The 8th call area bureau operates as part of the
ARRL's volunteer QSL bureau system. As such, the operating expenses
are paid by the league's members, although the bureau service is
open to all US hams whether ARRL members or not. If you are not a
league member, and use the incoming bureau, won't you consider
The bureau is 100%
volunteer staffed. Each bureau worker forgoes their time to provide
a service to you and we want to provide the best service possible
within the bounds of reasonableness and fiscal responsibility. If
you will follow the guidelines listed here, you will receive better
service and our volunteers will have time to enjoy other aspects of
our hobby, etc.
The 8th district central bureau is located at the
Voice of America Museum in West Chester where it is one of the permanent
displays. It is a work in progress, but if you have a chance to visit the
VOA museum, be sure to look for the bureau. We do not encourage "just
stopping by to pick up your cards" as there is no one there to release them
to you. In addition, the only cards at the central bureau will be those
that have not been forwarded to the individual letter managers. The best
time to visit would be when the West Chester Amateur Radio Association has
their regular meeting, if you want a more detailed bureau visit. This is
the link to their website: http://www.wc8voa.org/
DO NOT SEND YOUR
OUTGOING CARDS TO US
We cannot process them; they will be sent back to you
in your bureau envelopes. Outgoing cards should be sent to ARRL HQ. This
includes cards for non-8th area US stations from any source, including any
you may pick up from DX stations or bureaus on your out of US travels. You
cannot use the ARRL bureau system to send cards to other U.S stations within
the 48 contiguous states--for contacts between U.S. stations. Any cards sent
for U.S.-to-U.S. contacts will also be sent back to you using your bureau
SASE. You may use the ARRL bureau system for DX stations who have a U.S.
manager, such as VK0IR cards via W8XXX, or XE3/K8XXX via K8XYZ. If you
send cards via the bureau to a manager, make sure you list the full call of
the manager, not just via "W8 bureau." There is no way we can know who
handle or manages cards for every DX station around the world.
PLEASE BE PATIENT
QSL cards are rarely received by the bureau for
contacts less than four months old. Most cards are for contacts made
between a year and two years prior. Some cards come through the system as
much as five years or more after the QSO. Some foreign bureaus send out
cards only a few times a year. Most come by boat, which is very slow mail,
indeed. There was a survey done of all cards received over a two month
period. Of those cards that had "TNX QSL" checked, less than 5% were for
contacts within a year of the QSO. This means if the station you worked
waited for your card before returning one, the minimum turn-around will be a
year or more. Many DXers who are relatively new to DXing tend to work "big
gun" or loud stations. These stations work many U.S. stations, and in most
cases, wait for your card before sending you one. Those DX stations who
answer your CQ are much more likely to send their cards first, rather than
those whose CQ you answer.
KEEP ENVELOPES ON
FILE WITH THE BUREAU
If you work DX at all, you should expect
to receive bureau cards, especially if you work any DX contest. Do not
forget that most SWL's send via the bureau. So not only might you receive
cards from the station you worked, but also from SWL's. Unclaimed cards are
the bureau's biggest problem. Send NON-clasp-fastening, end-opening
envelopes, between 5X7 and 6X9 inches in size. Unless you receive lots and
lots of bureau cards DO NOT send more than three or four (self addressed
stamped envelopes) SASE at a time. DO NOT use envelopes smaller or larger
that 5X7 or 6X9. Smaller envelopes won't hold some of the larger DX cards;
larger envelopes won't fit in our files, are more likely to come apart in
the mail process AND with current postage rates, cost more to use.
Non-standard and padded envelopes may be returned to you empty. Padded
envelopes are larger than 1/4 inch and incur a higher fee just like envelope
larger than 6 x 9. Several of the letter managers are moving to or have
implemented a cash basis process for their letters. This has been done
because of the frequent postage rate changes and the futility of trying to
keep appropriate postage on the envelopes.
Most of our Managers have email access. If you have
address, PLEASE INCLUDE IT
when ever you write to the bureau or your Letter Manager. Make sure to
include your EMAIL
address when you send SASEs to the bureau or your Manager as well. This
will help us to communicate with you much more quickly than by conventional
snail mail. If your
address changes, make sure you notify your Manager of the change.
NOT SEND USED ENVELOPES to the bureau. We
will *NOT* attempt to use used envelopes. More than one trip through the
postal system greatly increases the chance the envelope will come
apart in the postal system, with the loss of your cards.
When you prepare envelopes for us,
print your call, in BLOCK
LETTERS , in the upper left corner, in the
place where a normal return address goes. Some people do such a poor job of
writing their calls we need to look up the suspected call in the Callbook
and match the name/address to make sure of the call. Certain letters can
be especially troublesome--like V and U, for instance. Take the time to make
a very pointed V and a round or square bottom U. Keep this in mind when
filling out cards to send via any bureau. It is a real headache for bureau
workers trying to decide who the card really goes to; we don't want to guess
which letter you really mean. And if a Manager can't read the call you put
on your card, it may end up in the round file. Address each envelope to
yourself in the center. Remember, these are your cards. If we can't read
your call or the postman can't read your address, you won't get them. If you
have a change of address, send us address labels to cover your old address.
Many people write so large, there is no room to write a change of address on
If sending envelopes with stamps, affix
enough postage to cover at least one ounce of weight. Currently, the post
office is selling a "forever" stamp good for one unit of postage. We do not
know how long they will sell these stamps, but now would be a good time to
stock up on them for use with your bureau SASE's.
We do clear out all cards once a year. No matter how much postage on your
SASE, and how few cards you have, once a year we will send you what you
have. When postal rates go up, you should send extra stamps to cover the
cost increase. Most people never think to send us extra postage when the
rates go up.
put more than one call on an envelope. We can not cross-reference upgrades,
vanity calls, and family calls. Some of the Letter Managers live many miles
apart. There is no way to share an envelope between two Letter Managers. If
you send an envelope with SASEs for more than one call, make sure you
include a note saying you have done so. We don't take the time to look at
each SASE you send us. I f there is no note pointing out the fact you've
sent SASE for multiple call , we simply pass them on to the Letter Manager
for the first SASE we see. You may include a self-addressed postcard which
we will return, letting you know your SASEs have arrived safely.
If you expect to receive cards under more than one call
sign, please keep separate SASEs at all the Letters or Bureaus where you
expect cards to be received. We will not "forward" cards for one call to
another letter manager within our bureau or to another bureau unless you
provide the SASE. It is/was your call and your QSO, if you want the cards,
provide the SASE.
Again, the normal mailing cycle for the bureau is
about every four to six weeks. If you don't worry about us wasting your
postage, put "mail every cycle" on the bottom of each SASE and we will send
you what you have each time, without the need to fill your SASE to the value
of postage you've placed on it. If you are a big gun contester, DX-peditioner,
or manager of a very active DX station, and get a pound or more a month, you
may request your Letter Manager to box your cards to save on postage. Don't
send money for this via the bureau. This
between you and your Letter Manager, with the check made out in his name.
If he doesn't want to take the time to do it, and requests you just send
him SASE, that's the way it will be. The volunteer Letter Managers have
enough of a job, and it's up to them if they want to do more. Any money for
this extra service must be between you and your Letter Manager, not the
On the other hand, if you do not want to receive
bureau cards, please advise your letter manager that you do not want them.
If you are the manager for a DX station, including your own DX operations,
and do not want bureau cards for those operations, but do want bureau cards
for your US to DX contacts, we will not return the DX cards to the
originator. We will destroy them. Also be advised, if you elect to pursue
this scenario, we will not be responsible for destroying cards you wanted to
receive and we accidently destroyed. Remember, we are all volunteers and
every special request takes volunteer time.
The Standard Operating Guidelines for ARRL QSL Bureaus
states: "QSL cards on file which are unclaimed for a period longer than 90
days may be destroyed by the Bureau Manager (or Letter Manager) without
further authority." PLEASE
NOTE : Individual Letter Managers may elect
to hold unclaimed QSL Cards for a longer period of time, at their
discretion. Once we have made reasonable attempts to contact you that you
have cards at the bureau and have received no correspondence (SASE) from you
and destroyed your cards, we will make a note in our files and *NOT* contact
you again. We will continue to destroy your cards on a continuing basis
until we receive instructions to the contrary. You may consider this
extreme, but consider again that the biggest problem we have is unclaimed
cards and the effort our volunteer letter managers expend trying to get them
to the intended recipients. Before we destroy the cards, the following has
occurred. A card has been sent, not at your expense, to your address of
record, according to the FCC data base. (If that address is incorrect, you
are not complying with the FCC regulations and are actually operating
illegally!) In addition to the card, an email has been attempted using the
address,<your-call>@arrl.net and/or any address in the various on-line
A few words to prospective QSL managers: Please don't
volunteer unless you are truly willing to make the extended commitment.
Find out how the expenses you incur will be paid. Don't think you will only
handle direct cards. We U.S. hams tend to think of the rest of the world as
if it were like this country. Many hams in poor countries are just barely
getting by and can't afford "green stamps" and IRCs for each DX contact.
The bureau is the only way they can afford to get their cards. These hams
WILL send cards via the bureau because that is the only way they can afford
to do it. Yes, some hams are cheap, but many just can't afford any other
way. You must supply SASE to the bureau for these cards. Don't volunteer
to do half a job when others are willing to do the complete job. If, at
some point, you find you can't continue, it is up to you to tell the DX
station you cannot continue, and if possible, help him find a new manager.
You really should provide envelopes to forward the bureau cards that we
receive via <your-call> to the new manager. There is no reason the ARRL
should pay to forward these type cards. If no SASE is provided by you or
the new QSL manager, they will probably be destroyed.
Many times U.S.stations go on DX-peditions. Say,
J8/N8??? who uses a manager for the J8 operation, but keeps no SASE on file
for his own cards. Since "everyone" doesn't always get the word, cards come
in for the DX-pedition under his N8??? call, but with no SASE available, we
must track down the real manager and try to get him to collect these cards.
We have enough to do without this Sherlock Holmes detective-work trying to
track down someone to take their bureau cards. If you are the manager for a
U.S. station that goes on DX-peditions, who doesn't keep SASE on file for
his own call, please send the bureau a few envelopes to collect these cards.
A new headache for the bureau are the new 1X1 calls being issued. You may do
a good job of trying to tell each QSO to send the cards via N8???, but you
can be sure some cards are going to come into the bureau with just the call
N8?. There is no way for us to know who these cards go to if you don't
supply SASE for these 1X1 special calls. It appears it is even more of a
headache, since the same 1X1 calls will be re-issued to other special event
stations, time-after-time. Make sure you list the time frame of the
special event 1X1 on your SASE, so we will know who gets what cards. You
had the 'FUN' of using the 1x1, you should follow through with the SASE.
The mail is picked up at the PO Box on a regular
basis, approximately once per week. There may be as little as five pounds
to as much as 200 pounds in a week. You can visualize this by thinking of a
stack of QSL cards ranging from 9 inches high, to over 29 feet high, each
At the central bureau we sort the cards into 27 piles
- one for each letter of the alphabet according to the first letter of the
suffix and one for missorts from the other bureau, cards sent to the 8th
area bureau that should go to the 9th area bureau, for example.
The cards are then conveyed to the individual Letter
Managers. Some managers will personally pick the cards up from the central
bureau every few weeks. Most are mailed via USPS or UPS every four to eight
weeks, depending on volume If you send a request for information to your
Letter Manager via the Bureau address, it may have just missed the last
pickup, requiring another six weeks to make it to your Letter Manager. It
will save you time to check directly with your Letter Manager if you just
want to check on the status of your cards and SASE. See the complete Letter
Manager list, at the top of this page, to know who does your cards. Send
e-mail direct to your Letter Manager, along with a copy the Bureau Manager.
Our goal is to mail out cards at least every two
months, and sooner if possible. However, remember we are all volunteers and
also take vacations, go on DX trips ourselves, get sick, have family issues
that need immediate attention, etc., so occasionally it may take a bit
longer. Put it in perspective, if most of the cards you are receiving are
for QSOs more that a year in the past, what is another 2 months? If you are
working a good deal of DX, and don't have too much postage on your SASE,
there should be no reason why more than six months should go by without
cards. We want to know whenever this happens. We will lend a temporary
hand to the Letter Manager or give it to another if we can't get the cards
out at least every three months.
We must assume each Letter Manager is doing a good job
if you don't tell us there is a problem. It's a good idea to mark your
calendar each time you get bureau cards. That way you know for sure how
long it has been. If you do work a good deal of DX, let us know any time you
go over 6 to 9 months without cards. When we ask a Letter Manager if he
has problems and he says, "I got behind, but I'll take care of everything
next week," we have to assume that happened. We've had instances where we
asked the Letter Manager if he got everything out a few weeks later. He
says "yes" when in fact he didn't. We need to hear from you to make sure
he in fact does the job as it should be done. The Letter Manager can clean
up his act and have the same problem some time later. There's no way for
us to know of problems if you don't tell us.
Good cooperation between the DXer and the bureau is
important to ensure a smooth flow of cards. Remember that the people who
work at the bureau are all volunteers. At the peak of the last cycle, we
handled over two tons of cards a year. In the trough of the cycle
relatively few cards are received. We are on the downslide now. For that
reason and with the implementation of Log Book of the World, you should
expect card volume to begin to drop off. With that in mind, please pay
close attention to the above information, and the following
DO'S and DON'TS.
THE DO'S and DON'TS
keep self-addressed 5X7 or 6X9 envelopes on file with your call in the upper
left corner. Affix at least one ounce of postage to each. After checking
the Letter Manager list above, you may send your SASE directly to your
put your Call Sign on the outside of all envelopes containing SASEs or
requests for information, sent to the Bureau or your Letter Manager. This
will keep your envelope from having to be opened by Bureau Staff to
determine where it should be forwarded.
keep envelopes at all Letters and Bureaus where you expect to receive Cards.
If you have had a call sign change, we have no way of forwarding your old
cards to your new Letter Manager, so please have an SASE waiting at both the
old and new call sign Letter Managers Bureau.
include your E-Mail address with all correspondence to the Bureau or your
send the bureau enough postage to cover the SASE on file and enough to cover
postal rate increases.
respond quickly to any bureau request for more SASE or additional postage.
Remember, unclaimed cards are the bureau's single biggest problem.
include an SASE with any information request to the bureau.
notify the bureau in writing if you don't want your cards.
expect DX cards to arrive for at least a year after contact. Overseas
delivery is very slow. Most cards are over a year old when received by the
send your outgoing cards to this bureau. Click on the link to find out
about the ARRL outgoing bureau service.