The joy of QSLing

The new year 2012 is gearing up but things have been slow in the ham radio department. I chased a second hand bargain price solid state amp last week but since the seller lives more than 90 minutes away from here one way, I just couldn’t get there before the weekend. First come, first served. Bye bye amp.

I did a final inspection of the tower and rotator on Friday and got a kind helping hand (in fact a pair of them) to put it back on track on Saturday. It was pretty cold but sunny and dry. I had to climb up two times and put on gloves the second time. The aluminium was so cold! And I really don’t like climbing towers.

I also collected three years worth of ‘buro QSL’. Three shoe boxes. Not for infant beach slippers, no: adult boots size 45. I’ve already done 2/3rd of one box. That’s almost 700 confirmed QSO that need to be QSL’ed. For 2/3rd of the smallest box so in the end it’ll be a few thousand *sigh*.

I loved QSL when I started in the hobby. Everyone remembers the first DX cards.  Over the years I’ve come to hate it. It costs money and even worse: a lot of time. Face it: almost all of our QSL cards are stored away in boxes, cases, cabinets etc. And what do we do with it? With LotW no sane person still sends actual cards to the ARRL, does he? If I ever need to retrieve a card for say Nebraska on 10m CW, I’ll need to go through ALL cards to find it. Knowing Murphy a few thousand cards will pass through my hands then.

I admit that it is a part of our hobby. Another legacy from a previous century, just like the antique CW that I love so much. So now I’m filling up the second plastic box (yup, this one) to put it back into the storage room. I remember the day that Scott W4PA (the world’s most read contest blog before he quit the scene out of the blue) wrote about throwing away thousands of QSL cards. All his cards into the bin, all at once. Good riddance! He coined the term ‘blasphemy’ and I felt like that when I read it so I will never throw away all those cards – for now. Gosh, it’s more than three years already that W4PA’s contesting log burned out. How time flies!

Back to the pile of QSL. The plan was to use GlobalQSL: upload ADIF, click here and click there – done. And pay over 100 US$ per 1000 cards. That will cost me a few hundred Dollars for this QSL-batch. Alternative is buy the cheapest of the cheap cards from UX5UO (who offers very good price/quality). Why buy full cover glossy cards when they end up in boxes never to see the light again? The price of the QSL cards is in favour of UX5UO, but then I need to buy labels, print them and stick then on the cards. More work! As if they smelled it, ON5UR QSL Print Service sent out a promo-mail today announcing even nicer cards. Max ON5UR’s cards are VERY nice and ultra high quality  but too expensive for me to buy them – on principle. My card only ends up in your box never to be seen again, right?

I’ll just plough my way through the three boxes and see how many cards I need. Then decide what to do. Some people knit a sweater next to the fireplace, I just process the QSL you sent me. No, I don’t throw them in the fireplace.  🙂

11 replies on “The joy of QSLing”

Interesting read. You’re absolutely right about it with the sentence “Another legacy from a previous century”. These times we should use LotW and eQSL and many other services. But still it will take another 50 years before paper QSL is dying I think. There are so many OM’s that still don’t use a computer for logging and are happy to spend their time writing their expensive multicolored cards. You would ask your self how they get those cards and still not logging on the computer, but that is the contradiction. Well I still like paper QSLing myself, though I prefer LotW and eQSL. The only thing I don’t like is when they ask dollars for a card, I would never do that. Even not when I would hate QSLing. But anyway that is another topic. Thanks for blogging….73, Bas

I like the glossy picture QSL cards from those rare entities that you only work once a decade or less, or DXCC that only we hams know. I’m making a small stack of cards like that (9X, 6Y, 6V, VK9, ZD7, A25, OJ0, FJ etc). I like to use the Internet to read a short thing about those countries. These trivia make us smarter.
I don’t like the huge number of cards from EU countries. But then I say to myself: “You are glad that they call you to keep the rate up high, so now it’s time to do something back”…
I guess many QSO means many QSL. But it’s only Belgium guys!

Yes we all remember our first QSL cards 🙂

I’ll also never forget the call of the HB9 who was my very first HF QSO (way back in april 1995) and who never bothered to reply to my card (sent with SAE and green stamp)!

Which reminds me I need to order a few thousand cards again…

Yes, I also sent money to ZA, JT and… W6 never to see a card. When I worked my first Chinese I didn’t even bother to send Dollars. But two weeks ago the doorbell rang and the mailwoman had a registered letter from China… with a direct QSL request. That is the fun part of the hobby, together with stuff like

[…] out your QSL-cards! Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 | Miscellaneous | admin Funny and insreetting article from K9JY about letting go of some things in our hobby. Scot states that he thinks QSL cards are not of today […]

– I have to say that LoTW has rlaley saved me a bunch of work. Coming off of my VP9 DXpedition, over 300 contacts were immediately confirmed upon upload of just over 2,000 contacts. For very active hams, the confirmations happen quickly. For the rest of the hams who are not as active, I think they need to place a reminder to upload their logs once a month or some time frame. It would help getting more QSO’s up there.

For the Christmas season, my wife and I sent out about 50 Christmas cards and received about the same number. On Facebook and via email, there were a lot more electronic equivalents – but the sending and reception of those physical Christmas cards still has meaning and value – with a cost, of course! But I still enjoy meals my wife cooks in the oven, too – even though microwave ready made meals are available and cheaper…

I find the eQSL is a nice middle point between physical cards and LotW’s lack of any kind of card image. It would be nice if those two systems would combine, or if LotW would add card images.

73, John K3TN

It would be even greater if LotW and similar services joined forces for other major awards like WAZ, WPX, IOTA etc. I’m not really into awards but I might be if they were focused around one central database.
Funny that you mentioned ready made µW meals – I almost always prefer the authentic high quality solution for everything. Paper QSL cards are not the problem, it’s the high volume and the time it takes to process it. Oh well, I’d better stop typing and get another stack of cards from the box 🙂

-I agree with Alan….where’s VUCC spuoprt on LoTW? I just inquired about this with my ARRL director, who happened to be attending the ARRL Board meeting. The answer back was that VUCC spuoprt was coming but other work was taking priority. Apparently, Triple Play is one of those priorities. Since VUCC is THE award for the VHF crowd, it makes more sense to spuoprt it first. Then we’d have the basics covered: DXCC, WAS and VUCC. By the way, I am a fan of LoTW…it can save tons of time and hassle on getting contacts confirmed.Bob K0NR

On the other hand, you could find uses for your QSL cards. I have used mine to set up dpislays at the local library and at the high school where used to teach. They also get pulled out to “hook” others on Ham radio. Use your imagination to find other times to display them.

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