Do you have a plan to become Silent Key?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KH6OWL, Oct 30, 2016.

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  1. KH6OWL

    KH6OWL Guest

    No 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.
    G4OIS and W5WAY like this.
  2. KI8W

    KI8W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I already have a plan. My wife really hates ham radio so I told her that upon my death she can put all my ham gear in the dumpster. She agreed. Problem solved
    W9AMM, 2E0WSJ, VK4SP and 2 others like this.
  3. W6VXP

    W6VXP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Very good article! At 79 I've given it some though and this is really important for this Ham. My xyl and son would be lost trying to even find the power switches... TKS for nudge !! ted/w6vxp
    W5BIB likes this.
  4. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I keep giving away boat anchors and they keep coming back. :)
    KC8SBV, N0AMY, K4TNX and 1 other person like this.
  5. WC3T

    WC3T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I will have to escrow my information. I do not want my XYL to sell my gear for what I told her I paid for it. ;)

    On a serious note, thanks for the article. Food for thought.
    N2IPH likes this.
  6. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    I am hoping to be around for awhile, and have no plans on killing myself ;-> Thus, I have no plans to become a silent key.

    Seriously, too many ham hourders...disguised as ham 'pickers'. They won't let go, and it ends up mostly worthless.

    Sell it now.
    K3RW, NL7W, WA7PRC and 1 other person like this.
  7. K7JOE

    K7JOE Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a good reminder - it's not just about how to dispose of the gear (converting it to cash) but also about the legacy that you may want to leave as a member of our fine hobby - our impact on the hobby can last well beyond our last "cq".... Lots of old timers have some good stuff, but the family has no idea what's worth something etc. I often see vultures swoop in and buy for pennies on the dollar only to resell on ebay etc. Nothing wrong with that (the American way) but I'd encourage hams to think about putting something in your Will or Trust that includes donating a piece or two of your "good" equipment to get younger hams involved in the hobby - perhaps to a school or university club station - or to a radio oriented scout or explorer group.

    It doesn't have to be the top of the line gear, or all of it, but don't just donate the junk thats been in the musty and moldy basement since 1957.... thinking brand new hams of this century will want to/be able to cobble together a 6 tube regenerative hf radio from a tuna can and some speaker wire. Consider the trade off of a few hundred bucks that might go to your family and spent on Pizza, versus the potential good that donating an HF radio and dipole might do to inspire the next generation into technology, into doing more than tapping on a smartphone or playing video games and into getting a ham ticket. Many university ham radio clubs are folding due to lack of space, lack of funds for equipment, and generally low interest / activity level in ham radio. Some newer technology (that WE donate) could be just the missing piece to create next-generation interest.

    Finally, I was elmered over the years by several very noteworthy hams. It's funny and ironic now to hear their infamous call-signs again on the air (after being recycled as part of the vanity program) by the CB-to-Extra in a day types.... A callsign is as much a ham's identity as his/her driving license. A lot of pride went into the decades of holding that callsign, of operating an A1 station, etc. Consider NOW is a perfect time to try bringing in a younger family member to the hobby as a means of keeping the call sign "in the family" after our own grids have been permanently grounded.
    N2IPH, NL7W and VE7BH like this.
  8. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would be wary about donations to universities. It will be up on e-bay quicker than you can say 'Boolah-Boolah..." IOW they want the dough, not the rig.

    I've actually had three university ham clubs turn down recent offers of high end ham gear. Why? Because they already have it. Two others wanted it greedily, but admitted they didn't need it--hence ka-CHING!$$

    They assume that you get your tax write off and warm and fuzzies so heck, why not e-bay?

    Answer: because that's not the point.

    You better get used to the idea that the chances of others cherishing your stuff are remote and unlikely.

    BTW, I am 61, so I am not some young squirt picking on old people...I R 1.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
    N2IPH and WA7PRC like this.
  9. K7JOE

    K7JOE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Of course a station that's already well equipped probably doesn't need triplicates of gear - just the same, donating to a school club station and allowing them to (keep or convert to cash and then getting the latest technology) do what makes sense to them shouldn't be viewed as bad or wrong - It's actually pretty smart. And believe me, the donations are absolutely appreciated by the student hams who benefit from the well equipped ham shack.
  10. PA5COR

    PA5COR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Settled that years back, ham radio gear, firearms etc, 2 good friends take that up for my relatives, both family and very reliable so that everything will be sorted as it should.
    First as long i can will enjoy it ;)

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