Category Archives: Non-Profit Orgs

Another year…

It’s been another crazy year. I have been mostly focused on my master’s degree so I haven’t been able to participate outside of the basics and taskings. With the club, I have been keeping up but just barely. The same goes for ARES. My responsibilities in the field organization continue to expand, which is good, I’m not complaining about the responsibilities I have taken on, I just haven’t had much time to enjoy them. By in large, they have been administrative taskings so I haven’t been doing much building which has taken a toll.

At the weekly breakfast, I mentioned that the hobby has been more work than fun for a while. I think that may have put a few on edge, but it is true. School is a constant and I don’t see that going away for at least another year, I will complete my second master’s in May next year. I want to pursue a Ph.D., but I will need a break after grad school. I have some public history work lined up and I am hoping I will be more participatory in radio soon.

To that end, I am poking at PicoBallooning with some of the hams in the club. I ordered up a bunch of parts and pieces to get started in this segment of the hobby. I already have a lot of skills in APRS, packet, and sensors, microcontrollers, and singboard computers so I’m not blinded by a huge learning curve, and my aviation experience doesn’t hurt either. I would like to see us develop an actual aeronautical telemetry program but we will have to see where things go.

I also want to pick up on some of the projects that got left in the dust before moving like the Beach 40 which has been on hold since November 2015! Some of my original goals for that project have shifted, and I’m not so intent on using only discreet components as I was when the project started. There will be a reevaluation and planning period before melting solder on that project but it is on my list to get back to.

Also on the list and of greater urgency is the BPQ Node documentation project. I have three nodes to build as part of the club infrastructure upgrades in the late spring/early summer, depending on how soon we will have access to the mountaintops, enclosure roofs, and towers. This one comes first, well, parallel with some of the balloon experiments.

Added to the shack tools this year is a 3D printer, an ELEGOO Neptune 2S. It has already put in considerable benefit to the radio hobby by helping me provide cases for the BPQ upgrade project and other similar projects. I am just getting my feet wet in the 3D printing hobby but so far it is a lot of fun. I have avoided CAD for circuits and 3D modeling for a long time, it’s time to go down that road.

ARES has been tasked to provide asset tracking for a couple of parades and a foot race this year. A handful of us in ARES are working on building low-cost, low, power APRS units with an eye towards expansion into WX and sensor telemetry, multitasking the equipment. This tied into the balloon hobby as well so we have a lot of crossover in participants. I also submitted a grant for CDCA for an off-the-shelf tracker solution for the parades that we can expand on based on our other experiments in telemetry.

Lots to do, but for now, it’s back to the books.


Something that gets bounced around frequently in amateur radio circles is the apparent decline in numbers and “graying” of the ham community.

There are a couple of things going on here. There seems to be a broad belief that the average ham age is going up. Is the ham population itself getting older? I don’t think so. As an instructor and examiner I see a wide range of ages coming to classes and test sessions. We also see age diversity in the ham magazines, young people are getting licensed and participating in amateur radio. And they are doing some amazing things.

So where does this belief come from? I think it may be because new, younger hams are less inclined to join the traditional clubs, local or national, and these organizations are where much of this data is coming from. Why do these new younger hams shy away from the clubs? Because it appears to be a bunch of cranky old farts whining about the hobby getting grayer, the lack of new blood, and by action, an apparent desire to keep it that way.

If Field Day activities are indicative of other activities with groups of all sizes, it may shed some light on a part of the problem. I have heard from more than a few people in clubs all over the county that it is common to hear members want to engage, grow membership, bring in young people. The problem is that they often don’t do anything that supports those goals. The groups that do have a broader membership are those who do a significant amount of outreach to all ages and interests and plan activities to engage the membership. Inaction and stagnation are the enemies of growth.

Since many groups are unable or unwilling to follow through on these goals, folks with a love of all things Amateur Radio, an interest in learning new things, and a willingness to reach out should take the first step. It’s a matter of gathering a handful of people that are dedicated to amateur radio itself, not just groups or activities within amateur radio, people who are interested in what ham radio is as a whole, who want to engage with all ages and interests, and will post about what they are doing in social media.

This is pitching amateur radio in its entirety, not just clubs, groups, activities, or agendas. The goal is to show amateur radio in the big picture view, how much is available out there, that there is something for everyone, opportunities that are waiting to be explored, and completely tangentially, what expressions of amateur radio are currently established locally and nationally.

There is a job title for people who have a broad and deep knowledge of a specific product or idea and passionately pitch it, usually in group settings, they are called Evangelists.

We need Hamvangelists!

Interested in Amateur Radio or being a Hamvangelist? Let me know.

At present I know the blog doesn’t get much traffic. Probably because I have been posting only a couple of times a year, at best. I am working on this. I posted this on FB first because I thought the propagation would be better there than here. More to come.

On a dark and stormy night…

I don’t know, I just felt like titling the post like that. It’s my blog, I don’t have to explain.


Where to begin, The club stuff is coming to an end. I have to admit that feels good. The Steam Faire stuff is starting to pick up, this is also good. I actually don’t have a lot to post tonight. I just wanted to offer a brief update.


Today, where to begin

For starters, today is my wife and my 15th anniversary. Though I know many people who have been together for longer, in todays society it seems like this is longer than most. Not that I’m lookin’ to get out mind you, I lover her more every day. So I have been thinking about her more than usual the last few days. I am feeling a little clingy today.


After coffee this morning with the Mrs. I went up to Alameda/Oakland to met with someone from the club and pick up mail at the PO Box. The person I was meeting with, is someone I have been butting heads with for a while now. That actually went well. I picked up the mail then headed back to the South Bay.

When I got into San Jose I meet with a friend and business supplier, we talked about a deal I facilitated for him and some mutual projects I have been poking at lately. I always like going to see him, he has a great work ethic and outlook on life. I love to steer business his way.

After that, I headed home. I have been catching up on my own blogs and those of friends. There have been several good developments in the SteamFaire project that have come about via email. The registered user list on has grown to 34, not bad for a few weeks in existence. I have some emails to get out and there is some web site work on a couple of domains that need to get done before the day is up. Now that I have had a break I guess I should get back to work. 😉


Annual Meeting

Yesterday was the clubs annual meeting. This event has several things going on but the primary function is the annual membership meeting where the members vote on the new or continuing board of directors members for the next 2 year term.


I had some work to do before, at, and after the meeting. I wrapped up the work today. So now I can jump back into the world and get some posting done.

But for now I shall bid you adieu.


Long story short

01_Currency_SymbolsYesterday was a strange day. I went to a meeting for a contract renewal. There have been some personality conflict issues over the last few months and I was under the impression that the contract was not going to be renewed. In fact it was renewed, and modified with an unsolicited 10% increase!

In this unstable economy it is nice to have annual contracts, even if they have quarterly reviews. All of my other contracts are month-to-month which makes things a bit too loosey-goosey for my tastes.

Any way, the big nut is covered. Today, it’s off to Maker Faire for a bit of steamy goodness.


Duty of Office

In the world of Non-Profits Duty of Office is not the driving force behind action as it is in the privet sector. If a board of directors or corporate officer in any active company had an attendance of less than 50%, they would be gone. It’s that simple. In an NP it is not unheard of to find board members with a 20-30% attendance record, that is to say that THEY ARE THERE only 20-30% of the time! That sucks. This is not the norm but it does happen.

It is understandable that things do come up, emergencies occur, and people have forgotten things before. The issue is when regularly scheduled meetings have been established and the attendance is still at such a low level. Confirmation notice of a regular meeting day and time is a courtesy. If it is in writing months in advance, and it has been talked about on several occasions throughout the month, it is common knowledge. The meeting will occur, unless otherwise notified.

I understand that life intervenes now and then necessitating a change of plans. When the general attendance of half a board of directors is below 50% and they are not doing anything the rest of the month for the organization this argument has little sway.

As you may have guessed, a meeting was planned, I prepared, at length, and was notified 2 hours before the meeting, that it was not going to happen because over half the board would not be in attendance.

I titled this entry as I did, because the concept of Duty of Office is big deal. This responsibility is Duty, in the legal sense. When you accept a post in governance you have a Duty to act on the best interest of the organization and its membership. Failure take this Duty seriously is a breach of Duty. This breach may, or may not, also be a breach of Fiduciary Responsibility.

In the private sector business is just that, business. It seems that in the small (under $2.5M annual gross) non-profit sector, the assumption is that “non-profit” is an operationally edict. It is not. NP is a tax status and nothing else. Poor management would not be tolerated in a for profit business, nor should it be in a non-profit one.

You may have noticed that this is an issue that sticks in my craw. I love working with NP organizations. They do a lot of good for the community. The problem arises when they don’t take the job seriously, “it’s just a non-profit”.