I think it’s a bit of a marmite thing. Each to their own.
I believe that it has it’s place.
If you are interested in the technical aspects (experimenting with different antennas, equipment, propagation etc) then it likely won’t appeal to you.
Where it comes into it’s own is if you want a good chin-wag like people used to on the repeaters.
A lot of people use it mobile as a general chat channel (often talking about ham related subjects). For this it is brilliant as you don’t get the coverage issues that we used to get with repeaters.
To be frank, I use it a lot for commercial communications. I don’t tend to use it much for amateur related activities.
If I’m experimenting with links/digital modes with fellow amateurs we may use it to co-ordinate tests. Other than that I don’t use it much.
I find this quote very interesting because history is littered with occasions where people have said this (or something very similar).
About 100 or so years ago people said the same about the car, branding it as an expensive luxury item. “Everyone has horses to get around on. what do we need cars for?”. These days, it’s more or less a necessity for most people to own a car in order to get to work, go shopping etc.
Much more recently (within the last 20 years) a lot of people slated the idea of carrying a mobile phone with you (and yes. I was one of the short-sighted idiots that failed to see how important the mobile phone would become in the years ahead). At the time, people said “if you really need to make a phone call there are public pay phones for that purpose. What is text messaging? Why not just send an email? Why on earth do I want a camera on my phone? That will never take off”. Now virtually everyone carries a phone on them, and you hardly ever see a public pay phone these days (I don’t even know where my nearest one is). How wrong I was!!!
I believe that people said the same about the internet before it took off. Now we all use it virtually everyday for something.
I digress somewhat from the point that I was trying to make…
My point was that if enough people used the Zello channel which is already set up, it would provide an additional layer of safety for activators (on top of the usual precautions that we all take anyway). It would give me some piece of mind if I know that I had a few chasers listening whilst I was on a mountain/hill that I could shout help to if things went wrong.
It would also help chasers by getting updates from the activators (complementing the spots & alerts on the SOTA site).
Whether or not it’s perceived to be amateur radio, and whether or not there is any amateur RF band involved is a bit besides the point. We use our phones to spot ourselves from the summit. That’s not amateur radio. Nor is the internet that hosts this website or chat room.
It’s using technology to supplement the hobby. It’s another tool at our disposal. If we’ve got it we might as well make the most of it.
My point was that I can see a general chat channel for SOTA being extremely useful, but only if people actually use it!
The original poster at the start of this thread asked if there was an easy way of “chatting live with other folks attempting the contact”.
I was simply highlighting the fact that there is already something in place which does the job brilliantly. Unfortunately nobody ever uses it!!!