School me on QSL cards

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MikeThompson

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I am very much new to this hobby and am very appreciative of the guidance I've been given so far. Members here are great!

I have a TECSUN Pl-660 coming in the mail and while I watch the mailbox to see if it has arrived, I was hoping to get a little primer on QSL cards. The concept intrigues me, I send out a report of what I heard and I get a cool card.

This is where I run into some questions:

1) I read that the station requires a report outlining what i heard and when. Is there a basic system for doing this report? Will I be able to get all the info needed from my display?

2) Getting the frequency and broadcaster should be easy enough, but how to I know what address to mail / email the report to?

3) In the report you are supposed to fill in what you were listening to, but how do I fill that in if it is in a different language?

4) If I pick up some Ham radio and would like to get a QSL from them, is the process the same?

Sorry about these relative basic questions, but the videos I've seen have dealt mainly with HAM and not shortwave.

Thanks guys!
 

GeekNJ

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Mike - are you looking to QSL as a SWL (Short Wave Listener) or as a licensed ham?

I'll throw some responses in for your questions but would be more targeted if there was more context on your situation.

Typically, a report between 2 hams is their call sign and report. The report can be short as their RS(T) such as 59 or 599 or could be longer if in a contest exchanging additional info such as a sequence number, their grid square, etc. See Practical Signal Reports | Ham Radio School.com for some details on

Traditional paper QSL cards can be sent direct (postal mail) or via the buro/bureau. QSL can also be done electronically now through various online services such as LOtW, eQSL, ClubLog, etc. If you need an address, a could lookup would be to use their callsign on Callsign Database by QRZ Ham Radio

Most ham radio contacts are in english. Conversations can be in another language but the call sign and report, which is what is needed to QSL will typically be in English.
 

GeekNJ

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I've received a handful of QSL cards from SWL'ers over the years. Their card to me contains the call sign of the 2 stations that made a contact, one of course which is mine. It contains the date/time (UTC not your local time), frequency (eg 14.285) and report (eg 59) . I don't recall receiving any QSLs for SWL'ers direct (postal mail to me) and always through the buro. The buro is sort of a private post office for QSL cards managed by groups all over the world. If you are in the US, you'd likely use the ARRL outgoing QSL buro and get your cards to them, They would pass along all cards for a region to the incoming QSL buro of that region who would sort and distribute the cards to the appropriate operators. These services cost money, though if you are an ARRL member in the US, your membership covers the outgoing fees. Since I libe in the "2" call area, I pay for the NJDXA to handle my incoming QSL cards via the buro. when they have a batch of them for me, they mail them to me.
 

ka3jjz

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That's fine for hams, but for SWBC it's more than a bit different. I haven't sent a report in years, but some stations are using eQSL than anything else. Often they have a website with an address. It's a whole lot cheaper for them then processing physical mail. This is especially true for pirates.

What do you put into a report? The date and time (for the larger SWBCers, in UTC is a common practice), the frequency (khz) and put in enough program details to prove you really heard them. You don't need to be a linguist here; I'm sure there are language templates floating in the web somewhere. As for program details, remember the name of the game is listening so listen. If it's a soccer match, for example, the announcer will say the name of the teams rather often. If it's a music program, describe it as well as you can. Note how long the program ran; were there any transmission interruptions? Were there any ads (Budweiser comes out the same in many languages, curiously enough)? Details matter.

With smaller stations (such as Latin American stations), you would be wise to look up the local date and time on the web. Don't use UTC; some of them won't understand it.

And don't forget to say something about what you liked/didn't like. Why? Was the modulation crappy? Were they off frequency? Details matter.

And always be polite. A salutation in their language is often appreciated. Catches their eye very quickly

That's just a few tips. Things have changed drastically in the QSLing world since I did it years ago, but these will get you started....Mike
 

GB46

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QSLs from SWLs to shortwave broadcasters most commonly report reception using the SINPO code. I've quoted the following from Wikipedia:

S (Signal strength)
The relative strength of the transmission.

I (Interference)
Interference from other stations on the same or adjacent frequencies.

N (Noise)
The amount of atmospheric or man-made noise.

P (Propagation)
Whether the signal is steady or fades from time to time.

O (Overall merit)
An overall score for the listening experience under these conditions.

Each category is rated from 1 to 5 with 1 being 'unusable' or 'severe' and 5 being 'perfect' or 'nil'. MANY raters misunderstand the code and will rate everything either 55555 or 11111 when in reality both extremes are unusual in the extreme. '55555' essentially means 'perfect reception akin to a local station' while that is occasionally possible, when talking about long-distance short-wave reception, it is almost never the case.

Another common mistake in rating is presenting an 'O' higher than any previously rated element. By definition, a station cannot present 'perfect' reception if there is any Noise or Interference or Fading present. In other words, it is NOT 'perfect local quality' reception if any of those things are present.
As for program content in a foreign language, sometimes you can get by with things like "Music from 19:40 to 19:45 UTC, news from 20:00 to 20:10", etc. Regardless of the language, you can usually tell news reports from other spoken content by the announcer's tone of voice, the names of the places and people in the news (often in English for events happening outside the station's country), and the fact that the news generally starts at the top of the hour. In any case, the time each segment starts and ends should be sufficient to verify your reception. If the program is in English, most stations appreciate feedback on the content, especially if it is complimentary.

I never QSLed Radio Nacional Amazonia in Brazil, but I remember mistakenly thinking that their announcer sounded so excited because he was covering a soccer game. Since then I've heard the same tone of voice in announcements between the songs in a music program, typical of the hyper disk jockeys I used to hear on AM stations in the U.S.

I used to collect quite a few QSL cards over the years using the above guidelines. In a couple of cases, my reports were even read over the air during so-called "mail bag" programs.

If the broadcast is in English, you may hear the station's e-mail address, or at least its website URL, so you can send your report online, but if you want to receive a card, you'll naturally want to include your postal address.
 
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MikeThompson

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Lots of good info guys, thanks!

I'm hoping most shortwave broadcasters have at least an email I can find. If like to have a few QSL cards around 'just because', but I'm not going to be gathering them competitively or anything.

Some of the SINPO stuff I didn't understand, but I see it is more of a rating scale than evaluation.
 

GB46

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Lots of good info guys, thanks!

I'm hoping most shortwave broadcasters have at least an email I can find. If like to have a few QSL cards around 'just because', but I'm not going to be gathering them competitively or anything.

Some of the SINPO stuff I didn't understand, but I see it is more of a rating scale than evaluation.
One station for which it's easy to hear the email address is Radio Havana Cuba. In fact, they identify their station ad nauseum, like the name of a product being repeated incessantly in a commercial. When I get around to it, I'll post a copy of an MP3 I made of their mailbag program. I wasn't listening when they read my email on the air as the first item in the program, so I had to download it later from an archive on their site.. It's too large to upload to the forum, so I'll have to put it on my personal website and post the direct link to the file.

Just found that "round tuit" that I needed, so here's the link:
http://gbusch.altervista.org/radio/RHC_ Mailbag_on_March_1_2017.mp3
 
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WA8ZTZ

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The World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) contains station addresses, schedules, and frequencies as well as information
about how to QSL.
 

GB46

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Honestly this is the station that I can pick up no matter what. It is definitely on my list of QSL-requests in waiting.

Very cool to hear your email read over the air though!
The announcer made a few mistakes. At first he had me located in "Colombia", and then corrected himself. There was a word missing when he referred to my report about noisy band conditions ("the noise level is rather on that band"). I think the missing word was "high". He also said that 15140 kHz was their Spanish language broadcast, when it was actually a scheduled English broadcast. If it had been in Spanish I wouldn't have understood a word of it.

At least he got my name right. When Radio Moscow was still on the air one of my reports was read on "Moscow Mailbag", hosted by Joe Adamov. He said I was from "Barnaby", BC. I was living in Burnaby, BC at the time. He also pronounced my surname as Bosch instead of Busch.

I like what RHC's announcer said when introducing the program: "Let us know how you pick us up, how you put us back down again." :LOL:
 

GB46

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The World Radio TV Handbook (WRTH) contains station addresses, schedules, and frequencies as well as information
about how to QSL.
When I used to buy it every year the WRTH also included short samples of the stations' interval signals, the little tunes played repeatedly prior to sign-on. These were shown on a music staff, so for those who read music, that could help identify a station under some of the worst band conditions. That feature was missing in the last issue that I bought. There were also well-written reviews of the latest receivers, and I bought my R75 in 1998 based on one of those reviews.
 

majoco

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ka3jjz

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Smaller stations, like those in Africa or Latin America, might not understand the use of SINPO or SIO. Better to spell it out....Mike
 

K4EET

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Have you heard HCJB in Quito, Ecuador? I used to send them QSL cards all the time with reports. They have (or at least had) a large number of very nice QSL cards that they would send back to me. They can be found on:
  • 3995 kHz
  • 6050 kHz
Have fun there, my friend!

Dave K4EET
 

MikeThompson

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Have you heard HCJB in Quito, Ecuador? I used to send them QSL cards all the time with reports. They have (or at least had) a large number of very nice QSL cards that they would send back to me. They can be found on:
  • 3995 kHz
  • 6050 kHz
Have fun there, my friend!

Dave K4EET
hi there Dave!

I remember getting something from Quito, Ecuador I'd say 25 years ago, when I first got the radio. It just blew my mind. I'm glad they are still up and running. I will have to check them out!
 

RichardW9RAC

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I am very much new to this hobby and am very appreciative of the guidance I've been given so far. Members here are great!

I have a TECSUN Pl-660 coming in the mail and while I watch the mailbox to see if it has arrived, I was hoping to get a little primer on QSL cards. The concept intrigues me, I send out a report of what I heard and I get a cool card.

This is where I run into some questions:

1) I read that the station requires a report outlining what i heard and when. Is there a basic system for doing this report? Will I be able to get all the info needed from my display?

2) Getting the frequency and broadcaster should be easy enough, but how to I know what address to mail / email the report to?

3) In the report you are supposed to fill in what you were listening to, but how do I fill that in if it is in a different language?

4) If I pick up some Ham radio and would like to get a QSL from them, is the process the same?

Sorry about these relative basic questions, but the videos I've seen have dealt mainly with HAM and not shortwave.

Thanks guys!
Mike here are a few examples I have made. Best viewed on a PC or desktop mode mobile. If you have any questions drop me a line, 73 Rich
 

MikeThompson

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What is the etiquette for requesting a QSL card in terms of distance?

There is a strong broadcaster (well at least I should be able to pick them up strongly as I live 45 minutes away) in Toronto. Is that 'too close' to request a QSL card?
 
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