QSL Cards

By Roger Western G3SXW

G3SXW with QSL cardsThe VooDoo Contest Group has always given QSLing high priority. We QSL in timely fashion, only responding to requests – we never QSL 100%.
I have carried out the task of QSL Manager for many years, even for those couple of trips which I couldn’t make. When arriving home I wait for the merged log to be e-mailed to me (usually by KC7V) and begin designing the card. In recent years we have used Gennady, UX5UO – a totally marvellous service, with quick delivery at a very good price. We firstly need to collect photographs (thank goodness for digital photography!) from which to choose maybe just one for the front of the card. We use the previous year’s card as the example from which to develop the back of the card. I send photos and text to Gennady, he (usually the same day) sends me a draft lay-out. There are usually a couple of very minor amendments, then he goes to print.
The upshot is that within four weeks of getting home I am posting out cards, usually over the Christmas holiday period. My garage is groaning with the weight of all the incoming cards over so many years!
As Mike KC7V says, we also upload the log to CQ Magazine, LoTW and ClubLog – all within just 2-3 weeks of getting home. We used to firstly spend a day or two eye-balling the log for impossible call-signs and making a handful of corrections, but we don’t even do that these days.
Over the years in West Africa we have made some 250,000 QSOs of which some 50% have resulted in a QSL request. At an average of two QSOs per card this suggests that some 60,000+ cards have been sent to ‘The Deserving’. Of course we also respond efficiently to QSL requests via bureau – that normally results in a peak of incoming cards about 12-18 months after the trip, starting to tail off after two years. A trickle of cards still arrives many years later. With the spread of LoTW the volume of requests is reducing these days, especially from USA.
Broadly speaking, there is no cost. I find that income from direct requests exceeds the cost (print and postage) enough to cover bureau costs, so the whole account more or less breaks even. We feel that it’s very important to provide cards for anyone who wants one (provided they are in the log, of course!) because we have had enormous fun making the QSOs, so then we have to pay-back, so to speak. But we do so most willingly.