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Author Topic: where to have qsl cards made  (Read 745 times)

Posts: 27

« on: July 15, 2019, 06:11:17 PM »

New Michigan ham operator and had my first DX to Calgary last night. So rewarding. But now I need to have some QSL cards made. Any suggestions where I can go for those?

Posts: 2794

« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 06:16:19 PM »

Look under eham "Reviews." There is a listing of QSL card printers.

Or you can use a search engine.

Or you can look at some QSL card designs on the web and figure out your own.

Or you can get a big rubber stamp with your call sign and a smaller rubber stamp with
your address and a contact info grid.


Posts: 1331

« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2019, 07:14:36 PM »

I really like Jeff. Mr. QSL. K4JSG.  Great quality. Great price
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 07:19:57 PM by SWMAN » Logged

Posts: 383

« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 07:27:13 PM »

I designed my QSL card with QSL Maker then sent the PDF to Print pelican and had them printed You can also print them with your printer from QSL Maker

Have fun

Posts: 4023

« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2019, 09:57:37 PM »

The professional QSL card makers do a great job at a very reasonable price.  The trick is, they want you to order 1,000 cards.  I find that my needs change often enough that this is false economy.  Order 500 or even 250 and see.

Hand made cards can be in quantities as small as four at Office Max or Insty Prints.

Note that even many professional cards do not have great designs.  Some actually pretend these are real post cards and waste much useful space on an address space that never gets used.  Not really a good idea.  There can be other issues as well.  They will gladly work with you and print your own design anyway.  So, do so.

Your first consideration, especially if you work any foreign countries (DX), is legibility.  Think of an 80 year old Japanese ham trying to make out your card.  That ham does not even use our alphabet in daily life.  They are doing us a favor just by reading our cards.  Make it easy.  Your QSO area should be large and legible and contain popular and easy to read fonts like Verdana, Georgia (if you run Windows), Helvetica, and Century Schoolbook (if you run a Mac).

Beauty has its place, but a pretty picture and a cramped QSO space is a bad trade-off.

The other dominant idea is to design your card so that the "other guy" can apply for any award they care for, whether you care or not.  That makes them a bit more willing to actually send theirs back, which is what we want, right?

I'm about to give a lot of detail, but it's not that big a deal in the end.  You will learn you want to do this.

Your card's QSO area needs to have the following:

1.  The DX call.
2.  The date (in UTC -- 7 PM on August 1st in the US is probably August 2nd in UTC some time after midnight).
3.  The time (in UTC -- I don't care if the ham lives next door, everyone uses UTC).
4.  The frequency or band.
5.  The mode.
6.  The signal report.  Traditionally, RST, but when running FT8 and like modes, most now report the FT8 value instead.  Only one of the reports is generally needed; the one you gave out is fine.  Some specialty WAS nets require both reports.  You will know if you join them.
7.  PSE QSL   or the more traditional   PSE QSL TNX   (and, in the latter, always indicate which applies).  As a stateside guy, you will send more than receive, so I just do PSE QSL and scratch in the TNX QSL on the rare day someone sends a card to me.  Some DX stations will not return your card if they aren't sure you asked for one.  They get thousands of cards.  Don't make them guess.

Beyond the QSO area you want to include:

1.  Your name
2.  Your address (ideally, with the US state spelled out in full or else repeated in full somewhere else on the card).
3.  Your US County (many hams "chase" US counties, including foreign hams).
4.  Your maidenhead grid square.  A variety of awards can use this data.  If you put your address into QRZ.COM, it should calculate your grid for you in "details".  A "four" character grid square is enough; but many do six.
5.  The magic phrase "Confirming our 2 way QSO".  This is lore, but definitely include it.  Some awards managers look for it.
6.  A modest "Via" areas somewhere on the left side of the card (ideally, upper left).  Leave a space to write a call sign next to it (ideally, a little box).  This is used when you send a card to the DX QSL bureau and wish to indicate that the station you called has their cards answered by someone else (a "QSL manager").

If you live on an ocean island, include the name of that island on the card.

Including the CQ zone or ITU zone is optional.  Officially, your address is used for the zone anyway.

All of this will make your card good for any award the "other guy" may want.

If you can do all of this on a single sided card, you are doing great.  Many DX or otherwise popular stations actually prefer everything on a single side.  I can do all of that and still have room for an interesting picture.  The picture takes up no more than half of the card.  I want the QSO area large.

You can include things like your rig or antenna, but to be honest, almost nobody cares.  I don't bother.

--- How to Avoid cards --- and why you wish to do so

You will gather many QSL cards in your career whatever you do.  But, you will quickly learn, after you've worked your fifteenth ham in Long Island or Tokyo, that you do not want every card.  You will make thousands of contacts.  A very few hams want paper cards for everything.  You probably won't be one of them.  There is something called Log of the World (LOTW) that is an electronic QSLing scheme.  It will reduce your card volume by at least half.  If the first ham you work in Boston doesn't participate, the second or third will and you still won't need a card.
 You can still mail off for the really interesting ones regardless.

Joining and sending QSOs to LOTW is free. The start up is a bit obnoxious, but once you get past that, it's fine.  This will allow you to confirm the majority of what you need for awards very inexpensively.  Better still, even if you don't care about awards, it will reduce the volume of incoming cards.  This benefits everyone in the end.   You will pay if and when you "cash in" for awards, but it is about 12 cents per QSO.  Some hams spend more than that on individual cards!  Note that this basically requires electronic logging.  Highly recommended, there are many good programs, many free.

Second, join or at least use Clublog.  Many hams, especially special event stations and DXpeditions, actually would rather not have your card.  Many say so outright.  But, they may not participate in LOTW.  Now, these stations would get thousands, maybe tens of thousands of cards by mail.  For them, yuck.  So, you go through Clublog and order their card while sending them your QSO information via Clublog.  If you join Clublog and upload your QSOs, this is very easy.  But even if you don't, you can still supply or confirm the QSO information and (if the "other guy" participates in Clublog) order the card.  For DX cards, particularly, it can be both cheaper and faster.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 10:03:58 PM by WO7R » Logged

Posts: 216

« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2019, 06:45:48 AM »

I design my own and print them out as I need them on card stock.

Posts: 164

« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2019, 07:22:18 AM »

I made some using this free online web page

Between QRZ, LoTW and eQSL though I have yet to mail one.

« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 07:26:40 AM by K4EMF » Logged

Posts: 128


« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2019, 07:32:22 AM »

Do nay of the QSL card makers print on both sides?

On the continental divide in the wilds of New Mexico.

Posts: 4023

« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2019, 10:16:05 AM »

Do nay of the QSL card makers print on both sides?

If you mean the professionals that make blank cards, most will do either single or double sided cards.

If you mean "printing your own QSL on your own card stock with a program of some kind", then the answer is generally no.

Few consumer printers have good support for printing on both sides of the card.  Moreover, some authorities (notably W9KNI in "The Complete DXer") argue that single sided cards are actually an advantage.  The brutal truth is, the DX barely cares for your card any more (this is why Online QSL Request Services or OQRS are so popular.  Between LOTW and OQRS I send maybe 10 per cent of the QSOs that are "award worthy" as physical cards these days.  And that is more like 1 per cent of my total QSOs made).

But, if the DX is still getting your card, a single sided card that is legible will work fantastic.  Single sided, when legible, fills the bill nicely.

If you make your own cards, you can certainly make them double sided yourself.  But, you should have all of the QSO information one one side.  That's what the DX wants.  And that also facilitates using any of the various forms of "make your own card".  The trick then is to have one side have the pretty picture and none of your QSO information.  In fact, the one side with the picture should probably have your picture and your call and nothing else.  The rest should all go on the QSO side.  Including repeating your call if you put it on the "pretty" side.  Make it easy on the DX.

Another trick is to put the QSO information on a label (use at least a 1 inch by 3 inch label or whatever the metric equivalent is) and then you can put that label on whatever kind of blank card you wish to make yourself, single or double sided.

There's a nice coincidence that you can, one way or another, fit four QSL cards in "landscape" mode on an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper if you work at it.  The trick there is to have a 1/4 inch margin around your card blank.

Why?  Because printers pretty much never print to the bitter end of the page.  Most leave a 1/4 inch margin or so.  Anyway, if you work at it hard enough, you can plan a 1/4 inch margin around your card, as seen by the DX, but omit 1/4 inch of the margin on two sides of each card.  You do this by placing your QSL card image in each corner in (say) Photoship, leaving some waste in the middle.  Your Photoshop image is 8 by 10.5 inches.  The upper left QSL would omit the 1/4 inch on the top and left sides, the bottom right QSL would omit the 1/4 inch on the bottom and right sides and so on.  It looks unbalanced in Photoshop, but wait a moment.

If you do it right, and center the image without any size reduction, the printing process then restores the missing 1/4 inch margin for each card and you get four  3.5 inch by 5.5 inch cards after you cut them from an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet.  You can do this on your home printer (laser print strongly recommended) or at Insty Prints by taking them images.  (Inkjet ink usually runs when wet, even days after your print it -- I don't risk an illegible card by that means).

In Europe, you can achieve a similar effect with A4 paper, though the QSL will be a bit less than 3.5 inches (90 mm).  There is no requirement that the card be exactly 3.5 by 5.5 inches (I have received a great variety of sizes) but to the extent there is a "standard" size, that is it.  Some European card makers have 90mm by 140mm, which is close enough to 3.5 by 5.5 as to make no difference.

Now, if you are dealing with some kind of program that makes QSLs for printing for you, they may lay out "four cards to a sheet" differently.  The card may or may not be 3.5 by 5.5 inches.  However, if you want a two sided card, you can take this information about the margin problem (the program, whatever it does, must account for it) and plan accordingly.  If the program expects you to feed single blank cards into the printer, then you still must deal with at least one edge having a margin where no printing takes place.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 10:29:41 AM by WO7R » Logged

Posts: 4369

« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2019, 11:03:56 AM »

I dunno.. what few paper cards I send out (SASE only) I have the wife print them up.  she does a good job, and I am free to work DX  Smiley

73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist

Posts: 84

« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2019, 08:50:11 PM »

I've had a couple of cheaper QSL cards made over the years and been happy enough with them.  This year I wanted to jazz my cards up some and I bought some from Gennady UX5UO.  WOW these cards are tops.  Check out my QRZ page for a sticky beak of my cards.  I blocked out some of my address.  I designed the cards at home and sent Gennady my design and he made it work.  Truly I wish I'd found Gennady a decade ago.


cq cq cq de vk2icj

Posts: 4660


« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2019, 05:08:45 AM »

I use post cards from the post office by designing and printing my QSL cards on adhesive label stock and transferring them to the post cards.

My antenna says, "What makes me happy is when the tuner is adjusted for maximum available current through my radiation resistance!" 73, Cecil,

Posts: 1655

« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2019, 06:38:34 AM »

Design your own in Word or the with on line tools with your selection of pictures or not. Take it to WallyWorld or your local camera store and they can print out color 4x6 cards pretty reasonably. I prefer my custom made ones, but I hardly use them. I think eqsl has a free tool too.

Posts: 4023

« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2019, 10:35:17 AM »

Wally World via 4x6 photos will give a classy card.

Several caveats however.

1.  Make sure the photo has a matte finish, not glossy.  Your glossy photo QSL might stick to,  and ruin, a far more valuable card in front of yours as it sits by the year in someone's shoe box.

2.  Watch the aspect ratio.  Make sure your card's width is 1.5 times the height.  If you don't do this, your card may be badly distorted.   Most digital cameras have a 1.3 aspect ratio and when you print it as a 4x6, Wally World software will "help" by adjusting your picture.   Sometimes it works,  sometimes it looks dumb.  Make the card image at the right ratio and there's no problem.

3.  Seriously consider designing the card with a 1/2 inch margin on the top and right side.  Then, with a suitable machine, chop it down to 3.5 by 5.5.  Large cards are the bane of everyone's existence.

It's a fairly expensive card, but done right, it looks really nice.

Posts: 811

« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2019, 11:53:34 AM »

Good starter cards at
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