Eureka Moment

I have been a little unhappy with the progress I’ve made to date towards getting my ham shack operational.  It’s not the lack of progress per se, which is to be expected given circumstances, but the haphazard nature of it.  Things are happening in fits and starts and I have multiple things on the go at once.  Maybe that too is only to be expected, considering I’m trying to shoehorn this hobby into an existing life.  But I’ve been thinking I could benefit from some added focus so as to avoid spinning my wheels.

As I was coming to this conclusion, my train of thought first said, ok, if you want to organize your efforts then set some goals.  Great idea.  And as I happily daydreamed for a few moments on the candidate list of potential goals, I realized that too was beginning to be pretty haphazard.

So, working backwards from that, as I was pondering how better to channel my goals, the clue train finally arrived in a classic eureka, “I could have had a V8”, moment.  I used to do project management for a living.  I managed projects for many many other people (slash organizations slash corporations).  So if I have so much experience with project management, why not do it for myself?  Ding!   So, yes, the light bulbs are finally going off.  The scales fell from my eyes and I realized that hobby or not, I can do this as a formally managed project for… me.  I can treat this according to project management best practices.  I mean, I’ve had experience taking major projects all the way from marketing to deployment.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier, but this really should be my own properly managed project.

Now if I was doing this for a client, the first thing I’d do is sit them down and say let’s come up with a mission statement.  I’d tell them we needed to boil down all the drivers for what they want to accomplish into a single, concise statement so that we don’t end up (doing exactly what I started doing which is) going off in ten directions at once.  So here I am, the project manager, sitting down with myself, the project sponsor saying, self, let’s boil down all the driving factors that pulled you into amateur radio.  What do you want to accomplish?  It took me some time, but here is what I’ve come up with:

My Project Mission Statement

Explore the science and technology of radio and communications with special regard to those technologies offering the widest range and scope of communications with the lowest requirement for intermediate infrustructure.

I know it’s a little broad, and it reads more like the vision statement for a non-profit organization, but you know, I think this is ok.  This is, after all, going to be an ongoing effort, not an open-and-shut one-shot project.  It has to be a little broad.  I’m going to break it down and see if it does what I need to do, which is channel my efforts and help define the goals.

  • Explore
    This is by far the word that makes the mission statement the most broad.  This, it could be argued, could mean almost anything.  But beginning words like “build”, “research”, or “experiment” all seem a little constraining and weak.  I’m willing to accept a mission statement that is a little broad, and this word I think captures the soul of what I want to do.
  • …the Science and Technology
    This also has the potential of opening things up too far.  I don’t have any illusions that I’m going to be doing a lot of new science, though, and limiting myself to just technology seemed too engineering-centric.
  • of Radio and Communications
    This project is about Amateur Radio, so why the generic “Communications”?  I’m not doing tin cans on a string.  Not interested in cable, fibre, ethernet, yadda yadda *boring* yadda.  I considered putting just “Radio Communications”, but then this great pulse frequency modulation laser communications project I ran into in high school (that I always regretted not building) came to mind.  It’s remote communications I’m interested in, not just radio.  And the word “wireless” implies “radio” too strongly.
  • with special regard to those technologies offering
    Ok, with everything so far acting to open things up wide to almost anything, I need something to narrow the focus.  To act as a statement of intent for my focus, but not restrict me from something particularly juicy.  Hence the “with special regard”.
  • the widest range and scope of communications with the lowest requirement for intermediate infrustructure.
    This is the part I’m proud of, because it identifies with what got me into ham radio.  I want to be able to communicate around the world without the need for wires and cable and hundreds of routers, switches, networks, and satellites.  Range, the ability to communicate far.  Scope, the ability to communicate with and/or link many different people or things.  These will come into conflict with the desire to maintain self-sufficiency and avoid the use of intervening infrastructure such as towers, repeaters, and so forth.  But this statement isn’t a prohibition on infrastructure.  Just a focusing statement, saying I intend to get the most on one side with the least on the other.

So yes, on reflection and analysis, I think this does represent the heart of what I want to accomplish.  It’s an expression of my purpose here.  So, there you have it.  The mission statement for what is now (this deserves Heading 1 treatment)…

The VA1DER Project

Graeme Simsion would love me.

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