I'm very happy to announce that two grants have been made for open source amateur radio satellite work. This closes out an extraordinarily successful summer of regulatory progress, published designs, community development, and fundraising.
All of this work directly benefits AMSAT.
It benefits AMSAT regardless of whether it's ignored in the short term, attacked, ridiculed, or stolen.
One of the new grants, for $4200, is for AmbaSat-inspired nanosat microwave designs. These lightweight designs will be useful for high-altitude balloons as well as space. Intended for University level education, this project will produce repeatable and manufacturable open source designs.
The other grant is for $507,020. It is for the second phase of engineering work for the complete digital ground station and payload design.
This grant took 14 months of very hard work to obtain.
All are welcome to participate. All work is published in a way that makes it accessible to the general public at no cost, with standard licensing and full compliance with all regulations.
A third grant, for Rent-a-GEO, is still under review. You can look back through the archives to find out more about that proposal.
AMSAT leaders were informed of these grant applications. AMSAT was informed and invited to be part of the Commodity Jurisdiction Request, in writing, multiple times.
AMSAT members were invited to contribute, review, participate, comment, and critique the grant proposal. Many members did. The process of writing the grants has been open, with workshops at major amateur events, recruitment of a committee from a diverse technical background, forum presentations, paper presentations, hardware experiments, work carried out on a public mailing list, and so on.
There were at least six significant re-writes based on unflinching feedback from the community, ARDC technical review board, and committee members.
That is what "very hard work" means.
Before the transponder grant was awarded, ORI board offered a technical support contract that would share all funds with AMSAT/ARISS/AREx. As long as the work was mutually beneficial, the funds would be openly available to AREx.
That contract can be found here: https://github.com/phase4ground/documents/blob/master/Papers_Articles_Presen...
This was presented as a starting point draft, open to negotiation and tailoring.
However, it was declined without an explanation.
This is not the only negative response to fundraising and regulatory work from AMSAT.
Attacks against the landmark Commodity Jurisdiction Request, personal attacks by leadership on anyone associated with this grant, and the open ridicule of the previous YASME, ARRL Foundation, and ARDC grants seem to be what a bit more than half of members want. That is certainly what AMSAT leadership is currently providing.
Calling successful engineers that have dozens of projects in space "liars" and "grifters", and shrieking that this grant is going to be "completely wasted" by an AMSAT member society while sharing photos of cash on fire on social media, is not a great look for the Executive Vice President of AMSAT.
Ridiculing a desperately needed Final Determination letter from the State Department as a "self-indulgent publicity stunt" is a shockingly stupid thing for the VP of Engineering to publicly state.
Rejecting written offers of six-figure fundraising support, and rejecting dozens of competent volunteer recruits' free labor, seems kind of dumb to me.
AMSAT would be in great shape if it took advantage of the gifts of time, talent, and treasure that have been consistently and freely offered. Instead, we have a raft of resignations, continued silence, and ugly memes.
In looking at the low numbers of AMSAT voters, it may seem kind of silly to keep showing up with seriously needed solutions (ITAR/EAR, several world's-first technical advancements, major funds) when they are rejected so clumsily. However, just because it seems silly now, does not mean it is wrong to keep trying.
Nearly half of voters wanted open source and a return to technical leadership this year. This is a huge increase looking at the past three years (from zero!) and is extremely good news.
Unfortunately, this time around, non-technical and litigious leadership managed to keep their seats. However, the trend is clear, the regulatory framework has changed, and open source work is rapidly leapfrogging opaque, authoritarian, and exclusionary mindsets. There is a very bright future unfolding.
Do you want to make a difference? Consider running for the board. The time to start preparing for 2021 is now. It's well worth the effort and time. If I can make the difference that I have in the past year, in terms of regulatory work, technical work, and fundraising, just imagine what you can do! There has never been a better time to get into amateur microwave, digital design, FPGAs, and space.
With respects to the technical stuff, what is the current state of affairs with the ground station?
1) Does this presentation represent the most up2date picture of the current state of affairs or is there a more recent publication available? https://github.com/phase4ground/documents/blob/master/Papers_Articles_Presen...
2) There are about 7 teams laid out at the end of the presentation (build/rpu/apu/etc...). How big is the team right now and are there any areas that need support?
3) How aggressive is the development timeline? Or, maybe to help get a grip on it, what are the teams milestones, say for the next 6 months (high level).
4) I see a lot of off the shelf (analogdevices/trenz/etc...) hardware in the presentation. They appear to be commercial / non-oss type stuff. Are you using some of them for short-term prototyping, with the intent of replacing them once a particular subsystem is designed and built out?
5) When is the project slated to be complete, or at least, slated to have a prototype that one could potentially build independently and/or order and tinker with?
Thank You in advance for the update, Joseph Armbruster KJ4JIO