We send and receive quite a few paper QSL cards. Some HAMs create some stunning QSL cards and we really enjoy looking at our cards from time to time. It’s nice to be able to display your favorite cards in your shack and to include those from rare DX Stations and memorable QSOs. The classic way to do this is to create a display of your favorite QSL cards on the wall of your shack and many HAMs do this. DX Engineering recently began providing a more contemporary way to display QSL cards – a QSL Display Kit which includes a Digital Picture Frame and a scanner optimized for this purpose.
The kit from DX Engineering includes a card scanner that is optimized for scanning QSL cards. It scans one card at a time and it will handle QSL cards in formats up to 4″x6″. This size will accommodate all but the occasional super-size QSL card. The scanner may be used standalone or with a PC. In the standalone configuration, it scans QSL cards directly to an SD Flash Memory Card which is then plugged directly into the Digital Frame that comes with the kit. The scanner does automatic cropping of the cards to eliminate black edges and is very fast – scanning a cards takes only a few seconds. I connected my scanner to a PC which allows me to keep a copy of my scanned cards there. The scanner handles single sheet cards only – those that come as “books” with multiple pages must be scanned in a standard sheet scanner (cards scanned this way display just fine when added to the frame’s SD card). I also find that the scanner’s automatic cropping will occasionally get a little aggressive and cut off a bit of the callsign on a card if the callsign is printed close to the edge of a cards. I personally do not find this to be much of an issue with the kit’s scanner.
The included 7″ diagonal picture frame is a basic one that is 16:9 formatted. It has a nice, crisp display and it has programmable on and off times and display transitions but does not handle randomizing the order in which the QSL images are displayed. I personally prefer a random ordering so I found a utility called RandomNames that can randomize the filenames of all files in a directory. I make a copy of all of my scanned images in a separate directory and run this utility from inside that directory to randomize all of the filenames which store my QSL cards. The files are then copied to the frame’s SD Flash Memory card and the result is that the frame displays the cards in random order.
All in all, I am happy with the QSL Display Kit from DX Engineering. It provides a quick way to scan and display my favorite QSL cards as I receive them. It is a nice addition to our shack.
– Fred (AB1OC)