So what QSL card actually means?

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Part of the fun of amateur radio is collecting cards, called QSL cards, from other amateurs that you’ve msde contact with on the radio. Some people like to collect stamps form various parts of the world but hams collect QSLs. If you are also a stamp collector you will find that often a card comes from a distant country with an interesting stamp on the envelope.

Another reason for collecting QSL cards is to participate in the many certificate programs available to amateurs. Whether it’s getting your DXCC, IOTA or WAS Awards, getting cards to confirm contacts with 100 or more DX countries etc, in most instances will need the cards to support your claim for the award.

What is QSL card?

A QSL card is a published confirmation of either a two-way radiocommunication between two amateur radio stations or a one-way reception of a signal from an AM radio, FM radio, or shortwave broadcasting station.

QSL card derived its name from the Q code “QSL”. A Q code meaning can stand for a declaration or a question (when the code is followed by a question mark). In this case, QSL? means “do you confirm invoice of my transmission?” while QSL means “I check receipt of your transmission“.

History of QSL card

During the ahead of time days of radio transmission, the ability for a radio set to attain distant signals was a source of pride for many individuals and fans. Listeners would mail “reception records” to radio broadcasting stations in hopes of getting a written letter to officially confirm they had heard a far-away station. As the quantity of reception reports improved, stations took to sending postcards including a brief form that established reception. Collecting these cards became famous with radio users in the 1920s and 1930s, and reception reports were often used by early broadcasters to gauge the effectiveness of their transmissions.

The reasoning behind transmitting an article card to verify coverage of a station (and later two-way contact between them) may have been on his own invented several times. The very first research definitely seems to be a card sent in 1916 from 8VX in Buffalo, New York to 3TQ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (in those days ITU prefixes were not used). The standardized card with callsign, frequency, date, etc. may have been created in 1919 by C.D. Hoffman, 8UX, in Akron, Ohio. In Europe, W.E.F. “Bill” Corsham, 2UV, first used a QSL when operating from Harlesden, England in 1922.

Discuss below , Is QSL card is important or not?

Associated with the hobby of Amateur radio operations is another interesting activity of collecting QSL cards from your contacts on the amateur radio network or anyone with whom you communicate through your rig. It is considered as a great achievement by the Hams.

Amateur radio operators also perform this activity for another purpose. Through QSL card collection, they participate in various certificate programs arranged for Hams from time to time. For certain limits of card collection, there are certain awards specified for the Hams. When they are able to collect the number of QSL cards required they can claim their award there and then.

QSL Card Selection

QSL cards
For being a part of this fun activity, you are required to have your own QSL card first. These cards can be manually designed as per your preferences. But for your convenience, you can always get them designed and printed from services like those advertised through QST, Radio Amateurs of Canada, CQ and other such publications. But before opting for such a service, make sure you have in your mind the content you want on your card, the number of cards required and the deadline within which you want the cards done. The more cards you will get printed, the lower will be the total price.

Means of sending QSLs

When you are about to send QSLs, you have two options at your disposal:

  • QSL direct to the post office
  • Taking help from QSL bureau to forward these cards in batches

Both these options have their pros and cons. So you must weigh each of them before going for any one option.

What should be there on a QSL Card?

The following information should be present on a QSL card:

  • Call sign of the Amateur radio operator
  • His/her name and address
  • A place to write
    – the call of the station with which the contact was established
    – the date (in DD/MM/YY format). It should be a UTC date
    – UTC time
    – band or frequency under use
    – mode of operation
    – RST
  • A Request or a thanking remark for QSL collection

Following items can be considered as optional information:

  • Name of your station (along with picture)
  • the county of residence
  • your CQ and ITU zones
  • your grid location

Note: Time should be mentioned as a must for making the card universally acceptable. It is also used to eliminate all the confusions that the beginners might have. When the date and time have the same format, they are easy to interpret and follow.

If you want to speed up your QSL collection, then a computerized logging program like DX4Win, EasyLog, or DXBase etc. can help you keep your activity organized and manageable. It also lets you print labels for the QSL cards easily.

Direct QSLing

In this case, you have the authority of sending the duly filled card to the contacts directly. Make sure you know the contact’s address accurately. The online call books or a CD-ROM callbooks are available that can provide these addresses as required. Once you have addresses confirmed, you can start filling the QSL cards, add the addresses, enclose them safely into envelopes, furnish them with stamps and finally move them forward through mail. The reply to this QSL will be there with you in a matter of few weeks.

Click here: Important Information

If the QSL activity is intended towards a DX contact,a self-addressed envelope and return postage are the requisites for completing the cards for the final mailing. Avoid using the stamp of your own country for avoiding any confusions in the DX country. A U.S. dollar bill (recognized by Hams as the green stamp) or an International Reply Coupon (IRC) available at the post office are the two stamps that you need to use in this case. A loonie is not recommended for US Canadians to pay for return postage because they are rather unsafe to use. There are other countries that have higher requirements regarding the postages. Germany is the biggest example of this that demands two dollars or an IRC for such postages. It is an admitted fact that the DX amateur radio operators living in distant areas frequently receive QSL requests. This activity will also benefit them if the postage price is paid as required.

QSL Managers

QSL cardWhen mailing to and from a DX country is a tough job, then the DX stations prefer keeping a QSL manager to manage the QSL activity. There are DX stations employing managers in U.S. that are responsible for lowering the postage price there. The address of the DX call or the lists you will find in the magazines will easily identify the QSL managers.

These QSL managers can receive the QSL cards through a process similar to that followed for the stations.The return envelope and postage are also required.

QSLing through the Bureau

This option is an effective and cost-efficient means of executing the QSL activity. The majority of the countries have this bureau that coordinates between the Hams and their contacts and collects the cards from the Hams for sending them forward in larger batches to the DX and other contacts. This kind of bulk mailing cuts down costs drastically and hence the overall price you need to pay is decreased. The RAC in Canada as well as the ARRL in the U.S. offer membership and QSLing service for the Amateur radio operators. If you just want to receive the cards you can do it through any means but for sending them on time with the main purpose intact, this bureau can mean a lot.

Also Read: Cards from the Past

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