Part of the fun of amateur radio collecting cards, called QSL
cards, from other amateurs that you've talked to 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 (DX century club) for getting cards
confirming contacts with 100 or more DX countries, working all
states in the U.S., all provinces in Canada, or many other
awards available you will need the cards to support your claim
for the award.
a QSL Card
If you plan to QSL your contacts then you
will need a personal QSL card such as the author's shown here.
You can design your own and have a local printer produce them
for you or you can order cards from one of many services you
will find advertised in QST, Radio Amateurs of Canada, CQ and
Give some thought to the content of the card and the quantity
you will be ordering. Usually larger quantities are much less
expensive on a per card basis.
Contents of a QSL Card
Some of the content that should be on each card is:
- your call sign
- your name and address
- a place to write
- the call of the station you contacted
- the date (use DD/MM/YY to comply with most countries). Be sure the
date used is the UTC date (see note below).
- time in UTC (Coordinated
- frequency or band
- mode (SSB, CW, Rtty, etc.)
- a request to QSL or thanks for a QSL received.
Some optional items you might include are:
- your station (maybe even a picture)
- your CQ and ITU zones
- the county you are in
- your grid location (primarily if you operate above 50 MHz)
Note: UTC date is the date that corresponds to the UTC time.
This often causes confusion to a new ham when the UTC date is different
from the local date. If, for example, you are in the Eastern time zone
and UTC is 5 hours ahead of local time then at 7 PM EST the UTC changes to 0000.
If the date was 01/12/2006 (Dec. 1/06) then the UTC date becomes
02/12/2006 (Dec. 2/06).
If you plan to send a lot of QSLs you might find that using a
computerized logging program such as DX4Win, EasyLog, or DXBase
and others can help you keep track of your contacts and also
print labels for the QSL cards.
To send a QSL to an amateur you have contacted (QSO) you have
two basic choices. QSL direct via the post office or send a
batch of cards to your QSL bureau. Using the bureau is by far
the most cost effective route but you might not want to wait for
the return QSL.
To QSL direct you will fill out your QSL card and mail it the
the person you contacted. Say you had a QSO with W1RTA and you
would like his QSL card. First you need to find his address.
This can be done by searching an online callbook such as Buckmaster
or QRZ! or you
can use a CD-ROM callbook from these organizations or others
such as the Flying Horse callbook.
Then fill out the the card, address it (maybe use an envelope
to protect it), put a stamp on and drop it in the mailbox.
Usually in a few weeks you can expect a card in return.
If you are sending a card to a DX contact it is generally
good practice to include a self addressed envelope and return
postage. Do not use the postage of your country as
it will not be valid for use in the DX country. Instead include
either a U.S. dollar bill (known by hams as a green stamp) or an
International Reply Coupon (IRC) which you can purchase at the
post office. Us Canadians cannot use a loonie to pay for return postage as
it is heavy and also subject to theft. Some countries require more than
the equivalent of a dollar for postage. One example is Germany where you
should send two dollars or an IRC. And we thought our postage was expensive! Remember that DX
amateurs, especially those in rare countries, get a lot of
requests for QSL cards and so it is only fair to them that you
provide the cost of postage.
|Active DX stations
often use a QSL manager especially when mail to the DX
country is difficult at best and non-existent at worst.
Some DX stations use managers in the U.S. which makes
postage less expensive. You will be aware of the QSL
manager when looking up the address of the DX call or by
lists published in some of the amateur magazines.
You send a card to a QSL manager in the same way as discussed
above. A return envelope and postage is a must.
QSLing via the Bureau
|Using a QSL bureau
is by far the least expensive way to collect QSL cards.
Most major Amateur Radio countries have a bureau where
cards are collected from hams within the country and then
forwarded in bulk to the destination country. Using bulk
mail to send your cards to the bureau and for them to
forward the cards to other countries cost much less for
postage than mailing individual cards. Both RAC in Canada
and ARRL in the U.S. offer QSL cards outgoing services for
amateurs who are members. Incoming cards can generally be
received whether or not you are a member but membership
alone is worth the cost of the bureau's service.
A recent phenomenon in the QSL scene is the ability to QSL
via the Internet. To do this you only need to go to eQSL.cc at
and register for this free service. Using your web browser you
will be able to design your own QSL card, send cards to contacts
you have made and receive cards. The service also provides
features for organizing cards received and creating summaries of
them. Currently eQSLs are not acceptable for most awards such as
© 2001 - 2010 Don Cassel VE3XD