or when  people in charge fail to follow their own rules. 

Do you recognize this image?

This is from a very famous and effective 1940s advertising campaign. How did it come about? Most of the US fire fighters went off to fight in World War II. Research revealed that 9 of 10 forest fires could be prevented, if people made small behavioral changes. An advertising campaign was designed and deployed to get people to make small changes. 

It worked. The resulting fire prevention saved a lot of lives and property. 

There were, of course, unintended consequences. Fires serve a purpose in the ecosystem. Decades of fire suppression lead to fuels imbalance and wildfires that were difficult to control and fight. 

Similar to this ad campaign, only you can prevent toxic behavior that wrecks technical work. It’s you. You’re it. 

You will have human resources. You will have great managers. You will have wonderful co-workers. If you want a clean and healthy job site, it’s something you must actively maintain. Suppressing toxic behavior also has unintended consequences. Those consequences will have to be recognized and adapted to in order to make further progress. 

It’s not always about who you are talking to. It is about who is listening. Bystanders are in the long run more important than targets. Especially when the target is invincibly ignorant, or you can’t win. 

Do not forget your indirect audience. Seeing someone stand up to a bully, or stick up for ethical funding procedures, or speak out against falsifying test data, is crucial to future health and success, even if you are attacked or punished for speaking up. 

Assholes will win. If you find yourself in a situation where repercussions are not enforced for bad behavior, quit. Do not be afraid to quit. Even if it doesn’t directly affect you. Even if the bad behavior benefits you. Why? It eventually will. You just haven’t been affected yet. 

Get used to thinking, “Not on my watch”. Encourage others that are also ethical engineers. Add them to your network. Take them to lunch. Develop strong ties with them. This will pay off. 

What do you do when you have the situation where you have to confront that “This wasn’t what I was hired for”? 

Likely you will do wildly different things than what is in your degree. You will have to adapt, learn, and come up to speed on new things all the time.

If you are hired for (or to develop) specific expertise, and you are not being listened to, are routinely overruled, or your work erased, deleted, or trivialized, find another job and quit. 

Kindness is contagious. However, the incubation period is indeterminately long. 

Ambush meetings? Just say no. 

What is an ambush meeting? It’s when the true topic of discussion is kept hidden until you show up. The organizer may also hide who will actually be at the meeting.

Call it what it is and consider not participating. This may have repercussions, but going along with it will result in worse treatment. 

Ambush meetings clearly communicate that you are not valued as a colleague, employee, or collaborator. 

A related topic is pull-asides. If you are approached in the hallway and asked to commit to something, no matter how innocent it sounds, thank the person and tell them you will go think about it and get back to them later. Do not agree to anything when caught off guard in a pull-aside. These have no written agenda, no paper trail, no acknowledgement of extra duties or responsibilities. Do not let your helpful and generous nature be taken advantage of, whether it’s intentional or not. Be courteous but clear. Meetings need to be transparent, have agendas, and happen on equal terms. 

Listen first. You will never make a catastrophic mistake by listening.

Eavesdropping is not listening.

Remember whatever you happen to hear.

It’s ok to say “That is none of my business”, and keep an opinion to yourself. 

All of this advice comes from hard-earned experience, and has served me and others very well. Your experiences and your stories are just as valid. If you find what I have said useful, please share it. If you would like to talk more about what I have shared, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.


Monday, January 16, 2023

ARIP Inclusivity Pledge

Proudly Making the Amateur Radio Inclusivity Pledge

Looking forward to positive change in the amateur radio services. 

It's easy for me to affirm and promote the participation of ALL licensed amateurs in our hobby and service. I happily celebrate the diversity of race, color, sex, range of abilities, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, fursona, age, national origin, marital status, socioeconomic status, and physical characteristics represented in amateur communities. 

This is normal, common sense, and results in a better experience in amateur radio for everyone. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Activity Report as ARRL Technical Advisor 2020-2022

Here's what was submitted to ARRL in December 2022. 

Michelle Thompson W5NYV

TA Since: 2020

Based on my activities over the past two years, detailed below, and my continuing interest in the ARRL technical program, I apply for reappointment as an ARRL Technical Advisor. 

In addition to the below activities, I am employed as an executive at a commercial voice and data telecommunications firm serving rural northeastern Mississippi. I am responsible for identifying and executing our technology roadmap while maintaining very high levels of service in challenging geographic and economic conditions. 

I plan to retire from commercial work no earlier than 2038.


January 2022 to present

Chair San Diego Section of IEEE

Complete and ongoing

Being the chair of one of the largest IEEE sections in the United States means running a section with a very large number of IEEE chapters. This has given me an opportunity to promote and defend amateur radio to both academia and industry.

One of the most high profile achievements is that the San Diego Section is now the home of the second IEEE MOVE Truck, an emergency communications support vehicle with amateur radio equipment included. This project happened with my full support. I lobbied for the funding and helped to spearhead the effort to get this resource for the Western United States located in San Diego. 

You can read more about this project at:



March 2021 to present

Chair San Diego Chapter of Information Theory Society

Complete and ongoing

The Information Theory Society Chapter of San Diego has presented the following amateur radio oriented meetings over the past two years. I made sure these meetings happened, were accessible to both in person and online participants, and that the content was up to IEEE standards.


February 2020 to March 2021

Vice Chair San Diego Chapter of Information Theory


Laid the groundwork for the chapter to include open source amateur radio work from San Diego members. This was very successful, with an open forum attended by 20 people at ITA2020 producing a lengthy list of amateur radio aspects that members wanted to see IEEE address and support. The perceived lack of technical innovation from amateur radio, and the effect on education in the years to come, was a top concern. 


January 2020 to present

Chair Amateur Radio Activities for IMS2023


I’m the chair of the amateur radio activities for the IEEE 2023 International Microwave Society conference. This conference had a strong tradition of ARRL involvement, with ARRL occupying a free booth in the vendor area, a Ham Radio Social on the Tuesday evening of the conference, and more. Participation got highly positive reviews from the 7,000 attendees. Attendees are heavily involved in engineering education and RF industry positions.

A free booth in the vendor area and space at the Ham Social were offered at no cost. ARRL declined to participate for 2023, but maybe they’ll return in 2024. 

However, I’ve made it possible for ARRL to be represented at the social with materials about the education program at ARRL, local ARRL representatives have been invited to the Ham Social, and a solid technical demonstration lineup will be seen throughout the event. 

Amateur radio has been invited to be part of the central pavilion in the vendor area.  


November 2020 to present

Member of Board of Space Industry Advisors at Virginia Tech 


Out of the 31 board members, John Klingelhoeffer and I  are the only ones representing amateur radio interests. 

Virginia Tech has a prominent position in the engineering education landscape in the United States. Keeping amateur radio as focus at this school is an ongoing and challenging effort.



March 2021 to present

Member Planning Committee RATPAC


RATPAC develops and presents two talks a week on amateur radio activity. The Wednesday evening presentation is of general interest. The Thursday evening presentation is focused on Emergency Communications. 

The catalog of all previous talks can be found at

The catalog currently contains over 150 original videos from community leaders in amateur radio. RATPAC has nearly 2000 subscribers and the programs are widely used as amateur radio club programs.

My job includes attending weekly planning meetings where programs suggestions are reviewed and action items assigned. Development of a presentation may be very involved or as simple as inviting an experienced speaker on the subject. 

At 100 presentations a year, this is almost three times the number of presentations offered by any US hamfest. Unlike some hamfest forums, there is extensive Q&A which is captured as part of the recording and available on YouTube for free. 

The RATPAC committee is an excellent example of community participation in amateur radio. It has built a wonderful network of people and a growing archive of video recordings of immediate and enduring interest to amateur radio. 


February 2020 to present

CEO of Open Research Institute, Inc.


I’m the current CEO and founder of the only research institute dedicated to amateur radio. 

We now have over 42 repositories of open source design work for amateur radio, sponsor a wide variety of projects, and are starting to bring ones begun in the 2019 timeframe to completion.

We have received funding from four different foundations and a large number of private donors. We have applications in to GitHub and IEEE.

We completed landmark regulatory work that frees open source communications satellite work from both ITAR and EAR. This is unprecedented, underappreciated, and underreported despite our best efforts.

We completed landmark regulatory work for Debris Mitigation and Orbits for Amateur Radio. This is also unprecedented and underreported.

We have successfully obtained an STA for sounding rocket work from the US Government. 

We have successfully won another sounding rocket mission from NASA, in collaboration with a private company. This mission features open source satellite circuits on 70cm. 

We have proposed the world’s first Open Source HEO project to JAMSAT. This project is ongoing work that includes open source propulsion, current technology digital communications, and FPGA development. 

We have the world’s first fully functional remote access FPGA stations for 7000 series Xilinx FPGAs. We include the Ultrascale+ as a bonus. We also have PLUTOs, MATLAB with all toolboxes, and a full floating license for Vivado. Attempts to publicize these opportunities for hams through ARRL, as all of this is available for free for any open source amateur radio work, have not been successful yet. It would be wonderful to get more attention on these advanced resources. 

My role is daily executive service to a highly accomplished and inspiring board of directors at ORI. It’s a privilege to serve this organization. 



March 2020 to present

Secretary San Bernardino Microwave Society


I have been the the recording secretary for the San Bernardino Microwave Society since March 2020. 

I have presented twice to the club in the past two years. The first was about open source 10 GHz multimedia beacon designs. The second was how computing has been used in amateur radio from the 1980s through the future, which includes AI/ML.

I write expanded meeting minutes at each monthly meeting that include a summary of all technical reports from all members at the monthly meeting round table. This content is sent to the newsletter chair. 

I edited and submitted the ARRL Club Grant for SBMS, to fund modern digital beacons for spectrum defense. Microwave bands are under direct assault from the cellular industry, and occupancy is believed to be a factor in retaining the use of our bands throughout the next decade.


January 2022 to December 2023

Member Technological Advisory Council of the United States Federal Communications Commission


I represented Open Source and Amateur Radio interests through Open Research Institute at the FCC TAC for 2022. I was a member of the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Working Group. 

My job required weekly meetings where we either had a guest speaker, or deliberations on what regulations to recommend to the FCC. 

Our work products were a set of recommendations, a codex of articles, and a slide deck of 250 slides documenting all of the technical background for the three sets of recommendations. 


January 2022 to December 2023

Chair of “Safe Uses of AI/ML” Sub Working Group of the Technological Advisory Council of the United States Federal Communications Commission


I was the co-chair of the “Safe Uses of AI/ML” Sub Working Group of the FCC TAC for 2022. I served alongside Paul Steinberg of Motorola. I represented Open Source and Amateur Radio interests. 

My job required scheduling meetings, recording, editing, and publishing the meetings to the TAC, recruiting guest expert witness speakers, and producing, editing, and presenting the recommendations from the Sub Working Group to the full TAC. 

All of the recommendations from the Sub Working Group were unanimously adopted by the FCC TAC on 8 December 2022. 


September 2019 to September 2021

Member Board of Directors of AMSAT


I was prevented from serving AMSAT in this position by incumbent board members who were very angry I won a position and publicly stated that they were going to retaliate by any means necessary.

Legal action was taken after six months of polite requests to be seated on the board. AMSAT was found to be in the wrong in two out of two actions, both involving defamation.

This disappointing experience has been publicly documented here:

AMSAT leadership did not behave honorably or well during these two years, with multiple examples of unprofessional and extremist speech at the two required annual meetings they were forced to hold according to the by-laws.

Incumbents wrote and passed (as they held an insurmountable majority) several by-laws changes specifically designed to remove candidates that current board members do not approve of. These by-laws were designed to prevent people like me or Patrick from being able to run for the board. 

I have multiple circuits in space through AMSAT, volunteered tirelessly for many years across many projects, staffed their booths, gave talks, recruited members, and was deeply disappointed to be treated so badly by people that never even bothered to introduce themselves to me. 

I appreciate all the people that voted for me in a landslide victory in a crowded field, and was resolutely dedicated to serving those members’ interests for the entire two years. 


August 2022

Exposed Corruption at ARDC


ARDC is corrupt. This is not an isolated example.  

ORI is not the only organization to be treated this way. Other organizations and individuals have also not been treated unfairly by ARDC. This is an extremely important thing to speak up about given the massive amount of money suddenly available in amateur radio.

I do not believe in sacrificing ethics in exchange for any amount of money. I do not believe that a foundation in amateur radio should behave in a consistently unethical manner. 

All objections to unethical behavior at ARDC were made privately multiple times before they were published. 

Deliberately harming a successful non-profit in amateur radio is inexcusable. 

ARDC behavior has resulted in reduced activity in amateur radio and highly negative sentiments about ARDC from a diverse set of people. 

ORI’s CFO documented the bad behavior specific to ORI. The factual narrative is available to anyone that wishes to read it. 

ORI’s CFO is Steve Conklin and he can be contacted at



December 2022

STA granted


STA file number 1654-EX-ST-2022 was granted for work that I managed. 

Here are some of the details:

“An STA is necessary to address the special case of an amateur radio space station operating on a sub-orbital rocket. The rocket/space station will reach an altitude of approximately 125km at apogee and return immediately to Earth. The flight path will be entirely within the borders of the United States (Spaceport America New Mexico for launch, White Sands Missile Range New Mexico for recovery). The rocket flight is regulated through the FAA and coordinated with Spaceport America/White Sands Missile Range. Total flight time is less than 20 minutes. A waiver of 47 CFR 97.207(c)(2) is requested to allow transmission between 430MHz and 435MHz. This will avoid interference with existing orbital space stations. A waiver of 47 CFR 97.207(b) is requested. The transmitter control system is designed such that transmissions will automatically cease 30 minutes after detection of launch. A waiver of 47 CFR 97.207(g) is requested since operation is being conducted solely within the United States, on a requested frequency outside of international coordination, and the sub-orbital mission poses no orbital debris or collision hazards. Additionally, the space station remains an integral part of the rocket. The rocket will meet all safety criteria required to obtain appropriate waivers from the FAA.”

This work supports experiments with amateur radio LoRa mode communications and features an open source board that is suitable for pico-satellite integration.


December 2020 to present

Review Articles for QEX


I review articles in my area of expertise for QEX magazine. I provide feedback on whether or not the article would excite, enlighten, and inspire amateur experimenters. 


December 2021 and December 2022

Letters of Recommendation


I wrote letters of recommendation for amateur radio operators applying to graduate schools in the United States. Most of these students were from outside the United States and were from underrepresented backgrounds. 


October 2020, March 2021, October 2021, March 2022, September 2022

Ham Expo Organizer

Completed and ongoing

I’ve been an active and involved QSO Today Ham Expo organizer and presenter since October 2020. 

I’ve helped many individual hams complete their video recordings, supported hams requiring special accessibility accommodations, served as a moderator, presented talks, organized entire tracks, organized workshops, recruited sponsors, recruited vendors, staffed booths, presented posters, run virtual social events, and publicized the event. 

I experienced harassment from both AMSAT and an ARDC officer at this event. 


HamCation 2020

Exhibitor, Forum Organizer


Organized a booth, recruited and scheduled volunteers, managed a technical demonstration, and ran one of the forum tracks. Organized and hosted a fundraising workshop for ORI that was well attended by academic, amateur, and industry representatives. 


HamCation 2021

Exhibitor, Forum Organizer


All talks from the forum track that I organized can be found in the link above. 


HamCation 2022

Exhibitor, Forum Organizer


Organized three booths, recruited and scheduled 10 volunteers, managed a technical demonstration, and ran a full forum track.

Presented as the anchor speaker at the ARRL technical track “The Magic of Digital Communications” at the ARRL Forum held immediately before HamCation. 

In-person harassment from AMSAT and officers of ARDC influenced by AMSAT occurred at this event.



August 2022 to present

Support University of Puerto Rico RockSat-X Sounding Rocket Flight


I am an educational support advisor to the students at University of Puerto in their RockSat-X sounding rocket launch. This launch uses an open source high bitrate amateur radio mode designed by Open Research Institute to communicate data from the scientific payload onboard to the ground. 

The sounding rocket opportunity was awarded after a competitive process. Amateur radio is being used here to help the students learn about modern digital communications techniques. The Opulent Voice protocol uses modern open protocols, Golay Codes, Convolutional Codes, 4-ary coherent FSK modulation, and is easy to implement on any SDR. 


October 2022

Co-wrote an open source COBS decoder in VHDL for amateur radio baseband applications


This is the first published open source COBS protocol decoder in VHDL. 

See more about COBS at

My co-author and I anticipate submitting an article to QEX about COBS once end-to-end RF tests are complete.


September 2022

Wrote an article for QEX “Forward Error Correction in Opulent Voice”


Publication date expected to be April 2023. 

This is a novel open source high bitrate voice and data communications protocol. It is a vast improvement over existing digital ham voice protocols and can be used at 70 cm and above. 

Here’s a presentation Paul Williamson KB5MU made about it from Ham Expo:

Here’s a video demonstration of this protocol at ORI’s large installation at DEFCON 2022:


August 2022

DEFCON 2022 RF Village Open Source Showcase


I organized, scheduled, and executed a large Open Source Showcase at DEFCON 2022. 

DEFCON is a hacker convention in Las Vegas, NV USA. 

More information about this large ham-friendly event that attracts over 25,000 people a year can be found here:

Our installation, which featured amateur radio technical, regulatory, and competitive content was featured on DEFCON TV. 

A video of our demonstrations can be found here:

Dozens of amateur radio volunteers contributed to this installation and the set of hands-on technical and regulatory demonstrations. 

The content from this exhibit in RF Village equaled or exceeded all of the exhibit space in Ham Radio Village, where we’ve had exhibits in the past. 

We outgrew our Ham Radio Village floorspace allocation, so we moved to RF Village, where the floor space was large enough for all our work.

We anticipate returning in 2023 with more. 

No harassment occurred at this event. 


December 2021 to present

Original Research on United States Amateur Radio Licensee Demographics


I wrote and published open source Python code to analyze the Amateur Radio ULS files and determine race and sex distribution over the past 10 years.

Race was determined by zip code, using statistics from US census results of 2020. 

Sex was determined using a machine language model that makes a probabilistic guess on sex based on the first name of the licensee.

The number of women licensees is in steady decline, from over %15 percent in 2012 to %12 percent today.  

Estimates of race, including sorting and peer effect, are 90%+ white. 

A companion article was written with a code walk-through, a literature review, and practical advice on improving diversity. This article was submitted to QST and declined. 

A presentation was made through RATPAC about an early version of the work in January 2022, and can be found here:

Article will be published in 2023. 


October 2021

Meeting with FCC to discuss Debris Mitigation and Orbits for the Amateur Radio Satellite Service


Organized, managed, edited, and presented at a meeting with the FCC concerning Debris Mitigation and Orbits in the Amateur Radio Satellite Service. 

This successful meeting determined two orbits available to the Amateur Radio Satellite Service, and addressed Debris Mitigation rules and their effect on amateur radio. 

Ex parte filing can be found here:

Special thanks to ARRL for their support of this effort.  


October 2020

Comments on Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking


Comments filed with the FCC on Debris Mitigation and Amateur Radio Satellite Service. 


February 2020

Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking


Wrote and filed a comment with the FCC concerning changes to the 3 GHz band. 

Allow the Amateur Satellite Service to keep their current allocation at 3.40 to 3.41 GHz for space-to-space communications and expand this allocation to 50MHz within the existing amateur 3.30 to 3.50 GHz allocation...


October 2021

Space and Satellite Symposium


Organized, managed, and executed an IEEE Symposium featuring open source amateur radio work in Space and Satellites. 

All recordings can be found here:

Special thanks to the IEEE Information Theory Society for sponsoring this successful event. 


April 2022 to present

Ribbit Project


The Ribbit Project is an ORI project that allows any cell phone to turn any HT into a digital communications device. 

Using Polar codes and audio tones, SMS style messages can be sent over the air. The primary application is Emergency Communications. 

My job has been to remove roadblocks and provide resources to the project team, recruit members, enable publicity, and provide technical advice when needed. 

This is one of only two amateur radio projects in the world using Polar Codes, which are the most advanced forward error correction known. These codes are used in 5G cellular. We see no reason that amateur radio shouldn’t be using them as well, and have done the work required to bring those codes to common amateur radio use cases. 

See a video presentation about Ribbit here:

And another more technical video about this work here:

Home page:

Note: Rattlegram is the name of the mobile app. Ribbit is the name of the project, which includes the protocol and infrastructure to include it in repeater systems. 


January 2020 to January 2021

Merit Badge Counselor for Boy Scouts


I was a merit badge counselor for many technical merit badges, including Radio, Codes, and Programming.

I was one of the STEM counselors for a day-long merit badge fair at UCSD in February 2020. 



August 2019 to August 2020

Chaired 2020 GNU Radio Conference


All of the duties of conference organizing for a large virtual (due to COVID-19) event. I implemented an Amateur Radio track, recruited amateur radio speakers, organized amateur radio friendly workshops, and featured amateur radio content in an online CTF competition that attracted over 60 competitors. 


January 2020 to August 2020

Hack-a-Sat 2020


Recruited, organized, and supported amateur radio members for the competitive and well-regarded ADDVulcan CTF Team for the Hack-a-Sat competition. 

See details at:

Our team made the finals and finished 8th. 

News item was submitted to QST about the achievement. 


January 2021 to August 2021

Hack-a-Sat 2021


Recruited, organized, and supported amateur radio members for the competitive and well-regarded ADDVulcan CTF Team for the Hack-a-Sat competition. 

See details at:

We did not make the finals, but finished in the top few percent in qualifications. 

The event attracts many thousands of teams. 


December 2022 to present

Hack-a-Sat 2023


Started the process of recruiting amateur radio members for this competition. The advantages in the past have been that the team gets practical radio knowledge from amateur members, and the amateurs join a competition computing team with highly competent software experts.

The crossover and interdisciplinary rewards have been large for everyone involved. In some cases, involvement has lead to new opportunities for the amateur participants and new licensees from the competition team members. 



November 2022

Kraken SDR Repository and ITAR


The principal of Kraken SDR reached out to me for help with an ITAR problem. The Kraken SDR Passive Radar repository had been taken down due to ITAR. This was a proactive step due to concerns about violating rules on passive radar applications. Kraken SDR is of great interest to amateur radio operators and open source enthusiasts.

I provided advice and offered support. 

For more information on this ongoing issue, please read



January 2006 to present

Trustee W6NWG


Trustee for the Palomar Amateur Radio Club call.



January 2021

Established Remote Labs


An enormous technical effort, ORI’s Remote Labs were put into operation in January 2021. 

There are now four labs with a variety of equipment. These are remote lab benches that allow anyone, anywhere in the world, to do open source digital communications design work, for free, 24/7. 

My job was to specify, purchase, install, commission, and fully test the equipment. I turned over maintenance and improvement to Lab Leads. I now support the Lab Leads in Remote Lab West, Remote Lab South, Remote Lab UK, and Remote Lab DC. 

My support role is to remove roadblocks and provide resources, solve any technical problem that the Lab Leads have, and recruit users.

The equipment was funded by ARDC shortly before they issued threats against Remote Labs and began a campaign of targeted harassment against ORI leadership. Despite this treatment, the original grant was executed on time and on budget and continues to produce a very high ROI. 

For more information about Remote Labs, please read:

All of the software that allows Remote Labs to work is open source. 

I have assisted several organizations in duplicating this amateur radio innovation. 

Most of the users of Remote Labs come from Europe. Fewer US hams are advantage of it than Europeans. 

This may be mostly due to the declining number of US people specializing in hardware design. The labs are focused on FPGA design work for digital communications, and this is a field that has a  severe shortage of human resources in the US. 

We’ve been able to get a number of people from “no experience at all” up to “being able to get hired for FPGA work”. I view successful professional development like this as part of the amateur radio mission. 


October 2022 to present

AI/ML Handbook for Amateur Radio


Organize a team to design and write AI/ML Designs for Amateur Radio. This is to bridge the substantial gap from theory and hype to practice and competence. 

Current stage is recruitment. See:


January 2020 to present

ITAR/EAR Regulatory work

Complete and ongoing

Please see the summary of the work I lead here:

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Update on a Troubling Situation

 Those of us that document and report on the work done at ORI ( make a concerted effort to highlight the positive progress from volunteers, projects, and collaborators. We've been very successful. It is a joy to help do the weekly reports. You should have received one earlier today.

Not all of our efforts have been treated well, and that's what I am going to talk about here in this post. Generally speaking, we simply take evasive action around silly things like censorship, personal attacks, gaslighting, power mongering, bullying, and so on. Our work speaks for itself. We have an excellent relationship with a wide variety of organizations ranging from IEEE to QSO Today.

However, when organizations like ARDC directly interfere with our work, it needs to be documented and disclosed. We need to protect the good faith investment of our community.

You might be familiar with the M17 Project. It's a digital voice protocol for VHF/UHF. ORI is M17 Project's fiscal sponsor, for a $250,000 grant from ARDC ( 

Work has gone well. There's still work to do. There is $68,000 left on the grant.

Here's a summary of what ORI has contributed towards M17's success.

We donated back the customary overhead fee of 10%. We figured M17 needed the money more than we did. M17 got a dedicated bank account, shielding, professional tax accountant services, and other benefits of a non-profit corporation.

We purchased Open Lunar Foundation's surplus lab primarily in order to fully stock M17's "Shed Lab" - and any other lab needs the project might have around the world. We did this out of ORI's operating budget, since we'd been pretty frugal and had the margin to donate equipment to M17.

The equipment is in storage. We were able to convert a storage lease to $0 through negotiation. The equipment cost $25,000. The plan was to deliver the equipment in late spring 2022.

Here's what else ORI has done for M17.

We have presented M17 work at four IEEE meetings. Each of these presentations involved a lot of effort to properly frame different parts of the protocol. The presentations and meetings were very well received and worth doing, especially one on standardization of the protocol. We presented OpenRTX and M17 work at our own half-day Technical Advisory Committee Meetup, also an IEEE event. We wrote and produced the video presentation for M17 for FOSDEM. We produced video presentations for Ham Expo, provided logistics support for M17 at HamCation, provided forum space at HamCation for M17 talks, made space at ARRL's Expo for M17, submitted articles, heavily promoted M17 online, gave advice when appropriate, helped develop code, provided valuable protocol specification work (ongoing!), we raised $50,000 (as yet unspent) for ORI legal work related to M17, provided all the items requested by ESA for potential EchoStar tests, and gave direct access to the bank account to M17 team members so that they had maximum autonomy and could spend money efficiently.

We helped with a set of meetings to help break down barriers to inclusion in commercial work, and signed several discount deals for M17. We did demos, tested things in Remote Labs when requested, and presented at several ham club meetings. We even pinch hit as net control for the Friday M17 net when no one else was available. 5-6 volunteers across several ORI projects were directly involved in all of this work. A few others along the way have pitched in from time to time.

We made it clear we were ready to help apply for more grants as soon as any additional funding was needed.

ORI made a long-term commitment to M17 and followed through on it. We incorporated the protocol into our uplink plan for Phase 4 work. We attempted to design it in as the native digital protocol. This path was recommended by Howie DeFelice, who spotted M17 work early on and was the first to bring it up to ORI.

M17 protocol hard-codes in a low bit-rate encoder. Initial talks to interest M17 in developing a higher bitrate version were rejected. They were very focused on CODEC2 3200 bps and very focused on VHF/UHF. And, that is ok. No problem. ORI figured that we could support both M17 and also do a higher bitrate version based upon it. So, we kicked off development of a higher bitrate version for our uplink. It's a substantial departure from M17, but it's based upon it and is proceeding quickly and well. We found some bugs with the most commonly used M17 implementation and we improved documentation about M17. *At every step of the way, M17 was cited, promoted, and included.*

Things were going pretty well across the board. It really is an achievable project. According to the industry studies we have access to, M17 is competing in a crowded market with a shrinking consumer base. It's got an uphill battle, but we were all in.

At Hamvention 2022, Phil Karn and Rosy Schecter (ARDC) met with Ed Wilson (M17). In that conversation, ARDC offered another round of funding ($250,000) to M17. ARDC left Ed with the impression that it would be no problem to get the additional money.

But, only if M17 would dump ORI as a fiscal sponsor.

M17 said that ARDC told them that the reason was because ORI had IRS problems. Chelsea, the grants manager at ARDC, denied it when I asked about this.

However, multiple other people at Hamvention, including an ARDC volunteer, firmly stated that 1) ARDC made an assurance of financial support to M17 at an informal meetup outside the review process and 2) that ARDC was the source of a rumor about ORI having "IRS problems".

No, ORI does not have any "problems" with the IRS. There is no "confusion" about our status. Yes, we can accept grant money. Yes, we might end up a private operating foundation instead of a public charity in another few years. This has been talked about on this list before. No, there isn't a big difference between the two, as it turns out. Yes, ARDC is fully aware of all of this, because we are transparent and kept ARDC fully informed.

This situation is not something that any of us on ORI board have seen happen with any other grant-making organization, in any field. Speaking just for myself, I've executed four SBIRs, one STTR, multiple Catholic Church grants, Rady Children's Hospital grants, Burning Man art grants, was involved with two FCC Covid grants, and gotten pretty far into the process on 6-7 other grants in just the past 5 years or so. Other people on the board have similar backgrounds with granted or funded work in technology, art, and construction. We're in the process of applying for at least one FDA grant for AquaPhage, and we are always looking for NASA grants where our transponder work makes sense.

A funding source approaching a sponsored project like this - offering money but only if the project cuts out the actively contributing and successful fiscal sponsor - is not normal. None of us have ever seen this happen except at ARDC. It looks and smells like a bribe.

Unfortunately, bribes work.

We now know that Ed Wilson and other M17 leads started working on a proposal to take advantage of this "totally awesome" offer. They accepted the idea of dumping ORI and set themselves up to get ready to spend another quarter million dollars. This was done in secret, but there were several leaks. The planning document was accidentally published on M17's Discord server, and some of the group started to become uncomfortable with the situation and disclosed what was going on.

This wasn't a hypothetical conversation or a misunderstanding. M17 deliberately did not let anyone at ORI know about this meeting or the work they were doing to "dump" ORI. They justified it amongst themselves in several ways.

1) ORI was simply "fungible", meaning M17 believed that ORI was "interchangeable" with any other sponsor. ORI could be changed out at will without any repercussions. It's unclear where this idea came from. This attitude didn't exist before the conversation with ARDC.

2) Since ARDC has all the money, then ARDC calls the shots, and ARDC is in control of ham radio.

3) Claiming M17 isn't really an organization and therefore really didn't really make any decisions and shouldn't be held accountable.

These aren't positive things.

1) Fiscal sponsors that only provide a bank account and take a cut are in the broadest possible sense "fungible", but the people that sign the contracts are still putting their organization on the line. They are providing a service - even if it's "just banking" - and they really should be treated with respect. Even the most hands-off sponsor should be included in any discussions about additional funding or some sort of change where they're thrown overboard. That's just basic ordinary courtesy towards people that have stepped up to serve. We didn't get this basic courtesy from either ARDC or M17.

ARDC has done this sort of thing before. ARDC aggressively pursued a GNU Radio project lead about funding *on the ORI Slack account*. GNU Radio is a SETI Institute project. This conversation, which is still up on our Slack, was pretty darn lit. Bob McGwier repeatedly demanded that Derek Kozel "give me (ARDC) a number". Meaning, just give ARDC a number of dollars that GNU Radio wanted to receive. GNU Radio had already received a $50,000 gift from ARDC, which was given outside the proposal process. Bob's conversation with Derek looked like an informal deal to arrange for more cash for GNU Radio Project. GNU Radio is not incorporated but it has a functional and involved fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor is who needs to be contacted if ARDC is hot to give away money to a project. Not individuals on a project.

I called Rosy Schecter about this. I said I wanted this to be a private conversation and for this sort of thing to please stop coming from ARDC because it was not helping grant-making. It's not the process we want to see in the community. Money should be given through reviewed proposals, following a process that anyone can look up, and preferably blind. Rosy agreed with me on the phone and she said she understood. However, she then revealed my name to Bob as the person that complained. Bob retaliated.

Instead of stopping this sort of thing, ARDC has kept doing it.

What was even more remarkable about this conversation, that is not obvious from reading it, is that Bob McGwier assured Derek that ARDC would pay for salaries. This is something ORI had been repeatedly and firmly told was not possible. We would have definitely included at least some contract money in the Phase 4 grant if we had not been told differently. When I asked about what seemed to be a big policy change, Bob snapped "Shit changes". Well, ok then. Good talk.

ARDC aggressively pursuing individual project members can and does undermine existing organizations and relationships. This isn't good stuff.

ORI was very involved with M17. We went above and beyond "just a bank account" involvement. Fiscal sponsors really aren't fungible, especially when they are involved and care about a project's success.

2) A worse problem is the belief that ARDC can order projects around like this, dictate or change terms after they've granted money, or reward people to exclude fiscal sponsors like ORI because it has lots and lots of money. If you think money in politics creates problems, then consider how an unregulated monopoly SuperPAC in amateur radio might have some very negative unintended consequences. Some of the money has definitely achieved good things. You can see evidence of this in every weekly report we publish. While ARDC is not our sole funding source, it is as of today the largest one, and money being turned into capabilities and published work is what it is supposed to be about. Threatening and excluding is not what it is supposed to be about, at all.  

M17 received additional voicemail messages from John Hayes. John Hayes is the ARDC grants outreach manager. ORI has never received any messages from John Hayes (or anyone else at ARDC) about any problems at all with the M17 grant. If we'd gotten any complaints, we would have certainly acted upon them. In these voicemails, John Hayes told M17 they cannot use ORI any more. Way to manage a big grant, there, John. Super helpful.

3) M17 has no formal structure. However, M17 leads were treated like adults with agency, from the beginning. Either they can make decisions for their own project, or they can't. Since ORI believed they could, and since the respect was not reciprocal, ORI adjusted things to match what M17 said they wanted. Namely, that ORI was "just a bank account". We initiated a requirement that project funding needed to be requested from ORI with justification for specific disbursements. No new requests have been made since that change.

The way ARDC has behaved towards ORI with respect to M17 is part of a pattern of behavior. Here is an exchange about the ORI lab tour with Rosy and Chelsea. This came out of the blue.

We honestly had no idea how to respond to this. We don't insult and threaten projects. We never expected to be threatened by a funding source. If I had written this email to a customer or client or collaborator, at *any job that has ever employed me*, then I would have been given a box and told to clean out my desk.

I'm sorry to tell you all that Rosy's email was approved, rewarded, and encouraged by the ARDC board. The next communication we received was a strange one, where we were interrogated about technical progress right after giving an hour-long interview about... our technical progress. There were no technical questions. Bob McGwier insisted that this email was constructed by the board specifically for ORI. It was a list of objectives in our five-year plan screen-shotted from our original grant request. There was no context. We had already achieved most of these goals. ORI board told me to reply. It felt like a trap, and it was.

ARDC has missed all of the regular reporting dates since October 2021 for all granted work at ORI. Rosy and Chelsea carry out these interviews. Why haven't we been interviewed about the excellent progress we've made? We don't know.

What else do we now know?

Two other grant applicants have had their proposals deleted before they got to the ARDC grant committee, simply because they wanted to work with ORI. One was told "you can choose any sponsor except ORI" and the other was told they couldn't use ORI as either a sponsor or even as a project partner. But, if they re-applied without us, their application would be welcome.

We suspect there might be more examples of this, since we have had talks with six other projects and (foolishly?) encouraged all of them to apply for ARDC grants and gave them our information as a fiscal sponsor. It is a big waste of time to carry water for ARDC, put time into reviewing or developing proposals, support individuals and groups in the community, and then have applicants treated like this.

We have no idea why ARDC behaves this way, since we have worked hard and have met all requirements associated with any grant awards from them.

What can we conclude from all this? What exactly should we do about it, if anything?

ARDC's fund is approximately the same size as the annual global amateur radio equipment market. Amateur radio is a small commercial market - However, this fund is a large amount of money in a hobby community that needs people and engagement much more than it needs money. Deliberately undermining groups like ORI, that do excellent work, bring in a lot of brand new technical people, and provide solid low-profile service to support projects, is baffling and harmful. Doing nothing about it, or pretending this isn't happening, doesn't seem like a good idea.

There are no other significant sources of funding at this time for amateur radio. All of the other major amateur foundations have accepted a lot of money, possibly with conditions outside the grant request, from ARDC. Funding efforts, like bake sales and kickstarters and club auctions, are much less successful now than they were before. This may be partly due to COVID, but we hear over and over from former fundraisers in ham radio that ARDC simply existing makes it much harder to convince people to donate.

ORI's work objectively and directly benefits amateur radio. This work can continue, but it can succeed only in an environment free of interference.

It's already difficult to do advanced open source work. We all know this. We have already proven we're a capable and functional organization.

The ORI board is a diverse set of volunteers who all have day jobs. Their time should be spent directing technical and regulatory work and not wasted responding to rear-guard actions, insults, threats, and blacklisting from super-wealthy organizations that should at least be benign and should definitely make at least an attempt to be open, honest, and fair.

ORI spent time and effort on M17 and has converted every ARDC dollar into a very good ROI in both published results and increased community capability. The way ORI's work has been treated over the past year by ARDC has been extremely disappointing. The ORI board has spent a lot of time talking about it, has gotten a lot of good legal and ethics advice, and it will need to make some decisions. The next board meeting is in mid-August at DEFCON.

Our focus could simply shift to be "open source digital radio work and any necessary regulatory work needed along the way". Amateur bands are a good place to test and experiment for open source digital radio work. We can continue to use these bands when they are appropriate or useful for space and terrestrial communications work. We are here to collaborate, share, and support.

Participating in the broader open source community has been a very positive experience.

We spend time on open source biomedical. Funding sources and institutional partners have treated ORI volunteers with respect.

ORI members are doing a good job at the FCC on the Technological Advisory Committee. We are active in the AI/ML working group and we co-chair a sub-working group. There's never been a whiff of anything other than respectful and active collaboration among the many industry and academic people that staff up the working groups.

Universities, other research groups, companies, and vendors? All good experiences, even when whatever we were trying to work on didn't pan out.

If you know of any other groups or organizations that have experienced similar things with ARDC, and they are afraid to speak up, please let them know they are not alone.

If you would like to help us do even more open source technical work - rather than letting us be terrified that the next project we generously support and promote will find ORI blacklisted as part of a funding 'deal' with ARDC! - then please speak up when you get an opportunity.

The ORI board takes a lot of risks in supporting what we all do. Those risks were not honored. We cannot afford to take any more chances with organizations that behave this way. Life is too short.

Providing a successful, organized, formal, incorporated space for volunteers *is not easy at all*. This has been just one challenge along the way. It was a big challenge and I'm writing this to all of you because I believe you all need to know about what a lot of us at ORI have been dealing with. It has really sucked. The silver lining is that we have ended up much stronger in the process of dealing with the bad behavior.

From here - what specific things can (or should) we do in order to better achieve our goals?

Comment and critique have always been welcome and encouraged, as have your messages of support and thanks. This letter is no different. If you have feedback about any of this for the board, then please write to

Monday, July 25, 2022

Hostile Email from ARDC

The email exchange below is representative of how ARDC communicates with Open Research Institute (ORI). This is not an isolated example, but it's the earliest, and therefore the most disappointing, that ORI has received. 

ORI is a non-profit research institute devoted to open source R&D for amateur radio. You can find out more about ORI here.

ARDC is Amateur Radio Digital Communications. They sold off 25% of the 44 IP block, an amateur radio community asset, and converted it to a private fund. This was intended to benefit open source amateur radio projects. 

Rosy and Chelsea are employees of ARDC. They are non-ham licensees, similar to many of the employees at ARRL. 

Attempts by the full ORI board of directors to find out what Rosy Wolfe (now Schecter) was talking about in the email threat in terms of "misunderstandings" and "tensions", and to clarify this out-of-nowhere threat to funding, have been completely unsuccessful.

ARDC has simply never revealed any reasons for the insults, threats, or blacklisting. Additional smears of individuals, threats about "interrogation under klieg lights", removing grants from projects that requested us as a sponsor before their own review committee sees them, missing all project reporting meetings for ORI funded work since September 2021, demanding that ORI grants be rewritten and then rejecting their own writing, bribing one of ORI's sponsored project with more cash if it only would dump ORI, and other bizarre experiences - and they are bizarre! - followed this exchange.

ARDC just doesn't act normally. 

For context, since this was about a lab tour, our Remote Labs documentation can be found here:

At the time we received this email, we were so happy that ARDC was showing interest in the lab. We were (and are) very proud of it, continually improve the experience, have supported a lot of good work through it, have expanded it from one site to three, and were genuinely appreciative of the funding. ARDC was constantly cited and promoted. The way this email exchange became hostile was a shock.

Because of the nature of our work, we can't do "pull aside" meetings. Meetings, especially with funding sources, can't be secret or informal. We weren't showing off a personal TV set here. The set of equipment to pull off the functions of Remote Labs is a corporate asset. We assumed that a lab tour was the point of the visit and organized it to the best of our ability.

We have never turned down a meeting invitation from ARDC. We have complied with all their requests. We have delivered very high ROI on granted funds. 

We hope for much better communications from ARDC in the future. 

1) From "Site Visit?" Thread

Rosy Wolfe
Tue, Sep 21, 12:29 PM
to me, Chelsea, k,, Merideth

Hi Michelle,

Like we talked about yesterday, we would love for kc (and maybe me
and/or Chelsea?) to come visit the lab to see the status of the P4XT
IRL. kc is generally available on Friday afternoons and Saturday
mornings. Please let us know what would work for you and if a Saturday
morning visit would be a possibility.

Looking forward,

Rosy Wolfe - KJ7RYV
Executive Director
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

Michelle Thompson <>
Tue, Sep 21, 2:40 PM
to Paul, Rosy, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Sure thing. Saturday is available. Friday may work as well.

I've cc'd Paul Williamson for scheduling.

Remote Labs can give a view into the physical plant and remote access for FPGA design, openRTX support, openCPI integration, and some payload work, like Cell Matching.

There's a Ham Expo March 2021 presentation about it on Vimeo as part of the Ham Expo Showcase, but Paul can give a customized explanation in person.


Paul Williamson
Tue, Sep 21, 4:33 PM
to me, Rosy, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

The Ham Expo presentation Michelle mentioned is here: . It shows the San Diego remote lab substantially as it is today, and explains some of the rationale for its existence.

There are detailed documents about how to access the lab remotely as part of the project's GitHub repo here:

If these resources aren't enough, then you're welcome to visit the lab in person. Saturday mornings are generally available, with sufficient notice. Right now, it looks like any of the next few Saturday mornings should be ok. October 2 and October 16 are better for me than September 25 or October 9.

Every person visiting must be fully vaccinated and masked while inside the building. Please note that the lab is in an upstairs room, not accessible by people who are unable to climb stairs. Also note that the lab room is not very large, so more than three visitors simultaneously would be difficult. The lab is in a private residence with no pets. There is plenty of parking on the street in this suburban neighborhood. The lab address is 5371 Carmel Knolls Drive, San Diego CA 92130.

Please let me know if and when you would like to visit the remote lab.

-Paul Williamson KB5MU

Rosy Wolfe
Tue, Sep 21, 4:48 PM
to Paul, me, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Hi Paul,

Thanks so much for this info!

> The Ham Expo presentation Michelle mentioned is here:
> <> . It shows the
> San Diego remote lab substantially as it is today, and explains some of
> the rationale for its existence.
Cool, thank you. We will take a look!

> There are detailed documents about how to access the lab remotely as
> part of the project's GitHub repo here:
> <>
> If these resources aren't enough, then you're welcome to visit the lab
> in person. Saturday mornings are generally available, with sufficient
> notice. Right now, it looks like any of the next few Saturday mornings
> should be ok. October 2 and October 16 are better for me than September
> 25 or October 9.
ORI always has excellent documentation :) I think having a site visit
would allow us (esp. kc) to nerd out on what you're doing, ask
questions, all that jazz.

Thanks also for the notes on dates. As Chelsea and I would be flying
out, I imagine we'd go for Oct. 2 or 16. Will keep you posted.

> Every person visiting must be fully vaccinated and masked while inside
> the building. Please note that the lab is in an upstairs room, not
> accessible by people who are unable to climb stairs. Also note that the
> lab room is not very large, so more than three visitors simultaneously
> would be difficult. The lab is in a private residence with no pets.
> There is plenty of parking on the street in this suburban neighborhood.
> The lab address is 5371 Carmel Knolls Drive, San Diego CA 92130.
Not a problem. Our whole team is vaxxed and willing to mask.

> Please let me know if and when you would like to visit the remote lab.
Will do!

Many thanks,

Rosy - KJ7RYV
Thu, Sep 23, 9:41 AM
to Paul, me, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Hi Paul and Michelle,

We'd love to take y'all up on the invitation for the site visit on Sat.
Oct. 2. Please let me know if that day still works and we'll get it booked.

Paul Williamson
Thu, Sep 23, 9:53 AM
to Rosy, me, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Saturday Oct 2 is still good.


> On Sep 23, 2021, at 9:41 AM, Rosy - KJ7RYV <> wrote:
> Hi Paul and Michelle,

Rosy - KJ7RYV
Thu, Sep 23, 9:55 AM
to Paul, me, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Ok right on. Please let us know what the best time for a visit it. Maybe
10 or 11 am? I both want us all to be able to get good sleep while also
respecting that it's the weekend!

Paul Williamson
Thu, Sep 23, 10:28 AM
to Rosy, me, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Any time is fine. 10am seems like a reasonable time to start.

How long do you anticipate the visit taking? I'm not sure exactly what your goals are, but there really isn't a whole lot to see in the lab.


Michelle Thompson <>
Thu, Sep 23, 1:00 PM
to Paul, Rosy, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

I'm biased, but I think there's plenty to see.

The real value is in the Unraid VMs, technical support, and the democratization of FPGA design achieved so far.

It is true that the boards and instruments by themselves don't reveal much, without explanation.

Anything we can answer or prepare for specifically, please let Paul know.


Rosy - KJ7RYV
Thu, Sep 23, 2:25 PM
to me, Paul, Chelsea, k, giving, Merideth

Hi Paul and Michelle,

Re: time, could we say 10:30 am? If not, we’ll keep 10:00. It turns out
my flight doesn’t get in until 10:30 the night before, and I’ll take all
the extra sleeping time I can get!

In terms of the goals for the visit, there are a few. Aside from being
curious about seeing the workspace (I personally *love* visiting
fabrication studios, maker spaces, workshops, etc.), we are interested
in getting a better sense of how ORI works so that we can do the best
job we can in supporting the organization. This is important to us as we
think through the next round of proposals. Plus, it’s about
relationship-building for us: there’s only so much that can happen
through Zoom calls. FWIW, Chelsea, kc, and I are all vaccinated and we
are happy to wear masks indoors.

Also, aside from the MIT Radome, the P4XT project is the largest
project-based (non-scholarship) grant that we’ve made, so we are keenly
interested in its success. It would be wonderful to get a peek
first-hand at the work that has been happening on P4XT, as well as work
on other projects at ORI that you think would be interesting. Sounds
like there are a lot :)

If you’ve got any additional questions, please say the word.

All the best,

Rosy Wolfe - KJ7RYV
Executive Director
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

2) From "Remote Labs South" Thread

Chelsea Parraga
Wed, Sep 29, 12:31 PM (11 days ago)
to me, giving

I can appreciate that, Michelle! Thanks for adding the information. I took "emergency" out of the title and added your changes. I've re-uploaded this information to your application page and will have our Committee Chair look at it to provide feedback.

Do you happen to have a link to a conference presentation/talk anyone has given on the recent work being done on the P4XT project? Or perhaps is there a blog post or something we should look at for P4XT specifically? I think you may have mentioned that this type of thing is available and we're hoping to get prepared for our visit. I want to make sure we're looking at all the information you already have available so that we can respect your time, ask smart questions, and maximize our in-person time together. :)

Really looking forward to meeting you in person! I've been doing some homework to learn as much as I can about FPGA's and the more technical side of your work, and it's incredibly interesting and impressive.

Michelle Thompson <>
Wed, Sep 29, 2:01 PM (11 days ago)
to Chelsea, giving

Good deal. has video presentations and reports.

Written project status reports are here:

The website has a news feed that we try and keep up to date here:

Anything tagged specifically with ground station work is here:

Ham Expo talks are hosted at Ham Expo Vimeo.

Debris Mitigation regulatory work presentation (complying with these new rules is required for P4DX deployment)

Repeater Builder talk (how to be a developer for P4DX uplink work) is here

Remote Labs for P4DX Engineering is here:

We have a quarterly architecture review that starts (online) at 10am on Saturday, but I should be able to get away at some point. I didn't assume I'd be part of the lab tour, but am very happy to talk about it.

-Michelle W5NYV

Chelsea Parraga
Wed, Sep 29, 8:25 PM (11 days ago)
to Rosy, me, giving

Shoot! KC, Rosy, and I were primarily hoping to meet with you to get to know you and your work better. Our goal for the trip is to better understand the lab and how things are going, but also to build a great collaboration with you. I assumed you would be a part of the lab tour.

When would be a better time for you? Could we move the tour to 11 or another time to make sure we can see you?
Chelsea Párraga, KF0FVJ
Grants Manager
C: 520-471-6903
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

Chelsea Parraga
Fri, Oct 1, 10:47 AM (9 days ago)
to me, giving, Rosy

Hi Michelle,
When you get a chance, please let me know what time we can meet that would work for you! We're hoping to have you join KC, Rosy, and me for the lab tour.


Michelle Thompson <>
Fri, Oct 1, 12:08 PM (9 days ago)
to Chelsea, giving, Rosy

I'm not available for the lab tour on Saturday. I'm presenting at the quarterly architecture review for Phase 4 from mid-morning until I run out of time for a meeting starting at 1pm with lawyers for an M&A for Traceroad Incorporated. This work has to be completed by Monday, the lawyers don't work on Sundays, and I'm one of the signatories.

The scope of this visit was lab inspection. Paul is in charge of the lab and is very capable. He will walk through the audit of the physical assets and explain the access methodology for the lab.

If you want to schedule time for another meeting at a later date, let's open a discussion about what the agenda would be for that meeting.

-Michelle W5NYV

Rosy Schechter - KJ7RYV
Fri, Oct 1, 12:22 PM (9 days ago)
to me, Chelsea, giving


I'm curious why Oct. 2 was presented as a date when you were not
available on that day?

You are our primary point of contact, and it is surprising that we will
not be able to meet in person tomorrow.


Rosy Schechter - KJ7RYV
Executive Director
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

>> <>
> --
> Chelsea Párraga, KF0FVJ
> Grants Manager
> C: 520-471-6903
> Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)
> <>

Michelle Thompson <>
Fri, Oct 1, 2:05 PM (9 days ago)
to Rosy, Chelsea, giving

Paul proposed the 2nd of October after I handed over scheduling to him on September 21st. From that email, I said "Paul can give a customized explanation in person". Since the purpose of the meeting was a Site Visit, my goal was to ensure the best possible presentation.

Paul is the lab lead and point of contact for lab inspections and visits. 2 October worked for him. He's by far the best person to present the work going on in the lab. Delegating the tour to Paul is not intended to minimize its importance in any way. There is not much I can add to a discussion or presentation about Remote Labs, given the amount of time and effort that Paul and his volunteers have put into it.

I think that if you wanted a meeting with me, you should have asked for that instead. If there is a second agenda, which "build collaboration" and the frustration that I can't be there tomorrow hints at, then let's talk about what specifically you are interested in doing.

If this is a personal collaboration with me, or some sort of offer of work, then I have to decline at least until after the ORI technical conference on 30 October. I'm also in the running for FCC Technical Advisory Committee as a representative from ORI, and the vetting process is going on right now, is time consuming, and I do not know when it will conclude or what the outcome will be. Think positive thoughts, because having open source work represented at the FCC has been a big uphill battle.

If there is a proposal for collaborative work with ORI (maybe you have a project or org in mind that can take advantage of what we can offer?) then we have a page for this:

If there's some other concern that you (or someone else visiting) intended to pull me aside about during a site visit, then please do not feel like you have to do that. I'm happy to talk about almost anything on the phone.

-Michelle W5NYV

Rosy Schechter - KJ7RYV
Fri, Oct 1, 6:41 PM (9 days ago)
to me, Chelsea, giving

Hi Michelle,

Thank you so much for this extra information. However, given that you
are the one who invited us to the lab, I still would have expected a
more explicit indication that you would not be there than "Paul can give
a customized tour in person." There is nowhere in that phrase that
states, "And he will do it because I will not be present." Imagine if I
invited you to my house, said that my roommate would show you the
garden, and then when you got there I wasn't there, just the roommate.
It would feel weird, right? That's how this feels, honestly.

Following this news of your absence, I will also not be coming to San
Diego - I am both dealing with a health issue and moving on Sunday. My
aim at coming this weekend, in addition to learning about the lab, was
to have conversations to help move your existing and future proposals
forward sooner rather than later. We will have to have that conversation
another time. However, Chelsea and kc are both looking forward to seeing
the lab, and I believe Phil may join as well. Also, we may be in San
Diego for a board meeting later this year, so my opportunity to visit is
not lost.
> If there's some other concern that you (or someone else visiting)
> intended to pull me aside about during a site visit, then please do not
> feel like you have to do that. I'm happy to talk about almost anything
> on the phone.

We do need to have a conversation, one that I had hoped to have in
person. As I said in a previous email, I would like to have a better
understanding of your vision for ORI so that we at ARDC can do a better
job of supporting it (e.g. Can we put multiple proposals in one? Where
do you want to be in a year? What kind of operational support does ORI
need?). At the same time, the frequent miscommunications (such as the
one around your presence on this trip) is causing tension between our
organizations, and it is simply not sustainable for the kind of
long-lasting relationship that everyone at ARDC would like to have with
ORI. I would like to find a way for our organizations to communicate
better so that we can have fewer misunderstandings and more success

Please let me know when you might be available for such a conversation,
and note that I am not available until the week of Oct 11.

It sounds like this is a big weekend for you, and I wish you the best of
luck with your meetings and other work. I also saw your Tweet re: Dr.
Moberly and know how hard it is to lose a friend. May you find time to
nourish yourself amid all the work.



Michelle Thompson <>
Sat, Oct 2, 8:51 AM (8 days ago)
to board, Rosy, Chelsea, giving

I was asked if ORI could host a lab inspection during the semi-annual report to Chelsea last week. I said yes, of course.

I didn't initiate this particular trip with an invitation. I responded to an appropriate and welcome request at the end of the hour-long interview. When there was follow-up from ARDC, I set it up to the best of my ability. The lab has always been open for visits from any participants that happen to be able to travel. With Covid, that's been pretty hard. We do have a volunteer that runs the cell matching on-site during the week.

Lab visits requested by officials from funding agencies would not be handled the same way that an invitation to someone's house would be. I don't understand the comparison you are making to personal property like a greenhouse, and a corporate asset that is open for inspection.

What frequent misunderstandings are you talking about?

We have been highly successful in both regulatory and technical areas and frequently promote ARDC. ORI saw no issues with ARDC and was quite happy. ORI has no operational issues or needs at this time.

I report to the board of ORI and take direction from them, so I've included them so they can read and eventually respond to the important things that you've shared here. I will defer to them to continue the conversation with you, and standby for any re-direction or correction.

-Michelle W5NYV

Steve Conklin
Sun, Oct 3, 9:15 AM (7 days ago)
to Rosy, board, me, Chelsea, giving

Rosy, Chelsea, and everyone else on distribution,

I think Michelle's take on this is accurate, and I also think it's important to bring up any topics of importance to ORI in a manner such that we can respond as an organization. We have an active board which communicates almost daily to manage ORI. While Michelle is the founder and can speak with authority on any of our ongoing work, having conversations about how ARDC can better support ORI, or how we can better structure our projects is something that should be done on an organization-to-organization basis, and not as a side meeting during a meeting that was scheduled for a different purpose.

ARDC and ORI both have a responsibility to conduct business in clear and unambiguous ways, and to be good stewards of the money entrusted to us. We must be worthy of the trust of our partner organizations. Our board members must participate on behalf of our organizations in a way that upholds that responsibility, and we must do it in a way that will withstand scrutiny from outside the organization, whether that's donors or government agencies. In order to do that, when we speak to important topics, we need to have an opportunity to do it as an organization, and not simply as individuals. Business should be conducted with the organization and not individuals, using a medium which helps make the communication clear and referrable.

A visit to the lab does not rise to the level of ORI "doing business", but a conversation about the details of how we might structure or receive grants does. We are extremely grateful for the funding we've received from ARDC, but that funding and the potential for further grants from ARDC means that we should conduct related business in a more formal manner with good record keeping. This is critical in order to avoid any appearance of special treatment, or quid pro quo outside of our grant agreements. This doesn't mean that all interactions have to be 'contractual', just that they need to be recorded. This could be an email trail, recorded zoom meetings, or even phone calls with notes/minutes distributed after.

Perhaps we should set up a periodic zoom meeting with board members from both sides present?

Thanks, and I really hope that we can adjust our approaches and move on to do some really great things together.

Steve Conklin,
CFO, Open Research Institute

Board mailing list

Rosy Schechter - KJ7RYV
Oct 7, 2021, 3:13 PM (3 days ago)
to Steve, me, board, Chelsea, giving

Hi Steve,

Thank you so much for your email and your patience in our reply. As this
has been elevated to a board-level discussion, we are discussing your
mail internally and will reach out with more information when we have it.


Rosy Schechter - KJ7RYV
Executive Director
Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC)

> <>
> _______________________________________________
> Board mailing list
> <>