Hooked On QSLs

Ever since receiving my first QSL in the mail, as an 11 year-old SWL in Cycle 19, I've always loved getting new cards. Strange as it sounds, I can still recall the fresh ink smell and the brown manila envelope that arrived from "Switzerland Calling". In those days the world was a much larger place and Switzerland may as well have been on the moon. It was a world away ... and the envelope was addressed just to me!

I had a similar thrill this week, when my rural mailbox revealed a much-needed card from Afghanistan. It was from Shuravi, T6T, worked a few weeks ago on 20m ... surprising, as he was using just a low wire dipole supported with bamboo poles.

The card confirmed DXCC country #335 for me with most of them, like T6T, being on CW.

I keep a separate country count, and albums, for my two favorite bands ...160m and 6m, where it seems that new ones come either very slowly or in bunches.

As of today, my 160m total stands at 154 worked and confirmed while my total on the magic band stands at 86 worked and 85 confirmed ... proof of the Pacific  Northwest's 6m black hole phenomenon. Sadly I neglected to quickly post a card to 4U1UN for a Saturday morning F2 QSO during Cycle 21. Later attempts proved futile as the logs were subsequently destroyed in a small fire.

The nine remaining DXCC countries will be tough, as, from what I can determine, there is little or no regular amateur radio activity from most of them:

H40  Temotu Province
FT/TO  Glorioso Island
HK0  Malpelo Island
KP5  Descecheo Island
P5  DPR of Korea
SV/A  Mt. Athos
VP8  South Sandwich Islands
Z8  Southern Sudan
ZL9  Auckland / Campbell Island

I've stayed away from e-QSLing as the look and the feel of a written paper card, was one of the first things that attracted me to the hobby and it seems, to me anyway, an important ham radio tradition to keep alive as long as possible. After all these years, I'm still hooked on QSLs.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Hooked On QSLs”

  • Mike KG9DW:

    Steve, I’m right there with you. I really enjoy getting rare and unique cards. The plain card stock with simple information are still good to get. When I get one of the really cool ones – one where someone has taken the time to create a scene or show me something about their locale – those are the ones that go on the wall. 73, Mike

  • peter kg5wy:

    I agree. Some say it is old fashion, but I still like to send and receive CARDS.

  • Richard KWøU:

    Nice job, maybe some day I’ll get a T6 too…. I’ve got 8 boxes of cards collected over almost 40 years and enjoy going through them for the memories as well as the interesting designs that many have. I also have sections in the “back of the box” for SWL cards received from broadcast stations I heard, and for SWL cards received from (mainly Europeans) who heard me–naturally I always QSL them confirmations. This is a nice part of the hobby and one that hopefully will always last as part of it. Electronic confirmations might be fast (and take some of the seat out of “probable” contacts) but they sure aren’t as much fun.

  • brian ac7af:

    I use coffee cans and wright the band on top the joy of receiving cards in the mail eqsl or lotw will never replace that

  • Paul, W3FIS:

    REAL cards and my vintage J-38 key, and I’m good to go…

    73 /paul W3FIS

  • W4DL Mike:

    I agree with the author, paper qsl’s are a facet of ham radio which I always have enjoyed. I use the ARRL qsl service in and outbound and keep a few envelopes on file with my W4 manager. LOTW is great but there are not a lot of memories attached to a line on a spreadsheet!

    Good DX……

  • Colin GM4JPZ:

    Brought back memories of 58 years ago when I started as an SWL. My dad would come into my bedroom with the day’s mail (yep, came at 7am in these days!) and wake me by saying “Here’s one from Hawaii, one from West Germany, and one from France” etc. Didn’t have the heart to tell him I wanted to find out myself where they were from, but he must have had pleasure from them as well. Nothing against LotW, eQSL etc., but there’s nothing can beat that thrill of opening the envelope and looking at the card(s) inside.
    73/Colin GM4JPZ

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