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Author Topic: Best way to QSL with DX Stations  (Read 5515 times)
NS8Q
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« on: March 15, 2011, 10:12:43 AM »

Ever since installing my new Carolina Windom at 35-feet, I have been having a blast working several DX stations.  In the ARRL November Sweeps (CW), I was able to work 61 new countries.  The contacts were moved to my general log and now I want to get cards from them.

I purchased some IRC coupons for those stations where require those.  Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on how to best send cards out and make sure I get a response?

73/CHRIS
KC8CAJ
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W2IRT
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2011, 11:51:47 AM »

Hi Chris,
Your best bet for QSLing success is to send via the route listed on QRZ.com. Many DX stations have a QSL manager, which is to say, another ham who does their QSLing for them, usually located in a country with access to reliable and inexpensive mail service. If the QRZ.com listing says QSL via so-and-so, don't send your card to the address of the DX station, send it via his manager.

A couple of HUGE suggestions that will make sure your envelope makes it to those places where postal thieves are known to intercept envelopes:
  • * NEVER EVER EVER put a callsign on an envelope either as part of your return address or the DX station's address
    * NEVER put a folded envelope inside.
    * ALWAYS send a self-addressed envelope nested inside your outbound envelope and make sure the flap is inserted down; otherwise it could get ripped off if the DX station opens your outbound envelope with a letter opener. I would strongly suggest using peel-and-stick return envelopes rather than lick-and-stick; it makes it easier for the DX.
    * Use all-caps in the addressing. Some countries' mail sorting machine will work more accurately this way.

I find my best luck has been using an outbound #10 envelope with security tinting to help hide contents. These can be had in boxes of 500 at Costco for a very reasonable cost. I then use # 6-3/4 size return envelopes (also tinted). If it's a common "western" or first-world country I put the card and return postage (IRC or G$$) under the flap of the return envelope and put it all in the outbound (remember, flap-down!). If it's going to a less-secure place, I'll put the card and IRC or G$$ inside the return envelope for an extra layer of protection.

I make the outbound envelope look like a piece of corporate business mail (i.e. nothing that would make thieves take "extra notice"). If I'm sending to a really sketchy place with a BAD history of disappearing mail I'll either use Registered (I had to go this route for Pakistan) or have the post office put a meter-stamp on it as well as using packing tape across the flap. Otherwise, just a regular US 98cent stamp and a USPS airmail sticker will do the trick.

I prefer to use Green Stamps (US Dollar bills--plural) over IRCs to many places, but IRCs generally work fine to Western Europe, Japan, VK and ZL. And if the DX operator says one IRC is preferred that's what I send. I used to use mint postage stamps but found it became too much of a PITA in the long run. Some ops prefer the G$$ option and will say so on QRZ; again, it's their call.

BTW, I think you're thinking of a different contest - sweepstakes is a US/Canadian contest for the most part. Were you thinking perhaps of CQ World Wide CW?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 11:57:53 AM by W2IRT » Logged

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NS8Q
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2011, 01:42:08 PM »

Quote
* ALWAYS send a self-addressed envelope nested inside your outbound envelope and make sure the flap is inserted down; otherwise it could get ripped off if the DX station opens your outbound envelope with a letter opener. I would strongly suggest using peel-and-stick return envelopes rather than lick-and-stick; it makes it easier for the DX.

With the envelope face up and right-side up, do you mean the return envelope should go face-up but rotate 180 degrees before slipping inside the outer envelope?  Or do you mean stick the inner envelope inside with the flap sticking up?


Quote
* Use all-caps in the addressing. Some countries' mail sorting machine will work more accurately this way.

Should I use caps on both envelopes or just the return one?

Quote
BTW, I think you're thinking of a different contest - sweepstakes is a US/Canadian contest for the most part. Were you thinking perhaps of CQ World Wide CW?

Sorry about that, the contest was the ARRL International DX CW Contest held a month or so ago.  I also did sweepstakes last November...just confused them though! Smiley


One other question...I had to order some IRC coupons directly from the USPS website.  Our post offices around here had no idea what I was talking about.  I thought I heard you had to have the left-side of the IRC stamped by the post office.  Do you still have to do that is you order them or do they already come that way?  They haven't arrived yet so I can't look at them myself.

I have a stamps.com account that I use for other mail so I will be printing postage that way.  That reminds me, speaking of the return envelopes, someone else mentioned something about purchasing some of those airmail envelopes.  Apparently, they make it more efficient in other countries when the see the airmail envelope as compared to a normal white envelope.  What do you think?

Thanks
Chris
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EI2GLB
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 02:24:56 PM »

from an EI point of view IRC's are a waste of money. The are not valid in Ireland and many other countries and from reading here are tricky to find in the States as well. If the DX is looking for $ then send them $'s don't think that IRC's are the same as the are not.

I have recieved lots of direct requests for the US with Irish stamps on the return SAE and that to me is the best option as I just have to pop in in the mail.

There are lots of dead beats out there in the world of QSL'ing I allway google the callsing before I send them a card to see whats out there.

I still have lots of unreturned cards but that could be down to getting lost in the mail and so on.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 02:57:18 PM »


With the envelope face up and right-side up, do you mean the return envelope should go face-up but rotate 180 degrees before slipping inside the outer envelope?  Or do you mean stick the inner envelope inside with the flap sticking up?

Put the return envelope in so that the address is upside-down. In other words, so that the flap of the return envelope is at the bottom of the outgoing envelope. If you're using a letter-opener and the flap is up, the opener could cut the flap off the return envelope, meaning the DX station would either have to supply his own envelope and hand-address it or just send your card back via the bureau. Or not send it back at all.

Should I use caps on both envelopes or just the return one?
I do all caps for everything. Canada requires it outbound (well, some postal clerks used to give me hell when I had mixed-case and they wouldn't accept them at the counter). Since I do labels for my SAEs, I just use caps in Word. Problem solved. Better still, get a pre-inked rubber-stamp made and just stamp all your SAEs. It's cheaper than labels in the long run.

One other question...I had to order some IRC coupons directly from the USPS website.  Our post offices around here had no idea what I was talking about.  I thought I heard you had to have the left-side of the IRC stamped by the post office.  Do you still have to do that is you order them or do they already come that way?  They haven't arrived yet so I can't look at them myself.

They are valid unstamped according to UPU regulations but many post offices in foreign countries (i.e. where the DX will be using them to buy the stamp to return your card) won't accept an un-stamped IRC. When you order online they're supposed to arrived stamped. As such, on those rare occasions that I buy them over the counter I insist they stamp them in the LEFT box. Note that stamping the RIGHT box cancels the IRC and makes it worthless. That's what the redeeming post office does when the DX station goes in to use the coupon to buy the stamp.

It's also been my experience that most counter clerks in the U.S. don't have the slightest notion what an IRC is. Most will never sell or redeem one in their careers if there are no hams in the neighbourhood Smiley

I have a stamps.com account that I use for other mail so I will be printing postage that way.  That reminds me, speaking of the return envelopes, someone else mentioned something about purchasing some of those airmail envelopes.  Apparently, they make it more efficient in other countries when the see the airmail envelope as compared to a normal white envelope.  What do you think?

If you can find 6-3/4 sized air-mail envelopes in the U.S. go for it but I haven't used them in years and I still get all my cards back without a problem. Years ago it was more common for there to be a difference in postage between air and surface mail--sometimes a big difference. These days almost everything (if not everything, period) goes by air. Frankly save yourself the bother. Besides, flashy red-and-blue air-mail envelopes attract attention. You really want your QSL mail to be as inconspicuous as humanly possible. The more boring it looks the greater the chances that thieves won't give it a second look.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 03:09:28 PM by W2IRT » Logged

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W2IRT
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 03:04:51 PM »

from an EI point of view IRC's are a waste of money. The are not valid in Ireland and many other countries and from reading here are tricky to find in the States as well. If the DX is looking for $ then send them $'s don't think that IRC's are the same as the are not.

Interesting. I never knew that Ireland wasn't part of the UPU and didn't accept IRCs. I have Ireland on all bands/modes except 6m so I haven't needed to send a card to your country for many years but that's definitely good to know. You're quite correct in that IRCs are difficult to get in the U.S. unless you're buying them on the "recycled" market. For some countries it's more convenient to use IRCs, however. Several Russian stations say that mail with dollars invariably gets intercepted but IRCs go right through unscathed, for example. In other places it's supposedly illegal to posses foreign currency; India is allegedly one such place although every Indian station I've QSL'd prefers receiving US dollars (I always ask by e-mail before I send).

Frankly I find it easier to use dollars but if I can get IRCs for less than $2 on the secondary market it's cheaper for me since a new coupon here is $2.10 at the moment.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 03:17:59 PM »

Also, something I forgot to put in my earlier post, open an account with your local QSL Bureau. Using the bureau is a very inexpensive way to exchange cards and for the most part is quite reliable. Not every country has a working bureau, but all the common ones do. Turnaround is typically 18-24 months, though I've seen cards come through in 6 months and as long as many years or even decades! I sort the letter O for the 2nd district bureau and my subscribers typically get 3 or 4 mailings a year (some get one every month if they get a lot of cards).

For the original poster, this is the URL for your incoming bureau: http://arrl-greatlakes.org/8th_bureau.htm
You send outbound bureau QSLs via the ARRL Headquarters (you must be a member) or else use Global QSL to print and send your bureau cards automatically.
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WB3CQM
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 06:34:02 PM »

Ever since installing my new Carolina Windom at 35-feet, I have been having a blast working several DX stations.  In the ARRL November Sweeps (CW), I was able to work 61 new countries.  The contacts were moved to my general log and now I want to get cards from them.

I purchased some IRC coupons for those stations where require those.  Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on how to best send cards out and make sure I get a response?

73/CHRIS
KC8CAJ

I order foreign stamps from William Plum in NJ. I have done this method for over 30 years.

I also buy Air Mail Envelops and put  my address and stamp on the smaller envelope and place inside the larger . I flip the flap over so moister will not cause it to stick and seal .

Most of the time I also place 2 or more USD in the envelop with QSL card.

I have got to have 100% return and sometimes in less than 2 weeks. I think I have got SASE back even faster than 2 weeks at times.  I also will send via A.R.R.L . But DX peditions I work and new ones I do this way most of time. Can not remember when I did not get return qsl using this method . I do not put call sign on envelopes . But I will add that some stations stamp a return address with their call sign on my stamped envelope . I never put their return address on my SASE, only cause I wont spend the time.

IRC are waste of effort and money and I doubt many hams over seas want the hassle of them.

73, JIM
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2011, 11:17:25 PM »

Your best bet for QSLing success is to send via the route listed on QRZ.com.

Check out the user ratings in the right-hand panel of Pathfinder Online and you'll see that Buckmaster, IK3QAR, and 425 DX are all considered better sources of QSL information that QRZ.com. In addition, QRZ.com's transition to Amazon has lowered its availability of late.

You can search all of these sites -- including QRZ.com -- by typing in a target callsign once and then clicking buttons to search each site.

   73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 11:20:46 PM by AA6YQ » Logged
N0OKS
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2011, 06:26:16 AM »

If you want cards, go with what every one is saying. If you want the DXCC award, LOTW is the only way to go. Sure, not all DX use LOTW, but using LOTW is the easiest and cheapest way to get DXCC. You will save the $35 it costs to join the ARRL quickly. Then you can go to the LOTW web site and watch your DX trickle in.

Mark, NØOKS
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NS8Q
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2011, 10:50:34 AM »

E In the ARRL November Sweeps (CW), I was able to work 61 new countries. 

The sweepstakes is a domestic and Canada contest.  How did you work 61 new countries in it?  Even if you worked every US possession and Canadian territory (CY9 and CY0) that still wouldn't be near 61 countries.

73s John AA5JG

Hi John.  Thanks for your response.  I corrected myself earlier in this post.  It was the International DX CW Contest and not the November Sweeps.  However, I did work both CW contests for the first time and got them confused. Smiley

73/CHRIS
KC8CAJ
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NS8Q
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2011, 10:53:29 AM »

If you want cards, go with what every one is saying. If you want the DXCC award, LOTW is the only way to go. Sure, not all DX use LOTW, but using LOTW is the easiest and cheapest way to get DXCC. You will save the $35 it costs to join the ARRL quickly. Then you can go to the LOTW web site and watch your DX trickle in.

Mark, NØOKS

Hi Mark.  I ended up signing up for LoTW and am curently waiting for them to email me the key I need to enter or something.  They send me the postcard in the mail with the password on it.  I wish it was a little more easy to set up instead of going through all these steps.  Oh well, it must be for a reason.

Do the cards people exchange on there look more realistic than the ones you find on eQSL.cc?  I was not impressed at all with the cards on there.  The premium cards, or the ones you pay for look much nicer than the free cards.

73/CHRIS
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KA5N
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2011, 12:22:59 PM »

Chris, You don't get actual cards on LOTW, you simply get an acknowledgement that you worked so and so on what band, what date and time etc.  LOTW keeps track of it for you and you can look at your QSO's amd QSL's anytime and as often as you want to. 
If you want actual cards you can still exchange cards with the DX station.  LOTW can be almost instantaneous compared to postal QSLing. 
Also if you upload ALL your QSO's to LOTW, you may be surprised at the number of confirmations you get.  Often stations that say in QRZ.com that they don't use LOTW actually do and almost all DX peditions use LOTW as well as paper QSL's (if you donate or bureau if you don't).  In contests many contest stations will QSL all contacts via bureau.
At any rate you will get QSLs if you make contacts (and may get some from busted call signs
even if you don't make contacts).
Good luck
Allen
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NS8Q
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2011, 09:39:03 AM »

Can I load LoTW on two different computers with the same TQ6 files or do you have to go through all the required steps for both computers?

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N5MOA
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2011, 09:53:35 AM »

Can I load LoTW on two different computers with the same TQ6 files or do you have to go through all the required steps for both computers?




I'm at work, so I haven't tried it yet, but this is the email reply I got from lotw help on the same question:

Go to the LOTW landing page www.arrl.org/lotw
See ADVANCED LoTW
See "Moving LoTW To A New Or Second Computer."
It just takes a couple of mouse clicks.
Be sure you have TQSL 1.13 installed in both computers.


Let me know if it works. Tongue

73, Tom
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