[amsat-bb] Re: A Reply to Mr. McGwier

Robert McGwier rwmcgwier at comcast.net
Sun Oct 8 07:42:44 PDT 2006


I take it this means I am off your Christmas list.

I think your note proves my point.  When a thread as long and overblown 
as this one descends into threats to get a rope to hang people and ad 
hominem attack,  my point has been made for me, irrespective of any 
faults I may have or may have exhibited in the past.

I will comment on only one part of your note and that is the DSP-2232.   
It was a great technical success and a terrible personal failure.  I 
have never felt so helpless in all of my life.  It was a truly life 
changing event.  Immediately after the debacle which I will shortly 
explain,  I changed the nature of my job dramatically (still in the same 
job I have held forever, just the nature ) and essentially went dark on 
amateur radio.  I owe Frank Brickle, AB2KT, Gerald Youngblood, K5SDR, 
and Tom CLark, K3IO a real debt of gratitude for reawakening my desire 
to do some technical good.  I will allow others to decide whether or not 
I am succeeding.  I feel I am having an impact and I hope it is 
generally positive.

DSP-1232/2232.  I believe this is the first time this story is told in 
print.  It is surely long overdue.

My partners KB2CST and KA2MOV and I began the design of the DSP box. 
Brooks and I had worked together,  he on the Kansas City Tracker,  me on 
the interface to it with Quiktrak to bring autotracking to amateur radio 
satellites.   Brooks and Pat both wanted to do the DSP box privately.   
They convinced me that we had allowed ourselves to become distracted 
with Microsats in the DSP project (even while Brooks, Pat, and I did 
modules for DOVE) and I approached Mike Lamb and George Buxton about 
doing the DSP box.  That went forward.   I proposed a software defined 
radio to them before Joe Mitola coined the term software defined radio.  
I made this pitch with Brooks and Tom Clark.  They said they wanted to 
do it,  they offered me a job and I told them I could not come for a few 
months and asked them to hire Brooks.  They balked and then killed the 
idea.  They did not owe us an explanation but they did not provide one.  
Brooks became angry and started the DSP-12.  I knew nothing about this 
design until later.

George was always the business sense of AEA.  Mike Lamb was always the 
visionary and the principal stock holder.  George developed Lymphoma and 
died.  It changed  Mike emotionally forever and he hired a president and 
manager.  Mike went to live in Montana and did not deal with AEA matters 
at all.

This new manager was a minion of the lord of the dark.  He fired many 
developers,  he figured out ways to get rid of many who were the brains 
and ideas in AEA to save money.  It was one of those things that makes 
you look good to the stock holders for a short while until product 
lifetime ends.  He finds out and goes ballistic that Brooks has done the 
DSP-12.  He sues us.  Pat and I remove Brooks from the board of 
directors and the corporate officers and we offer to join AEA in pursuit 
of stopping the DSP-12.  They refuse.  They want us to stop Brooks 
without their help.  Pat and I know we have no resources to do this.  I 
tell them when the lawsuit stops, we will finish the DSP code.  They 
counter with if you finish the code and give up all royalties,  we will 
drop the lawsuit and leave all of you on your merry way.  I am so sick 
of this all,  I agree.  I finish the major overhaul of the DSP code and 
the new president of AEA sends new EPROMS to everyone,  thanking me for 
my efforts on their behalf.   He later figures out how much potential 
the box has and offers me alone a contract to do other work.  I think 
about poor Pat Spatafore, KA2MOV and how he has been left out in the 
cold.  I give him the entire rights to our Microsat modem and I refuse 
to join the AEA thing for less than a fixed minimum dollar consultancy 
and the right to involve Pat.  They balk.

The total income to me from the DSP -1232/2232 project was a negative 
$2000 or thereabouts.  Brooks is allowed to continue with the DSP-12.   
Brooks and I have not spoken a single word to each other since he was 
removed from the corporation we founded.  I did come back strictly to 
add the CRC output bytes to the 400 bps demodulator for AO-40.  That was 
the first time I had turned my box on in nearly a decade and was the last.

The single worst decision of my life was to abandon the TAPR/AMSAT DSP 
project for the "dark side".  I will never repeat it again.  There is no 
way I can take all of that back.  I can only work hard to try to do good 
technical work for the future.  I miss George Buxton still.  He was a 
great guy and I often go "what if" and then realizing it is a waste of 
time,  I move on.

For all of those who were drawn in to the AEA because you believed in 
me,  there is just no possible way you can understand how much personal 
regret has been expended.  I have attempted to do all I can to make up 
for that with recent deeds.  We will let history decide.

That said,  AMSAT-NA and its engineers and myriad volunteers are no 
deserving of comments that include threats with ropes or ad hominem 
attacks.  We are absolutely responsible for answering tough questions 
about what it is we are deciding to do and how we arrived at the 
decisions we have made.   We have instituted a really tought peer review 
system.  It slows down delivery but continues to show why it is needed.  
We have a good no-nonsense manager in Jim Sanford for Eagle.  He is 
absolutely determined to prevent the single point failures to the extent 
possible and we believe this is a really good approach.  The question of 
complexity has come up repeatedly and I accept that members how need 
more than neat new gadgets to inspire them,  they want reassurance we 
will not repeat past mistakes.  These are all points well taken and 
understood.  In AMSAT-DL,  I see an excellent project manager and good 
people working hard to build P3E.  In AMSAT-NA,  I see determination to 
check and recheck.  We are entering the most crucial period for both 
organizations.    You the members and supporters of this organization 
have but two choices:

Ask hard questions and then take a leap of faith or BOTH organizations 
will fail and your favorite piece of the hobby will die.  I mean this as 
sincerely as anything I can say to you.   AMSAT-DL is ready to finalize 
integration of P3E.  AMSAT-NA is ready to begin the earliest 
construction phases on Eagle.  The discourse here is not serving to 
deliver needed constructive criticism and forward motion.  My past 
failures are not AMSAT failures and they are not helping either P3E or 
Eagle get to the launch pad.  We are in need of your support,  
emotional, technical, and financial.  I am the V.P. of Engineering,  for 
better or worse of AMSAT-NA.  I am a director.  Sitting in both 
"rooms",  I can tell you the engineering team is as strong as it has 
ever been.  I can sense the belief building that we can do the things we 
want to try.  I asked the board of directors to begin spending money and 
they absolutely need to raise it and I am absolutely determined not to 
fail any of you again.  Sitting in the room with my dear friends in 
Marburg Germany and in the meeting here,  I see the determination in 
every face to get it right and do a good thing.  The agonizing over 
details while continuing to work together is as healthy a thing as I 
have ever seen here.

Help us help you.  We are unafraid of questions.  We are responsible for 
explaining our decisions but we are not deserving of ropes and personal 


Dean Shutt wrote:
> Fellow Amsat members and satellite enthusiasts,
> I have been a member of AMSAT-NA and Amsat-UK since 1993 and have for 
> the most part greatly enjoyed the amateur satellite hobby.  I have been 
> around long enough to have suffered through (if one can suffer for a 
> hobby) Mr. McGwier once before in regards his participation in the DSP 
> 2232.  I was frankly extremely disappointed to see him become heavily 
> involved in a major AMSAT satellite project. Based on his public 
> statements concerning the DSP 2232, I fully expected him to be very 
> opinionated, intolerant of criticism, and quick to place blame on others 
> when challenged concerning any aspect of his work.  I also expected, and 
> still expect, that he will quit claiming he is unappreciated and that 
> the project can succeed only if his advice is followed.  I formed this 
> opinion of Mr. McGwier through reading his many long posts concerning 
> his involvement in the DSP 2232 project and by daily using the device 
> both as it was shipped and as others later made it fully usable for 
> satellite work.  You may wish to Goggle up the archives from that time 
> and read them.  I think you will find many similarities between their 
> tone and content and that of his recent post to this board.
> I will not comment on the many inappropriate statements in Mr. McGwier's 
> post save the following:
> "I am really personally disappointed in the level of discourse in the AMSAT
> BB.   It is extremely harmful, possibly beyond repair, to our
> organization.  We are seeking serious external funding, and we need to
> make a significant investment in many areas to get this spacecraft
> built.  I have never been prouder of where the AMSAT-NA and AMSAT-DL
> engineers are going on your behalf than I am right now. I am very
> disappointed in the members of this forum.  It is so damaging to our
> public image that if this does not improve and significantly,  I will
> have to recommend that we end its current form.  You are hurting your
> fellow satellite users and the VERY small number of volunteers who make
> serious personal sacrifices to build these things, and much larger
> number of volunteers who daily make quiet personal efforts in near
> silence on all our behalf.  In my opinion, there is not a single member
> of the included thread who can hold their heads high and be proud of it."
> It appears Mr. McGwier is fearful that continued discussion of what the 
> designers wish to build may negatively effect the "serious external 
> funding" required to build it.  This to me fully supports the view that 
> the designers wish to be funded to build what they wish and not what the 
> amateur satellite community wish to operate. I do not believe attempting 
> to squelch the free exchange of views is helpful.  I suggest that better 
> and more timely communication is appropriate including opinions 
> incongruent with those of Mr. McGwier.  The current debate started as a 
> result of a lack of communication from the designers.  There will 
> certainly be more if the situation does not improve.  The designers must 
> realize that communication with the folks from whom they expect support 
> is as much a part of assuring a successful project as the hardware design.
> Working as a volunteer, for however many hours, does not excuse being 
> intolerant of the views of other members of the organization nor by 
> itself does it support the validity of one's own views.  Perhaps Mr. 
> McGwier will learn to hit the delete button before dispatching  more of 
> these all to familiar abrasive, unprofessional, and intolerant 
> commentaries.  History offers little hope this will occur.  If you think 
> this opinion harsh then read again the last sentence in the above quote:
> "In my opinion, there is not a single member of the included thread who 
> can hold their heads high and be proud of it."
> The AMSAT VP of Engineering states that no one participating in a thread 
> critical of his views on a single subject can be proud of themselves ...
> I believe the exact opposite.
> _______________________________________________
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AMSAT Director and VP Engineering. Member: ARRL, AMSAT-DL,
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat.
You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los
Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly
the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there.
The only difference is that there is no cat." - Einstein

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