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Author Topic: Is LOTW all I need?  (Read 1591 times)
AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« on: February 23, 2010, 04:44:22 PM »

Hello folks.

Most all of my operating has been cw ragchewing.
However recently I've started to become interested in DXing and thought I might try for some of the awards (DXCC etc).

Problem is I really dislike paperwork (of any kind).
(However I do return QSL cards upon receipt.)

So if I get setup on LOTW will that cover all the bases for 'paper chasing' or will I also need to do the 'buro' thing and even the 'direct'?

Thanks for any advice.
chuck
AF4XK
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N4NYY
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 05:02:06 PM »

I am new to this. LoTW is great, but many don't have it.

1. USA cards are returned my standard US postal system.

2. International cards can be returned my direct mail, or by Bureau (Buro). Some internationals have QSL managers here in the states, or in other countries. To use a Bureau, it is best that you use the ARRL Outgoing QSL Service. You must be a member of the ARRL.

3. Lastly, some international hams require $1 or $2 for a return, should you mail them directly. I am troubled my this, as I have sent at least 6 of these, and none have come back. They have either been opened and money stolen, or the Ham just pockets the cash and might not even return your card. I would only do this if you really need the ccountry.

4. IRC. This is essentially a stamp coupon that is good internationally. I have heard that many US post offices don't even know what they are, or have the old version.

I hope other can shed more light.
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NI0C
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 06:00:38 PM »

LoTW is a great help, and it gets better all the time.  However it won't ever entirely replace paper QSL's.   
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W6OP
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Posts: 340




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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 10:53:53 AM »

LoTW is great. I get about a 25% confirm rate on it. It is especially good for getting contest QSO's confirmed. There have been some people who have gotten their DXCC with just LoTW.

I send a card if it is the first time I have worked a country or if they have a real nice card posted on their website. Otherwise I really don't need to have a physical card for the same country on many different bands.

Pete W6OP
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N3QE
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 01:14:19 PM »

My guess is that DX ragchewing, you will get maybe 2 to 5 percent of your QSO's verified via LOTW.

In DX contesting, the LOTW participation rate is - broadly speaking - maybe 25 to 30%.

Some DXpeditions upload to LOTW immediately (same day!) for all contacts, others upload to LOTW for contributors first, others never plan to upload to LOTW. Many make their LOTW participation (or not) known up front.

Don't neglect the bureau, if you work DX, and you don't send any QSL cards, you will be having cards accumulate at the bureau and you really ought to have envelopes on file so you can get them, or just tell the bureau that you don't want the cards and they should throw them away.

It would be a false hope to think that everyone might eventually upload their logs to LOTW. Just as some refuse to become ARRL members, some will always regard uploading their logs to LOTW as "giving information to the enemy".
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W0GLB
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 03:10:57 PM »

Just a caveat to what the others have mentioned....if even a little of your DX efforts involve RTTY, LOTW will pay big dividends, as RTTY ops average about a 50% LOTW return rate....

73, W0GLB-Gordon
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N4NYY
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2010, 03:30:34 PM »

"In DX contesting, the LOTW participation rate is - broadly speaking - maybe 25 to 30%"

I am new to this. In the last US contest, I was able to work a ton of state, and all but about 7, uploaded to LoTW. Just on that experience, the rate was over 75%. Either way, that is still good.

The international crowd, is far lower. This is a great tool. I hope it catches on in the international community.
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N3QE
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2010, 03:54:52 PM »

> In the last US contest, I was able to work a ton of
> state, and all but about 7, uploaded to LoTW. Just on
> that experience, the rate was over 75%. Either
> way, that is still good.

LOTW participation by sweepstakes and especially NAQP and NA Sprint folks is very, very high. 15 minutes after the Jan NAQP I uploaded my logs to LOTW, but many other participants had already uploaded ahead of me!!!!

Tim.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2010, 05:23:50 PM »

Chuck,

You are going to find, like others have mentioned, that LOTW is only a part of the answer. If you are indeed interested in chasing paper (the term sometimes applied to working towards awards), you are going to need LOTW, the bureau and going direct. Also note that each has strengths and weaknesses.

Not everyone uses LOTW. With my 33+ years of logs uploaded, I am averaging about 30% return rates via LOTW. Like was mentioned, most (but not all) contestors will upload logs to LOTW simply because they have the logs electronically from the contest nowadays. Very few contestors still use paper logging (my opinion - I surely don't).

That brings me to another facet of this issue - logging. You're going to need to be able to upload those QSOs, whether ragchewing or contesting or DX'ing or whatever. If you haven't already settled on an electronic logging program, I would suggest that you look at a lot of them and decide which suits you best. Don't just take an advertisement or word of mouth as gospel. I have used many and even wrote my own years ago. I'll just say I use AA6YQ's 'DX Lab Suite' - google it if your interested. Which ever one you do select, LEARN IT so that you can operate it in your sleep. Before commiting any major amount of QSOs to it, load a copy and give it a work out. See if you can make it crash. Enough said on that.

Beside using LOTW, you'll find that there will be those DX QSOs that will be needed eventually for the awards and the DX operator just doesn't use LOTW. You have to go direct or by the bureau. I'm sure by now you have heard the stories of cards taking 3 lifetimes to go through the bureau. I am one of the 6 land incoming bureau segment managers and I see cards coming through my segment on a regular basis. Most cards are usually 2 to 3 years, with a few under a year or 2 and many longer than 3 years. I have seen the extreme of 20+ years but not too many in that category. Just be aware that when you drop a card in the US outgoing bureau, the clock starts and you probably won't get anything back for several years. But also know that if you work DX stations (the bureau is only for country to country exchanges not US to US, but you probably knew that already), you will eventually get DX cards so contact your QSL bureau and get your account setup with them. They can explain how it works for your area.

Going direct is also full of perils. If going to a stateside manager, many of those perils are circumvented and success is USUALLY a forgone conclusion, but not always. If going out of the US, most European countries are relatively safe and success is higher there. Where you run into issues is some third world areas tend to have what we would refer to as 'a not so secure postal system' Smiley And of course once it gets through the postal system to the other station, there are those few stations that seem to think that QSLing is a income generating enterprise for them. You'll hear about them from time to time if you do QSL direct and look for information on the subject of postal rates, managers, etc. There are many tricks that you can use to beat the 'unscrupulous' handlers of your QSL along its way from detecting and pocketing your money or foreign stamps (whichever you choose to use). Research the internet and ham radio sites and you'll find the info. If not ask the forum.

I hope you don't get turned off by the expose' I have presented here but I personally have done all three methods and spent a fair amount of money in QSLcards, envelopes, postage, etc. in my pursuit of DXCC levels, VUCC, WAS, WAC and other various awards I enjoy having. One of the best things in DXing, is receiving another QSL card from a new entity.

Good Luck and Good DXing,

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
N6ORB
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2010, 06:01:50 PM »

I now have 176 countries confirmed with a combination of cards and LOTW. Probably half a dozen were confirmed only in LOTW.

My return rate is currently 32% for a combination of DX and domestic contacts. I've noticed that my six meter contacts have held down my rate on LOTW. On the other hand, the ARRL and CQ Magazine DX contests have provided an above average confirmation rate in LOTW.

I think LOTW is especially efficient for confirming new bands for entities that have already been confirmed once with a card. Certainly it's a LOT cheaper.

Dave
N6ORB
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2010, 02:32:50 PM »

Thanks guys, great information!

One other question:

So is eQSL mainly a 'courtesy' acknowledgment of the  contact?

As I understand it, it doesn't count toward awards.

If it's sent as a 'courtesy', and is electronic, why not just use LOTW which is electronic AND can count toward awards?

thanks and 73.
chuck
af4xk
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NI0C
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Posts: 2400




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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2010, 03:01:18 PM »

Chuck,

I use both eQSL and LoTW.  They serve different purposes.  eQSL does count for in-house "copycat" awards that eQSL has devised,and also is (under certain circumstances) valid for CQ awards, such as WAZ. 

LoTW counts towards ARRL DXCC and WAS awards, and IARU's WAC award.  For DXCC submissions, LoTW is becoming increasingly useful.  For example, I just sent in an application with 6 QSL cards and 6 LoTW credits.

I participate in both the ARRL and CQ awards programs, but don't really bother with eQSL's awards.  What I do like about eQSL is that you can download a digital image to display in a small digital picture frame.  Some eQSL's are really very nicely done, with photographs of the ham shack or CW key at the other end of the QSO.   These are remembrances of some great QSO's-- long conversations, two way QRP contacts, etc.

73,
Chuck  NI0C
 
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AF4XK
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Posts: 96




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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2010, 04:32:44 PM »

thanks guys.

Just one more question:

Do you ever use two methods for the same QSO contact; i.e. do you ever use both LoTW and send a QSL card for the SAME contact? (i guess eQSL could be added to the list too for that matter)

chuck
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AF3Y
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Posts: 3738




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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2010, 04:49:13 PM »

Rather than starting a new thread, I will ask my LOTW question here....  How long after uploading my file does it take for those QSOs to show up?

When I uploaded my first file to LOTW, a couple months ago, it seems like it was on there almost instantly.  But, today I uploaded a file which contained QSOs through today.  Checked a while ago, and it shows latest QSO as Feb 5th, which is around the last time I uploaded.   I am sure it uploaded OK, as I got the "File is Queued for Processing" message.  How long does it usually take for processing?   Any idea why my new QSOs are not there yet?  Its been 3 or 4 hours. Gene
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N6ORB
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Posts: 242




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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2010, 06:51:28 PM »

Would I send a card if I already had a confirmation via LOTW?

Sure. I would like to have a card for every entity, even if I already have it confirmed in LOTW.

As for processing time of uploaded log fragments, mine have taken from a few minutes to more than 20 minutes. If it hasn't been processed by the next day, I'd say there was a problem.

Dave
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