Part of the fun of SWL'ing is collecting cards, called QSL cards, from amateurs that you've heard on the radio.
Another reason for collecting QSL cards is t o participate in many certificate programs available to SWL's. Whether its getting your DXCC (DX Century Club) for getting cards confirming listening to 100 or more DX countries, hearing all states in the USA, all provinces in Canada, or many other awards available you'll need the cards to support your claim for the award. The SWARL Group sponsors several awards for listening achievements. This will be discussed further special section on this site.
If you plan to QSL your listening activities then you will need a personal OSL card. You can design your own and have a local printer produce them for you or you can order cards from one of many services you can find advertised in QST, Radio Amateurs of Canada, CQ and other magazines.
Give some thought to the content of the card and the quantity you will be ordering. Usually larger quantities are much less expensive on a per card basis.
A recent phenomenon in the QSL scene is the ability to QSL via the Internet. To do this you need to go to http://www.eqsl.cc/qslcard/Index.cfm and register for this free service. With your Internet browser you will be able to design your own QSL card, send cards to station you have monitored and receive cards from them. The service also provides features for organizing cards received and creating summaries of them. eQSls.cc are acceptable for all awards offered by SWARL.
Once your station is set up and you have become familiar with operating it, you will want to start keeping track of your listening activities. This is referred to as logging your listening. This log can be as simple as a paper bound book or as elaborate as commercial computer logging software. As you already have access to a computer, I may suggest a computer logging software package. There are several available ranging from free on up. To what is available and can be downloaded from the internet, visit this site: http://www.ac6v.com/logging.htm You may also find some recommendations in our Reviews, in Software section.
In your logbook you may be able to keep track of who you have heard, their name, their location, etc. This information is all available via the Internet for most all Ham Radio Operators worldwide. You can do a search of the call sign at any one of the online callbooks such as Buckmasters or at ORZ.com . If you understand Russian, you can check QRZ.ru - sometimes you can find more operators there then in QRZ.com
Contesting has developed into a major activity within the Ham Community. On any given weekend, there would be several Ham Radio contests running. It's affords you a special opportunity to log several new stations in a short period of time. In several of these contests, there is a SWL class for actually competing for awards and certificates. If you wish to find out more on contests are upcoming, see our Calendar page or calendar on the right side of this site.
Special events stations operate from time to time usually commemorating some special event in history, an individual or location. These stations usually offer special edition QSL cards and certificates for contacting them.
Every licensed Radio Amateur is given a call sign that is used to identify them and their location of license. Each country that has Amateur Radio status is allocated a range of call signs by the International Telecormunications Union (ITU).
Call signs consist of a prefix and a suffix. The prefix is usually composed of one or two letters and a number such as VE4 in Canada for the province of Manitoba or K9 in the U.S. for the states Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Some countries have prefixes that are composed of a number and a letter such as 4X for Israel or 9K for Kuwait. If this sounds confusing tables of call sign allocations will be given later in Materials section to make things clear.
While the prefix is unique and identities a country the suffix is unique for the individual. In Canada a call sign such as VE3ABC hasVE3 (Ontario) as the prefix and ABC as the suffix. In the U.S. the call sign K6XYZ has a prefix of K6 (California) and suffix of XYZ U.S. hams may also have a two letter prefix thus AB2Z is a valid call. Suffixes may also be less than three letters so you have call signs such as VE7AB in British Columbia and KH6Y in Hawaii. Some countries, e.g. Russia may have suffixes showing more exact location of the ham station, thus serving as addition to the prefix. So, RA6LO, for example, gives the following information: RA - country Russia; 6 - Nothern Caucasus; L - Rostov region; O - individual part of suffix. Two letter after a call sign in Russia, mean the high category of the operator, lower categories have three characters in suffix.
Over the past several years, there continues to be development of different modes for Hams to communicate with on the Ham Bands. Some are as much as 150 years old eg. in Morse code and others are somewhat newer, up to and including the newest digital modes only months old.
|SSB||Single Side Band (Upper or Lower) Voice|
|FM||Frequency Modulation Voice|
|Digital||Usually Computer Generated (30+ Types)|
For further information on Where to Listen on the various Operating Modes, visit your favorite search) engine, for example http://www.google.com and enter a search for "Ham Band Allocations" or "Ham Band Modes of Operation".
Radio wasn’t made first as an advanced broadcasting station but it was made like a little amateur station. There were people who were operating transmitters and sending signals "on air" but those operators wouldn’t have any meaning if there wouldn’t be a wide audience of listeners.