February 8, 2013

GlobalQSL Service Review

We love receiving a batch of QSL cards from the ARRL 2nd District QSL Bureau.  It is fun for the whole family to look through the cards and marvel at the pictures of faraway places, exotic names, and the creativity and artistry of each card.  QSL cards seem as varied and different as people - each one is unique and special.  We file each card away by country of origin in a big box.

Example of NJ2X's QSL card design created with GlobalQSL's graphic editor

The ARRL QSL Bureau performs a wonderful service for the US amateur radio community.  We are amazed each time we receive a packet of cards at what must go into the process.  We had an opportunity to stop by the ARRL HQ in 2012 for a tour and saw the operation firsthand.  Kudos to all the ARRL QSL Bureau volunteers.

We are enthusiastic users of the ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTW) service for the majority of our contacts.  It is easy to use, convenient, fast, and a less expensive way to QSL than traditional paper QSL card.  However, not everyone is a subscriber to the LoTW so we also return paper QSL's cards on request.

For international outbound QSL cards, we have been using the GlobalQSL.com service since October 2009 with excellent results.

We chose the GlobalQSL service for several reasons:
  1. Minimizes cost of printing and mailing QSL cards
  2. Simplifies the process
  3. Saves time
  4. Flexibility to design and change QSL cards
  5. Free card design tool
  6. Ability to export ADIF log file from Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) logbook (and other electronic log book tools)
  7. High quality card printing (double-sided, glossy, color)

Getting Started

To get started using the GlobalQSL service you must first setup an account, purchase QSL printing (in multiples of either 100 or 1000 cards), design a QSL card using the GlobalQSL card design tool.  The free Windows-based QSL design tool is easy and fun to use.  GlobalQSL provides a tutorial for the graphic editor to help first time users.  The cost per cart is relatively inexpensive considering it covers both the cost of card preparation and postage.

With this tool you can design two-sided cards that incorporate your own text, pictures, graphics, and color.  We like the fact that you can create multiple card designs for use as needed.  For example, it is easy enough to create a card for a specific event like a contest, holiday, or field day.  You can also update your cards as needed to keep them fresh looking.

How to upload?

GlobalQSL automatically creates your outgoing QSL cards based on QSO information that you provide via an ADIF file exported from your favorite logging program.  The ADIF file will contain on the relevant information that GlobalQSL needs to fill in the QSL card such as date, time, mode, band, ....  This allows you to send out cards in a batch in only a few minutes.  No time-consuming filling out cards by hand.  We view time as our most precious resource, so the automation is really important to us.  Simply put, the less time we spend on QSL cards the more time we have to operate.
  1. Prepare an ADIF file from your log tool.  We use Ham Radio Deluxe which provides a menu item for exporting selected QSO's to an ADIF file.
  2. Log into your account on the GlobalQSL.
  3. Select, "Upload ADIF log file" from the GlobalQSL menu on the leftside of the screen.
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and select a call sign from a drop-down list.
  5. Click the "Browse" button and find the ADIF log file on your computer
  6. Click the "Upload ADIF" button to upload the file
At this point GlobalQSL takes over to prepare and send your QSL cards to eagerly await hams worldwide.  GlobalQSL will print up to five QSL's with a single station on a card which further reduces cost.  GlobalQSL sends an email confirmation once your upload has been processed and queued up for printing.  Example:

Congratulations! Data successfully inserted!

The transaction is complete! The QSL's will be printed soon.
Load end time: 04-Feb-2013 17:20
Total inserted records: 15


My QSL Images

GlobalQSL has a page where you can track incoming QSL's that other hams have sent you via GlobalQSL's service.  We don't really use this feature much other than to browse through some of the QSL images.

My Outgoing QSL

This GlobalQSL page provides status of the QSL's you have uploaded.  This is useful to confirm that you uploaded a particular contact and the status ("uploaded" or "printed and sent").

View History

This screen gives you a listing by date of all activity including purchasing card printing credits, cards processed (debits), and your credit balance after each transaction.  You can also download the processed ADIF if needed.  We haven't had cause to download a ADIF file from the site yet.  Perhaps there are situations where this would be useful?  We do like having a record of QSL credits and debits and current balance information.

Card Quality

On a couple of occasions QSL cards that we sent out via the GlobalQSL service have been returned by a foreign QSL service due to being undeliverable (e.g., deceased recipient).  From these cards, we were able to see firsthand the quality of the printing and paper.  The GlobalQSL-produced card quality is excellent and superior to the cards we have attempted to produce ourselves.

Bottom Line

All-in-all we are pleased with the GlobalQSL service and how it saves us time, paperwork, and money.  We are also impressed with the quality of the QSL cards (double-sided, full color, good paper).

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Related articles

What happened to GlobalQSL? Unused credits? Were QSL cards actually sent?

© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.