silent-keyNo one wants to think about death but it will happen to all of us and most want know it’s coming until it’s at the door. You should make it as easy on your family and loved ones as you can by being ready for it.

In the HAM community we call that going Silent Key. All that HAM gear you have, does your spouse or family know anything about it? How do they get rid of it? How much is it worth and who to sale it to? Who will disconnect all that gear and who will take down your antennas? Maybe you have a mobile set up in your vehicle(s), if so, who can safely remove it without damaging the vehicle? Help them answer those questions now. If your family is anything like my family, they don’t even know how to turn the equipment on or off. I’ve attempted to get my family interested but they currently have no interest in learning or getting licensed.

You might be surprised at how much radio gear you have. From cables, to connectors to the big items like radios, amplifiers, turners, SWR meters, antennas, keys and on and on. My stuff is scattered in two closest and two chest.

What to do? If you are lucky and have a good friend that is a HAM then I would recommend you make a deal with that HAM. Whomever goes last will help the friend’s family with the with the HAM gear. Now that doesn’t mean to just let them handle it. Help you friend and write down all the equipment with model numbers, serial numbers, and what a fair value is. Update that list Annually and share it with your friend and your family. Your family should now that your friend has promised to take care of it and they should contact him/her when they are ready to move forward with the sale or disposal. On that list put the name and phone number of the person that will help with the HAM gear so your family knows whom to call when the time comes. Also give your friend the name and number of the person in the family to contact.

If you don’t have that friend then maybe ask at a local club if someone handles Silent Key equipment for the club members. I have handled two and one was planned and the other was not. The one that planned wasn’t easy but at least the wife knew who I was and was expecting me to handle it. We found stuff for 4 or 5 months from the time she called me after the funeral and she was ready to go through it all to when we finally got it all organized. He had an antenna in his attic attached to the beams, antennas on his roof and in the back yard. Stuff in boxes hidden behind other boxes. We ended up cleaning most of the garage to find those items. I would get a phone call thinking she had found more HAM gear but it was either camera gear or boating gear. She had no idea what was what. In this case I was able to bring the gear to my house and sale it out of my garage as people wanted it. The other spouse would not let me take it out of her home so if someone wanted to see it I would make the appointment and drive by to be there to show the items and if they purchased it she got the money on the spot. This was harder on me but it was how the spouse wanted to do it even after I explained all that was involved. I guess it was trust issue. I had not meet this Hams spouse before but I had meet the other Hams spouse.

If you are a member of a HAM Club, ARRL Member, QST Magazine, or other magazines, you should make sure either your family or that friend knows to cancel your memberships, magazine subscriptions and reporting yo SK. You don’t want your family getting that renewal notice in the mail or that monthly magazine. Every time they get those it will remind them of you. That may be good or bad.

What about Social media accounts. In my example above, I still get LinkedIn notices of his birthday. She has no idea how to deactivate and it doesn’t bother her because she doesn’t use a computer.

All of this can result in a significant amount of money to your family or loved ones at a time where they may need that extra income. Luckily in my example above the spouse was well taken care of and was not in need of that money but we made more than $3000 dollars on his items.

Your family will be dealing with a lot during this time and you should make the process of disposing of your ham gear as easy as possible.

Darren Stacy Holbrook