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QSL cards in their paper form are costly, time consuming and take a long while to reach their destination.
Whilst paper cards have a collectable value, many radio amateurs are turning towards electronic versions to enable to provide a more effective service.
Using electronic formats, it is possible to receive cards very quickly - sometimes almost instantly after the contact.
The concept of electronic QSL cards is now ell established and it is used by many - particularly DXpeditions for whom it can save considerable amounts of cost and time.
Electronic QSLs are now accepted by many organisations for awards, making them a really viable 21st Century alternative to the rather dated card version used since the very early days of amateur radio.
Electronic QSLing and forgery
One of the issues with the concept behind electronic versions of sending QSLs is that of forgery.
The systems used for electronic QSLs have security built in to them to prevent the possibility of forgery, making them an ideal option for many instances.
Electronic QSL systems
There are two main electronic QSL systems that are in use:
- ARRL Logbook of the World, LOTW: The ARRL Logbook of the World scheme was introduced in 2004. This electronic QSL method enables contact confirmations to be submitted electronically. The electronic QSL confirmations are in the form of database records which are electronically signed with the private key of the sender.
These confirmations are used for ARRL awards including DXCC and this makes applying for these awards very much simpler once the system has been set up. It enables DXCC status to be automatically updated as new logs come in.
The downside for this scheme is that the system simply matches database records and it does not the ability to create of pictorial QSL cards that can be printed out for collecting.
The ARRL Logbook Of The World LOTW can be reached via www.arrl.org/lotw/
- eQSL: The eQSL enables electronic exchange of QSLs as jpeg or gif images. These electronic QSLs can then be printed as cards on the recipient's local printer, or they can displayed on the computer monitor.
Many logging programs now have direct electronic interfaces to transmit contact details in real-time into the eQSL.cc database. CQ Amateur Radio magazine began accepting electronic QSLs from eQSL.cc for its four award programs since January 2009.
The eQSL system can be reached at www.eqsl.cc