GMRS Simplex legal?

I got my SO and I licensed for GMRS since she really has no interest in taking a test, but I want us to be able to stay in contact during hikes since sometimes she’ll head down before I’m done playing SOTA. I want to try to get her interested enough to maybe get a tech license, so I was wondering if a GMRS simplex QSO would count for SOTA? I know I could do it just for the fun of it, but I think seeing her call in the log might spur a bit more interest.

Of course, I would have at least 4 ham contacts before working her on GMRS. :slight_smile:

No, it’s not an amateur band.


Really I should leave it to those who know what they are talking about. But that never stopped me before. Why spoil a perfect record?

The Rules are a bit hard to find.

The showstopper seems to be: You must use ham bands. This seems to preclude the simple use of PRS equipment you propose.

  • 3.10 Modes and bands
    All modes and amateur radio bands are valid for the Programme.

  • All operation must comply with the amateur radio licensing regulations and must use the permitted amateur radio bands of the country in which the Association is based.

The summit award programme itself seems to be limited to hams.
Other rules (to my eye) don’t seem to block non-hams from chasing., if they can find a legal/licensed way to do it in a ham band.

  • 3.2.1 Scope
    The Programme is a P150m Award Programme (defined as a prominence of at least 150
    metres) which is open to all radio amateurs,
  • 3.7.3 Participation in the SOTA programme is open to everybody,
  • 3.8 Rules for Chasers
    1. The Chaser must hold an appropriate transmitting licence.
    2. The Chaser must make a QSO with the Summit Expedition, in which at least callsigns…

The license does not need to be a ham one, nor does the callsign

    1. All SOTA operations are expected to be conducted in the spirit of the programme.

“And that’s when the fight broke out your honour”

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OK so how might one get around the rules? It has to be the frequency rules one skirts, as we have to keep with rule 14.

There are shared bands where other equipment can be used. e.g here in ZL eg 130kHz, 433MHz, 900MHz, 2.4G etc. There are Short Range Device bands that overlap. [This is all ZL! Investigate your own country]

  • 433.0500 - 434.7900 is an SRD channel. You can use -16dBW EIRP. XYL uses a 20dB attenuator on a 1W radio. You use full power.

  • Bluetooth is operating in the shared 2.4GHz band. A phone/laptop <-> BT headset would work. A directional antenna at one end and 20dBm bt adaptors would help

  • you could use wifi channels that are inside the ham bands. e.g Note that the repeater provisions limit you to peer-peer, and rule out Whatsapp or Zello . Skype used to be P-P, only using servers for link establishment (which is standard sotawatch practice anyway). I think it now goes through servers. Firechat might work.

  • 27MHz is shared with CB and telecontrol/telemetry. The XYL is allowed to transmit SSB on 27.125, and you can either reply by telemetry (possibly) or on a voice band. There are several other T&T shared bands.

  • 2.4G or other shared band video gear (e.g. drone video). The XYL can write messages and hold them up to the camera

  • You could communicate in 10m band , you on SSB, and XYL keying a plastic welder or diathermy machine. The frequency 29.7 is an srd freq.

  • You can use 80m with up to -46dBm - but that probably limits you to using FT8. [20km might be possible - 200km is the thermal noise, freespace path limit]

The ham license terms might throw a spanner in:

National and international communication is permitted only between amateur stations,


The passing of brief messages of a personal nature on behalf of other persons is also permitted

In any event, both you and the XYL are permitted to use (e.g) the SRD frequencies for the permitted purposes. i.e. you having a ham license does not stop you using shared frequencies in accordance with other licenses.


Problem is, she wouldn’t be able to chase me on a “normal” ham band without a license. And I don’t think she’d be interested in getting a license without getting a taste of what playing SOTA is like first-hand. So it’s a catch 22. :frowning:

This was supposed to be an exercise to get her interested in getting a license by using a simple HT. She’ll probably just stick to GMRS at this point.

I’m pretty sure there’s a provision in the rules somewhere that this would only be a valid QSO if she was also re-enacting the entire Flashdance montage.


In the US, an amateur radio operator can be the control operator for an unlicensed person. Usually, the control operator is at the control point, but I’ve had roaming unlicensed Scouts with HT where an adult was the control operator.

If you were control operator, you would be confident that she could operate the radio within your expectations, using your call sign.

Not sure how you log the same call sign on both ends of a QSO, but that is a problem for the database.


It would probably accept it, but you wouldn’t log it. The point was raised there’s already going to be 4 QSOs in the log before this, and if there weren’t, I’d say working your own callsign used by an unlicensed but authorised user, at another location, in order to qualify a summit is in the same ballpark philosophically of working a S2S with someone in the activation zone of your own summit.

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Hi Walter, et al -
Although we do it all the time for Field Day and such, a control operator for an unlicensed or “under-licensed” person is not allowed under the SOTA General Rules. Both Activators and Chasers need to operate under their own operating privildges.
With an understanding of individual achievement that is part of SOTA, you can see why the Management Team included the restriction that you operate under the license that you have.
73, Etienne-K7ATN

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Sorry. If you want to play SOTA you must follow the rules. CB type contacts do not count even if in-band.

It’s good to show you are safe and using that band may engender more interest. But it’s not AR. It’s not therefore SOTA.

“Getting around the Rules” is against the operator as well as against the spirit of the game. That just creates the need for more and more Rules.

Keep it simple, keep it fun. When you are seen to be having fun others will want to get involved and get qualified.

Good luck.

Yes, but it doesn’t state ham license. She just needs to be licensed for the frequency she is using, and it needs to overlap a ham band.
In ZL 433.92MHz is licensed to “Every Person”, who is explicitly listed as “licensee” (25mW eirp)

Find the same in your country.

It still does not comply with the Rules.


You do need to say which rules it does not comply with and why, so we know why you think that.

I have quoted the rules in my first post which seem to me to be applicable, and I see 4 requirements for chasers:

  • They need some legal license for the frequency and mode they transmit
  • They need a callsign of some sort
  • they must transmit within a ham band
  • they must be within the spirit

I personally think that the OP’s question is exactly in the spirit of the very first line, if you will, “the prime directive”:

3.1 Purpose
The purpose of SOTA (the Programme) is to encourage Amateur Radio based activity from the summits of hills and mountains in countries around the world


3.7.3 Participation in the SOTA programme is open to everybody,

If one seeks to narrowly interpret rules in a way that is contrary to the stated purpose of SOTA, that is in itself not in the spirit.

Sneaking within the edge of rules to stay within the spirit of them , is to be encouraged, to my way of thinking. It is also great fun.

This is not the americas cup, where “winning” or “losing” is the purpose, the letter of the rules is everything, the the spirit counts for s.f.a.

If the OP can encourage his XYL (or far more importantly - kids) to eventually get a ham license by sneaking within the SOTA rules, that is winning for all of us who would like to see the hobby survive.

There appears to me to be a couple of possible low power loopholes (at least in ZL), and I can’t think of any actual harm if someone is prepared to go to the trouble of climbing a hill and exploiting them. More rules are only ever required when a loophole results in actual problems.

It would appear to be all upside for ham radio. More participation is good. More fun is good, and nothing is more fun than finding a way around the rules. It is the sort of thing that tickles my kids.

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From the rules:

“it has to be recognised that the ultimate decision as to what qualifies for this
award scheme lies with the SOTA Management Team.”

This member of the MT says GMRS is not valid.

Richard, ignoring the sideshow, you could encourage your partner to start on the path that got many people into amateur radio… SWLing. Taking a pair of GMRS radios with you is a wise move if as you say one of you may leave the summit early.

A similar story from about 39 years ago is a friend from my old home town. His wife wanted to go a foreign holidays and my friend was not so interested. He said he’d go on foreign holidays if she got a licence not expecting her to do so as a young mother. 10months later she had a full UK licence and he had to get his wallet out and pay for a holiday.


Hi Richard @N1RBD ,

I had a similar dilemma with my wife. She wasn’t too keen on doing the whole Foundation/Intermediate/Full process here in the UK, given she has been using professional radio through work for many years, but she wanted to take part in SOTA/WOTA. Although we looked at other options, she relented and took the Foundation when RSGB removed the practical element (one benefit of Covid, I suppose).

Now she’s licenced, she’s adamant that she’s going to get to MG before I do and she’s really keen on doing first activations, although that may need to wait until she gets a Full licence so we can operate abroad. I’m watching the RSGB ‘Direct to Full Licence’ review closely…

The other downside to her being licenced and knowing about Amateur Radio, is that I can no longer lie about the price of radios. She is absolutely not fooled that an FT-818ND only cost me £100…!!!

73, Simon


The rules are exactly where I would expect to find them, in the “Joining in” section of the SOTA website.

Turning to the initial query, the GR kicks off with a simple statement: “The purpose of SOTA (the Programme) is to encourage Amateur Radio based activity from the summits of hills and mountains in countries around the world and to provide an award system for Radio Amateurs in all DXCC Entities.” (My italics)

Several years ago we had a query from a group of Citizens Band operators who wished the SOTA scheme to be extended to include CB bands and operators. After discussion we decided that this was not possible, SOTA was focussed on Amateur Radio using the designated Amateur Radio bands and identifying participants by AR callsigns issued by licensing authorities. I believe that the CB group set up their own parallel scheme, I don’t now how well it has done. The point is that the reasoning applied to CB applies equally well to GMRS. SOTA was from its inception designed around the radio amateur service.

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Hi Richard,

I will just share my experience. My wife, Nickie, accompanied me on most of my SOTA activations. Initially she helped to set up and break down the station but during the actual activation she just read a book. However, after a certain number of activations she became really interested and decided for herself that she wanted to become licenced. She has since achieved Foundation level with callsign M7AFI. She is working towards taking the Intermediate level now.

So maybe you just need to be patient and eventually her interest level may increase to the point where she wants to become licenced too.

73 Andrew G4AFI

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Trying to get round the rules sounds a bit odd. Unless you come from a professional cycling background of course.


Ooh! :rofl:

Been there, done that. M3EYP and then 2E0EYP made me promise to wait a long time before I could activate SOTA abroad. Therefore I was as happy for myself as I was for him, when M0HGY came along!

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