QSL Basics Explained

I do not claim to be an expert on QSLs but being involved with QSL printing and answering many questions on the QSLs and what this means or that means I am attempting to make things easier for those just getting started in the very old tradition of QSLs and how to respond to one and what information must be on a QSL you sent .

Finding the right QSL Card

Even if you do not intend on sending out QSLs for QSOs you have had it is a good idea to have them on hand so you can return one for any you might receive. QSLs vary in prices from less than $10.00 per 100 to over $80.00 per hundred for very fancy photo type QSLs. Remember, that all QSLs will get the confirmation done regardless of their cost. You do not have to spend a bundle to get a card back from the other ham. The plain truth is, if that fellow you sent one to is going to return one he will, regardless of what card you sent him. A fancy photo card will not make him send one back to you if he is not in the habit of QSLing. Sad but true! Spend the least you have to, but be happy with your QSL.

Why do I need to reply to a QSL I received ?

There is a gentlemens agreement among hams that when you receive a QSL you should return the courtesy of sending one back to confirm the QSO. Some hams are pursuing awards like Worked all States, DXCC and many others available these days. The only way to confirm that they have worked a station is a paper QSL. I realize there are electronic QSL websites these days but remember also that not all hams use them. ARRL will only accept paper QSLs and their Log Book of the World for their awards which are the most sought after. Be a good amateur and if you receive a paper QSL in the mail or through the bureau, return one ! Its an amateur radio tradition.

History of the QSL Card

The concept of sending a post card to verify reception of a station (and later two-way contact between them) may have been independently invented several times. The earliest reference seems to be a card sent in 1916 from 8VX in Buffalo, New York to 3TQ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (in those days ITU prefixes were not used). The standardized card with callsign, frequency, date, etc. may have been developed in 1919 by C.D. Hoffman, 8UX, in Akron, Ohio. In Europe, W.E.F. "Bill" Corsham, 2UV, first used a QSL when operating from Harlesden, England in 1922. They have been around awhile fellows so keep that tradition alive for future generations to enjoy, They will be glad you did !