Strategies for Successful QSLing by K6YP

Strategies for Successful QSLing
John Eisenberg, K6YP
NCDXC Meeting, May 17, 2012

Thanks to John Miller K6MM
John very kindly allowed me to use many images of his DX QSLs from his web site
Please see for more cards and other  interesting material

. Why QSL?
. Options available
. The QSO
. Your QSL card
. How to get your card to the DX station?
. How to get his card to come back to you?
. Tricks of the trade

Why QSL? 

It’s an all time new one You want the card!
You want to confirm a new band mode
The ham on the other end needs your QSL
It’s a memorable QSO.  You’d like to QSL.

LOTW (Logbook of the World) 
. Service provided by ARRL OK for DXCC!
. Secure and essentially free!
. You need to keep a computerized log
. The DX station must also use Logbook
. LOTW is a topic unto itself. See
. You won’t get a card!

QSLing via the Bureau 
The BURO system is also very low cost
The service is also administered by ARRL
Many entities have a BURO
Dick Letrich W6KM handles outgoing cards
NCDXC pays to ship your cards to ARRL and pays the ARRL service fees.
But BURO cards often take more than a year to return!

Outgoing Buro System
Read instructions on ARRL web site
Make sure BURO exists for each contact
Presort your cards as instructed
Give your card deck to Dick Letrich W6KM

Some Countries Have No Incoming BURO
225 Countries are served by BURO system
Exceptions are mostly islands Full list of exceptions on ARRL web site
Many EU countries, Russia, Japan, South Africa and Zambia only serve members of their own national  radio society.

BURO Incoming QSLs are Easy Too
Read 6th area BURO instructions on ARRL site.
Sign up with 6th area incoming BURO
Send correct envelopes and $$$ to 6th area BURO
Every 3 to 6 months you get a surprise package
Buro notifies you when $$$ or supplies run low
QSLing via BURO trades speed for cost!

Requesting QSL’s using OQRS 
OQRS = Online QSL Request System
Used mostly by major DXpeditions
Easy, convenient and avoids postal problems
Usually offers fast response
Not inexpensive!
Easy way to  donate to DX op

Direct QSLing 
The traditional method of QSLing
You must get your  QSL to the DX station
Unless he uses a manager this may be tougher than many  people think

The all important QSO 
Be certain you really made the contact!
– The DX op said W6 Alpha Tango Echo 59
– You said QSL 59 Thank you, Thank you
– You are W6 Alpha Tango Xray
There was no QSO unless you plead with  the DX or his manager  and get very lucky!

Log the QSO Correctly 
. Its easy to forget you just changed bands
. The 8/7/8 problem. Use DD/MM/YY
. Always always use UTC for both time & date!
. Set clock to WWV.  Helps DX find busted calls
. Don’t bust the DX’s call in your log!

Dealing With Old QSOs 
Old QSOs can be difficult
Calls get used over again by different Ops
DXers or their managers move or even die
Logs and QSL cards are lost
Try to make your QSL request within one year of the QSO

Getting the DX’s Address 
Google his call!  He may have a web site is a useful resource
Follow QSL instructions given by DX/QRZ
Check multiple sources for his address
Does he have a manager?

Many DX Stations have Managers 
Many managers are in the US (SASE, $0.45)
Some Dxers have Eu mangrs (SAE,GS, $1.05)
– (Two ounces is $1.85)
Some Don’t and have dishonest postal systems
– A92GR certified ($13)
– OD5NH (Follow instructions)
– Rusty tells the story that CR5AR (1959) send ur card back and asked for more $$$

Components of a QSL Package 
. Your properly completed QSL card
. Either 2-3 Green Stamps (GS) or 1-2 IRC
. An optional donation to help cover DX station’s or mgr’s costs
. A self addressed (SA)  return envelope
. The outer envelope

Your QSL Card 
 An attractive card helps “It’s the bait!”
– Use clear, simple, easy to read fonts
– Your call and all QSO info on one side of QSL
– Your name/address/postal  code/USA
– Your county and grid square Affiliations such as ARRL, NCDXC, NCDXF Place for DX station’s call
– QSO (DD/MM/YY), UTC, Band, Mode, RS(T)
– Check boxes for Pse QSL or Tnx QSL

Filling In the QSL 
– Write clearly with a ‘no smudge’ pen or print a stick on Avery label
– Make sure your ink won’t run if wet
– Make NO corrections. Redo the card
– Check everything against your log
– Even if two stations have same manager, always use one QSL for each DX call sign
– Include a short personal note

QSL Sources Ask Your Friends! 
US sources
– W4MPY ( $83-$130/1K)
– Star Cards ($100-$180/1K)
Bulgarian sources
– LZ1JZ (Good rep)
– LZ3HI (Check)
Russian sources
– UA3AA (Check)
– UT5XO (Ukraine good)

Return Postage 
SASE for US stations and Managers
Green stamps (GS) are US dollars
– Two to three GS are needed for Europe
– GS are usually the most welcome option IRCs may also be used
International Reply Coupons
– Get them at Post Offices ($2.10 valid 12/31/13)
– You can buy at a discount from QSL managers
– IRCs have a short validity period (<2 years)

Problems with IRCs 
Welcome in many countries but not all
– Jamaica, Taiwan, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Iran, Libya, Paraguay, PNG do not accept IRCs
Some countries do not give full value for IRCs
Two IRCs are required in:
– Armenia, Croatia, Italy, Japan, DutchAntilles, Georgia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tajikistan and Venezuela

Green Stamps are preferred but …. 
. Cash if seen in envelope is often stolen
. GS are illegal or not recommended in some countries: Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India
. Use two GS for most places, three for: Germany, Slovakia. Consider using $2.00 bills
. GS still are preferred and more valuable than the equivalent in IRCs in many places
Given the choice use Green Stamps!

Where to Put Your QSL & GS/IRC 
Put both in the opaque SA return envelope
– Do not seal the envelope
– Do not fold it
– Use no tape in SA return envelope

The Self Addressed Return Envelope 
Envelope should fit European sized card
– Minimum 6in x 4in  Eu QSL is 9 x 14 cm
Use opaque security #9 envelope
– Envelope should have stout self adhesive seal

What Goes On the Return Envelope 
Address the envelope to yourself
– Your Name and address  (Include USA)
– Use a printed non smear Avery label
Also include your return address
– If the primary address is obscured, the QSL may still reach YOU!
If addressee is a US station or manager
– Don’t forget US first class postage ($0.45)

The Outer Envelope 
Must fit return SA envelope
– Use opaque security #10 envelope
– Envelope should have a stout self adhesive seal
Only one DX call sign per envelope
Many call lookup  programs can print labels AC Log,

What Goes on the Outer Envelope 
The DX station’s name and address
– Do NOT include his call sign
– Make no mention of amateur radio
– Don’t forget his country (Address bottom line)
Your own return address (Include USA)
– Do NOT include your call sign
Call signs are a red flag that says to the post office employee “Open me I contain $$$”

Putting it All Together 
Put return SAE with QSL & GS/IRC in outer envelope with its flap UP
– Fix in outer envelope with a tiny piece of tape
– Check with a 150 watt lamp for opaqueness!
– You are off to the Post Office

Total Cost of a Direct QSL 
How do you want to confirm your QSOs
– Your QSL card  $0.10
– The outer envelope  $0.06
– The inner envelope  $0.04
– International postage  $1.05
– GS  $2.00-$3.00
– Donation  Optional
– Total cost less donation  $3.25-$4.25
– 100 direct cards can be quite pricey. A BURO card costs one thin dime!

Don’t pester the DX operator……
It’s OK to ask a DX station
– For advice on how to QSL him
– Never ask him if he has received your card!
– Unless 9 months to a year have gone by!
– Don’t forget the DX op or manager has a job and a family too

Most QSL managers really appreciate a small donation with your QSL
– Covers envelopes and gasoline to post office
The DXop depends on your donations to cover the cost of his trip
Be as generous as you can be.

Patience, Patience, Patience 
Don’t expect direct QSLs for 4-6 months
– Managers must wait for cards and logs
Don’t expect BURO cards for 1 or 2 years
Getting a manager  mad at you is not a good thing!

The final courtesy of a QSO is the QSL! 

Thanks and 73, John K6YP