What is a QSL card?

QSL's are personal postcards which serve as souvenirs of a contact between two or more radio amateurs. Many amateurs choose cards which are very basic ... others enjoy customizing their QSL's with pictures, special text, etc. Here is an image of my QSL card:

This is the front view of my QSL card. It has a picture of Mt. St. Helens and is personalized with my information.

This is the reverse side of my QSL card. The text is customized. Note the label at the top of the card. This is different for each QSL sent. This card is going to amateur station ET3VSC in Ethiopia. Reading further, you can see I contacted him on October 29, 2001 at 15:11z (we all use the same time zone, which is the time in London England). 2X CW means ours was a two-way conversation (versus a simple listening, or SWL report) ... CW means we used Morse code. RST is a code indicating strength and quality of the signal (559 is pretty good for such a long distance). Freq is the frequency in megahertz that we communicated.

How are QSL's used?

QSL cards are collected for many reasons. Some amateurs enjoy thumbing through a shoe box of cards reliving memorable conversations on the air. Others collect them as evidence for various operating awards. For example, a very popular award is called DXCC ... which is awarded for two-way radio communication with amateurs in at least 100 countries. An amateur may apply for this award, but must submit 100 QSL's from 100 different countries as evidence of having accomplished this difficult feat.