Saturday, May 22, 2010

QSL Card

My qsl card

One of the oldest traditions in short-wave listening and Amateur Radio is that of the QSL card. 'QSL' is one of the variants of the Q-code used by radio operators world-wide to facilitate brevity in transmission, it means "I acknowledge receipt" and it wasn't long before 'QSL' signified the acknowledgment itself.

Acknowledgment of receipt of a message was done with a QSL card - a postcard-sized document that verified the time, date, frequency, emission, location, signal strength and call signs of the participants in an exchange of radio signals.

Radio amateurs exchange QSLs regularly; a long held maxim in amateur circles is that the final courtesy of a QSO (contact) is a QSL. These cards have now become collectables and a prove of having made contact with distant stations.

QSL cards are the size of the standard postcard featuring an attractive graphic or photo with station call sign. Information about a contact is written on one side.
The QSL is then mailed directly to the other station. One of my favorite activities, exchanging QSL cards allows you to claim credit for contacts in order to receive awards, but most hams just do it for fun. You can find many varieties of QSLs, but three very basic rules can help make the exchange as quick and error-free as possible. Figure below illustrates the following:
  • Have your call sign and QSO information on one side so that the receiver doesnt have to look over it.
  • Print your call and all contact information in a clear and easy to read.
  • Beyond your mailing address, make sure the physical location of the station is shown, including county and four digit grid locator square.

Follow these suggestion for sure accuracy.
  • Double check the date and time of your contact. Date and time are frequant sources of error. Start by making sure your own clock is set properly..
  • Use an UTC format or World Time for every QSL except those for local contact...
  • Use an unambiguous format for date. Is 4/5/10 April 5th or May 4th? The date is crystal clear if you show the month with a Roman numeral, as in 4 May 2010.
  • Use heavy black or blue ink pen that wont fade over the time like colored inks. Never use pencil.
After you fill out yours QSLs, then what? Depending on where the cards are going, you have several options that trade postage expense againts turn around time. By following the appropriate rules for each method, you can get a high return rate for your cards.
  1. QSL Direct - The quickest option for sending QSLs is to send the cards direct, meaning directly to other hams at their address. This method ensure your card gets to the recipient faster than any other method. Include the return postage and maybe even SASE ( self address stamp envelope). This method costs more for you, but makes things as easy as possible for the other ham to get a return card on its way.
  2. Via Manager - to avoid poor postal systems and cut postage expenses, many DX stations and nearly all DX-expeditions use a QSL Manager. the manager is typically in a country with good postal service and return rate is nearly 100 percent. QSL via manager is just like QSL direct. If u dont include return postage and an envelope to a manager for a DX station, you will likely get your card back via QSL bureau, which takes a while. manager can be located by a QSL manager Web site such as or
If u send your QSL overseas, be sure to do the following:

  • Use the correct global air mail letter post rate.
  • Ensure air mail service with an Air Mail sticker ( free at the post office), an air mail envelope, or an Air Mail/Par Avion ink stamp on the envelope.
  • Include return postage.
IRC from europe

An International Reply Coupon or IRC is redeemable for the one unit of unregistered air mail postage. u can purchase IRCs at the post office or redeem one from overseas. If the clerk is not familiar with the IRCs, go to the main post office.

You will hear send 1 or 2 greenstamps for return postage. A greenstamp is a $1 bill. Take care that currency is not visible through the envelope. in some countries, non-domestic currency is illegal, so check before sending it through the mail.

3. Bureaus and qsl services - All thats postage can mount up pretty quickly.
a much cheaper but slower is QSL bureau system. you should use this method
when the DX station says, " QSL via bureau" or on CW "QSL via BURO".
the QSL bureau system operates as a sort of hm radio post office, which
allows hams to exchange QSLs at the fraction of the cost of the direct mail.

Bundle up all of your DX QSLs and send them to the outgoing QSL Bureau.
there the QSLs are sorted and sent in bulk to the Incoming QSL Bureaus araound
the world. The cards are then sorted and distributed to the individual stations.
The receipients then reciprocate and send reply cards in the other direction.
go to or for more details. To get yours
cards, you must keep postage and envelopes in stock at the Incoming Bureau.
then, when you least expect it, a fat package of cards comes in the mail. What fun!!!

The Malaysia QSL Bureau Manager can be contacted at:

PO Box 10777
50724 Kuala Lumpur


4A, Jalan Tinggi 6/12
Seksyen 6,
46000 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan

QSL Bureau Manager: 9W2TKK Irwan Yusof Tang Abdullah

4. eQSL - eQSL, was the first electronic QSL
system and is extremely easy to use. its site has a tutorial slideshow
that explains just how the eQSL works and how to use it.

9m2zak eQSL

The ARRLs LOTW ( ) is a little more complicated to use. you are required to provide proof of licence and your identity in order to receive a digital signature certificate. The digital signature authenticates your contact information. LOTW does not generate or handle physical QSL cards, its only provides verification of QSOs for award purposes.


Have fun and good dx,

de 9m2zak

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50wpm Recording #84