QSL Cards Explained
What is a QSL?
It comes from the international Q codes, a type of radio shorthand based on similar codes developed by telegraph operators. Most radio amateurs want proof of their contact with other amateurs. This proof is the QSL card which is simply a postcard verifying contact between the two stations, or a reception report from an SWL (Short Wave Listener). A good guide to QSL’ing can be found on Charles Wilmotts’ (M0OXO) website.
These are sent through the mail, in bulk via local radio organisations, often referred to as “the bureau” – the RSGB acts as the UK bureau. The typical journey of each card can be simplyfied as follows, the sending radio amateur mails his/her outbound cards to the local bureau where they are then sorted into countries, and where necessary, sub divided into regions or areas. When enough cards are gathered for each destination they are fowarded to the receiving amateurs country/area where they are then sorted into the individual callsigns. Finally, once a batch has been compiled the QSL cards are forwarded onto the recipient.
With the widespread use of the internet the electronic version of the QSL card (eQSL) was born. Following a similar format to the traditional paper based cards, radio amateurs can now send QSL cards to each other instantly via various web services, the most common of which is eQSL.cc