FT8 and QSL Cards

When a QSO is pretty impersonal, fleeting in time, and distilled down to the absolute basics to qualify as a QSO, what level of courtesy does that QSO deserve in memorializing the communication in a QSL Card?

Many operators log their FT8 QSOs using Log Book of the World, eQSL, QRZ Log, and others, but a few take the time to send out proper QSL cards.

Some operators request return QSL cards as well.

Does an FT8 QSO deserve a QSL card?

Hard to say. Technically it is by definition a fully qualified albeit minimalistic QSO.

But to many hams it lacks the emotional component component to be a QSO they remember or are excited about.

I have one set of cards from several contacts from what turns out to be a younger ham who was able to claim an old school call of his father’s who’s QRZ page said they don’t do any electronic uploading, and would hams please sen them a QSL card.

Does one “owe” a QSL card for each FT8 contact, or even for one? Does it matter that the ham is opting out of the usual electronic QSL confirmations that are typical with FT8?

What about overseas FT8 cards that arrive – in a return QSL card “owed?”

If I make say 50 FT8 QSOs running background FT8 do I need to allocate time and money each day to do QSL Cards? Figuring an optimistic 90 seconds per card, 90% at a $0.55 postage and 10% at about a buck in postage, $0.18 for an envelope and QSL card – do I need to budget $40/day on QSL cards and find a spare 1-1/2 hours daily to do cards?

That translates into over $8,000/year and almost 8 weeks of 40 hour days doing QSL cards!  Ouch on both counts!

I’m personally reworking my QSL Card Policy to divide it into DX Chasing QSOs, Routine QSOs, and FT8 & Similar Mode QSOs.

I don’t expect to change my stance on QSLs for DX Chasing, where I batch QSL Cards and use the Bureau system unless important to me (or the other ham sent a SASE).

Same status quo for Routine QSOs where I only do QSL Cards on request or if s SASE arrives.

But I’m planning to handle FT8 QSOs by only sending QSL Cards if a SASE arrives first.

I do upload to eQSL and QRZ, and once I have some spare time to get my LoTW running again I’ll upload there.  That applies for all QSOs (eventually, as I batch process paper logs where I do them).

When I batch process DX QSLs I usually do batches through GlobalQSL or use the “Plum Method” if I really want that other card quickly.

I am sure there will be special circumstances, but it seems like a good place to start.


Steve K9ZW

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