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HINTS AND TIPS FOR SWL’S: HOW AND WHERE TO SEND THE QSL’S (updated Feb. 2009)
by Dan, I1-12387, MDXC#272
 

1. QSL Bureau

The QSL Bureau is the more easy and more cheap way when a lot of QSL’s has to be sent. Each national amateur society operates a QSL Bureau. If it does not exist in your own country, or if you are not interested in joining your national amateur society or you are not enthusiast of your national QSL Bureau (like me!), an alternate way is to become member of the ISWL which operates a very efficient QSL Bureau. The web site of the International Short Wave League is www.iswl.org.uk . In February 2009 the membership rates for European members were 40 Euro plus a QSL Bureau surcharge of 10 Euro per annum.
Before applying for membership keep in mind that the ISWL issues proper SWL callsigns and one SWL, also if already holder of another SWL call, must use the ISWL call for the ISWL QSL Bureau. Some times the two SWL calls are very similar and can be a problem to convince a Ham, or his QSL Bureau, to send the QSL to the ISWL Bureau instead of sending it to a National Bureau. This is the case of myself. In fact my old call is I1-12387, while my ISWL call is I-13745. I solved the problem by printing my Bureau QSLs with the call ISWL-13745.
To speed-up the return time of the QSLs via Bureau, the QSL’s, grouped by country, can be sent directly to the QSL Bureau of that country. The addresses of the IARU QSL Bureau can be found at http://www.iaru.org/iaruqsl.html

Tips:

  • Write the month of the date on the QSL in some extended format, e.g. 1-Apr-2005. If you put 1-4-2005 someone in the US will read that date as January 4, 2005.

  • Presort your QSL’s alphabetically by country prefix.

  • Be sure that the QSL Bureau does exist in the destination country, otherwise your QSL’s will be lost. A list of countries without QSL Bureau can be found at http://www.arrl.org/qsl/qslout.html . If a QSL Manager is indicated on the card the QSL will be forwarded also if the QSL Bureau does not exist.

  • Not all the QSL Managers answer to QSL’s sent via Bureau, while the members of the QSL Manager Society (see http://www.qsl.net/qslmanagers/ ) will do it. They accept and answer all QSL requests sent via Bureau. In their creed there is also the nice sentence “I will answer SWL cards”. Members of this Society are well known QSL Managers, e.g. AC7DX, W3HNK, N3SL, KU9C, N6AWD, VE3HO, DJ9ZB, DL6ZFG, EA5KB, EA7FTR, G3SWH, PC1A, IK2DUW and (of course) IZ8CCW.

  • Sometimes a QSL will arrive via Bureau also if your QSL has been sent via direct with IRC’s or green stamps. This way I received some new IOTA’s from Chile and Israel.
 

Fig.1 – JA1VYW QSL – QSL sent to JA Bureau and received directly (rara avis) in few months
 

2. WF5E Qsl Service

The QSL Service by Les, WF5E is more quick than the Bureau and less expensive than the direct way. New rates effective May 14th, 2007 are 2 cards for $1.00 or 1 IRC plus return postage. Les accepts also Euro and other currencies provided its the equal amount of US $. His web site is http://www.qsl.net/wf5e . He serves approximately 5000 customers in over 50 countries, with approx. 8000 to 9000 QSL’s received per month to forward. He sends QSLs to DX and USA managers, active DX stations and Dxpeditions, which consist of over 4000 stations.

Tips:

  • Be sure to use hard envelopes (e.g. MailLite Gold), able to withstand the sorting machines of the US Post Offices. These infernal machines destroyed one of my light envelopes and I received back my QSL’s (with my address printed on) few at a time for several weeks.

  • In the WF5E web site there is a list of QSL managers or DX stations which do not accept this Service. In this black list there are 3B9FR, OM2SA, ON5NT, etc.

  • Don’t hesitate to send to WF5E also DX QSL’s difficult to get. I got via WF5E a QSL from American Samoa, a new DXCC for me back in 1996, after several attempts via direct without results.
 

Fig.2 – AH8A received via WF5E
 

3. Direct QSL

When the QSL is a must, e.g. new DXCC, new IOTA, etc, it is “obligatory” to send the QSL via direct. To find the correct address the best web site is http://www.dxlabsuite.com/pathfinder/WebClient . This site includes several links, to national callbooks (if available), qrz.com, buckmaster, IK3QAR etc.
To find new QSL routes the best source is the 425DXNews by I1JQJ ( http://www.425dxn.org ) .

Tips:

  • Be sure to include a SAE (Self Addressed Envelope) and one or more IRC’s (International Reply Coupons) or “green stamps” (i.e. US $).

  • Use a SAE of sufficient size. Not all use the standard QSL format of 9 x 14 cm.

  • Use SAE’s that have a strip that is removed to seal the envelope, especially If the destination is a humid area.

  • Be sure, when you go to Post Office to buy IRC’s, that the IRC’s are properly stamped on the left side. The stamping is optional but few Post Office’s accept IRC’s not properly stamped. Note also that the new IRC’s have an expiry date.

  • There are several web sites to check how many IRC’s or green stamps are required by different countries e.g. http://www.qrz.co.il/handbook.php?pid=160 , http://www.qsl.net/w9ol/ircchart.txt , http://www.qsl.net/w9ol . Anyway I didn’t find any with the correct postal rate from Italy, so consider these web sites only a reference.

  • Shake a few grains of black pepper in the envelope to deter money sniffing dogs (I really found this tip in the web and I decided to include also it. If some SWL would try to follow the tip, please let me know the results).

  • For some countries (e.g. Argentina, Indonesia and Mexico) the safest way to be pretty sure that your mail will not be open is to send a registered mail.

  • For the same countries never put your callsign or the callsign of the DX station on the envelope. It is an indicator that there may be green stamps inside to pilfer.

  • If you have to send QSL’s to Russia, read before “Secure your mail” by RZ1AK at http://www.qsl.net/rz1ak/mail.htm .

  • And finally, don’t lose the confidence to get a QSL. I received the QSL from an Antarctic Base, having found in the web that the QSL Manager was still QRV, after 28 years !

 

 

Fig.3 – LU1ZR, Petrel Station (Navy), received after 28 years
 

4. e-QSL

In the Internet world the electronic QSL is the new way to exchange QSLs. I am an old-timer and I am not enthusiast of this mode of QSLing, but many SWLs now enjoy it. To use the e-QSL you have to register your SWL call at http://www.eqsl.cc/ and to upload your proper QSL. To send e-QSLs you can manually enter your log or upload your ADIF log file. But the better way is to use a log software, e.g. Ham Radio Deluxe by Simon HB9DRV, able to connect to the e-QSL web site, and you can send your electronic QSL immediately after listening to a DX station. If the DX station uses a similar log software you can get the QSL in real time.
But note that some QSL Managers, like W3HNK (usually 100% QSLer with SWLs), do not enjoy this type of QSLing and do not send e-QSLs. Other DX stations use to send a poor designed e-QSL for an immediate reply and ask for a "real" QSL to send in a second time.
Anyway the best merit of the e-QSL is the speed. There are also several awards based on e-QSLs available to SWLs and one SWL Forum.
Another system of electronic QSLing is LoTW by the ARRL but it is not available to SWLs.

 

Fig.4 – P5/4L4FN, North Korea, one of my very few e-QSLs