The Neverending Story: QSLing

When I started making regular contacts on HF back in 2008 I was a fanatic when it came to “finishing the paperwork.” When I received my first 1000 QSL cards from UX5UO I could not wait to fill them out and mail them. Now here we are 3 years later and some 7500 contacts later and I am behind.

I believe this probably typical for many hams, especially the OM who have been in the hobby for many years or no longer QSL for whatever their reasons. I still find this aspect to be a very important part of the hobby. Unfortunately I am thousands of contacts behind sending out QSL cards. I am debating using the bureau more since the price of even sending 1 QSL card continues to rise. I believe that to be the driving factor (maybe time factor involved too) when it comes to why more hams do not QSL. Add to that eQSL and Logbook of The World have introduced the “electronic QSL” which gives you almost immediate confirmation of a contact. Still, I feel there is something missing if I can not have a card from a distant land (or state).

One of the greatest things my father gave to me, his collection of QSL cards from the 1970s. I can sit there thumbing through the two shoe boxes full of QSL and never get bored. There has been a few occasions, where I have run across a card of a familiar call sign and notice I have worked this same individual some 40 years later.

One of the best is Ichiro, JA7COI. He sent me two QSL cards last year. I opened my log and started filling in the appropriate column, but I noticed the date did not match up, nor did the contest or year. 1976! As he would go on to explain via e-mail, he was working towards the ‘Yomiuri DX-10000 Award.’ You can read more about JA7COI in a story I posted January, 2010, ‘1976 QSL Card and Upcoming Contest.’

Much like amateur radio being a lifetime hobby, QSLing takes a similar approach. I consider 300 QSOs during the weekend to be an immense amount of work after the contest ends. Not only do you send your score to the appropriate sponsor, but I send it off to my club’s e-mail reflector as well as 3830. I then convert the Win-Test file to an .ADI in order to import all my QSOs into my logbook. After a few minutes, the contacts are imported and updated with the personal information and exchange during the contest. Finally I can upload to eQSL and LoTW and slowly (ever so slowly) the chore of filling out QSL cards. Guess I will consider myself fortunate that I don’t work ALL contests and their time limits, that dark, bottomless pit would look even deeper.

Some day I will catch up. There are shortcomings to both the online services, but you can read about those elsewhere, I don’t have complaints about their. For me, it’s all about the paper, but in order to get some paper you need to make the effort to send some. Thankfully I have had a real good return rate on DX cards, not so much on domestic contacts. I am sure there are hams who have my card or envelope sitting in a pile, much like I have; 8P9NX, JA7DLE, DM3HZN, DL5AXX, AH2R, SP3003LG (shortwave listener), EA7TG, JA2FJP, JL1OXH, 7L3LNF, JA1UTZ, JA1HGY, W5WMU, 8P5A and the list goes on…