QSL Cards and Repeaters

I’ve been asked about this thorny question on a couple of occasions now, and a tweet received this morning has prompted me to post this to a wider audience to get some thoughts from other hams.

Is a QSL card for a repeater contact “valid”?

As a result of uploading my log into the Ham Radio deluxe logging software recently, HRD automatically uploaded details of a number of QSOs made over various repeaters, to eQSL, meaning that a number of local amateurs would have received an eQSL card from me that they may not have been expecting.

HRD Log: Auto eQSL reporting
Ham Radio Deluxe: Automatic eQSL setting (Tools > Configure > eQSL.cc)

I’ve sent eQSL cards for repeater contacts in the past, normally at the end of a Monday Night Net, to acknowledge to the new M6s that joining the Net that they’ve made a contact, and also to start their QSL collection. I tend not to send paper QSL cards for a repeater contact, although I have received two paper cards, and responded in kind.

On checking eQSL.cc recently, I noted a rejection of a card sent out as a result of my log import. Stated reason was “Repeater QSO or Not in Log”. Nor a problem. Anyone who gets an eQSL card from me is free to reject, delete or make a small paper plane out of it as far as I’m concerned. What got me thinking was the following tweet from the recipient:

“An eQSL for a repeater QSO. Seriously?! Rejected”

Fair enough, and not a problem, but it sent me on a path of trying to confirm the etiquette here, so’s not to make a mistake in the future.

As this topic has come up before,I’m keen to make sure I’m complying with convention. So I went hunting online. After some Internet research, here’s what I’ve discovered. Some say “yes”, and some say “no”. Here are my findings:

QSL for a repeater? Yes!

  • A QSL is defined as confirmation of “a two-way radiocommunication between two amateur radio stations” (Wikipedia), and a repeater counts.
  • “The final courtesy of a QSO is a QSL confirmation” (QSL.net)
  • “QSL cards for repeater contacts are pretty unusual. But, if you feel that the QSO was particularly notable, sending a QSL as a thank you is certainly acceptable.” (QRZ Forum)

QSL for a repeater contact? No!

  • ARRL rules: “Contacts made through “repeater” devices or any other power relay methods (other than satellites for Satellite DXCC) are not valid for DXCC credit.”(ARRL.org)
  • Worked All Britain rules: “Contacts can not be made via repeaters or satellites.” (W.A.B site)
  • “… repeater contacts don’t count for awards or contest points or really anything other than the satisfaction of having made them.” (QRZ Forum)
  • “I don’t send QSL requests for contacts made on repeaters… But if I get a request for a card, I send it out just the same… and it has happened.” (QRZ Forum)

QSL cards and awards

One of the objections against QSLing for a repeater contact is that the QSL card is not eligible for awards and contesting, which ic a very valid observation. To help add to the “No!” section above, I turned to eQSL.cc to get their “no repeater contacts allowed” statement to paste in above, but discovered that repeater contacts appear to be allowed with eQSL cards:

“Unlike the ARRL DXCC, contacts made through repeaters, satellites, and other power relay methods are permitted, and stations contacted may be either land-based or mobile from automobiles, ships and boats, aircraft, or space vehicles.” (eQSL.cc)

My policy

Currently, I log all repeater QSOs made at home, with the exception of very short exchanges. When I’m looking after a Net, I log more precisely, and tend to send out eQSL cards to net participants electronically as a courtesy. I don’t log mobile repeater QSOs unless very memorable and I can remember the details when I stop and can log it on my phone.

If I receive a paper QSL for a repeater contact, I respond. If I receive an eQSL for a repeater contact, I respond. Ham Radio Deluxe sends eQSL cards for any RF contact in my HRD log by default.

When it comes to someone new to the hobby, especially those I’ve helped to train, I tend to eQSL for the first contact on a repeater. I feel that correctly programming the first rig with offset and CTCSS settings for repeater access (with a Chinese manual) is harder than a local 2m simplex contact, and deserves some kind of acknowledgement when they get it right for the first time. I recall someone doing the same for me, and seeing waiting cards when I first created my eQSL account was pleasing.

So… Conclusions?

I’d welcome the opinions of others on this one, as I’m still not 100% sure of the etiquette for repeater QSLs. Over to you!

Please add your thoughts in the box below, and let’s see if we can reach a consensus…

21 Comments

  1. Charlie - M0PZT 2 October 2012 Reply
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