Thursday, July 13, 2006

QSL cards

I just received an envelope from the QSL buro and within it were a few surprises. I received a card from Cyprus (IOTA AS-004) which was both a new DXCC entity and new IOTA island for me. Double bonus! I also had received a card from Japan confirming a QSO from my Hawaii trip taken in February of 2005. Finally, near the bottom of the pile, was a card from W1ZS in Vermont. How did this card end up in a buro drop? Upon a closer look at the card, it was to KP2/NE1RD from my St. John trip last Winter. I didn't know you could do that (basically send a card from a US station to a US station) with the buro. Live and learn.
QSLing is fun for me. I understand many have probably developed a been there, done that attitude towards filling out all those little cards, but not me. I feel like I get to re-experience the QSO, contest, or trip when I'm doing the QSL paperwork. I also hope that I'm able to give a small thrill to somebody when they receive my card like the thrill I just had holding that new Cyprus card. To that end, I try to design a nice card that conveys the polish and dedication I have both preparing for the trip and operating on the air.
St. John QSL card image
There are lots of places you can get cards printed but I've found some people that have been fun to work with and have helped me create some pretty fantastic looking cards. They are The QSLworks in South Dakota. So far I've had them help me with three different cards: my home call card for Acton, Massachusetts, my card for KP2/, and the special event K1P card from the Deer Isle, Maine trip celebrating Patriots Day. The key points are (a) the good folks at the QSLworks take my mock-ups and work with me to give me a card I can call "my design", and (b) they take that design and apply the kind of polish that professional designers and printers know how to do so the final result looks great.
If you go someplace interesting you'll likely be getting requests for QSL cards. Spend some time planning your card's design (I had the KP2/ design sketched out long before the trip was made, for example) and make sure you get some nice digital photography done while on-site for that card. Then, pick somebody who will help you get a first-class card printed when you're done. You'll probably make somebody's day when you send them out later.
If you are one of the people who hate the QSLing process, find a QSL manager before your trip. Maybe some high school aged ham wants the job or your local club has somebody who really likes handling cards. There are lots of alternatives here but it is best to plan ahead.
Paper QSL cards either direct or through the buro are still the standard way to confirm a QSO. I'll try to discuss electronic QSLing in upcoming blog entries.


Post a Comment

<< Home