Saturday, March 17, 2012

QSL's From Years Gone By

With the latest round of solar activity that has left the bands mostly quiet here in my part of the world, I have been scrolling through old QSL cards. I have wanted to preserve a few of these cards from years gone by. I have nearly every QSL card received, from my very first QSO to current day. In my nearly 24 years as a ham radio operator and mostly a DXer, I've chased those rare ones like so many others. I proudly hang my DXCC certificates on my shack wall and the one I'm most proud of displays my last DXCC endorsement sticker received, number 300. I have a CW only DXCC certificate which displays my last endorsement sticker received, that being number 275.

 I have more money invested in these cards than I care to think. From the purchase of my personal QSL cards, to airmail envelopes, to return airmail envelopes, not to mention the postage and green stamps or IRC's it took to get them. To the normal person, they are only a post card with some unknown information written on them. But for me, it represents my ham radio timeline. It also represents hundreds of hours spent tuning the bands and participating in often crazy pile-ups and contests. Many times, the easiest part was working the station. The hardest part was obtaining the QSL card or cards.

Remembering the days of stocking the New York phonebook sized Radio Amateur Callbook, using it to look up callsigns to send for QSL cards. I have, which I believe is the last printed copy from 1997, at a cost then of $39.95 for the International edition. There were normally two editions printed, one being the International and the other being the North American. There was no electronic QSL card confirmation process then, so you did it the old fashioned way. It was always exciting to send off QSL cards for new countries and even more exciting when the return envelopes showed up!

QSL Cards Received From Years Gone By
I have so many QSL cards it would take me weeks to scan them all so I have been picking a small handful from my collection to scan and archive. I've also been uploading them to my facebook account, sharing them with my other ham friends. If a ham has been around for a few years, many of these QSL cards will probably look familiar. I've been having fun just looking through, re-reading the information and comments. It's been fun remembering things like Box 88, Moscow, East and West Germany, or the Russian Woodpecker tapping across the bands. Using packet to connect to the local 2 meter BBS to read the bulletins in hopes of getting DX or QSL information. Like a photo which freezes a moment in time forever, a QSL card does the same for ham radio contacts. And like many of my old photos, my QSL cards are kept in a large box tucked in the back of the closet. These QSL cards represent where I've been, propagationally speaking of course, and my contacts with those many countries all around the world. 

Recently the DX World received sad news regarding the passing of Ron Wright, ZL1AMO. Ron may be a Silent Key but his memory lives on through this great hobby, helping many hams like me obtain new countries for our DXCC award. Ron is one of many who I've chased on the bands over the years and for his efforts, like many others, I will be forever grateful.  


  1. Hi Phil, I enjoyed the cards. So many things have changed. It's easy to get info now. In scan pt. 4 I discovered a card from PA9KT he's PA1T now and in my neighbourhoud he has a website here and still is active in several contests. Just to let you know. 73, Bas

  2. Bas - Very cool, thanks! It's been fun looking through the old QSL cards and it's even better knowing those hams are still active!