Hamshack Hotline – Our Story

Since our beginning in 2018 we started out with one server and 3 hams. We never knew how big this project would become, and somewhere along the way Hamshack Hotline (HH) exploded and became a world-wide project. We’ve gone through challenges and growing pains, and we’ve made mistakes and learned lessons along the way. All the while our team pushed onward with the original vision and mission – to build a communications service for the ham radio community as another tool in our “shacks” as part of our communications arsenal. HH immediately proved to be a popular project and we were initially unprepared for the growth we witnessed. In time, and with the dedication and help of many people, HH was able to grow and become what it is today. In addition to the effort that has been put in by many folks on our team, we also would not have been able to do this without the generous support of donations from our user base. To build such a network as HH, requires infrastructure that is placed in the cloud, which comes at an ongoing cost, supported not only by our team but by our generous donors.

Our mission within the project has always been one of reliability, and core usability in providing reliable voip carriage between endpoints and RF Linked systems. As part of that mission, we also have a responsibility to our donors and user community to ensure that we are doing all our due diligence to ensure that only duly licensed and legitimate users are on the HH network. We see this no differently than a control operator’s responsibility for a repeater network, especially since RF links are present on the HH system. To that end, because HH has grown so much in popularity, this has become critically more important and members of our staff have had to step up their game on doing due diligence checks for new line applications, and rightfully so. There were some folks on our team who were not happy with the extra required diligence and as a result, this started the beginning of fragmentation within our team, along with some bruised egos. In addition to fragmentation within our ranks, we also were seeing a lot of undocumented and unorthodox work being done on our production systems by WH6AV, Jesse. Though Jesse was always willing and available to help many folks (and many appreciated those efforts), it became clear that things needed to change in the way things were being done, to ensure the stability of our production environment. Peer review of changes, along with documentation of those changes, was not being done. As we continued to experience growth, it also became clear that we needed to ensure that all changes within the HH network production environment would be documented and peer reviewed before deploying to our production environment. As of late, there were too many things being “cowboyed” or frankensteined. We found that Jesse had placed unauthorized zabbix monitoring agents on our production systems, in addition to the many unauthorized custom changes that were never reviewed or documented. In addition to all the undocumented changes, our treasurer, Dave W2DAN had requested Jesse to transfer HHUX and HHAP from Jesse’s cloud account to HH’s cloud account so that everything could be direct-billed and our financial payouts would be cleaner on our books to support cleaner accounting. When HHAP and HHUX were created, in the earlier days, we allowed them to be spun up on Jesse’s account and HH reimbursed those costs to Jesse for running those systems. As we got much larger, it became clear that we needed to cleanup accounting and stop this reimbursement cycle so that HHAP and HHUX could cleanly appear on our books, and satisfy our accounting needs, brought on by growth. When Dave made this request to Jesse, Jesse ignored several emails and attempts to assist with this, and when he did respond, said he was becoming incredibly busy with increasing workload from his job. (this was after a month of several repeated attempts to coordinate this transfer of these HH assets). When Jesse finally did respond to Dave, he outright refused to complete the asset transfer – which we interpreted as unreasonable and hostile. Such response by Jesse also severely hurt the trust the HH team placed within him – there shouldn’t have been a problem with transferring assets that belonged and were branded to HH to HH’s cloud account. We had no intention of considering Jesse’s departure from the team until this point, as he had become very contentious about the issue. When this happened, we exported accounts from both systems and a vote was held to reconstruct HHAP and HHUX as Jesse was unwilling to transfer the assets to HH as reasonably requested.

Throughout much of the conflict that came out of the above, our team continued to fragment, those who were loyal to the project, and those who were loyal to Jesse. Because of the fragmentation of the team in this way, and the great potential for conflict of interest, the remaining team members who remained loyal to the HH project, and its leadership, held an emergency vote to decide on ejection of the fragmented portion of the team. The outcome of the vote was unanimous and the decision was immediately carried out, guided by what the core needs of the HH project are. At HH, our first mission is reliability, supported by proper change control. We feel this is our duty as stewards of the HH project to ensure that we are making the best decisions on behalf of our community as well as our generous donors who have and continue to support HH and the value we strive to bring to the greater Ham Radio community.

In closing, it’s been brought to our attention that Jesse and this group of former HH staff have been attempting to start a project with many similarities to HH, and in addition to doing that, are trying to tarnish the HH project in a bad light, in attempt to poach members of the HH community. We felt it necessary to put this out there so that members of the Ham Radio community could see the other side of what brought their project into being, and that this information could be factored in their decision to partake in their project. In our hobby, there are many competing projects with similarities, all existing for different reasons, but we felt the community deserved to know the underpinnings and details. As always, the HH team appreciates the support of the Ham Radio community, and our mission remains unchanged – to bring value added tools to the community with reliability and stability as cornerstones in everything we do.

2 thoughts on “Hamshack Hotline – Our Story”

  1. At first, I was skeptical that I would be able to read this long of a post. Well, your style definitely captivated my interest. Your content was exceptional. Great Article John. While I did read it a few months ago, I didn’t leave a comment. But I thought the article was of a high quality to merit a thankyou.

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