Friday, July 30, 2010

QSL Card

After seeing the e-qsl on my last post a reader asked about my qsl card.  Above is my most recent version qsl card.  The row of boxes at the bottom of the card are for filling in various information about the contact the card will confirm once sent to the other station "worked".  Callsign, date, UTC (24 hour time), frequency, RST (signal report) and Mode (SSB, CW, digital etc.).  The last box marked QSL will be checked "tnx" for thank you if you are replying to a card already received or "pse" for please if you are requesting confirmation.  
There are commercial printers who specialize in printing qsl's.  There are many options from generic plain templates to printers who make a qsl in full color from a submitted photograph.  When I first became a licensed radio amateur I didn't give qsl cards much thought, that is until I received my first one in the mail. I thought about it for a while and knew I had to somehow incorporate the Morse Code key into my card design since CW (radio-telegraphy) is my favorite operating mode.

I made a 200% scale pencil drawing of one of my keys, a Nye Speed-X straight key.  To the best of my knowledge Nye keys are still being produced in the Northwest, Priest River Idaho, to be exact. visit the Nye website here

Once I had a basic idea for my card sketched out I turned it over to a graphic artist to layout the text and bring it all together.  A special thanks must be given to Bob the artist.  Without his computer savvy design skills I would not have been able to create my own card.  We scanned the pencil drawing and imported it into the layout and sized it accordingly.  I took the file to Staples on a cd and had them laser print the cards on a vintage looking parchment card stock very much like the background of this blog.

I have enjoyed pencil drawing since I was a child however I don't do much drawing these days with so much other things going on.  I like to whip something out every once in a while just to prove to myself I still can.  I have maybe 8 or 10 hours in this drawing.  It is very tedious work with lots of measuring and obsessive fussing.  The gray image above the key is an actual post card size qsl laying on top of the original drawing.  

Qsl's are an old tradition and collecting them has become a fun part of the hobby for me.  I have not counted my collection in a while but I'm sure it's closing in on five hundred.  The most original and meaningful cards I have displayed on the wall above my operating desk.  This too has been done by some hams for the last hundred years.


  1. That is an awesome QSL card; a classy, clean, retro design. (Perhaps it's only retro to me, because I see a key as a thing of the past?) I had asked what your card looked like because I was going to offer to help make a cool one for you but what you have is excellent! Very nicely done!

    I too, like to draw. I took 4 years of Architectural Design classes in high school and have continued drafting for fun. I am most proud of a scaled exploded view of a Colt .45 that I gave to my older brother as a gift. It's not too often I draw, but I love to sit at the table, with T-square, dividers and triangles, reverse engineering various items.

  2. Cool, Thanks.
    I like mechanical drawing. My sister is the opposite she does portraits. It's creepy how accurately she can reproduce someones likeness with just a pencil. She makes money with it.

    There are a bunch of qsl's floating around that have T. Edison's Morse code key Patent drawing on them that look pretty sharp. That's were I got the idea. I'm sure your familiar with those old patent drawings. Neat stuff.

    Thanks again Mike, I'll be following
    drop a line anytime.