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Electronic QSLing

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Electronic QSLing is becoming more popular by the day. You’ve got ARRL’s Logbook of the World (aka LOTW); you’ve got eQSL; and, for Ham Radio Deluxe nuts you’ve got HRDLog — which doesn’t appear to have any following among many other than users of HRD working digital modes. And, now there is a new kid on the block — QRZ’s Logbook.

I’ve used LOTW for years. I’m also using eQSL. Enough is enough though. There has to be a defacto that everyone logs to, rather than everyone logging to a different place.

It used to be that the ARRL and CQ were the only places issuing awards, and you would get these awards by having both participants in a QSO send in the QSLs they have received for verification in order to obtain the awards. This still happens, albeit to a lesser extent now.

Now, instead of just ARRL and CQ standard methods, you’ve got LOTW, eQSL and QRZ’s Logbook version. This is an amazing amount of confusion. There are those will never participate in electronic QSLing, either because they do not have a computer or they just believe that the time-tested way is the only valid way. There are those who will only use electronic QSLing methods, out of convenience, thrift, or as a middle-finger protest to the old school paperchasers. Out of those who use e-qsling they have to pick and choose which options they want to use.

I personally haven’t had any QSL cards made up since I got back into the hobby again. I intend to, but it just hasn’t been a priority. It’s not that I’m cheap; I’m just lazy and not really looking for awards. However, I do respect those who want a contact verified via an actual QSL card, and I intend on accomodating them.

E-qsling can be a real pain if you are torn between the options. I use LOTW and eQSL. I use HRD (Ham Radio Deluxe) for my master log storage. Regardless of what program I actually use for logging (I use N1MM Logger for competitions and HRD for casual contacts), my HRD always has a copy of that contact. Then, I use HRD to upload my contacts to HRDLog and eQSL. I then manually export logs periodically to ADIF, sign them with TrustedQSL, and upload them to LOTW. It’s a helluva lot of work, and I’m just a small potatoes operator. Serious DXers and contesters just don’t have the time to be pulling logs from different sources and uploading them to 3 our four different sites.

In addition, the only way any of the electronic QSL entities become any good is if the majority of people use them.

LOTW is trusted, by virtue of it being operated by the ARRL. The problem is that everyone bitches about LOTW being too difficult. You can’t just take an ADIF and upload it to LOTW. You first have to get a certificate issued by the ARRL in order to become trusted. Then you have to sign your log submissions with the trusted certificate. None of this is automated in any general logging program that i know of. Thus you must export the logs to ADIF format, sign it with TrustedQSL, and then upload it to LOTW. I dont find it particularly cumbersome, but there are a lot of dumbasses in the world who can’t handle this. If I had my way, LOTW and the ARRL would be the only place to send your logs.

eQSL is trusted by many. It has been around a while now and has a large number of people using eQSL for confirmations / awards. Of course eQSL confirmations do not count for ARRL awards and LOTW confirmations do not count for eQSL awards. Apparently CQ is allowing some of its awards to be garnered via eQSL confirmations though. eQSL is very easy to upload to, and many logging programs have integration built in whereby you can upload your QSOs with a click of a button to eQSL.

HRDLog is not a serious endeavor. It’s pretty. It has a lot of features. But it seems like only people using HRD use it. I doubt it would become a contender, and in fact I hope it does not.

QRZ is last on the list, and the most recent place to role out Logging with the idea that you will be able to garner awards from QRZ down the road [I believe]. However, I think they are too late in teh game and are trying to re-invent the wheel. I’ll never upload to QRZ. I draw the line here. QRZ already offfers great forums and the extremely popular QRZ.Com callsign lookup and integration. They should just strive to improve upon that rather than dealing with the QSL bullshit.

Paper QSLing is not gone. I hope it never dies. I will always be glad for those QSL cards that I receive, and I’ll save them up. I’ll never attempt to turn them in for an award at the ARRL or anywhere else, but this is a tradition that should be maintained.

Everyone who has access to a computer should strive to at least establish an account at LOTW and upload their. Then, if they are feeling froggy they could upload to eQSL. There is no reason not to do this if you have a computer and internet access. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that if you use a computer regularly and have internet access, you are doing others a disservice [if not yourself as well] by not uploading logs to LOTW [and optionally eQSL].

Stop holding your grudges against the ARRL or EQSL and instead establish accounts at both and upload your logs. You may actually find that you enjoy having those logs online and that you enjoy having the ability to work for a lot of awards without having to specifically exchange QSL cards and send them in. Yes, I know QSLing is a time-honored tradition, and I’m not proposing that you let it go. But why not broaden your minds and make the hobby a little more enjoyable for yourself and everyone else :)

Written by Mike

July 1st, 2010 at 4:01 pm

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