One of the best things about being a ham radio operator is the chance to talk to people on the other side of town, the other side of the state or even the other side of the planet that you wouldn't have otherwise met. Ham radio operators traditionally exchange QSL cards through the mail to confirm that mutual contact has occurred. A custom QSL card is truly a collector's item for the people you contact. Fortunately, with a little help from your computer and printer, they're easy and fun to make.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Blank postcard sheets
Choose the right paper. QSL cards are generally postcard-sized and made of card stock, which is available in a variety of colours at your local office supply store (Staples, Office Max, etc.). The store will also have sheets of postcards that you can run through your computer printer. The company Paper Direct also has plain and decorative postcard sheets that can go in your printer (see website, below).
Design your card. Include your call sign, location and, if you're a member, the name and location of your local ham radio club. You can download pictures, graphics and fonts to personalise your QSL card. Paper Direct postcards come with a design template, so you know that everything you want will fit on your card.
Print your card. If you have a lot of colour graphics or photos on your QSL card, you can copy the file to a flash drive and have it professionally printed. Otherwise, use a good printer to make enough copies of your new QSL card for all your new contacts.
Send your card. Put the date of the transmission/conversation and the frequency on the back of the card and drop it in the mail. Hopefully, you'll get a QSL from your fellow ham in return in a few days.
Tips and warnings
- In ham radio-speak, Q is code for statement or question, so QSL is asking, "Was the transmission received?" or stating, "The transmission was received."
- The first QSL card was sent in 1922.
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