Radio Preppers

General Category => New To Radio => Topic started by: WA4STO on October 01, 2012, 09:37:26 pm

Title: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 01, 2012, 09:37:26 pm
One of the things that newcomers to ham radio will encounter a LOT is the idea of QSLs, QSLing and the reasons for each.

To start this topic off, a very brief definition:  To radio amateurs, a QSL is a confirmation of a contact that has already been made.

A contact I made with CT3EE (on an island west of Marrakesh Morocco) this past weekend has resulted in this QSL card which I received today:

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/ct3ee.JPG)

Today?  Less than 48 hours from having made the contact?  Yah, the internet sure has sped things up...  More about all that in upcoming postings.

The Q-signal "QSL" can also be a verb.  As in "I will QSL you via the Logbook Of The World".

So what's the big deal?  Why would a prepper feel the need to QSL at all?  Who cares?  Well, there's an easy answer to those questions --



Your fellow ham radio operators will absolutely want  YOUR QSL!




It's just in their nature.  Count on it.  Many hams are 'collectors'; they collect radios perhaps and certainly QSLs from all over the world.  Some (many) do it so as to earn certificates, plaques and other 'wallpaper'. 

This'll be the first of many postings in this topic that explore QSLing and awards-chasing. 

Got questions?  They will help me to delve into the various fun aspects of these categories of ham radio enjoyment.  Post away!

73 de WA4STO 

Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: Gambrinus on October 02, 2012, 06:43:10 am
So it?s acceptable to send an email QSL card?  That would work for me, no need to get a printer involved with a minimum order.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: cockpitbob on October 02, 2012, 07:27:24 am
No one really uses email for QSLing.  There are 2 broadly accepted web based QSL services for QSLing.  They are ARRL's Logbook Of The World (LoTW) and eQSL.com.  With either you enter the QSO information and if the other person uses that service and enters the same QSO info then that QSO is confirmed.  You can get all the usual certificates from either:  Worked All States, DXCC, etc.  Neither sends paper cards.  It is all on the web.

The 2 services are aren't linked in any way, so if a contact confirms a QSO in eQSLbut not in LoTW then it is like it never happened to LOTW.
eQSL.com is easy to use but doesn't carry the prestige of the ARRL's LoTW.  On the other hand, LoTW's security and password system is rediculously complex and worse than any bank I've delt with, so there are a lot of people who won't use it just because of that.

If you rack-up a lot of contacts these web based QSL servises are great.  You log your contacts in your logging software (Ham Radio Deluxe, or whatever) and in one upload you can enter a months worth of contacts into LoTW or eQSL.  (you can also hand enter your contacts directly into either service without logging software)
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 02, 2012, 09:17:18 am
Quote from: Gambrinus on October 02, 2012, 06:43:10 am
So it?s acceptable to send an email QSL card?  That would work for me, no need to get a printer involved with a minimum order.


It all depends on what the guy on the receiving end (the guy that wants YOUR QSL) wants.  Or, more accurately, what the entity that is sponsoring the award will accept.

As cockpitbob correctly points out, there are some organizations and clubs that sponsor certificates and awards that need very specific methods of QSLing before they'll spit out the wallpaper.  But, of the 3,300 awards that K1BV shows in his free awards document at http://www.dxawards.com/ (http://www.dxawards.com/), the VAST majority (durned near ALL) of the sponsors allow a signed statement as proof that you hold the confirmations. 

So the answer to your question is "Very likely".   Hey, I'd be tickled silly if my two Croatian QSOs over the weekend resulted in emailed, Morse Coded, or carrier pigeoned QSLs.  Yoo hoo!  Over there!  I really really need your QSL...

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 02, 2012, 09:32:23 am
Quote from: Gambrinus on October 02, 2012, 06:43:10 am
That would work for me, no need to get a printer involved with a minimum order.


I haven't used a commercial printer since the 70s.  Wait, that's not quite true; when I was at ARRL HQ, they had numerous styles of my cards printed up for me.

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/arrlhq.jpg)

But these days, it's perfectly acceptable to print up your own cards.  Haven't had anybody complain yet.

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/qsl1.jpg)

I create and edit my cards (and mailing labels) by way of Open Office documents which are super easy to modify.  Good thing, since every QSL has different data.

And if you're doing things electronically, by way of http://www.eqsl.cc/qslcard/Index.cfm (http://www.eqsl.cc/qslcard/Index.cfm) for example, you can create different styles of QSLs right there, online:

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/eqslsample.jpg)

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 02, 2012, 10:12:43 am
Hello,

What size are QSL cards? Postcard size? Business card? If I get one printed I think it would be regular business card size.. So I kill two birds with one stone.. Signal report on the back..

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 02, 2012, 10:27:41 am
Quote from: gil on October 02, 2012, 10:12:43 am
Hello,

What size are QSL cards? Postcard size? Business card? If I get one printed I think it would be regular business card size.. So I kill two birds with one stone.. Signal report on the back..

Gil.


Business card size would be very unusual.  I have certainly seen them used for "eyeball QSOs" (like you and Tim had) but again, that's relatively unusual.

The cards I've been using are the Avery #3381 cards.  Guess I'm the sort of guy you hafta hit up side the head with a brick before stuff sinks in, since it's taken me some years to understand that 4-1/4" X 5-1/2" cards are NOT going to fit in the Self addressed, stamped envelopes that hams tend to send to you, so as to relieve you of the postage costs.

3-1/2" X 5-1/2" cards do fit and are the size that most hams send to me.

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 02, 2012, 12:04:56 pm
This certificate was for receiving confirmations (QSLs) for 300 different "prefixes" -- and in this case, all on Morse Code (CW).

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/cwWPX.jpg)

So ... what exactly is a "prefix"?  The way CQ Magazine (the sponsor of this and many other awards) defines it goes something like this:

WA4STO -- the prefix is "WA4"
9A1A -- the prefix is "9A1"  -- you get the idea...

So now, I am working on another, much the same as shown above, but this time it's for 300 prefixes -- all by ham radio digital modes, instead of Morse Code.

Here's where I'm at -- getting close!

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/300wpx.jpg)

Notice that I'm at the 300 mark.  But wait...  what's the red ones?  Alas, those are ones that I've worked, but haven't received the QSL from.  Yet.

Also notice that this particular spreadsheet column needs some work.  First, there are "duplicates", in that are two WB5 entries, two WB4 entries and two XE1 entries.  They gotta go.

Clearly, I have a ways to go.

Probably time now to start up a "Logging your ham radio QSOs" topic.

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: raybiker73 on October 02, 2012, 04:28:19 pm
Getting QSLs printed isn't terribly expensive. I got 250 3.5"x5" photo cards for about $55 from photoqsls.com. I would definitely recommend them (I don't get paid by them, I'm just a satisfied customer).  I sent Hal my photo and the style I wanted on the back, he communicated with me and solicited feedback through the whole design process, and they were in my mailbox just a couple days later.

http://www.photoqsls.com/ (http://www.photoqsls.com/)

(http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105252/QSLfront.jpg)
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 02, 2012, 05:08:23 pm
I think I drove by that locomotive last summer!

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: raybiker73 on October 02, 2012, 05:34:18 pm
If you were in central PA, you just might have. 7048 currently occupies the "museum" spot at the inside of Horseshoe Curve in Altoona.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_7048 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_7048)

I took this pic in 2009, before the old girl finally got a repaint.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 02, 2012, 05:36:43 pm
Nope, must have been a similar one, up in Montana or thereabout...

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: Gambrinus on October 02, 2012, 09:59:01 pm
I like the photo qsl and that price isn?t bad especially since 250 would last for years.

I wouldn?t have to worry about getting them till I got a MF rig.  That might not be until Jan/Feb.  I?m having a hard time figuring out what to get.  Reading reviews makes it a lot harder.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: piggybankcowboy on October 03, 2012, 02:20:09 pm
Call me old fashioned (which is funny because I'm a newbie), but I like the idea of snail mailing cards. I was going to whip some up on my home printer, actually, since it can print business card sized projects easily.

What about a log book, though?  What do you use? Are formatted log books out there where we can just fill in the info, or do you just use a standard notebook for the task?  Or am I way off base here assuming everyone keeps a log book?  I have a phone app for it, but I tend to like hard-copy things more.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: raybiker73 on October 03, 2012, 02:39:11 pm
Quote from: piggybankcowboy on October 03, 2012, 02:20:09 pm
What about a log book, though?  What do you use? Are formatted log books out there where we can just fill in the info, or do you just use a standard notebook for the task?  Or am I way off base here assuming everyone keeps a log book?  I have a phone app for it, but I tend to like hard-copy things more.


The ARRL sells one for eight bucks:
http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Logbook/ (http://www.arrl.org/shop/Amateur-Radio-Logbook/)

I'm a newbie, too, and I just use printed spreadsheet pages in a 3-ring binder. Here's the one I use, or you can make one you like easily enough:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105252/logbook.pdf (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/105252/logbook.pdf)
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: piggybankcowboy on October 03, 2012, 04:53:38 pm
I'm going to attempt to convert a pocket-sized Moleskine graph book into one, but barring that, I can just whip up some spreadsheets as well.  Thanks for the offer, though!
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 03, 2012, 04:57:03 pm
I received my first QSL card today! Didn't ask for it, but it was nice. I don't have one to send back  :-[

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 03, 2012, 10:54:17 pm
What do you guys think about eQSL?

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: cockpitbob on October 04, 2012, 01:04:22 am
Quote from: gil on October 03, 2012, 10:54:17 pm
What do you guys think about eQSL?

Gil.
I like it.  You can upload a picture and make your own (e) QSL card that the recipient can print.  It's much more user friendly than LoTW.  The only down side is it doesn't have the prestige or gravitas that the ARRL's LoTW has.  There are people that only do LoTW and there are people that can't stand LoTW's over the top security and will only do eQSL.
I try to be a good member of the Ham community so I do both LoTW and eQSL and for non-international contacts I'll usually mail one of my home printed cards.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: cockpitbob on October 04, 2012, 01:06:56 am
Quote from: gil on October 03, 2012, 04:57:03 pm
I received my first QSL card today! Didn't ask for it, but it was nice. I don't have one to send back  :-[

Gil.
Keep it in a safe place.  It doesn't seem like much today, but when you are old and grey your 1st QSL card will be pretty special.  And your grandkids will look at it the same way we look at our grandparent's quill pens and ink bottles.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 04, 2012, 10:41:15 am
Quote from: gil on October 03, 2012, 04:57:03 pm
I received my first QSL card today! Didn't ask for it, but it was nice. I don't have one to send back  :-[

Gil.


Gil - did he check the "pse qsl" box (if there is one on the card?) --

Unless he knew it was your very first, he likely wants  your card in return.

Which is easy to do.  Bring up Word or Open Office and make your own.

The point that it was your first should be mentioned clearly on the card -- he will cherish it forever!

73 de ex-KY1T, ex-WN4SNT, now-WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 04, 2012, 11:21:36 am
Quote from: gil on October 03, 2012, 10:54:17 pm
What do you guys think about eQSL?

Gil.


I happen to LOVE e-qsl.  For two reasons, really.

1.  A lot of guys who couldn't possibly afford the postage to obtain a particular certificate (try QSLing all 3077 counties by mail!) are delighted with e-qsl and I find that a far higher percentage will send me e-qsls without asking, rather than LOTW (which I also love but fully understand the severe problems in getting it going successfully)

2. I discovered, much later on, that e-qsl has a LOT of awards.  Every one of them requires qsls from (and only from) e-qsl.  Go figure, eh?  :)

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: gil on October 04, 2012, 05:52:38 pm
Hello Luck,

No such box on the QSL. I did email the guy telling him I would send him one as soon as I got one. He is only 50 miles from me too!

Gil.
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 09, 2012, 03:18:34 pm
I had to chuckle today when I reached into the mailbox and pulled this out:

(http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/scottsqsl.jpg)

Now, that's one VERY clever QSL.  'Course, I rarely get them by mail any more and you just don't see this sort of thing in the "digital QSL" world, but I can tell ya that I'm certainly not going to forget this QSO, the fellow I made it with, or his callsign. 

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: Sunflower on October 09, 2012, 11:35:23 pm
Quote from: Gambrinus on October 02, 2012, 09:59:01 pm
I wouldn?t have to worry about getting them till I got a MF rig. 

What is a MF rig?
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: Sunflower on October 09, 2012, 11:39:44 pm

[/quote]



73 de ex-KY1T, ex-WN4SNT, now-WA4STO

[/quote]

How did you get your call signed so many times? I read in a book that the call sign went with you when you moved. Hope you don't mind me asking. BTW, do operators have two or call signs? like email accounts?
Title: Re: QSLs & QSLing for newcomers to ham radio
Post by: WA4STO on October 10, 2012, 10:43:02 am
Quote from: Sunflower on October 09, 2012, 11:39:44 pm


73 de ex-KY1T, ex-WN4SNT, now-WA4STO



How did you get your call signed so many times? I read in a book that the call sign went with you when you moved. Hope you don't mind me asking. BTW, do operators have two or call signs? like email accounts?


Hi Sunflower -- Yes, an FCC-issued callsign can go with you if you like.  So when I moved from Newington CT to Lincoln Nebraska, I was not required to change my callsign from a "1" to a "0" callsign.

However, I chose to do so.  See, my call at the time was KY1T.  But my fondest memories were from back in the 70s when I had WA4STO.  So I requested my old callsign back and that's what I have now.

It used to be (until the 70s, I think) that a ham could have two or more callsigns.  If your home was in Montana, you had one, and if your summer home was in Florida, maybe you had an additional one.  That's not the case any more.

Don't mind your asking at all.  This is how we all learn.  Or in some cases, RElearn what we used to know!  :)

73 de WA4STO