(:damion @world-state)

freelance software architect. artist. radio ham.


QSL Cards de NG9i


categories:   hamr qsl postcards

TL;DR

Download my QSL card template, replace my info with yours, and send to printers. You’re QSL-card-good-to-go.

Problem

I recently went through the process of creating my own QSL card backs using Adobe’s InDesign, and printing “small” quantities using the 4x6 postcards at OvernightPrints.com. I have no affiliation with overnight prints, they just had an easy to use web interface and clear measurements for the postcard bleed / safe requirements.

For some reason, I was unable to find any pre-existing high resolution QSL card back templates that were downloadable and customizable. Problems are always solved if you do it yourself!

Printers

Most QSL card printers seem to have minimum runs of around 500 cards, which is way too many for me, at least with my current station, and the likelihood of being in the same location. I also wanted a little variety, and was able to send of 4 different designs at 25 cards each for around $6.70 per 25.

One important thing to note - these cards were designed to be mailed in envelopes. there are specific USPS guidelines for mailing postcards without envelopes. I may update my template design at a future point to follow these suggestions. The envelope allows more artwork to come through undamaged however, and I prefer this.

Overnightprints.com is expecting a 6.25”x4.25” set of images (front and back) at 300dpi. The “safe zone”, the zone where your text is guaranteed to not be trimmed measures 5.875”x3.875”.

If you are setting this up in a graphics program, set the bleed zone to +0.125”, and the save zone to -0.125”. This is how my InDesgin template is set up. The final graphics size will be 6” x 4”, and you can see the printed and delivered results here:

Here is the back side of the two card designs:

If you are wanting to use some sort of photograph, or other artwork for the front of your card, you’ll want it to be at minimum 1875x1275 pixels. If it’s larger, that’s okay, you can scale down, or just move the image around and crop out the bit that you want. You can see in the screen shot below that the NYAN cat image is larger than the bleed zones. When I export the 2 page PDF, it trims this stuff off and only the 6.25”x4.25” image remains.

At least in InDesign, when you export, you want to make sure you export using the PDF Print Quality setting, and make sure that you are using the Document Bleed and Slug settings. This just includes the extra 0.125” margins around the core 6”x4” image.

The output looks like this:

Once you have this PDF, you can upload it to Overnightprints. It will give you a preview of the front and back and show you the bleed and save zone markers. If any of your text is not contained within the save zone, it’s likely to be chopped. If you kept it inside the inner box of the template I’ve provided, this should not happen.

Open Access

I realize that InDesign isn’t a free program. I’ll post an update soon with an Inkscape compatible version. I just had a copy of InDesign due to generous university license arrangements, and it was super easy to use and set up.

Files

Conclusion

BTW - I didn’t create NYAN cat. I’m sure you know this, but I’m explicitly stating it just in case. (NYAN cat is the pop-tart cat with the rainbow…) The Reddit “crest” was originally created by /u/licenseplate/.

I’m willing to help anyone with their QSL card layout. Email me. You should be able to figure out my email address if you’ve found this blog post! If you’re a redditor, and have all the text, graphics, etc, but no access to InDesign i’ll help you with the whole layout process and export you a PDF. I’m not a graphics designer, and am not generally offering my services. Trust me, you’d not want to utilize me in the graphics design domain! :)