HAM RADIO stuff again: Echolink QSL request by RADIOGRAM.

I’ll put on my Ham hat for a moment to share some news and ask advice from my virtual Elmers.

I posted a while back about Echolink HERE and HERE.  Alas, we haven’t done anything with this yet.  Should we schedule a time?

I just received a “Radiogram” by snail-mail.  Here is a scan.

I am not sure what to do with this, but I’d like to do something.  It would be my first QSL.

What is a “Radiogram”? It’s sort of a telegram that comes via post, through the help of volunteers. It is a plain text message, along with metadata (headers). It is launched into a traffic net by a ham operator and then relayed to another ham who volunteers to deliver it. In this case, it was tucked into a regular envelope and mailed from a place nearby to where I live in the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue.

Kinda cool, really, both the tech and the human interaction. Very cool, as a matter of fact. My thanks go out to everyone who helped.

Now… I have to figure out what to do!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Ham Radio, Just Too Cool and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Contact the ham who sent it to you, and compose one yourself as a reply. It will make it back via the National Traffic Service (as you see, a volunteer effort) through the regular traffic nets. Totally free, totally fun.


    73 de WB0YLE

  2. Bryan D. Boyle: Okay… so, I fill out the PDF file form and then… having folded it carefully… launch it out my 3rd storey window.

    There! That’s oughta do it!

  3. Allan S. says:

    Arranging a time for a QSL as suggested above is a good approach. With Echolink, you have options: you can (from your computer) crack open repeaters to his QTH and chat (you from your computer, him on his 2m HT (or whatever), or use Echolink as a chat room, PC to PC (but where’s the fun in that?).

    If you want to try an HF QSL, perhaps double down on your CW prep using either the Koch trainer app (AppStore) or at LCWO.net for free. I don’t know too much about this ARRL service, but his message looks like CW transcribed.

    By the way, you could amend your blog’s registration form to include an optional Call Sign box, so as to build up a database of Catholic operators (TradHam? CathCalls?). A valid call is obviously a good way to prove your non- robot status.

    –… …– -.. . …- .- …– -… …- — … -.-

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I do not understand the technical aspects of what this is, but am nevertheless totally amused and like it.

  5. MWindsor says:

    Hi Fr. Z,

    Try to reach the op that sent it to you in the mail. You can reply that way. There should be a notation of his call sign on the form.

    Check to see if there’s a local traffic net in your area. They may be able to relay a message back as well.

    The HX in the header is for Handling Instructions. HXE means, “Delivering station get reply from addressee, originate back.” The station that sent it to you should be willing to take a reply.

    Listen in on your local traffic net if you get a chance. Listening in will give you an idea of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.


  6. MWindsor says:


    It’s like a telegram but by voice over radio. You actually read all that stuff out over the radio to a receiving station. Then there’s a network of others that will try to reach someone in the destination town. I haven’t heard of them being delivered by mail before, but I have heard of them being hand delivered.

    This is handy in emergencies too. And I’ve heard radiogram traffic passed over the US from Australia going to Europe. I don’t know if there was a reply or not (I didn’t hear it). It’s a rather slow means of communication compared with telephone or e-mail, but it doesn’t rely on satellites or land wires either. Just a guy with a radio, antenna,and a battery will work.

  7. In the days before internet, this would have been handy, particularly were you sending from a remote island.

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    And it is true there is no land route nor telephone service to the SPTDV, being as it is a lofty mountaintop fortress completely encircled by a moat a mile across. Good place to be when TEOTWAWKI hits, not so good if you need pizza delivery. Even if the pizza shop is set up with HAM radio as they all should be and has their own speedboat and rock climbing gear they would never get past the hippos and crocodiles and giant eagles and radioactive badgers.

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    Fr. Z.,

    My eldest son and I just took our first Ham class (in pursuit of our tech license) together last night. One of our instructors had a couple of stacks of these cards from HAM’s the world over. It was really impressive.

    Allan S., “ARRL” is an acronym for the American Radio Relay League. They’ve been around since 1914. They put out the text book that our class has been issued in order to prepare for the upcoming tech exam. The ARRL says that most HAM’s are members of their organization and our instructor last evening encouraged us all to join for at least a year after we get our license. He told us that the ARRL does a lot in terms of legislation that impacts HAM frequencies and such.

    Even though I can’t help Fr. Z. with this issue, I mostly just wanted to post about how excited my son and I are to get started. Our classes run for 8 weeks and then we’ll take the exam. Then, classes for the general exam start in January. We’re already planning to enroll in that class too, assuming we both pass our tech exam.

    Not sure if we’ll be able to do Echolink after the tech exam, or if we’ll need to wait until after the general exam, but either way, we’re working on it!

  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    A fellow Ham, Marv K2VHW and I are beginning to teach a license class this coming Tuesday. It will be running each Tuesday night for the next 8 weeks. We didn’t expect the turnout we’ve received, as over a dozen people will be studying for their Technician licenses. It may seem minor or even perhaps frivolous with all the important and pressing issues going on the world today, but your prayers for a successful class would be appreciated!

  11. OrthodoxChick (and others who may be interested):

    As in all things (I’m an instructor, as well as Volunteer Examiner for all grades of licenses, seeing as I hold an Extra), Echolink, once you pass your Tech license and receive your call sign, that allows you to connect to and use any radio transmistter *in accordance with your operating privileges* (ie 10 meters and above for Tech…that includes 2 meter, 220, 440, 900 MHz machines, moonbounce, amateur TV, high power WiLAN, etc. that’s allocated to Amateur Radio). Obviously, if there are Echo servers connected to HF radios (there are a few, but not to worry…you usually need a userid to get access), you will need the General in order to legally use them, but, once you have the initial license, you and your son are good to go (as is anyone else thinking of jumping in).

    Echolink is not the only IP-based ‘ham radio’ interconnect scheme; there’s Allstar (www.allstarlink.org) which, once you’re registered and confirm you actually have a license, has a web-based java client that will let you connect to over 3000 repeater systems around the world, IRLP, which was, in its day, an advance in computer-radio communications (but is slipping further back as development has pretty much been focused on monetizing it by its inventor) as well as Digital Mobile Radio, DStar, etc.

    And let’s not even begin to talk about good old Morse Code. One of life’s real pleasures, even though it is not required in the US anymore (have no idea about the rest of the world, I’m only talking US here…), is that it is still and yet a fun mode of operating, and even though the requirement was dropped in 2007, there is more and more interest (something about people doing it because it’s fun, not because they have to…) and activity in the low ends of the HF bands.

    Neat thing is that there are apps for smartphone that will let you connect from your handset to these networks also. As well as initiate calls from your radio to your smartphone (not just the traditional autopatch technology, either).

    Best thing? Once you earn your license, 99 and 44/100 percent of the facilities are YOURS to use (if you adhere to the regulations and any use guidelines of the system you’re connecting to…remember, the person providing the system is ultimately responsible to the licensing body) for FREE. No charge. As in Free Beer and Hot Wings.

    So, can’t wait to welcome you to the world of ‘ham radio’ and hear you on the bands someday.

    73 Bryan

  12. benedetta says:

    I think this whole venture is an excellent idea. Could anyone give me a few starter websites to organize for getting homeschoolers up and going in this area? Where to begin?

  13. Fr. Bryan says:

    Fr. Z, I will be sending a radiogram to you soon. 73

  14. MWindsor says:


    Look for the Ham Radio License Manual on Amazon or at a bookstore. Make sure you get the 2014 edition (2010 edition is now out of date).

    Also, check at qrz.com. Look under the resources tab and you’ll find a link for practice exams.

    These two things are what I used. I started in October and passed my Technicians exam in January.

    As to radios, have a look around for a Baofeng UV-5. There are variations that have R or RA after the 5, but they’re all basically the same. Add to that a Nagoya 771 antenna. That’s enough to get started on 2m and 70cm. And the entire kit will likely cost a wee bit over $50 (maybe less, if you’re lucky). Programming the Baofeng can be a bit of a chore, but it’s actually easier than another of my radios…it’s not as scary as people make it out to be. Also, the Baofeng UV-5 will work on VHF Maritime frequencies, so it doubles as a waterway radio (but don’t get it wet).

  15. MasterofCeremonies says:

    The Baofeng is my favorite HT. Great little radio. Also eham.net is an interesting site to browse, especially for new hams. Fr. Z, I’ll be getting my ticket in about a month, and I second the motion to have a place on this blog to connect with other Catholic hams. Keep us updated on Echolink!

  16. OrthodoxChick says:

    Bryan D. Boyle,

    Thank you for all of the info. I can’t wait either! So much to learn though. But, our instructors sound really well versed in the trade and happy to help newbies, so that’s a big help and great relief. One of them really hit it off with my son. He does something with microwave radios and repeaters for a living. My son was introducing himself to this instructor and explaining that he’s a junior in high school and has to build a radio for his final exam this year. I thought it was for his senior project next year, but I guess I misunderstood. He has to be able to do it by himself by May. Anyway, the instructor got all excited at my son’s interest in HAM and his project and he told us that he also started when he was a junior in high school. Right there, on the spot, he offered to mentor my son if he wants extra help.

    I have a feeling that we’re going to meet a lot of openly helpful, friendly people with this hobby, not unlike campers; you know the kind who will give you the shirt of of their back after meeting you for 2 minutes.

    I predict a very enjoyable learning experience for both of us. An Echolink net with Fr. Z. and his readers will be icing on the cake!

  17. pannw says:


    Somehow, I have a feeling this isn’t so minor or frivolous, particularly in light of the pressing matters going on in the world. I will pray for your success.

    I know absolutely nothing about any of this, but you all have sparked my interest and I think I will look into it. Aside from the way you all make it sound fun, it would be very comforting to be able to connect with people of similar mind in the event of TEOTWAWKI. I value this forum dear Fr. Z. provides us so much, especially when I am feeling all alone in the crazy world, and worry about the grid going down and losing it. Unfortunately, I am not a techy kind of person. I’m afraid it will all be Greek to me, but I think I will look into it in any case.

Comments are closed.