Thursday, 10 December 2009

QSL via the bureau (or not)

I got a load of QSLs sent to me yesterday from the QSL bureau. Some of these were from contacts over 4 years ago. I got my last batch of cards 3 years ago. I'm not that bothered about getting QSL cards and up until a few weeks ago I never had any of my own to send. Even my EQSL account has a lot of cards waiting for me to look at, as I found out the other day when I got an email telling me.
One of the reasons was that until about a year ago I wasn't an RSGB member so couldn't send QSL cards via their bureau, and I wasn't going to buy a stamp for every QSO I made. Now I can actually send a lot of cards at once so I might have a go at replying to all these cards. And even the one I received directly in February 2008 and still haven't got round to replying to (sorry, if you can remember who you are!).
Which made me think about logbooks - what do you use? I've never got into the habit of using a proper amateur radio logbook program. I do keep a log on the computer but it's a basic MS Access table and often I've written the QSOs down on paper before I enter them into that. I write most of my contacts in a paper Moleskine notebook (the Mac of paper notebooks, expensive and has a bit of a cult following. But they are good), and sometimes first record them on scraps of paper, notepads, a mobile phone's notepad or other temporary storage. To me, a proper logging program seems more useful to someone who sits down in front of the radio for a long time and makes a lot of QSOs. If you're like me and might make a single QSO then do something else (I've never recorded more than about 200 QSOs in a month and on an average day I won't be making more than 5), it's not worth starting the computer up unless it's already running (and mine isn't on all the time). Then there are all the mobile and portable contacts where it's not possible to log to a computer in real time.
For portable operations I sometimes transfer from electronic (phone/databank) > paper (Moleskine) > electronic (Access/online databases). The Moleskine isn't organised like a normal logbook, the QSO details are mixed in with a lot of other stuff I feel like writing down, like received stations, things to do etc. If I went totally electronic for recording contacts, I'd probably have some kind of system where I had free text like in a notebook but contacts could be tagged as such and searched. Might as well stick it all in a blog then!

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