We as radio amateurs log things. We log our contacts, we log our progress towards an award, we log how many different countries we've contacted, which stations we heard with WSPR, how many kilometres we managed per watt, which stations were in a net, what callsigns received a QSL card, what location we're in when we made a contact. You get the point, we log things, many things and for many different reasons.
Here's a log that I started last week.
An asset log.
You heard me, an asset log, a thing that logs what amateur radio stuff I have, when it came into my life, where it came from, what brand it is, what model, what the serial number is and if I spent money on it, how much money I spent. It shows things that I've loaned to other amateurs and it shows things that are on loan to me.
It started with a conversation about a silent key. That's what we call radio amateurs who have died. The idea of a silent key is one that reminds us that everyone is unique, that every manual Morse code transmission has a particular feel and that this is unique to every amateur. Once that particular combination of speed, tone and pacing is no longer heard, they're said to have become a silent key.
I've been an amateur for a few years now and in that time I've seen the process that happens once an amateur becomes silent play out over and over again. In my experience it's not pretty. It almost always appears to end in something akin to a feeding frenzy where the person who got in first grabs the best stuff and leaves the rest for the next person. Rinse and repeat until there's nothing of value left.
It leaves me with a bad taste in many ways. For one, the family who is left behind might not know or understand that there is a monetary value associated with what's often referred to as "grandpa's gear" and they might just be in need of some extra financial support in their time of mourning.
Another aspect, if there is no actual need for money, is that the person who's shack is being dismantled might have an idea on how they would like to see their hard work live on. They might want to donate it to a particular person, an organisation, a club, a school, or some other destination of their choosing.
All that can only work if there is a list of stuff. Having a family member construct that list is going to be a tough ask, unless you're fortunate enough to have more than one amateur in your household. Asking another amateur to make the list creates a load of work with at best guesses of age and value. The only person really qualified to make the list about your shack is you.
Last week I started the list on a spreadsheet that I'll share with my family. I'll add to it when more stuff arrives and if I feel the need, I can remove stuff that has moved on. I'm not in the position to add new amateur equipment to my shack more than a few times a year, so maintaining this list isn't going to be an onerous task and I could imagine that the list expands to include tracking which equipment went with me on a field-day, which I have to tell you is always a challenge to track.
As a bonus, the list can be used in the case of loss or theft and for insurance purposes, so it's not just for when the time comes that we become a silent key. To get started, make a list of what you can see around you and keep adding stuff. If you keep accounting records, they can be used as a source of information too.
We log lots of stuff and I think that adding an asset log is something that will add to any amateur shack and it could form the basis of a legacy that you might leave behind.