After a bit of a rocky start, my CW logbook got its first real entry last weekend. My friend and elmer, Rick, WØPC, offered to slow down–way down–to let me air out my code skills. It was a lot of fun, and now I can say, “Yes, I do CW.” A few days later I went out to the mailbox and found, to my delight, an envelope from Rick containing a QSL card.
Having been in the ham radio hobby for a little under two years, I think this is the third card I’ve received. I have thought about getting my own cards, and this one from Rick inspired me to place an order with Hal, K6RF, at Cheap QSLs. He was very responsive and his products are surprisingly inexpensive. I am really happy with the proof and I am looking forward to sending these out, once I receive the cards.
I have been thinking about the various ways we have for confirming contacts with other hams, QSLing. I have used the ARRL’s Logbook of the World from the beginning of my amateur radio career. Many other hams do as well, and it seems to be one of the more common means of QSL. I also use the logbook on QRZ.com, but for me, that’s really more of a convenient means of logging contacts while I’m operating than a means of confirming contacts.
I noticed when I began working digital modes that a lot of digital operators seem to like eQSL. I created an account and got it set up, but frankly, it seems more cumbersome to navigate, and really adds nothing to my amateur radio experience, so I haven’t used it much. I am not likely to print out a QSL card that someone sends my electronically.
But the paper QSL card that comes in the mail seems like a nice tradition. It represents a measure of civility and respect that someone would take the time to write out the details of a QSO and send you a physical item, something to literally hang on the wall. And sure, it takes more effort to use these cards for award credit, but there is no disputing that the contact was made if you’ve got a paper document in your hand. And as much as I love my smartphone, email, instant messaging, Twitter, and all the rest, there’s a different kind of pleasure in receiving an unexpected item in the mailbox, addressed by hand, not to “resident” or “occupant,” but specifically to me.
I’ll continue to upload logs to LOTW–I’m still trying for WAS and DXCC, after all. Since discovering CQRlog for Linux, I rely less QRZ.com for logging. But I think paper QSL cards are a nice tradition and I’m looking forward to getting my initial batch. I may not send them out for every single QSO, but it will be a nice touch for those particularly memorable ones–like my first CW QSO with WØPC.