Paper / Electronic QSL cards

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wbswetnam

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I've been into HF operations for only about six weeks now, but I have faithfully mailed out paper QSL cards to every contact I have made (other than the W1AW stations I've worked), It makes over 40 QSL cards I have sent off. My response? Only five have returned the favor. From looking at ham operator profiles on QRZ it seems that many hams only respond by electronic QSL card, others demand an SASE (sad, I think, that a ham who can afford to spend $15,000 on equipment is unable to afford a roll of stamps), and others say outright that they don't QSL at all.

Is QSLing a thing of the past? I wish now that I hadn't bought so many cards from the printer....
 

N8IAA

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I've been into HF operations for only about six weeks now, but I have faithfully mailed out paper QSL cards to every contact I have made (other than the W1AW stations I've worked), It makes over 40 QSL cards I have sent off. My response? Only five have returned the favor. From looking at ham operator profiles on QRZ it seems that many hams only respond by electronic QSL card, others demand an SASE (sad, I think, that a ham who can afford to spend $15,000 on equipment is unable to afford a roll of stamps), and others say outright that they don't QSL at all.

Is QSLing a thing of the past? I wish now that I hadn't bought so many cards from the printer....
Sign of the times Bill. Back in the mid 80's when I was very active on HF, we were made aware that some DX contacts required international currency included with the QSL card to respond. I always included a self addressed stamped envelop for the returned card.

It's not the fact that they have poured a ton of money into their station, it's just the fact that QSL'ing has been done this way for a long time.

To the die hard paper hunters, electronic cards don't carry any weight.

For some out of the US, it is definitely the way to go as far as expense. Can you imagine getting 150 requests for your QSL at 48 cents? That's over $72. Can't even imagine what it would be overseas.
Larry
 

k6cpo

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The fact that a lot of hams don't send out paper QSL cards anymore is the reason I got into printing my own. I created several designs on my computer and I print them as needed. This way I'm not putting out a bunch of money for a batch of cards that may never get used.

I think a lot of hams don't do it because of the hassle involved. You have to fill out the card, address and stamp the envelope and SASE, bundle it all together and mail it. And you still have no guarantee someone is going to send one back. Since most hams keep their logs on their computers, several mouse clicks and the log is uploaded to eQSL or LoTW. Much easier.
 

N0IU

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I've been into HF operations for only about six weeks now, but I have faithfully mailed out paper QSL cards to every contact

My response? Only five have returned the favor

(sad, I think, that a ham who can afford to spend $15,000 on equipment is unable to afford a roll of stamps),

Is QSLing a thing of the past? I wish now that I hadn't bought so many cards from the printer....
Seriously? You have been making HF contacts for a whopping month and a half and you have already determined that QSLing is a thing of the past just because you have only received 5 cards back?

And the other 35 that have not yet sent you their card in return... how do you know they have $15,000 worth of equipment?

But to actually answer your question, QSLing with paper cards is pretty much a thing of the past mainly because of the cost and especially now that there are electronic alternatives. If you are looking for a memento on paper of the individual contacts you have made, I think you are going to be disappointed. Sorry.

If, however, you want to earn awards such as the ARRL's DXCC and WAS, then you should get on board with LoTW (Logbook of The World): Logbook of the World. You may hear people say what a PITA it is to set up LoTW... and they are right! But once you have jumped through all of the hoops, it is incredibly easy to use, especially if you use an electronic logbook that supports uploading to LoTW like Ham Radio Deluxe (aka HRD).

The other major player in the electronic confirmation arena is eQSL: eQSL.cc - The Electronic QSL Card Centre. It is much easier to set up and use. The bad news is that eQSL confirmations do not count towards the ARRL awards, but eQSL has many of their own awards.

And while I am on my soap box, another virtue in the world of QSLing is patience.

Here is a screen shot of one page of my LoTW confirmations:



Look at the one circled in red. That is a confirmation of a contact I had over 20 years ago! Don't get your underwear all bunched up because you don't receive a confirmation in a week or two.If you are skillful (or lucky) enough to work a major DXPedition, it can take months to get a confirmation... even an electronic one. And if you use the incoming and outgoing QSL bureau, it can take YEARS to get a paper confirmation!

Good luck and oh, by the way.... Welcome to Amateur Radio!
 
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k9rzz

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Paper QSLs may be a thing of the past FOR YOU, but not in general. Return rate has always been a sore point. Don't despair. If you really want that card, then mail an SASE. That's the same rule that we've gone by in the last 40 years. Be sure to write a nice note on it, saying that you're new to radio, PRETTY PLEASE QSL! Keep at it, and keep it fun. I don't do eQSL, or LOTW. I tried it, hated it. Never again. So ... when I retire, and go on my dream 6 meter grid square DXpetition handing out rare ones, you better start printing up cards if you want that contact verified. SASE only, but guaranteed 100% return! ~:^]
 

KE5MC

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$172.50

Just sent a card to Germany and the stamp was $1.15.

Mike



snip...

Can you imagine getting 150 requests for your QSL at 48 cents? That's over $72. Can't even imagine what it would be overseas.
Larry
 

wbswetnam

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Seriously? You have been making HF contacts for a whopping month and a half and you have already determined that QSLing is a thing of the past just because you have only received 5 cards back?

And the other 35 that have not yet sent you their card in return... how do you know they have $15,000 worth of equipment?!
No, I have not determined that QSLing is a thing of the past... I was enquiring that is all.

OK the $15,000 may be an exaggeration but some hams do seem to have elaborate set ups.

My purpose of the post was to ask if QSLing is still commonly done by paper or if it is almost exclusively by electronic means.

I already looked at LoTW but I already have a log book I made up on my own with a MS Excel spreadsheet. I'm not an ARRL member and I'm not interested in joining. I know that you don't have to be an ARRL member to use the LoTW but to get awards you must belong; however, I think that I can live without the awards and I'm not interested in contests.

Maybe I should only send out a QSL if someone specifically asks? I guess coming into amateur radio I thought that one automatically sends out a QSL for each contact, but I can see how the postage could easily get out of hand especially if you are a rare grid or you operate your station from Tajikstan or some other rare and sought-after country.
 

AK9R

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I already looked at LoTW but I already have a log book I made up on my own with a MS Excel spreadsheet.
Logbook of the World is possibly a misnomer because LotW is much more than a logbook.

The value of LotW is that it matches the contacts you've logged with the contacts other people have logged. Let's say you and I contact each other on the air. Let's say you happen to live in a state I need for WAS. I create an entry in my log for the contact. You also make an entry in your log for the contact. I then upload my log to LotW. You also upload your log to LotW. The LotW server looks at the two entries, sees that I say I contacted you at a certain date and time using a certain frequency and mode, and it also sees that you say you contacted me at the same date and time using the same frequency and mode. LotW declares that the entry in my log is legitimate because it matches your log. The result is that I get WAS credit for your state.

For the past 18 months or so, I've been keeping a paper log. Over the past few weeks, I've been working with the DX Keeper module in DX Lab Suite. DX Keeper's integration with LotW (and eQSL) is fantastic. I can tell DX Keeper to upload my recent log entries to LotW and then later, after the LotW server has processed my log entries, I can have DX Keeper sync my QSOs and QSLs with LotW. Now, I can review my log in DX Keeper to see which states have been confirmed in LotW. If I have logged contacts with states I need that haven't been confirmed through LotW, I know that I will need to send paper QSLs for those contacts.

Now that I've entered something like 675 contacts into my DX Keeper log and uploaded them to LotW, I find that I have confirmation for 37 states towards mixed WAS. Now, I need to concentrate on the 13 states I still need. If I can get all 50 states confirmed in LotW, I can apply for WAS without having to submit any QSL cards for manual checking. That's the value of LotW.
 

ke6lou

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I have found the best QSL card return rates when I am making contacts in nets such as NATA and OMISS. Also, reading the station's QRZ page often yields good information on whether or not a station will send a paper card, if they want a SASE, etc. Many stations eQSL only. That's fine with me. I print the cards and they make nice additions to my collection. I would concur with others that posted that patience is a virtue in card collecting. Many of the cards I have gotten back were weeks or months later. Whenever they arrive, I appreciate each card received.
 

N0IU

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...after the LotW server has processed my log entries, I can have DX Keeper sync my QSOs and QSLs with LotW. Now, I can review my log in DX Keeper to see which states have been confirmed in LotW.
Its kind of a moot point since the OP said that he was not interested in joining the ARRL or working towards any of their awards or certificates, but since you brought it up...

You can get that information straight from the LoTW website without having to jump through all those hoops. All you have to do is log into the website and select the Awards tab. The go down to the "Your LoTW ARRL WAS (Worked All States) Account(s)" section and click on "Select WAS Award Account". This will bring up a page with all of the various WAS awards you can get from the Basic to each band and mode.

If, for example, I click on 20 meters. It shows that I have 47 confirmations because the default view is for Pending credits. This means that those states have been confirmed but I have not yet used them to apply for an award. But anyway, if I select the radio button that says "All Entities" then select the button that says, "Select WAS Award to View", it will bring up a box with all 50 states and that will show you which states you have confirmed and more importantly, which states you have NOT confirmed! Easy!
 

lep

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It does not appear that K9RZZ (an ex WB9 with a vanity call sign) is an ARRL member so he would not be eligible for the features some have described.
 

AK9R

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Its kind of a moot point since the OP said that he was not interested in joining the ARRL or working towards any of their awards or certificates...
I appreciate that. My previously unstated point, though, is that even if the OP is not chasing awards, the guy on the other end of the QSO might be and might need a QSL from the OP for award credit. Getting that credit through LotW is a lot easier than exchanging QSL cards, but if the OP doesn't do LotW, then QSL cards will be necessary.

One of the Ham Radio Deluxe videos I recently watched explicitly makes the point that HRD can show you the DX spots you might need for DXCC and are LotW participants. The point being that if you need the DX contact, but he doesn't do LotW, you might keep looking rather than go through the hassle of exchanging paper QSLs.

You can get that information straight from the LoTW website without having to jump through all those hoops.
But how does LotW help me with the contacts I've made with folks who don't participate in LotW? Yes, LotW can show me that a contact is unconfirmed, but I can use the features in DX Keeper (or another logging program) to track which paper QSLs I've sent and received. Once I submit those paper QSLs for verification, that status will appear in LotW, but only after I've sent and received the paper QSL.
 

ka1jbe

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Qsl cards

I like LOTW and EQSL but find that i really enjoy the thrill of waiting for the mailman and the excitement i get when i check the mail and find a SAE i sent to a dx station.
I have sent out around 300 cards ( ALL DX STATIONS ) and everyone but 5 people have sent back cards.
A couple thing to do when sending out paper qsl cards:
1 . Check the QRZ page and make sure they do DIRECT cards.
2 . If you can confirm the contact via CLUBLOG or email all the better.
3 . Make sure you send it to the qsl manager if they have one and maybe other dx uses the same qsl manager.
4 . Send them your card, a SAE, and $$ to pay for the stamp to send the card back from them, DON'T USE AN SASE IF OUTSIDE USA.
5 . Have PATIENTS it may take 6 months or longer to get it back.
Usually it takes only a couple months.
6 . Use OQRS and you don't have to send a card and will receive one.
OQRS is easily done on clublog when you confirm a contact.
I REALLY ENJOY QSL CARDS... IT WILL COST WHEN YOU USE LOTW AWARDS ANYWAY.
 

PrimeNumber

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I enjoy getting QSL cards too, but I don't sweat over sending SASE's and such except in special cases. Right now I'm getting about 35% as many as I send out, and that's OK. For me, it's just a fun extra.
 

VE3RADIO

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I love paper cards.. and when I am a silent key some day it will be something for my son to remember me by.. I have a big box with all the cards I have gotten over the years, most DX stations will reply without SASE.. it just takes time as they send via the BURO.. If there is one I really want (like when I worked Japan while mobile) I send a SASE and a green stamp.. yes even tho I am in Canada I have a large stack of green stamps just for QSL.. universal currency :)
 

kj3n

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It does not appear that K9RZZ (an ex WB9 with a vanity call sign) is an ARRL member so he would not be eligible for the features some have described.
Yep. If you're not an ARRL member, not much point in LoTW. I'll stick with eQSL.

JMO
 

chrissim

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When I first became an amateur radio operator, I would send out QSL cards without a self addressed stamped envelope. I never received a single card back. I then arrived at the conclusion that it's polite and necessary to send a SASE. Since I've done that, I have a 100% return rate. I don't require a SASE, but most do.

It's rare that I send anything domestic at this point. For DX, I use the bureau. It's nice to get a large package every few months from some distant entity I know I'll never visit - it's like a postcard. Normally, they are professionally printed and display something of cultural significance (a monument, castle, etc). I've received many cards that showcase the landscape/geography. I love 'em.

EQSL is boring in my opinion. The majority of electronic cards that I receive are nothing more than a generic background with the pertinent information. Certainly not print worthy. It also wasn't useful in achieving DXCC or WAS - I relied on LOTW for that. You can use eQSL for the CQ magazine awards, but again I was able to use LOTW for the CQ mag awards that I was interested in.

QSL cards are not something of the past. My uncle, a ham for over 50 years, is quite prolific and just received close to 200 DX cards since his last shipment arrived six months ago.
 

AC9KH

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Is QSLing a thing of the past? I wish now that I hadn't bought so many cards from the printer....
I'll say it is a thing of the past for most these days. But not all. You talk to me and you'll get a good old-fashioned hard copy QSL card in the mail that's filled out by hand I don't do the online QSL'ing at all.

It's sort of a "sign of the times". Back in the old days ham radio was a way to make distant friends instead of just contacts in a cloud server logbook, where the contact consists of contact, RST, 73, see ya'. I avoid the people that do that and make my contacts with the hams that want to talk and get to know the guy (or gal) on the other end, and make a new friend. Those are the people you'll get hard copy QSL cards from. And there's still a fair amount of those operators left and those are the contacts that really count. 15 years from now, having a QSL card in your collection, or on your shack wall, bearing the postal stamps of a foreign country will mean more to you than 10,000 electronic entries in some cloud server logbook.

When I'm on the air, the people I send a QSL card to earn it. If I run across an operator that makes the quick contact to get a logbook entry then says 73 see ya', that operator does not even get an entry into my (paper) station log. But yesterday (Christmas day) I talked to a fellow in England on 10 meters for 20 minutes, then a fellow from Scotland for about 10-15 minutes (also on 10 meters) before the band faded out. Later in the afternoon I made another contact in Columbia, South America on 10 meters and talked to that fellow for about a half hour. All three of those QSL cards are going out in the mail this morning, and if I get one back from them, I do, and if I don't, I don't. But just because of the type of operators they were, and the fact that they could actually carry on a conversation on the air, I'll bet I get one back from all three of them.

Look for quality contacts, not quantity.
 

vagrant

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I have received more QSL cards from a satellite contact than HF. I promptly print up a card I have designed and mail it back, whether or not they have included a SASE. If a SASE was included I would definitely return a card to whomever from operator to SWL. I'm not sure why anyone would not.

I do use eQSL & LoTW. Almost every contact I have made show as using eQSL as well. I paid the nominal fee and created a custom card versus a generic one.

I have also received the infamous postcard saying I have cards waiting through a bureau and to send $5 to cover envelopes and postage, but I have found that fellow operators that have replied sending over the money, never received anything.

I do agree a bit with the post by KIN9405, but I would use the word acquaintance rather than friend. It is nice to have a QSO with someone and get into some details about our stations. It is also enjoyable for me to make a quick contact during a contest, special event, or QSO party. Amateur radio is what each operator makes of it. From CW, to Phone to Digital, it's a fun hobby with many facets. There is no one particular way to use it, and that is what makes it enjoyable. For me, the QSL card I received from my first QSO is the only one that has a place on the wall in a frame, particularly because is was via SO-50 using a 5 watt HT.
 
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