SOTA SMS Format

Activation Spotting Manual for the MM0FMF SOTA SMS Gateway

Activation Spotting Manual for the MM0FMF SOTA SMS Gateway

The goal of this document is to be a comprehensive information source for the SMS SOTA spotting Gateway provided by Andy MM0FMF. Take note that updates will be incrementally identified at the beginning and end as: (Version Control #007)

The Summits On The Air (SOTA) Short Message Service Gateway enables SMS registered users to post spots in real time to the Sotawatch.org site for SOTA activation attempts, by way of properly structured TEXT messages. Spots can only be sent when you have adequate cellphone coverage from a service provider. This text based service can be your primary spotting tool, or it can be an emergency backup when marginal signal strength does not support a web based spotter. Also, the Gateway does not check the database for summit info - allowing it to spot even if the database is temporarily unavailable / down.

To register for the Gateway, send Andy MM0FMF your callsign and cellphone number. Expect to receive a return email confirming your SMS registration. It is then advisable to verify Gateway access by posting a test spot before heading off on a live summit activation. Be sure to clearly note the test status of any such post in the COMMENT field. Register with Andy MM0FMF by emailing mm0fmf@hotmail.com

The text entry format is CALLSIGN ASSOCIATION SUMMIT FREQUENCY MODE COMMENT

A space character " " is used to separate the field entries. Those spaces between the fields are important, but the number of spaces used doesn’t matter. The Gateway will accept more than one space character between field entries.

Valid Special Characters in SMS Message fields (see details where applicable) are the Percent Sign “%”, the Exclamation Mark “!”, the Dollar Sign “$”, the Comma “,” the Colon “:” and the Period “.” (or Dot). Note that SMS spots to sotawatch.org often do not post if they have been incorrectly formatted. For best results, construct your text exactly as indicated here in the manual.

CALLSIGN: You can use the “!” the “%” or the “$” character as easy shortcuts for your SMS registered CALLSIGN. The Gateway then determines your CALLSIGN from the Phone Number that came with the SMS. Be aware that those first two shortcuts will post your CALLSIGN with a /P modifier appended to it. If you do NOT wish to have your CALLSIGN end with /P, use the “$” shortcut character which will mute the /P.

Spots can only originate from an SMS Gateway registered cellphone number, but ANY operator can be spotted from a registered cellphone number. To spot for someone else, or to include special use modifiers for your own CALLSIGN, enter a complete CALLSIGN instead of a CALLSIGN shortcut. Note that MW/DL6FPK/P is a valid CALLSIGN entry. A default spot appends a /P to the end of any CALLSIGN spotted without a PERIOD "." as a special character added to the end of it. So W6ABC will be spotted as W6ABC/P - while W6ABC. (note the trailing period) spots as W6ABC (without a /P).

The system understands UK callsigns and the secondary locator rules. It understands UK club callsigns and their secondary locators. What this means is that for 99.999% of UK activators on UK hills they only need to enter a “!” for the callsign, and the Gateway will munge this to be correct. If you do not have a UK callsign, the Gateway will not attempt to modify the callsign it spots (with the exception of an unmuted /P). The callsign field is NOT case sensitive, so a CALLSIGN from an SMS spot will always post with CAPITAL letters.

ASSOCIATION: Is the standard SOTA Summit ASSOCIATION designation. Valid examples would be G and W6. The ASSOCIATION field is NOT case sensitive, so the ASSOCIATION in an SMS spot will always post with CAPITAL letters.

SUMMIT: Is a standard SOTA SUMMIT designation, but including the “-” separator is voluntary. If you don’t use the “-” separator, it is automatically inserted for you. LD001 and LD-001 are equally suitable. Since the SUMMIT field is NOT case sensitive, the Region portion in an SMS spot will always post with CAPITAL letters.

FREQUENCY: This MUST be your chosen spot FREQUENCY in Megahertz. A valid numeric separator is REQUIRED ( a Period “.” a Comma “,” or a Colon “:” ). You will not get a spot without a valid numeric separator. You also will not get a spot with a FREQUENCY that includes more than one separator character. Thus 5.39857,190 and 14:283 are all suitable for the FREQUENCY. While not typical, a spot of 10106.0 (actually a spot for 10.106 GHz) is also valid. A correctly formatted SMS spot that does post to sotawatch will always display with a Dot “.” as the numeric separator.

MODE: Is the operating MODE. Examples include, but are not limited to, am, fm, ssb, cw, psk, rtty, data, and dv (digital voice). The MODE field is NOT case sensitive, always posting the MODE field from an SMS spot with lower case letters.

COMMENT: The COMMENT field can display up to 60 characters, but some of that total is used to identify the message spotter. Excess COMMENT characters are cut off, so be mindful to keep COMMENTS short. COMMENTS are optional. There is no requirement to include one, so just leave it blank if you don’t have anything extra to say.

WARNING: The COMMENT field must NOT contain an Apostrophe/Quote ( ) or the spot WILL NOT POST - and anything that follows after a Comma (,) in a COMMENT will be CUT OFF. Tested valid punctuation is # : = * % / ! @ & ? . - + ( ) and Numbers. If in doubt, leave some punctuation out. The COMMENT field is case sensitive, and an SMS COMMENT will post with both upper and lower case letters.

Some valid SMS examples for clarification:

If I sent this: ! gm ws001 145.450 fm QRV in 10 Mins - - then the spot would be:

Thu 17:07 MM0FMF/P on GM/WS-001 145.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF QRV in 10 Mins (Posted by SMS)

Similarly for this: % gw nw-027 5,3985 ssb qrv in 10 mins - - the spot would be:

Thu 17:07 MW0FMF/P on GW/NW-027 5.3985 ssb
*Spotter: MM0FMF qrv in 10 mins (Posted by SMS)

If you do not want /P appended to your callsign shortcut, do this:
$ gm ws001 145:450 fm QRV now - - then the spot would be:

Thu 17:07 MM0FMF on GM/WS-001 145.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF QRV now (Posted by SMS)

If you don’t want /P appended to a full callsign entry add a Period “.” to it:
DL/MM0FMF. dm bm001 145.450 fm qrv now - - and that becomes:

Thu 17:07 DL/MM0FMF on DM/BM-001 145.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF qrv now (Posted by SMS)

For the Frequency you can use “,” or “:” or “.
! gm ws001 70,450 fm in 10 Mins results in:

Thu 17:07 MM0FMF/P on GM/WS-001 70.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF in 10 Mins (Posted by SMS)

! gm ws001 70:450 fm in 10 Mins also results in:

Thu 17:07 MM0FMF/P on GM/WS-001 70.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF in 10 Mins (Posted by SMS)

The SMS spotter will always use your home call registered with the system. If you travel outside your home country, you must enter the needed prefix. If I visit Germany I must add DL/ to the start of the call. So I would send:
DL/MM0FMF dm bm001 145.450 fm qrv now - - and that becomes:

Thu 17:07 DL/MM0FMF/P on DM/BM-001 145.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF qrv now (Posted by SMS)

You can spot for someone else by entering their callsign (not “!” or “%” or “$”)
GT3PYU gd gd001 5,3985 ssb in 10 mins - - becomes:

Thu 17:07 GT3PYU/P on GD/GD-001 5.3985 ssb
*Spotter: MM0FMF in 10 mins (Posted by SMS)

GT3PYU. gd gd001 5:3985 ssb in 10 mins - - becomes:

Thu 17:07 GT3PYU on GD/GD-001 5.3985 ssb
*Spotter: MM0FMF in 10 mins (Posted by SMS)

If you have questions, ask away and I’ll do my best - Andy MM0FMF / GS3PYU

SMS transactions are logged to a file. If there is problem with spots not working, as long as you know roughly when you sent the SMS, I should be able to diagnose what is broken. Now the last bit you need are the phone numbers:

Australians can use 0447 568667 ( +61447568667 )

European spotters should use 07903 533046 ( +447903533046 )

For North Americans the number is 1-530-430-SOTA ( 1-530-430-7682 )

This SMS spotting manual is a compilation drawn from multiple sources, which has then been edited into one cohesive document. Any additions, corrections or clarifications will be welcomed by the “publisher”, Glenn AB3TQ (good on QRZ). Most welcome would be any new spotting service Phone Numbers. (Version Control #007)