All about QSL’s

Did you ever get your QSL’s back with the message ‘QSO NOT IN LOG’?
Or did you never receive a QSL back and when you re-checked the online log you were not there?
Time has come to upgrade your operating practice!

Check the date on this QSL

First law of HAM Radio: LISTEN!
If you can’t hear a station, you cannot work him. If you send anyway, you will never receive anything back. Waste of money and effort.


First law of QSL-ing: Not everybody wants them.
Me, for example, i’ve been practicing radio for over 15 years and i used to have hundreds of QSL. I sent mine, including IRC’s or USD$$$, and most of the time i got something back. I stuck them in albums, organized by country. And i never looked at them anymore. If i think about the money i spent on them i could have a really nice radio in my shack.


They say that the final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL card. Also they say that a QSO is not confirmed until the QSL is received. You know, i KNOW when i made the contact. The moment i hear my callsign confirmed by the other station, for me the QSO is confirmed. And also i always mention in my QSO’s that i don’t QSL. It’s a shame that not a lot of operators use eQSL yet. That would be a solution i could except.


Anyway, most HAM Radio amateurs do like QSLs so let’s see what the possibilities here are.
In many countries a so called “QSL Bureau” can take care of the exchange of QSLs for free. Most of the time this is a service that is provided when you become member of the national HAM Radio association in your country.
If you are lucky enough to have a QSL Bureau in your country, the only thing you have to do is to send your QSLs to this Bureau and the Bureau will take care of the distribution. The station receiving the QSL will send his QSL back to the Bureau and either you will have to pick them up there or the Bureau sends them to your QTH.
The advantage of having a QSL Bureau is that QSL exchange is cheap and easy. The disadvantage is that it can take up to 2 or even 3 years before you receive your QSLs back.

Beware of $$ hunters!!

If you don’t want to wait this long, or if you don’t have a Bureau, you can always ask the station if you can send direct. Did you read that? You have to ASK THE STATION is he wants QSL direct.
If this is the case what you would do is send your QSL together with a SAE (Self Addressed Envelope)  and stamps, an IRC (International Reply Coupon) or money (most of the time 1 or 2 USD) for the station to return your QSL.
And this is precisely why i don’t QSL anymore. For every contact i want to have confirmed i will have to 1) buy my own QSL card, 2) pay for the postage for sending my card to him, 3) pay for the envelope and postage for his card to be returned to me. That means that every QSO i want to have confirmed will cost me about 4-5 USD. I stopped doing that.


Where do i send my QSLs if i send direct? 
Many DX Expeditions use QSL Managers for the handling of the QSLs. This is to speed up the process of checking logs (remember that DX Expeditions can make thousands of contacts) and returning the QSLs.
If there is not a QSL Manager involved you can LISTEN for the QSL info and if he doesn’t call his QSL info over the air you can ask the station where to send the QSL. Most of the time he will respond that his QSL info is available in QRZ.COM.


So what alternatives do i have?

  • Ok, first alternative is to do what i do, nothing. But that is not the most efficient way of collecting QSLs.
  • I already mentioned eQSL.cc. eQSL is an electronic QSL exchange. What you do is you register your callsign on the eQSL.cc website, you design your electronic QSL card and after verification of your callsign (scan and upload your license) you are ready to go. From time to time you upload your log to eQSL.cc and your electronic QSL card will be sent to the other stations eQSL inbox. If the other station also is an eQSL member, he can send his eQSL card to you and you will receive it in your inbox. No paper QSL’s required.

    • Another way is confirming contacts electronically through e.g. the LoTW (Logbook of the World) from the ARRL. The LoTW is the same concept as eQSL with one important difference: eQSL’s are only exchanged if the logs of both stations match. So only if i have the same time and date of the QSO as my contacted station, an eQSL exchange will happen. Therefor may HAM Operators prefer LoTW over eQSL.cc.



    If you want to use electronic QSL exchange, which one should you use? I prefer the LoTW over eQSL. Not for the mandatory log matching, i think this is actually a DISadvantage of LoTW over eQSL.cc. But simply because of the fact that most operators use LoTW and because LoTW is becoming the standard integration for electronic QSL exchange in many HAM Radio logging software.
    A good discussion on eQSL vs. LoTW can be read here


    Only three stations in the world were able to receive this QSL…

    As always, if i wrote something stupid, if i got something wrong, if i forgot something important, please  send me feedback. 

    Have fun QSL-ing!!