I know there is a lot of mis-understandings over QSLing today amongst SSB operators. Most of these problems are associated with the "new-comers" to the hobby which simply do not know, or understand, what is going on. This page was set-up to help this latest generation understand a little bit about this aspect of the hobby! And to all you "old-timers" out there, don't get frustrated with these new operators, see if you can help them. Everyone needs a great "Elmer" to learn from!
What is a "QSL Card?"
A QSL card, otherwise known as "wallpaper" to CB'ers, is a personalized station card made up for use, by the station's operator(s), in acknowledging a dx contact. These are usually nothing more than a pesonal postcard and are mostly used by Ham and CB radio operators. They are also used by a few of the large Broadcast stations, especially International Short-Wave Stations. They also use these cards, but in a different way. They are used to confirm a signal heard by SWL'ers (Short-Wave Listener's), with no actual contact.
Hams have used QSL cards for decades, long before CB radio came around! They are used to confirm a dx contact, or QSO, and in some cases even earn them several awards. Some of these are for reaching all 50 states in US, first 100 countries, IOTA Awards, Special Activation Awards, ect..... This is a lot of Hams favorite activity!
Then came the CB'ers......
Of course, we don't have a "Special Awards" program on 11 meters, but we still exchange them to confirm our contacts! We do it for the fun! In many cases they are exchanged in the spirit of friendship, between operators world-wide. Besides, there is a lot of fun to be had in building a collection of your own! It does get addicting!
In CB and Ham both, these cards are normally exchanged through the mail with the DX station they worked. It is highly recommended you place these cards in an envelope, mainly so they are recieved intacted, and in relatively great shape. But it is also to keep information on these cards private! Most of these cards all contain the normal information (time, date, frequency, mode, and signal report of contact, along with working conditions and some operator comments), they will also include a return address, to return your QSL, and sometimes even the operator's phone number! So you see why it should be in an envelope?
QSL cards can be made-up any way you chose. You may do them yourself, a lot of pc's are capable of this now days, or you may visit your local print shop. Which ever you chose, this is your first step. Just remember,It is a very ignorant operator who accepts and does not give!
The key to making a "Great" QSL is "quality". It doesn't have to be the fanciest or the most expensive, it has to have "eye appeal!" One that when the reciever opens it, it screams "Hurry and send one back!" You see, some countries have very few 11 meter operators, and these guys have tons of requests for QSLs. Out of 100 QSLs they recieve, they might return only 10. It can get pretty expensive on their end, with postage, printing fees, ect... So you see, you need one that draws their attention! Money is not the issue here as I have seen 100's of "Great QSLs" that were inexpensive to make! You'd be surprised what you can do with only black ink on some plain white card stock, or maybe an additional color or two!
The next step in QSLing is,
Always be considerate of any others on the frequency, but get right in there! Once you have made the initial contact, ask them if they QSL. If the reply is yes, get your pen and paper ready to copy their co-ordinates. This is probably the hardest part, especially when there is several "QRM" operators on the frequency callng at the same time! It is also the most important step in the exchange! I mean if you want to recieve their QSL, they must recieve your QSL containing your co-ordinates. So take your time, if your not sure, ask them to repeat their info. If they want your QSL, they'll help any way they can! The best way to exchange this info is to spell it out, phoenetically.
You can find the
Internationally-known Pheonetic Alphabet
The next thing to do is send one out. Easy enough! Don't use any fancy commemeritive stamps on the envelope! Several QSLs are lost this way! People around the world collect these stamps, and when some of thes stamps are worth more than some Third world country postman's salary, well I can see why these usually end up lost. Just sen an everyday stamp, othing special.
Then comes the wait......
This is probably the second hardest thing involved! Be patient, it can take awhile to get a response. If everything was correct, and the other operator is sincere, you will see their card soon! If not, chalk it up to one lost. Don't despair though, you will always have these duds. Out of 100 cards I send out, I generally recieve around 75 back. These other 25 are dealt with another way. If after 9 months I still do not recieve their cards, their names and calls all goes on to a list, appropriatelly named a "Black-List." I myself do not make my list public as with a lot of operators, since several are not the operators fault. I use mine as a reminder! While QSOing, it's really quite easy to check them on my list. If they are on there, I politely ask them if they recieved my package, and if so, politely ask them to return theirs. 99% of the time, they do!
That's all there is to it! There is so many cards out there to get, between personal QSLs, Club QSLs, Special Activation QSLs, Special Event QSLs, IOTA QSLs, and so on, that you can easily become addicted! So what are yo waiting for?? Get out there and have some fun!
Tips for all QSL'ers
1.Always insert your QSL card in an envelope! Your card will be recieved in better condition and no personal or group information is given away.
2.Never use your CM callsign, or any other QRZ, on the envelope!
Why give the "radio police" a fighting chance?
3.Never give out your full name, street address, or phone number on the radio! If you are an active QSL'er, get yourself a P.O. Box. This again goes back to that "radio police" thing.
4.If your asked to send a QSL, then please send one! Likewise, if you recieve a QSL, be polite and send one back!
5.It is not necessary to send strictly a QSL Card. Any postcard you have will do, but a personal QSL is recommended!
6.Most of all, the most important tip I can offer is Have Fun! This is a very enjoyable and unique aspect of CB radio hobby!
See how much "wallpaper" you can collect from around the world!