Monday, November 16, 2009

Ham Radio & QSL Cards

(Above) Bob and Peg’s card, I don’t know what to say...

(Above) Click on this for a larger view... sorta manic crazy!

(Above) Oh-h yea, like who would want to contact this guy...Satan?? “Come in Satan, good buddy...”

(Above) Ahh-kay... this guy has his tongue over the lip of the coffee cup. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t drink coffee like that. I think he may be friends with Satan.

(Above) This is kinda cool, KLJ from Topeka is using a 19th century calligraphic style with his lettering.

(Above) This person simply cut out slices of wallpaper and rubber stamped her name and call numbers right on top.

(Above) Another close friend of Satan and the Coffee drinker, no doubt.

(Above) Yikes!

IN OUR DAY OF INSTANT COMMUNICATIONS WHERE WE VIRTUALLY HOLD A COMPUTER IN OUR HAND, it’s fun to look back at another way of communicating with each other. Ham radio operators, or shortwave radio operators are still around today, though their numbers are dwindling.

What you see above are examples of what was called QSL cards. QSL cards were ways that these amateur radio broadcasters confirmed receipt of one another. Wikipedia says that a “Q” code message can stand for a statement or a question, such as “do you confirm receipt of my transmission” or “I confirm receipt of your transmission.”

When I was a kid, I knew a neighbor kid who was a shortwave radio operator. His “handle” was “The Rifleman,” I guess after the popular TV show. If my memory serves me and I could be way wrong, his call number was “KBX-2963.”

So, back in the days, if you were a ham radio operator, you had a few hundred QSL cards printed up and sent them to people you met over your radio. Many operators pasted these all over their room, as a hobby—to show how far away your signal was received. I remember my neighbor proudly showing me cards from far away as Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

Most people made their own cards (as you can well see above), and many went to the local printer and had one made. No one used graphic designers because there weren’t any, for the most part—except what the printer could throw together—and even then you were not much better.
Today, an Apple iPhone is more powerful than the roomful of piano-sized computers used to send a man to the moon in 1969. Now, blogs, e-mail, the internet, Twitter, Facebook... it is mind-boggling at our many ways of communicating with each other instantly. And to think, they had to print QSL cards, stamp them and drop them in the mail.

But before you go thinking that ham (or shortwave) radio is antiquated, think about this: when the world goes to hell and there is no phone service, internet or wireless communicating at all because it’s all been fried by the terrorists or nukes, and you are wondering if there is still a U.S. government or what is the fate of Dallas, find someone with a ham radio. They will still work and the information they can provide might be the only way to get word out or hear relevant information.

These wonderful cards were found on Flickr here.


CFLanger said...

Very cool! I love Don & Opal, and I agree - satan and the coffee guy are creepy. LOL.

Anonymous said... always amaze me with your wonderful finds, thanks again!

THINKMULE™ said...

the link to the flickr page isn't working for me.

Christopher Paquette said...

As a kid, my friend's dad was a Ham Radio operator with a huge tower in the back yard... I was always fascinated that he could talk to people all over the world. I think the fascination made such an impact that it is the only explanation I can give for remembering his call letters 40 years later... K3M-QR

These cards bring it all back!

Montana Trails Photo said...

I also have indelible memories of "K3MQR", and to this day I credit 'Mr. Nevvy' with my continued interest in all things radio. One of these days I WILL study for and pass my 'novice' license. So I guess I gotta brush up on my Morse code ! Excellent blogsite, much admired !

Tattered and Lost said...

I can remember a radio my folks had from the late 1940s that had multiple bands to choose from. I'd hook up a wire to the window screen and I'd pick up signals from all over the world. Shortwave, police calls, all sorts of radio stations. I remember listening to it one night in college and I picked up Radio Vietnam. It was 1969 and it was like listening to Tokyo Rose. The world seemed much bigger back then.

Unknown said...

the KLJ from Topeka is done in a Spencierian - Copperplate style. It's very fantastic.

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