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Author Topic: Wither paper QSLs?  (Read 5652 times)
K3NRX
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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2012, 07:39:27 AM »

STOP IT!.... Shocked...It will never be a paperless world....

V
KA3NRX

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N7SMI
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 09:01:47 AM »

I realize my low success rate for my early cards (again, a pretty small sample) is not normal, and can probably be mostly attributed to my poor practices. I'm learning a lot and appreciate your recommendations.

I use an embedded envelope system. I'll review my envelope sizes and check out Plum DX Supplies (no web site???). What size envelopes do you use/recommend?

Ordering and sending the DX's local return postage as Randy suggested (rather than sending green stamps) seems like a lot of work and seems to increase the possibility of issues with postage rate changes.

It's interesting that KY6R finds the bureau "a total waste of time". To me it seems a great way to request cards that I want, but that I don't want bad enough to spend time and $3 on. I just wish it were easier to use and more efficient. Despite having funds on account and requesting monthly batches, I haven't received incoming bureau cards in several months. Perhaps the 7th area bureau is just way behind?
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2012, 09:10:53 AM »

If Paper QSLs go away, I will sell the gear and mail my license back to the FCC.  IF you have a contact with me and send a paper QSL and SASE, you will get a return card from me.  If I make a contact with you and desire a QSL from you, you will get my card and a SASE.  As they call it, "the final courtesy".
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KY6R
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2012, 09:37:58 AM »

I'm certainly not abdicating "paperless". I just want to be able to print the paper based QSL card on my color laserjet printer using card stock and give the $3 or $4 I would have paid the postal services in the two countries to the dxpeditioner. I even still want the same professionally designed card image that dx-peds create.

Its just that LOTW satisfies my need for a "point" toward a DXCC award (and now even the CQ awards - if you participate in those). The card itself now goes right in my binder.

I also have learned that if you want NCDXF funds for your DX-pedition LOTW is a requirement, so you will only see more and more dx-peditions participating in LOTW.

The bureau was great when I started DX-ing, but then after (can't remember when - maybe 2005) everything I needed a QSL card for said "DIRECT ONLY" or "LOTW and DIRECT".

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W5DQ
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« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2012, 10:09:23 AM »

Well before any of this 'pie in the sky wishful thinking' on having LOTW and other electronic QSL services do ALL the QSL processing by electronic means, a couple of things have to happen (IMHO):

First, someone/some group/committee has to concieve a way to FORCE ALL DXers worldwide to use LOTW and /or other electronic services. Right now this isn't the case. Many DXers do not use ANY electronic means and only send QSL cards when requested with return postage PAID by the requestor (YOU and ME). Until all use LOTW,etc. your electronic Nirvana is simply a pipe dream.

Secondly, all the electronic services are going to have to come together, become compatible and standardize so electronic QSLs credits can be readily accepted by and between ALL the electronic QSL services. If this doesn't happen, then we no better off since having a QSL in eQSL will not work in LOTW, as it currently doesn't. Paper QSLs are the link between the differences in electronic services.

On final fact, there is a US Postal regulation (and no I can't quote it but I have read references to it) that states that NO entity such as a QSL bureau can legally be allowed to compete with the USPS in delivering QSLs (i.e. mail). That is why the bureaus use the USPS for the 'last mile' of delivery and international postal services carry bulk between country's central bureau POCs. The bureau volunteers handle the sorting of the cards and inflow and outflow of bulk QSL shipments to/from the postal service. The delay in delivery of bureau cards that some have referred to is simply a by-product of having a volunteer based service to sort and distribute QSL cards.

For what it is worth, I use both; physical cards and electronic means - LOTW and eQSL.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
N7SMI
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« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2012, 10:29:38 AM »

Many DXers do not use ANY electronic means and only send QSL cards when requested with return postage PAID by the requestor (YOU and ME). Until all use LOTW,etc. your electronic Nirvana is simply a pipe dream.

My thought was that if a DXer didn't want to or couldn't participate digitally in LOTW, that their paper cards would automatically be entered as LOTW confirmations when routed through the updated bureau service. In other words, the card checking would happen automatically for both incoming and outgoing cards because they'd all be routed through the ARRL.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2012, 11:10:25 AM »

Many DXers do not use ANY electronic means and only send QSL cards when requested with return postage PAID by the requestor (YOU and ME). Until all use LOTW,etc. your electronic Nirvana is simply a pipe dream.

My thought was that if a DXer didn't want to or couldn't participate digitally in LOTW, that their paper cards would automatically be entered as LOTW confirmations when routed through the updated bureau service. In other words, the card checking would happen automatically for both incoming and outgoing cards because they'd all be routed through the ARRL.

LOTW currently has no connection at all to any bureau and it would take a major revision to the model to do what your proposing.

Secondly, for cards that come through the bureaus, who would enter those cards into the LOTW system? I'm a buro card sorter and I can tell you I'm not going to be doing the cards that come through my buro segment. I would need more hours than are in the day to do all of that. I have almost 1000 call signs accounts and run anywhere from 1000 to 2000 cards a quarter through my segment. And I have been informed by other card sorters that I am a little fish in that pond. Some guys run up more than a couple thousand a MONTH.

If the cards are to be entered in to LOTW as they come thru the buro, then I would suspect that a standardized format will need to be created so it can be scanned electronically and entered automatically into whatever service it is destined for. Since the bureaus are from ARRL, then I would suspect that only LOTW would be the receiver of data. What about eQSL users? And those that wanted to use GlobalQSL, etc.?

This onion has many, many layers and it isn't going to begin to be solved at a forum level. Until ARRL and other services all come to the table and decide to join hands, I really don't see anything changing from the status quo.

Gene W5DQ

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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
K9NW
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2012, 11:10:52 AM »

In other words, the card checking would happen automatically for both incoming and outgoing cards because they'd all be routed through the ARRL.


How would address bureau cards that don't pass through ARRL HQ?  Or are you proposing that the ARRL would take on a role as Bureau of the World?

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NU4B
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« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2012, 11:26:49 AM »

Wow, if you guys find sending off for a QSL card too complicated, tell me again how you got a license?  Grin

Ahhh... the classic "if you don't do/understand/use X, then how did you ever get licensed" troll response. I've only seen that one maybe 100 times in recent weeks on these forums.

Quote
And if its so confusing, antiquated, and convoluted - why are you doing it?  Grin

This is precisely my point. It is this attitude and resistance to change that is causing most new hams to never even consider paper QSLs. It's the reason our paper QSLing system is pretty much the same as it was in the 50s.

I love paper QSLs. I just think the current process of getting/sending them sucks. Most new hams simply won't bother learning all of the nuances and complexities.

I'm a new and comparatively young ham (you've been licensed nearly as long as I've been alive). I've embraced and love technology. I write at most 1 check a month (nearly all transactions, shopping, etc. are done online) and if it weren't for QSLing, I'd be using the same book of forever stamps I bought 5 years ago.

I can absolutely assure you that if exchanging QSL cards continues to be such a manual, convoluted, and unreliable process that take months and years for a possible confirmation, that it will, as the original poster suggested, go the way of the vacuum-tube receiver. And that would be a shame, with the blame entirely on those who resist change and instead suggest that if it's so hard, you should stop doing it or shouldn't have been licensed in the first place.

Just playing around - sorry, my deepest apologies.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2012, 11:27:06 AM »

I'm curious ..... other than the few QSLs that might be fwded direct from an overseas buro to the receiving ham (never heard of this but ya never know), what other bureau is there in the US that doesn't pass through the ARRL Incoming DX Bureau system? I believe all of the non-ARRL bureau entities in the US are for OUTGOING QSLs and any replies from DX bureaus are through the ARRL Bureau system?

Since I use only the ARRL buro system both ways, I'd be interested in hearing about the others and their success/failure rates, methods of operating and contacts/websites.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
W5DQ
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« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2012, 11:44:02 AM »

I can absolutely assure you that if exchanging QSL cards continues to be such a manual, convoluted, and unreliable process that take months and years for a possible confirmation, that it will, as the original poster suggested, go the way of the vacuum-tube receiver. And that would be a shame, with the blame entirely on those who resist change and instead suggest that if it's so hard, you should stop doing it or shouldn't have been licensed in the first place.

While I understand the new and younger hams desire to do everything technologically based, failing to embrace some of ham radio's traditions and methods simply because they don't fit your lifestyle is a personal choice and problem. For the many of us who grew up using the old tried and true method of licking a stamp and waiting patiently for that much desired and needed QSL card from some far off corner of the world, it is just part of the game. I agree that given the economical outlook for the world's postal services, being able to send that physical card may soon get to be almost impossible and may cost way beyond anything practical, but to simply throw out that part of ham radio you find archaic and manual is too lose part of our heritage and meaning. If you feel so strongly about defining a new model for QSLing in the 21st century, I would recommend that you create a whitepaper describing your model and put it before the amateur community. It will face controversy for sure but maybe, just maybe it will open doors and perhaps be the seed to develop a new modern technologically advanced QSLing system.

And the long wait period for confirmations won't get any faster if the cards are entered into LOTW at the bureau because the ARRL has to receive them first and many oveseas buros only send to the ARRL yearly or when enough cards for US hams get collected. In my buro work, I see time ranging from 3 to 6 months to as long as 18 to 24 months with the granddaddy of them all being a Japanese QSL to a California ham for a QSO in 1968, received by me in 2011. The CA ham was a SK a long, long time ago. I framed the card and put it on the wall as there was no one to send it too.

And yes I am one of those old timers who have no problems still sticking a stamp (no licking anymore) and waiting for the new card to arrive. But I too use LOTW and like it alot. And I've been licensed and active for 36 years (36th anniversary of Novice license delivery will be in 12 days).

73

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
WS3N
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« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2012, 12:09:04 PM »

Things will undoubtedly shift towards electronic QSLing, and it won't require any forcing from the top. The Grim Reaper will drive the change from the bottom up. The necessities of one generation become the cherished traditions of their offspring, and the musty rituals of the next. And that's as it should be.
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AJ4RW
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« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2012, 12:25:59 PM »

Wm. Plum has an email address or phone but I don't think he has a website.  
His email address is plumdx@msn.com
phone number is (908) 788-1020  
His hours are 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday EST.

He's a very nice person and very knowledgeable concerning current postage rates throughout the world.  The envelope sizes are the ones he supplied me with and are as follow.
Outer (mailer) - 6.5" x 4.75"
Inner (return) - 6.25" x 4.5".

I need to clarify that when I send my envelopes, the inner (return) envelope will have the countries postage stamp affixed to the envelope just to keep everyone honest.  Also, I enclose an extra $2 just in case there was a postage increase from that country after the time I purchased the stamps.  I also follow the instructions provided by the stations QRZ page or website just in case they want something different.

When I was a teenager, I was always excited everytime the postman/woman came.  The potential that I might get a QSL card from another country far away overwhelmed me.  But that was back when black and white TVs were in and cola was 5 cents a bottle.  I personally feel that there are more efficient ways of getting the QSL job done.  Electronic QSLing saves money and time.  I still do paper QSLs but I feel that my time could be better spent on some other endeavor but some of the DX stations want the paper QSL card.  I don't QSL every DX station, only ones that give me a new DXCC entity.  I find that quite a few DX stations use eQSL and I love it.
Randy AJ4RW
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AF3Y
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« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2012, 01:12:05 PM »

Things will undoubtedly shift towards electronic QSLing, and it won't require any forcing from the top. The Grim Reaper will drive the change from the bottom up. The necessities of one generation become the cherished traditions of their offspring, and the musty rituals of the next. And that's as it should be.


(ZAGER AND EVANS):  ............ In the Year TWENTY-FIVE TWENTY-FIVE, IF man is still alive.........

73 es gud DX, Gene AF3Y Cool
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 01:28:18 PM by AF3Y » Logged
N7SMI
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2012, 01:59:07 PM »

The envelope sizes are the ones he supplied me with and are as follow.
Outer (mailer) - 6.5" x 4.75"
Inner (return) - 6.25" x 4.5".

Thank you for the very useful information.

I'm now using...
Outer - 6.5" x 4.75"
Inner - 5.75" x 4.375

So my inner envelope is just slightly smaller.

Quote
I need to clarify that when I send my envelopes, the inner (return) envelope will have the countries postage stamp affixed to the envelope just to keep everyone honest.  Also, I enclose an extra $2

Yikes! You've got to be looking at $5 or $6 per QSL – materials + postage there + return postage (plus postage to get the international stamp to you from Plum) + $2.
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