Well, I was checking the analytics (stats) on my blog here just a minute ago and found that someone reached my site via the search of "LOTW vs eQSL". So I thought I would blog about the differences between the two. Obviously someone out there would like to know, and since I use both, I can give a little insite from my own perspective. So take it for what it's worth.
LOTW as everyone knows is the online log book done by the ARRL. LOTW is pretty a pretty good program and fairly easy to use once you get everything set up. The set up is really the hardest thing about LOTW. With LOTW you first have to register an account, then wait for a card to come in the mail. Oh yeah you have to download a little program that allows you to get a an encrypted certificate so for security and validity reasons. I understand the purpose I suppose. I wouldn't want someone taking credit for my contacts, but I digress. Actually, at the LOTW website they have a fairly understandable "Getting Started" guide that walks you through the whole process. Within a week I was all set up and ready to upload my log from the log book program I use. To date I've uploaded over 1000 contacts and have confirmed over 400.
The two real positives about LOTW, is that you can use it to confirm contacts for ARRL's WAS, and DXCC awards and endorsements. Another positive is that it integrates quite well with the log book software I use (N3FJP's AC LOG). Two clicks is all it takes to upload new contacts and receive any confirmations that are sitting out on the LOTW servers. As of last check, I lack 4 states to confirm in order to receive my Basic WAS award.
EQSL is another log book site I use and really like it alot. While you cannot use EQSL to confirm/validate contacts for ARRL's awards, they have a few awards of their own and they recently arranged a means to validate/confirm contacts for a few of the awards from CQ magazine. As a matter of fact, I just earned the eDX award for confirming at least 25 DXCC entities. Of course in award to participate in their awards programs you have to be Authenticity Guaranteed (AG'd) and be at least a Bronze member. AG'd is eQSL's way of providing security and proof that you are who you say you are, much like the certificates with LOTW. Fortunately, with eQSL, the AG process is much more simple than the certificate stuff with LOTW. As for the Bronze Membership, you only have to make a small donation to eQSL via PayPal. I've donated $5 this year and that keeps me Bronze for the year.
Other positives about EQSL include actual QSL cards and ease of use. That's right, with eQSL you exchange with your contacts digital QSL cards. You can use eQSL's design shop to make your own or you can make your own and upload the image yourself. Of course in order to do that you have to be at least a Bronze member. Otherwise, regular members have to choose from a small selection of designs. You can view the QSL's you've received at any time. You can also print them out for your collection.
The one drawback is that it doesn't integrate with my logbook software as LOTW. For instance if I wanted to upload my logs to EQSL from my logbook software, I have two options. One is to upload each contact individually via the logbook program. The other option is to export my log into an ADIF format, which my logbook program does quite well, and then upload it through EQSL's upload interface.
So there you have it folks. To summarize, I use both. I like both really well. They are both pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it, and they make award applications so much easier. Of course I still love to receive QSL cards in the mail, however, this is a much cheaper option if you are on a tight budget. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a post here and I will do my best to post the answer.
Until next time, 73 and good DX.
Tim - AJ4JD