Tag Archives: QSL

QSL, the Final Courtesy

As the saying goes, ‘the final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL card. I QSL’ed for new states or countries I needed as I do today, I always QSL, that is, if a card is received I send one in return. Of course, back then, postage was just a few pennies. Nowadays, I use several online QSL web sites.

Imagine my surprise when I found one of my old Wake Island KW6DG QSL cards on a German auction site. They have bid it up to 5 Euros. Maybe some of my QSLs are worth something?

After going through my whole lot, some 10,000 cards, and setting aside cards that seemed interesting and possibly worth something, I share a few observations. Ninety percent of cards contain Ham’s Faces or family, their rigs and antennas, of their country map. Add to that an assortment of planes, trains, autos, ships, windmills, buildings, animals and awards. Kinda boring stuff, if I say so myself! But there are some cards with interesting stories behind them that I present here:

QSL Card 507 K5UYF operated portable 507, the only spot in the USA was one common boundary is shared by 4 states: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest being the Navajo Nations followed by Hopi, Use, and Zuni tribal reserves. If you are ever in the area, it is worth driving over to the monument.

QSL Card - K4USA

The Air Force and Army MARS headquarters stations were housed on the concourse of the Pentagon during the 1950s and 1960s. Each KW station had Collins 75A4 receivers, master consoles and operating booths. The Air Force MARS call sign was AIR, with an amateur radio callsign of K4AF. The military call sign of the Army MARS station was WAR is its FCC call sign was K4USA.

QSL Card - K7UGA

Senator Barry M. Goldwater was born in Phoenix, then Arizona Territory, on New Year’s Day 1909. Goldwater, a Major General in the USAF Reserve, was very active in Air Force MARS, and during the Vietnam conflict his Phoenix station, K7UGA, was used to provide may thousands of phone patches. Needless to say he had top equipment and antennas atop his hillside QTH.

QSL Card - Nashua Mike & Key Club W1TA

From K0SLD, when I was living in Colorado, in October 1963, I worked K1RKA operating as W1TA/1, the Nashua Mike and Key Club, portable in Wolfboro. My research produces almost nothing about this club except that were active in the 1960s and before. An archived Nashua Telegraph article explained how after the Pearl Harbor Attack, the Club set up an emergency station just in care something happened.

The Nashua Mike and Key Club was the predecessor to today’s Nashua Area Radio Club. At one time they has a club station and has meetings on what is now the Rivier University Campus.

Layne AE1N

How to QSL a DX Station?

QSL Step 1 - QSL Piece Parts
Step 1 – QSL Piece Parts

Congratulations on your first DX or important US contact! You may already have a QSL card made and you are wondering how to go about getting a card from the DX station to confirm your contact.

QSL Step 2 - Inner Return Envelope
Step 2 – Inner Return Envelope

I think that Green Stamps are the best way to go. There are a few countries where its illegal to accept US currency but you can use green stamps (USD bills) for 99% of what you¹ll ever QSL and they are easier for many folks outside the US than an IRC would be.

QSL Step 3 - Outer Envelope Stuffed
Step 3 – Outer Envelope Stuffed

Its important to properly package and seal a QSL with green stamps to avoid postal theft which is, unfortunately, common in many parts of the world. We use a system consisting of an envelope in an envelope.

QSL Step 4 - Outer Envelope Sealed
Step 4 – Outer Envelope Sealed

Note the taping of the outside envelope including the corners – this is an important deterrent to postal theft. Also note that the double envelope makes it nearly impossible to see that there are $$ inside. Also note how the $$ bills are folded and spaced around the QSL card to make the final result appear thin.

QSL Step 5 - QSL Ready to Mail
Step 5 – QSL Ready to Mail

US QSLs or QSLs to stations with US QSL managers are simpler. You just include an SASE in lieu of green stamps. We get about a 70% return QSL rate on our direct QSLs this way which is very good. All of these steps are designed to reduce the likelihood of postal theft.

You should also get up on Logbook of the World (LoTW) and Clublog. These are two sites that can make confirming contacts easier, faster and less expense. LoTW is an ARRL tool that used a double-blind system (neither party knows what it the other¹s logs). LoTW confirmations are accepted by the ARRL for all of their awards (DXCC, WAS, VUCC, etc). You don¹t get a card but you can apply these confirmations to ARRL awards. Clublog offers an online log checking and QSL request service. Our club call (N1FD) has our logs on Clublog for example and you can request a card via the QSL  or via direct mail (for a fee to cover postage). Most of the major Expeditions and many special events as well as individual operators use Clublog so you can tell if you are “in the log” and a subset will provide OQRS (online card requests) as described above. I would also recommend subscribing to the W1 Bureau. This path is slow (sometimes getting a card takes 2 years, almost never less than 6 mo) but the cost of QSL¹ing this way is very low. Not all HAMs subscribe to the worldwide Bureau system and not all countries have a QSL Bureau but most do.
Fred (AB1OC)