2010 a Banner Year for DXCC, Incoming/Outgoing QSL Bureaus
With the coming of more sunspots, comes more DX. And when more amateurs are working DX, that means the ARRL’s Membership and Volunteer Programs Department -- especially the DXCC desk and the ARRL Incoming and Outgoing QSL Bureaus -- goes into high gear.
“Compared to 2009, 2010 saw a dramatic increase in the number of cards we received from ARRL members that were sent to foreign QSL bureaus, as well as the number of cards we sent out to the bureaus,” said DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L. “In addition, the number of DXCC applications -- including those for initial awards and endorsements -- also increased.”
Through December 14, 2010, the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau received 709,800 cards destined for foreign QSL bureaus from ARRL members in the US. This represents an increase of 16 percent over the 2009 number of about 612,000 cards. In 2009, the ARRL shipped 673,500 cards -- or close to 4500 pounds of cards -- to foreign bureaus. “We have processed nearly 660,000 cards in 2010, and the year isn’t even over yet,” said MVP Administrative Manager Sharon Taratula. “I would not be surprised if we surpassed 750,000 cards by the end of the year.”
As the number of QSL cards has increased, so have the number of DXCC applications. In 2009, the DXCC Desk processed 7134 applications for initial awards and endorsements; these 2009 applications included almost 762,500 QSOs. So far in 2010, the DXCC Desk has processed 6895 applications, containing almost 860,000 QSOs, for an increase of 13 percent over 2009. “With all of the year’s applications not yet fully processed, we’ve seen the number of QSOs increase in 2010 over 2009, even though the number of applications is a tad lower,” Moore said. “Come the end of the year, I expect the 2010 application total to surpass the 2009 number.”
How the Bureaus Work
Each day, QSL cards are delivered to the Outgoing QSL Bureau where they are placed in dated bins. They are then sorted by country prefix in according to the date they were received in the Bureau. Every other month, volunteers and ARRL staff assist Outgoing QSL Bureau Associate Rose-Anne Lawrence, KB1DMW, pack up the cards for the most active bureaus and prepare them for shipment. The Outgoing QSL Bureau uses two sizes of cartons for sending QSL cards, depending on the size of the shipment -- either 4 or 20 pound cartons. These cartons are sent to the bureaus via private shipper. Cards going to less active entities are forwarded every 90 days via USPS First Class International Mail, either in smaller boxes or in a padded envelope.
Within the US, the ARRL Incoming QSL Service is made up of numerous call area bureaus, with one bureau serving each call area. These call area bureaus act as central clearing houses for QSL cards arriving from foreign countries. ARRL volunteers sort all incoming cards according to the number in a call sign, 0-9. Then all the cards are sent to the appropriate call area bureau. Volunteers within each bureau then sort the cards according to the first letter in a call sign’s suffix. The cards are then sent to those in the call area who participate in the Incoming QSL Service. While amateurs must be an ARRL member to take advantage of the Outgoing QSL Bureau, membership is not required to receive cards from the Incoming QSL Service.
“There is a definite cycle here in the Bureau,” Lawrence said. “We keep really busy all year long, but it really gears up in the fall right around Thanksgiving weekend. It tapers off a little in the spring after contest season when a lot of hams enjoying activities in the nice weather. Hams really do love their QSL cards, and we get to see so many beautiful ones pass through the Bureau.”
Lawrence receives help from volunteers in the Bureau: Lisa Zeug, K1UQT, and Michael Zeug, W1YM, are Area 1 letter sorters from Massachusetts who also help out ARRL HQ in the QSL Bureau. Richard Lawrence, KB1DMX, and David Kaplan, WA1OUI, both help with all parts of the Bureau operation at HQ. John Meyer, K9QVB, -- the Area 9 Incoming Manager -- comes to Newington all the way from Illinois to spend a week in May every year, slotting cards all day.