SOTA QSL cards

In the past few months the number of QSL cards arriving through my letterbox from the QSL Bureau from SOTA activators has been steadily increasing. My QSL sub-manager has just had a pre-Christmas clear out with the result that I have this morning received 70 SOTA QSL’s. Many are multiple cards from the same station, with 15 from one activator, 10 from another and batches of 6 from others.

This raises the question “Do these activators expect a return QSL from me in reply?” I cannot really feel that someone wants 15 identical cards from me as a chaser, so I am going to have to formulate a policy to deal with these.

To date I have been replying to each incoming QSL from a different activator just once, because it is always a pleasure to contact a SOTA station for the first time and thank them for their effort, even though QSL’s are not required to confirm a SOTA contact.

Some QSO’s are particularly special and deserve a direct card, which is always a pleasure to answer. It is the sheer volume of Bureau cards which is becoming a problem

Some activators go to considerable lengths to take photographs and produce an individual QSL featuring a picture of each particular SOTA and these are appreciated. It would seem churlish not to acknowledge the effort involved.

I would be interested to know how others deal with SOTA QSL’s. I note that some activators now have “No QSLs” embedded in their Alerts details.


In reply to G4SSH:

I have exactly the same problem as Roy, but from an activators viewpoint. Whilst I enjoy receiving qsl cards in general, I see no point in receiving cards from the same chasers for every summit I do. I had 33 identical cards from one chaser until Monday when I received a pack from the buro containing another 12 cards from that station, making 45 now with more on the way no doubt. If anyone is waiting for a card from me, please bear with me whilst I have some new ones printed.
I have also noticed an increase in cards received from SWL stations. These are welcome as its always nice to know where your signal can be heard.
Steve G1INK.

In reply to G4SSH:

Hello Roy

Your thread provokes a simple question. As you may know, I only came back to the bands in August this year after a long sabbatical. I rejoined the RSGB and sent my six envelopes to my QSL manager. Since then I have had 527 contacts, worked 77 DXCC entities, but have yet to receive a single QSL card, SOTA or otherwise. Is this normal in your experience?

I did join eQSL and immediately send a card on each log entry through HRD and have received about 50 cards through this system but it is not the same. I would happily respond to any SOTA card through the Bureau but am mystified by the lack of responses.

Best 73’s

In reply to G4SSH:


I produced my activator QSL cards with a Perl/ImageMagick script from a photo and adif-file. Then I loaded the produced files to my web page and informed the chasers that they can download the files if they wish to do so. I was surprised that most of the comments were positive and only few said that they do not wish to receive eQSLs. I do not recommend flooding the mail boxes with QSL card files however. In my case most of the activations have been also first time activations for the summits, so my feeling was that they deserve a special QSL card. Still I wanted to avoid the cost and trouble to print them (but I will send one card via buro to those who have requested a printed version).

The normal rule for the QSLs is to send a card for the first contact or if it is specially requested.

73, Jaakko OH7BF/F5VGL

It does seem strange that some would want to collect the same card multiple times, because as you say, QSLs are not required in SOTA. I think I would adopt a similar approach, gladly QSLing the first incoming card from a station (if I haven’t already sent mine out) and any “special” cards to commemorate special contacts.

As you say, there are some splendid well-designed colour SOTA-themed QSL cards out there. I am happy to QSL each different design from one activator, if he/she has gone to the trouble of producing individual cards per each summit.

Now you have reminded me, I have a rather big pile of cards I need to work through…:frowning:



When I started SWLing the amatuer bands, and sending out SWL report cards via the Buro in 1996, it then took about 2.5 years for the return QSL cards to start trickling through the Buro. I wouldn’t worry just yet hi!


In reply to G4SSH:

Hi to all,

I was, I am and I will always be 100% QSL! (23,000 QOSs in the log up to now, and 40 % returned).

As for the SOTA, here’s what I do:

1/ As a chaser, I feel the same:100% QSL , with 5 QSOs per QSL card.

2/ As an activator, I (and I’m not the only one!) make it a point of honour to make a QSL card for each activated summit.So far, I’ve only got 22 cards, and I doubt I’ll get any more. So, it’s 22 cards for those who’ve contacted me each time, which is not the case. These QSL cards have been realised with photos taken on the spot to give a picture of the summit to those who’ve kindly contacted me. Therefore they cost something that I pay for, but that’s no problem for me, on the contrary, it’s a pleasure!

But the way I manage my log prevents me from not sending any to those who don’t want to.

To those people, I’d say that:
1/ My QSL cards as a SOTA activator surely mustn’t clutter up their letter boxes.
2/ As soon as they get them, they can destroy them and put them in the bin: it’s not something that should take long, and I certainly won’t be offended by that, everyone should act as they feel!

73, André F5AKL

In reply to G4CMQ:

hi david

cant comment on eqsl but the truth is if you want to knock up dxcc particulaly on rare dxpeditions you have to qsl direct or qsl manager, and i always gave a small contribution to help with their outlay i have worked 331 dxc some years back but my dxcc would be much depeleted if it was through the bureau . nothing wrong with the bureau but i recall not all countries have a bureau anyway.dont chase dx anymore here nor claimed anything

73s alistair

In reply to G4CMQ:

Hi David

The majority of cards in my packs were from European stations for QSO’s in late 2006 or early 2007, so expect a delay of at least 12 months before you start to receive cards via the Bureau. Cards from more distant stations were mainly for contacts in 2004 and 2005 but some were dated back to 1995.


In reply to G4SSH:
Dear friends,

First, I’m very sorry for my bad English, so I can’t say exactly what I mean.

with 15 from one activator, 10 from another
Reading Roy’s item, I think I’m concerned, because I sent lot of SOTA QSL cards two months ago. And, has everybody could think, Roy was almost in my 40 activator logs . I think I’m the one who sent him 15 QSL cards and my SOTA friend F5AKL, Andy, sent the 10 others.

When I started in SOTA (April 1st 2007) I sent all my first SOTA activation QSL card direct, by mail.Today, I’ve received only one answer via bureau.

Then, it was a pleasure for me to create a new QSL card for each activation, generaly using a photo on the summit. As you know, it needs time and money to do that job.

Of course, it was always F6ENO/P, but I thought that chasers would be happy to receive new summit confirmation.

Sending these QSL cards was a pleasure for me, and it is a great surprise to see that I spread disruption in some shacks.

So, friends, as said Andy earlier, you can put my QSL cards in your garbage can. And if it is such a hard job, do not anwer.

When I’m reading my activator logs, I can see that 99% of my callers are well known ! always Roy, Mike, John, Ambrosi, Fritz fathe and son) Dan, Al etc… etc… they all have received one or more QSL cards from me. So, may I think that I dont have no more QSL card to send to them ?

73 to all
Alain F6ENO

PS: as I said, I cant explain realy what I feel today. So I’l write a french reflector item about that subject.

In reply to G4CMQ:
David, I find its about one year via the buro for UK and European qsl’s and much longer for distant countries, yes some took 11 years!
Have you looked at the ARRL’s Logbook of the world.(ARRL's Logbook of the World) its a good way of getting 50% of your contacts confirmed without any qsl being sent. A lot of the big dxpeds are now using this system BS7H was the last one I had confirmed this way. Sometimes the direct ones take a year which is not good for the blood pressure.

Mike G0HIO

In reply to F6ENO:

Hi Alain,

I am always very happy receiving your beautiful qsl-cards!
Also the special-cards of HB9BAB, HA5CQZ, GX0OOO, G4YSS, F5VGL, F5AKL, etc.
are very much apreciated.
Today I got a letter from the HB9-bureau with 2 QSLs of F6ENO (hi),
a “special-qsl” of HB9AFI/p (tnx Kurt!) and my first QSL from a SWL who
was portable on a summit (HE9SOL/p on HB/AI-010).

As an activator I know how it is to get 50 cards from one chaser,
but never mind, maybe he needs the QSLs for any other awards.

As a chaser I send a QSL for the 1st contact, but sri I dont use a
computer-log, so sometimes more than one :slight_smile:

Vy73 de Fritz

In reply to all:

Many thanks for the helpful comments guys. I was only thinking I might have had 1 or 2 by now. I know 3B7C said it would be up to a year to complete their massive list.
Personally I would QSL 100%, even with SOTA and my HRD log tells me whether I have sent one previously. Having now realised that some activators send individual cards from some summits, I am looking forward to getting one of them, and would certainly duplicate under that situation just to say ‘Thank you’.

Best 73’s

In reply to G4CMQ:

It took me about 10 months from my start date with sota for the buro cards to start coming in.
I too have received multiple cards, but I have a personal policy of replying to the first card received, sometimes through the buro sometimes direct.
I don’t have a problem with multiple qsl cards, in fact I see it as an honour that an op takes the time, trouble and the expense to send me a card and after 22 years as a ham, it still puts a smile of anticipation on my face each time a buro envelope drops through my door.
It has to be down to each individual how they deal with replies, but count your lucky stars that someone enjoyed the contact with you and sent you a card in mutual friendship.

73 Mike GW0DSP

I think common sense is the way to go. I have received/requested a couple of special SOTA cards, 1st 5megs qso, 1st CW qso, the qso that marked 1000 chaser points etc. I wouldn’t send a card for every contact on every hill though as I don’t think thats fair on the activator. I could see the point in one card for each first contact with an individual activator. To each his own I suppose, and of course cost has to come into it.
I’m with Mike though, I love getting the little envelope from the bureau and sorting through the cards. Mind you since I got one with an attractive yl who appeared to have lost her clothes my xyl has vetted them first!
My current batch of qsl cards was done by UX5UO print. His prices are very reasonable and the quality is good.

In reply to G4SSH:

Handling about 800-1000 requests per month (average), I am surprised to get QSL requests from chasers who actually got the activated references already confirmed through the SOTA DB.
I don’t make up fancy QSL cards for low profile activities (I’m not only doing SOTA, as some may know) and I don’t send first since from my point of view, if the QSO is confirmed through the SOTA DB, it makes no sense to also request a paper card, which doesn’t mean I’m in favour of e-qsling. I don’t use LoTW for other reasons and I don’t care about, but requesting 20 Qs for a DL/… activity, well…

My 2c
73 Norby

In reply to G4CMQ:

Apropos of the time taken for cards to get through the bureaux, a year is about the minimum before they start drifting through. The system is intrinsically batch in nature - for example, the RSGB will hold on to your cards until there are enough to fill the envelope you provided (or the weight limit for postage attached has been reached). That could be a considerable time!

Regarding QSLing for SOTA contacts, I must say I can’t see a lot of point. The programme does not require QSLs and one is hardly working DX. I suggest that most people would have little or no interest in receiving cards (and certainly not multiple cards) for SOTA QSOs. Sending unsolicited cards for what are really local QSOs is plain wasteful and hard to justify when we are all being urged to cut down on waste. A more sensible approach is to send a QSL card only if the other party explicitly requests it. QSLL (I’ll send you one if you’ll send me one) is also quite effective at weeding out unwanted QSLs.

73, John

In reply to G4CMQ:

I know 3B7C said it would be up to a year to complete their massive list.

3B7C is already up to date with direct requests (some 30,000 QSOs have been confirmed so far and we only got the cards from the printers three weeks ago). We don’t expect to see significant numbers of bureau cards coming through for at least another six months but when they do arrive with us, they are handled more or less immediately. So it’s nothing really to do with the size of the 3B7C operation - we have the systems in place to cope with that - it’s just the inherent delays in the bureau system.

73, John
[One of the 3B7C team and the guy that wrote the software that does the QSLing!]

In reply to G4CMQ:

Hi Dave,

just for example for how the qsl´s (could) run in Germany.

02.10.2007 DL1XYZ/p qso with G4CMQ
09.10.2007 DL1XYZ writes the qsl for G4CMQ
29.10.2007 DL1XYZ brings the qsl to the local radio club
25.11.2007 the QSL-Manager of the local radio club sends the qsl to
the national radio club (DARC).
15.01.2007 the QSL-Manager of the national radio club sends the qsl
to the RSGB.
19.01.2007 the QSL arrives at the RSGB-HQ.
From now on I dont know (and how often) the RSGB sends the qsl´s to
their members.

I am the local qsl-mgr and send the club-qsl´s every 3-4
weeks to DARC. But I know from other clubs who
send the cards once or twice a year only to DARC…

In Switzerland each individual members can send the qsl´s
direct to the national radio club (USKA) and receives the
cards direct from USKA. So its a bit faster than in DL. hi

Vy73 Fritz

Of course, as an SWL, the time is doubled. When I was sending out SWL report cards, the station I heard wouldn’t have known the card was on its way, so wouldn’t send one back until it was received. Even so, there were not really any incoming buro cards until after about two years (suggesting a year each way to make the trip).

When I receive a package from the Buro nowadays, it will typically include QSL cards from 1996 SWL reports and from 2001 QSOs - suggesting that 5+ years each way is not all that uncommon!

Try QSLing with the shortwave broadcast stations. It’s entirely direct of course - there used to be some buros that handled reports to/QSLs from broadcasters - but not any more -but return rates are generally high, and prompt. The cards are very attractive too.

Check out my QSL collection (amateur, SW broadcast, local, pirate, utility, marine) here: