eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Your Own QSL Card Factory

Michael Politoski (WB5PUP) on March 1, 2004
View comments about this article!


Your Own QSL Card Factory

We all know the routine… When it's time to order QSL cards, we go looking on the internet, or in the back of some old ham magazines, in search of the QSL card that will represent our station for the next five-hundred QSO's. We agonize over the stock designs, send in our money, and wait for days to get the cards back in the mail. When they finally arrive, we realize that our new card is not very unique. In fact, within a short time, you find that all of these cards are starting to look the same. You get cards from all over the country that look just like yours.

There are rave reviews for many QSL card printers here on eHam.net. Some companies are local, some are overseas. Some are cheap, others are more expensive. What I am about to suggest is a different way to get quality QSL cards.

Make your own.

I'm not suggesting you take out a sheet of paper and cut it into a four by six inch card and draw something on it. I'm not even talking about printing something out on an inkjet printer. If you are like me, you want a card that makes a statement about you, your locale, station, etc. Most importantly, you want it to look professional.

Got a digital camera yet? You can get one for well under fifty bucks these days. In my sample card, the photos were taken with a digital camera I purchased at a flea market for seven dollars! If you are reading this article, you probably already own a computer. Simply load your pictures into one of the many photo imaging programs and cut and paste to your heart's content. Add a little text, put your call letters in, and then save the file to a floppy disk.

Let's Print Some Cards!

Many discount stores offer digital photo processing. Simply take your disk to one of these labs, and have them print out your cards. You will receive four by six inch prints, suitable for passing postal regulations as a postcard. Fill out the pertinent data with a Sharpie, stick a stamp on it, and put it in the mail. Presto, instant QSL cards, at competitive prices. I have seen these prints go for as little as seventeen cents each. Order as many, or as few, as you like. Change your design on a weekly basis, if you desire. Have a special events station on the air? Then take pictures at the actual event, and have your cards ready to go out the very next day! No more minimum orders, no more delays.

Sample QSL Cards

0x01 graphic

KI4KAT is my step-son, here's his card…

0x01 graphic

Another QSL card made with a Disney Postcard Program…

0x01 graphic

PSE QSL

Finally, I remember as a young amateur the excitement of going to the mailbox and finding a QSL card from an earlier QSO. This is what it's all about. It reinforces the personal aspect of the hobby. I encourage you to experiment with your photography and desktop publishing techniques to produce QSL cards you are proud of. If you don't like the outcome, simply redo it. By all means, share your creations with others.

73's

Michael Politoski

WB5PUP

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by LNXAUTHOR on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
- very nice!

- btw, have you found a source for 'laser-perfed' postcards in the 'traditional' post card size? i can only seem to find the two per page and four per page, but they seem oversized...

- i print mine up, then three-hole punch them so they can reside in the back of my logbook...
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by NV7E on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
W7NN sells perforated paper stock for printing regular sized QSL cards. See http://www.hamstuff.com/.
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by KE4MOB on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
How do you avoid the problem of ink transfer onto plastic sleeves (or other cards if they are in a stack)? I've made my own using both inkjet and laser printers, but after a couple of months the ink starts to transfer. Seems like less of a problem with the inkjet cards, though. Still, I'd hate to send out a QSL that, after a couple of months in someone's plastic sleeve, becomes illegible and permanently stains the sleeve.

BTW, standard QSL size is 3.5 x 4.5 inches.
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by AE4RV on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good idea - that never occurred to me to use cheap digital photo processing from a discount store.

What I do is to make a design at 3.5"x5.5" on the computer and print it up four times on regular paper (four different designs are OK!) I have only done black and white, but color should be doable.

Next, I carefully cut the four "cards" (masters) and affix them (carfeully) to one 8.5"x11" sheet of paper. This is my "print master". Be sure your design leaves a bit of margin between the edges of the cards - it will be a tight fit and you will be glad you did!

I then take this to a copy shop and get it printed on card stock, sometimes in different colors. (Again, I have only made and reproduced cards in black and white....using a color printer for your masters and a color copier should work fine, but cost more).

Then I use the copy shop's paper cutter to (carefully!) cut my four-on-a-sheet cardstock copies in to individual cards. This is the most labor intensive part (aside from the designing) but it is not too bad. Practice helps...

The cost per card is about 7 cents. The results aren't as nice as a photograph like the author describes, but you can also make as many or few as you want, change your design frequently and SAVE SOME MONEY.

They also fit in a small envelope of the type I send as a SASE when I need someone's card. I'm going to get a folded photo-card back someday!

Good article,

73 - Geoffrey




 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by K3UD on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I use either Photoshop/Quark or Graphic Converter/Apple Works. Print them 3 up on glossy photopaper using an Epson C82 and get great results. I presently have 8 different designs that I send out in rotation. 110 lb bright white index stock works very well also.

73
George
K3UD
 
I print my QSLs directly from eQSL.cc when I need  
by KT8K on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Since I use www.eQSL.cc for electronic QSLs (adding LOTW soon, but that doesn't address QSLing), I load my laser printer with some heavy, photographic-quality stock and print the electronic QSL for the QSO in question - my note to the recipient and all pertinent data are already there. All I have to do is sign it and send it.

I don't QSL with paper unless I receive one that way (or a request). I hope more people start using eQSL, so I can improve on my current electronic QSL return rate of about 11%. Once or twice a year I send QSLs to those who sent me paper. I'm always late getting envelopes to the bureau (and not much comes in for me that way anyway). I am contenting myself with going for QRP eWAS and eDX100 through eQSL. Other awards have been just too much trouble to go after, though that may change with LOTW. I'll see ...
73 de kt8k - Tim
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WT0A on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds a little expensive to me. I use a simple graphic and text. Costs about a penny apiece to print. I send over 200 a month.
Glen
P.S. eQSL sucks
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by KB9TMP on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Great Idea!!! I buy the heavy duty neon colored poster paper from the local Dollar General store. I use Printmaster Express (free program) to print out the "very" visible QSL cards, with all the QSO information already filled in.

73 KB9TMP
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WD9EWK on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hi!

LNXAUTHOR asked:

"btw, have you found a source for 'laser-perfed' postcards in the 'traditional' post card size? i can only seem to find the two per page and four per page, but they seem oversized..."

There is an Avery type of card (8387 is one item number - they have several, corresponding to different quantities in the package, or whether it is intended for ink-jet or laser printing) where there are 4 cards on an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet, that end up as 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" cards. The typical QSL card size is recommended as 3 1/2 x 5 1/2", so the width of the card (5 1/2") is OK. The height is a little much - trim 3/4" off the height, and you have cards at the ideal size.

When I print some cards, I put 4 copies of my QSL card design into a file, then center that file onto the cardstock I'm printing to. After printing, I fold along the longest perforation, then cut 3/4" off the edges of the folded sheet before separating the cards. I end up with 4 QSL cards at the recommended size, ready to go.

I have been doing this for a couple of years, especially for my portable operating. It's an easy way to make some cards up quickly, even for small quantities of cards that wouldn't be worth going to a print shop for.

73!


Patrick WD9EWK/VA7EWK
http://www.wd9ewk.net/
 
Inexpensive QSL's and QSLing  
by W8KQE on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Some of the most 'genuine', honest, and unique QSL's i've gotten were from individuals who clearly were on a budget, or for whatever reason, did not want to splurge on the cost of purchasing commercial QSL's. Which is obviously fine. I have a lot of respect for them, since they obviously took the time and effort to RETURN my QSL card, even though they may not QSL often, or have cards printed. One such QSL, took many months to be returned to me, even though it was for a domestic stateside 6 meter contact, whose rare grid square I desperately needed confirmed. The front of that very basic QSL card I received had this person's callsign stamped on with an ink stamper, with all relevant QSO details written clearly underneath in neatly drawn boxes, and the back of the card said (in this man's handwriting), and I quote: "George, sorry it took so long... I work 60 hours a week and have 5 kids... 73's, Tommy...POOR MAN'S QSL". Kudos to this person for seeing to it that I got a card in return, especially since I provided an S.A.S.E.!!! He exemplifies the spirit of Hamming, unlike the few idiots who keep my repeated S.A.S.E.'s, and don't even have the common decency to drop me a note in that envelope telling me they don't QSL, or whatever! If you receive an S.A.S.E., and don't QSL for whatever reason, at least honor that person's paid for envelope, and drop them a brief note, either way. That way, that person can 'move on', and try to find another station in that same geographical area, who's QSL he needs to confirm. Common sense.
 
RE: Inexpensive QSL's and QSLing  
by NN6EE on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
WB5PUP,

Congrats on the "PUP-Cards" as I'm a dog-owner!!!

Your designs are imaginative!!!

Jim/EE
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by N0VUB on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Good ideas, I have been using recipie cards for years. I get a pack of the colored ones and they look good. They aren't as big as a standard post card but one can get all the info needed with a graphic. Started out printing on an old dot matrix printer than got the ink jet, still printing away...

73
Mark
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by N4ZOU on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I found Avery 3381 Postcards/Index Cards to be almost exactly right! you can print four on each sheet and then cut off one side of each where most printers can not print anyway. The length is correct but the width is just a little too wide for a standard QSL card and the envelope you get sent to return the card. No big deal, just cut off the extra. I use Paint in Windows to produce the artwork for the cards. Simple, easy, and best of all cheap!
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by ZL2AL on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Love the DXing. Hate the QSLing! Most of us treat QSLing as a necessary evil when looking for awards. Even casual operating will result in a flood of QSLs arriving at the bureau. The problem is that QSLing becomes very expensive if you do a lot of operating. It’s not just the horrendous cost of postage, but the cost of having them professionally printed has risen considerably over the past few years. The ARRL’s “Logbook of the World” (LoW) is now active which will reduce costs further. The Internet e-QSL system works well but is not acceptable for most of the top awards. Writing individual QSLs by hand is time consuming and laborious in the extreme. There is a better way!

Electronic Log books such as DXLog, WriteLog, DX4Win and others have the facility to print labels. The programs can be adjusted to print any number of labels per page or one label per page and in fact print directly onto the QSL card. Most inkjet printers and laserjet printers will accept and print 90mm x 140mm cards fed into the printer end on as long as the card used is not too thick. Standard QSL stock is 225 grams. Small printers will have a problem with the 225 gram thickness but will process the thinner140 gram stock very nicely.

Ten years ago graphics programs were the domain of the professional printing houses. Now you can buy Corel Draw 7.0 or Microsoft Publisher 2000 and other graphics programs relatively cheaply to design your own QSL cards. In fact you can now have complete control over the design, manufacture and processing of your own cards.

There are specific QSL design programs available. They did not suit what I wanted to do as most of them had quite a few formats but wouldn’t allow me to have the “blank space” where I wanted it. Their designs where based on filling out a QSL with pen and ink. I don’t do pen and ink these days! Have a look at these websites below.

http://hamradiosoftware.com/HAM/qsldes.html or
http://www.rsars.org.uk/QSLDIY.HTM or
http://www.df3cb.com/bv/bvfeatures.html or
http://www.sm7tog.com/download.html (for icons)


I use Microsoft Publisher working with Windows 98 to design the QSL. You could also use MS Word although the Microsoft way of doing graphics in Word is a bit unusual and unwieldy. You don’t have to be a graphics designer because QSL cards are not difficult to lay out and you may have thousands of examples in your collection that you can mine for ideas. It is a simple matter to pirate the best of the designs and adapt them your needs. The text boxes and various elements of your design are easily moved around the screen. As you do the design on your card the Microsoft Publisher program will set up four identical QSLs on an A4 page. Other graphics programs will handle it in a different way. You will notice in figure 1 that the centre area is left clear for the program to print the QSO information from the logging program. When your design is completed it is a simple matter to print off a few A4 pages, cut them into QSLs with scissors and check the Logging Program registration of the printing of the QSO information on your printer.


When the four QSL template page is finalized, go into any good stationery supplier and ask for Kaskad A4, 140 gram paper in packs of 250 with your choice of colour. All colours of the rainbow are available. Then it’s off to your local photocopy house to have them photocopied and cut exactly to size. 250 sheets will make 1000 QSL cards.

The cost is 4 cents per sheet for first class laser copying. I am sure that a better price could be found by shopping around. The cost of cutting to size is about $2.50 per pack of 250 sheets. The cost of the A4 sheets is around $15.00 per 250 sheets. The total cost works out to around $27.00.00 per 1000 QSLs. You could even print your QSLs on plain A4 white paper. The cost would be around $3.50 for 2000 QSLs. They would be thin but would satisfy the requirements for a QSL.

I use yellow card and have it photocopied with black print. You will note that the DX4WIN logging program fills in the QSO information in the correct place on the card. The card shows up to five QSOs and the logging program also inserts a few lines at the bottom with the equipment info, the operator’s name and PSE or TNX QSL determined by the program. All the information is on one side of the card which makes life easier for QSL managers. There is no reason why you couldn’t use a white paper with blue print or whatever colours suit as some photocopiers will print text in colour from the cartridge. You could even print directly from your printer and cut the QSLs yourself if you only want small runs and want to reduce the cost even further. The cost of a printer ink cartridge must be taken into consideration.

I also use a QSL Manager program called Hamcall by Buckmaster which can be set up to print directly onto C6 size envelopes. The Hamcall CD is a database of 1.5 million names, addresses and call letters which are updated monthly from their website. After I have printed ten or fifteen “QSL Direct” cards, I can call up the names and addresses from the Hamcall CD and print the envelopes. I also use Hamcall to print my own “return” envelopes with my name on them. No labels are involved – Ever! I also have a small sheet of paper about the size of the QSL card to enclose with the QSL which tells the other recipient a little about myself, my family and the area I live in. It’s quite am quite amazed at the number of letters I get in response to the info sheet telling me about their history and their families. It’s much more interesting when you know a little more about who you were talking to other than just name, rank and serial number! Typically I can receive 50 cards or more from the QSL bureau and process them in ten minutes. And yes, there is a place on the card where I sign each one individually.

The system works very well for me and saves a lot of time, effort and money in the process of producing QSL cards.
73 de Lee ZL2AL

leejen@paradise.net.nz
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by K8WV on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I found a very old postcard that shows my home circa 1908. I scanned it, used Paint Shop Pro to add my call sign and some other things, load the result as a background in WB8RCR's QSL Maker (free!) and can print cards already filled out, or print labels, or use it for eQSL, etc.

Printed on photo paper it looks better than the original scanned card. Printed on matte brochure paper it looks almost exactly like the old "linen" card.

I trim/cut the cards with FISKARS rotary paper trimmer. It's THE accurate way to cut paper. A great device.

You can see the basic card background at http://www.qsl.net/k8wv. The image is degraded a bit. The card is MUCH nicer.
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by KE4MOB on March 1, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Sorry, I'm dense. It's 5.5 not 4.5.
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by K0CBA on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One more time; It is NOT "73's" people.....it is just plain "73"!!!
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by K6BBC on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Back in 68 I received a QSL card made from wood - W6MRV. Anybody else have this one???

K6BBC
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by K4JSR on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hey CBA, 73's is a southern thing. Like saying "73
you all"! Get over it and your blood pressure will
drop back to normal! :-D
Just worry about the weird-o that sends you eighty apes! I know, that was just a Chimp shot! ;-P
By the way PUPster, I enjoyed the article. I may take
your advice after I've distributed the 93,000 QSL
cards I just bought last November!
73 You All, Cal K4JSR
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WD7G on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
John, WB8RCR, from Michigan, has written a very nice free QSL making program. The cards can be designed to personal preferences, and can include your own digital photo background.

The program can also read log entries from several different logging programs and enter the information on the card.

http://hfradio.org/wb8rcr/

-- 73 -- WD7G
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by N6AJR on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have had lots of the 3 x 5 recipie cards and probably one of everything else too.

I enjoy qsl's as I love the excitement of finishing the contact with a card.

I get mine from W4MPY, He will let you do a design, make it pretty and I think I am getting 1000 for about $55 delivered, I have used wayne and his wife's services for several years and am very happy.

Now if I could just find some one to fill them out too..hi hi

73 all tom N6AJR
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WN3VAW on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article! Like the sample cards, tho I would be cautious when using some of these (and many similar) graphics... don't want someone to get the copyright police after you, so I'd be sure that their use on your card is permitted. 'nuff said on that.

Let me add, too, that there are many other alternatives, including some already mentioned. I've been playing with computer printed cards for many years under a variety of programs. I've had a lot of good results from two different sets of programs... well, kinda three actually...

First, I use the Crystal Reports label making routines that are included with dBase for Windows (dB4W 5 & up -- right now I'm using 5.7 as I don't have the spare shekels for an upgrade, but that's another story). This is very convenient for me since I keep all of my logs in dBase, going back to dBase III+. While not always the most professional looking, I can get very good results with a minimum of fuss. I now mainly use these routines when I'm sending a station a card with multiple contacts (such as a contest or a DXpedition station) as I have it set for up to 9 QSO's per card.

But I don't do anything fancy with the graphics. If I want to do that, I use Microsoft Publisher; originally M$ Pub 98, now M$ Pub 2000. This let's me manipulate the look of the card (including special effects, background photos, etc) well beyond what my old copies of dBase could do.

One recent change was to take the use of Publisher one step further. I had been doing two passes when I wanted to make a good looking card; Publisher for a nice graphic or design on one side of the card, dBase for a "just the facts" look on the other. But since Publisher does have a mail-merge capability, I exported some of my log into M$ Access and then used the mail-merge routines to combine the two (although Access can read a dBase .dbf file, Publisher requireds an Access database file to do the merge). This lets me combine two print passes into one, and saves the DX station and/or their manager(s) from having to flip the card back & forth to view it (yes, incidently, I do print my call on both sides when I was doing it that way).

One help too is to get a good quality printer. Any decent color printer from the last few years should be more than sufficient, and it need not be expensive. Right now, my main printer is a Lexmark Z25 I bought on sale for about $40 two years ago, and the print quality is phenomenal. And I should add... I've been advised by a commercial printer (KB3FNM) that many of the home-quality inexpensive printers may not hold up when you're trying to do a print run of hundreds or thousands of cards at a time. For those situations, I wouldn't use the Lexmark; I'd have Hank print a design on one side of the card, and then borrow an old business grade printer (such as an HP LaserJet 4 or higher) for the data on the other side. Wouldn't be color, wouldn't be as slick looking, but it sure beats replacing the printer a dozen times or so!

Avery makes several different styles and types of cardstock to use, most of which come four cards to a sheet. I also have found generic stock, just as good or better, on sale at Hamvention for a fraction of Avery's cost. Does mean doing some sorting after the print run, especially for bureau mailings, but it's well worth it -- sure beats filling out 3-400 cards post contest by hand!

Bottom line? Do what works best for you. I am one who believes that QSL'ing is part of the game, and it need not be a major chore (protests of certain contest stations who love to make the Q's but hate to send the cards not withstanding!)

73, ron wn3vaw
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WA2JJH on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
ULTRA COOL!
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WA4ET on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice work,, I have to tell you, I haved designed and printed my own for years. I realy enjoy it,,and for low volume cards,, its not to bad,, meaning the cost involved, but if you can run through 100 cards a month or more, the cost start adding up. Color ink is not cheap,neither is paper. There is also the ware and tear on your printer

The solution is,, design your cards, and then send them off to be printed. IT's alot cheaper in the long run,, and even in the short run. I use QSLWORKS, Bob is a Great guy to deal with,, and will accept the he can make a mistake, or does not have the only idea of what a QSL card should look like,, even if that is only because the customer is always right, and will make gental suggestions. I have been working with him now for about 1 1/2 years. I design a card,, a concept card, and let him perfect it. He can work with JPG's, WORD Docs, just about any digital format, and turn a card out for you.

Check out the KG4LH card on QRZ.com,, it is just an example of his fine work,, and mine. It is from a digital photograph I took with down on my Dxpedition, I enhanced it,, edited the photo to take objects out like fences, telephone poles, added a little color and so on. Things that would take QSLWORKS alot of time to do, if they would even take the time to do it, after all, they need to turn a profit. I then added text to form the concept card, plus sent him a copy of the enhanced digital photo with all the text removed, because at this point, he is better than myself.

He turned them out 1000 cards for 96 bucks per 1000,double sided, now that not cheap,, but its alot cheaper than printing them all at my home,, and it is a beautiful card,, and a hole lot less work on your part, or ware and tear on your printer

Do I still print my own cards,,,, sure,, just not as often, and for limited numbers for special circumstances,, like SWL cards,, some special event with a low card count,, and when I run out from time to time.

DAvid

 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WA4ET on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
BTW I just check the QRZ.COM, I must have forgotten to load up the final QSL card up. What is displayed is a concept card I made before the Dxpedition, IT is quite nice, but the final shows the Windward Point Lighthouse,, Both cards are very nice, but the lighthouse card is even nicer

Examples of what can be down with a little effort of your part

David
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WA5ZNU on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I wrote a PostScript program to generate my own QSL cards and print them on the W7NN stock. Someday I will put up a web service to accept log data and generate the PDF file for printing.

For now, if you're interested, see http://wa5znu.org/psqsl/
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by W9HZ on March 2, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
<<<<< Back in 68 I received a QSL card made from wood - W6MRV. Anybody else have this one???

K6BBC >>>>>>


I've got one.... Louie in S.F. CA... Just dug it out of a box of QSL cards. It was the only wooden QSL I ever received.

73
Mitch W9HZ
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by KB3KAQ on March 3, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
i sat down recently and figured the costs involved in printing my own cards. i would have to create the layout of the card, print them, and complete them by hand. all of this takes time and resources.

since i've already designed my card using Photoshop, i decided to try a few grayscale prints to see how it looks. not bad. now do it 50 times for 200 cards. not expensive, but it's grayscale and looks kind of tired. the box of 200 cards costs 19.99 at the local Office Mega Shoppe. the cost of toner is not measurable, but the new toner for the laser printer is $80.00. maybe the cost of printing is $2.00 per 200. that's $22.00 for 200 drab, grayscale cards.

if i move over to the inkjet, the cost soars, esp since my inkjet uses a combo color cartridge - if i have too much blue or red in the image, it will run out and i'll need a new cartridge, wasting the remaining other colors. at $28.00 each, they are not cheap. i figure a modest design would yeild 500 cards per cartridge - $60 in paper (can't buy 100) and $30 in ink. that's $90.00 per 500 plus the time to design and then print the cards and then separate them.

since i already had a clean, full color design, i shopped it around and have a price of $60.00 shipped for 500 full color gloss paper cards. no printing hassles, no wasted time separating them, and no worries about ink transfer.

if you are going to make your own, you have to decide what cost you place on quality. a grayscale card is going to look inferior to a color inkjet or laser card which will look inferior to a professionally printed card.

i have not investigated the cost of getting the cards done as photos. i would imagine they would be just as costly as the inkjet route.

just my take on the matter. i wanted a card to be displayed and not simply used to prove WAS or DXCC. i want it to stand out. the homemade grayscale card was not going to to do, not for me. your mileage may vary.

-steve
KB3KAQ
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by VE3SY on March 4, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If anyone is doing any form of volume QSLing, your InkJet cartridge costs will start to add up.

I have been using UX5UO ( http://www.ux5uoqsl.com/ ) for 2 sided full color cards. His work is excellent and the cost is less than half of most. $52 per 1,000 in matte or $62 in glossy card stock. rear side is anything you desire in B&W.

Several people have been commenting on 73 vs 73's. Well the old man of radio himself, Hiram Percy Maxim 1AW back in the spark era used 73's. See the QSL card of his here http://www.ve3sy.com/images/1aw-t.jpg

73 or 73's :-)

Paul VE3SY
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by VE3SY on March 4, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
BTW I sold the above 1AW card on eBay abt 18 months ago and it brought US$2,250. (not a typo) At that price you can use whatever salutation you desire :-)

Paul
 
They Are NOT Inexpensive  
by WB8NUT on March 5, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Making your own QSL cards on ink-jet and laser printers is NOT inexpensive. The cost of ink and color laser cartridges are very high and after producing 100 full color QSL cards can wipe out a set of ink-jet cartridges making the production more expensive than commercially printed cards. I got 500 custom full-color photo QSL cards (printed front and back) from QSLworks for under $100 (and they are printed right here in the good ol' USA). A set of ink-jet cartridges runs about $60 so I don't see the savings at all. I'll leave the mass production up to those that do it for a living.
 
RE: They Are NOT Inexpensive  
by WB5PUP on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The whole point of the article is to avoid having 500 of anything, at any cost. It's a quick way to get quality cards in quantities that you need. If you are an occasional QSL'er, this will save you money, and you might even have some fun doing it.

73's,

Mike
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by WD4BRP on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You might try Epson glossy photo paper.
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by W4MMR on March 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Some random thoughts: canon has a printer that does multipass color then lays down a clearcoat layer, cp100 is the name. One could also make a digital picture with a graphic editing program of your card with trimming border, transfer it to a digital camera chip and take it to Walgreens and have them make a 4x6 picture out of it for you that you can trim to the proper size. Much cheaper than printing I believe.
 
Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by AA0NI on June 25, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I only recently decided to print out a few of my own design using MS Word 2000 and a small Samsung B&W laser printer. It took a couple hours to finalize the design using text blocks in Word, inserting a photo of my radio, and a photo of myself, and a table for the QSO info. On the back side, I print blank lines for comments on the left side, and blank lines for the address (next to the stamp).

Although I wouldn't trust the printer with a stack of cards to print at one time (I feed them one at a time), it does have a handy button on the front that reprints the last page of the last job. Insert card, push button, insert card, push button...

I buy about 10 pre-paid postcards at a time, run them through the printer (front and back), and send them out as I need to. Maybe the cards are more expensive since they are from the post office, but for me, they are very convenient, and I don't have to invest much money if I decide to change my design later on.

You get what you pay for - sometimes flexibility costs more. The photos on my card are less than spectacular in greyscale, but the cards look sharp, and serve their purpose well (a qsl-guilt-free conscience).
 
RE: Your Own QSL Card Factory  
by KJ5XX on October 29, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I've found that I can make a beautiful, professional-looking QSL card using Photoshop Elements and I'm sure the same can be done with any of the other great graphics packages.

As far as the cost of printing your own, much of that has to do with what ink for your printer costs. If you have an HP, that can run into a bit of money if you plan on printing any volume. Having owned HP inkjet printers in the past, a cartridge can run you $30 or more, and that's times two since the HPs have separate color and black cartridges.

I finally gave up on the HPs in favor of Canon when I got into digital photography. Digital pics can burn up a lot of ink. The Canon i470D that I picked up produces excellent photo-quality images and the best part is that the ink is CHEAP. A color cartridge is only $4.95 and a black cartridge runs me $3.95.

As far as paper stock, I've only found one source that makes a QSL standard size postcard in the 3-1/2" x 5-1/2" size and that is made by Sparco. They come in a sheet of 3 cards with perfs to tear off the cards. I don't know what the weight is on the stock but it's not as heavy as most QSLs that you see. Runs about $9.00/500 cards - pretty cheap.

I've also tried Avery postcard stock, but they don't make a 3.5 x 5.5 in card stock. I've used the bigger ones, but they're really a bit too big for a QSL card.

So, I've found that if you want to design your own cards, and don't need large quantities of 200 to 500 cards (which is what you have to print to make custom printing cost-effective), the best answer is to pick up 110# card stock in 8-1/2 x 11 sheets (comes in many different colors), design your 3.5 x 5.5 card and lay it out in "4 up" fashion and print it. You can pick up 110# card stock in quantities of 250 sheets for $9.99 at Office Depot or Office Max, so your looking at $.03/page and with 4 cards per page, that's less than a penny a QSL card!

You'll have to cut the cards down when you're done, but a cheap paper trimmer from Office Depot can take care of that.

If you want to design and print your own and are interested in 200+ cards at a time, then you're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 and up.

I had custom cards done some years ago, ordered 250 of them and moved 3 years later - I still had 3/4 of a box of cards left.

73,

Ron - KJ5XX
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other How To Articles
Nice Looking Mic for Shack