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Early versions of Zello used to hang on many phones. They got that fixed later though. When using Zello there are also “Network Radio HTs” now that look like Walkie-talkies but actually connect to the Mobile phone network and the Internet to make the VOIP call to a meeting room.

73 Ed.

Thanks for the Slack invite Rex!

Kent K9EZ

I noted that there is a SOTA channel on Zello. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t ever seem to get used. Whenever I’ve connected to it I’ve often been the only one on the channel!

I’ve had the channel monitored on a spare network radio in the shack whilst chasing, sometimes leaving it running for several days. So far I have never heard any activity on the channel whatsoever. Not even anybody keying up.

With the growing popularity of network radios within the amateur radio community, I thought that there would have been more interest in it.

A bit of a shame really because I think that we are really missing a trick on this one.

I can see the Zello channel having several uses. Firstly to suppliment the cluster on the SOTA website, but perhaps more importantly, a safety/backup communications channel for activators.

If chasers left it on in the shack, activators could make a quick call when leaving the car park “will be active on summit…in around 45 mins” for example.

If this encouraged chasers to listen (and chasers made a point of monitoring), the activator could also use the channel to raise the alarm if he/she got into difficulty during the accent/descent. Indeed it might also raise concerns if the activator failed to appear after a period of time.

I’m not suggesting that it’s a replacement for 999 (or whatever the emergency number happens to be in your country). Nor is it a substitute for the other usual precautions (telling someone about your plans and carrying the correct equipment) but it’s another link/backup if things go wrong.

Obviously it relies on having a mobile signal which can be very hit & miss on many SOTA summits, but many UK summits do have mobile phone coverage (many UK summits actually house a mobile phone mast). My network radio has worked on every single UK summit that I have done so far, with the exception of Scafell Pike (G/LD-001), where it only worked on the actual summit itself (but was useless on the climb & descent).

When I activate summits, I carry a network radio with me, although mine is usually on the Broadnet (a paid commercial package) emergency channel which is monitored 24/7 by a medical company which runs a control room. This package also takes a GPS position from the radio so they can track you if you call for help.

I have twin sims in my network radio as well as my mobile when I activate summits. All three sims are on separate networks which basically gives me three shots at getting a mobile signal from 3 out of the 4 major UK suppliers.

I’m not suggesting for one second that it should be used for making contacts to qualify the summit. This would be most likely be frowned upon by virtually everybody, and (to my understanding) would be a very clear breach of SOTA rules/regulations.

That said, I see nothing wrong with using it to supplement alerts/spots on the website, update chasers on ones progress and (if enough chasers were using it) as an additional line of communication to raise the alarm of things went wrong.

Obviously this plan only works if people actually monitor and use the channel. I guess people won’t bother to listen to or use the channel unless other people do. Chicken & egg scenario!!!

As I said, I think that we are missing a trick with this one!

I like Dean’s (K2JB) idea of when I am at my home QTH chasing and I hear another strong chaser whom I have worked many times when activating come on frequency on SSB of saying “W4XXX up 5” after they work the activator to have a chat since I often do not get to talk much to the regulars when on I am doing a SOTA.

Scott WA9STI
Los Angeles

Tried it once or twice - got bored and as there’s no amateur band RF involved, while perhaps a useful method of communications for some people (there are several CB channels I believe - and CB specific “Internet Telephone” hardware is advertised like the “network radios”) - this is not Amateur Radio specific.

In principal, I have it if I need it, but so far I haven’t needed it.


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!!!

I think there is a degree of circularity in that argument!:grinning:

There is obviously more than one way of achieving a chat channel, and if enough people decide they want it, it will happen. It is a matter of critical mass.

A brief digression on this. Yes, initially they were expensive luxury items. So why did they replace the horse? A horse and carriage (better, two horses) could transport a party of people, but its range was severely limited. A day trip was limited to something like 20 miles each way. If you had to go much further then a change of horses was necessary for the return, a long journey, say over 50 miles and you had to arrange multiple changes of horses. This could only be afforded by the wealthier people of the day. Add to this that after a substancial trip the horses had to be rested for at least a day, feeding but not working. Car owners saw the value of a means of transportation that didn’t have the range and resting limitations of the horse, and needed just a chauffeur/mechanic instead of grooms, ostlers, farriers and so on.

The lesson is obvious, novelty value will only take you so far, an innovation must satisfy a real need.

Very true, but that relies on people actually knowing about it’s existence in the first place. I stumbled upon it by accident, which leads me to wonder how many people were aware of it’s existence, let alone considered the possibility of using it for SOTA?

I suspect not many.

I agree with you to some degree. My point about the car was mildly facetious but I used it to illustrate a point and I accept that there is a “real need” for a car in this day & age.

Having said that, I think we have a habit of creating a need where there isn’t one. To that extent, I still see the mobile phone as a bit of a novelty item (which I suspect that we will only become more dependant upon as time goes on).

Unless you are running a business and need to take phone calls throughout the day, I think that there are very few occasions where we truly “need” to carry a phone on us and be contactable 24 hours a day.

We simply carry it because it’s available and we can. People have got used to phoning or texting to say “just leaving work, will be home in 30 minutes” that we are now completely knackered when the technology fails.

What happened before we used to make those calls? Absolutely nothing!!! People would just arrive home from work at the usual time and nobody would think anymore of it!

What I’m getting at here is that I think we’ve created a “need” where there isn’t one out of a “novelty item” (clever marketing on the part on the phone manufacturers I guess). Subsequently people have got so used to it being there that they are now totally stumped without it.

Using the recent mobile data failure of my mobile phone provider as an example (lets not mention or slander the name of the company, I think most people will know who it was).

People were up in arms because the apps that they “need” were not available and they expected refunds because they couldn’t use their social media or stream music/videos to entertain themselves. I struggle to see why people “needed” to access their social media so urgently.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I carry my phone on me, find it a pain in the proverbial and often don’t use it for days at a time.

More recently I’ve taken to leaving it at home because I just don’t “need” to have it on me (carrying it is more hassle than it’s worth most of the time). To be honest, I didn’t even know that my network operator had a problem until I saw it on the news the next day!

I think that “novelty value” can lead people to a point where they just get so used to something being there that we feel we “need” something that we really don’t.

I know it’s a bit of a diversion from the topic but still very interesting to understand other peoples perspective, and an interesting topic in itself.

Speak for yourself!

Walt (G3NYY)

Maybe, although I personally hardly ever use network radios for amateur radio and have to admit that it’s not really my thing.

I tend to use it more in a commercial environment (event communications hire).

I just see it as a very practical solution that already exists to answer the question asked by the person who started the thread, and can see how it could be extremely useful in a SOTA context.

My comments were based upon the fact that the major UK retailers seem to be selling literally hundreds of handsets.

The “Network Radios” channels that have been set up nearly always seem to have activity on them whilst the analogue repeaters, simplex VHF/UHF channels, DMR repeaters, D-STAR nodes etc are all completely dead.

I’ve left handsets on the local repeaters and I’m lucky if I hear one person per day, In comparison network radios have numerous QSO’s taking place throughout the day, hence it seems to be growing in popularity compared to other modes.

To that extent I stand by my comments that it is growing in popularity, certainly in the UK, with new people adopting it all the time. Whether or not it will last, or be a bit of a novelty that lasts a couple of years & then fades out (as suggested by G8ADD) remains to be seen.

I can’t speak for other countries where there may not be as much enthusiasm for it. Just what I’ve seen going on in the UK.

I just thought that I’d put the idea out there in the hope that it might drum up some interest and ultimately enhance the hobby for all of us. Apparently there is no interest for this.

K9EZ, Hi I am the administrator for SOTA-NA . You and all are welcome to join. Rex is correct, lots of chit-chat but can be a quick way to exchange information.

Tom NQ7R

“Network radio” is a misnomer. It has nothing whatever to do with radio; it is simply another internet chat-room application. I can see that it would appeal to people interested in CB communication. These are the same people who populated amateur radio repeaters a few years ago - until they became bored with it.

Each to their own, of course, but I have absolutely no interest in such a system.

Walt (G3NYY)

It is and it isn’t. They definitely use radios and they rely on having a “network” to connect into. But we don’t call mobile phones radiotelephones any more but that is what they are. I’m not even sure if trying to reposition Trunked Radio works any better than Network Radio.

If you drop the pretense they’re amateur radio and consider them as an adjunct then they’re fine. They (network radios) and apps on your phone allow people doing things to communicate easily. As such they enable easier coordination of whatever., assuming you have service from the network. Coordinate your microwave, VLF, S2S activity with them. Just don’t start QSLing for making a data based phone call. Oh, people do that for working DX on their local repeater (by radio never mind DMR)!

My hobby is Amateur Radio - not Amateur Wireless. :wink: Pse read https://network-radios.com/index.php/2018/03/07/its-not-real-ham-radio-by-chris-g7ddn/

73, Alfred, OE5AKM

That sums it up very nicely.

Walt (G3NYY)

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I think the point I was trying to make previously but apparently didn’t put across very eloquently is that Zello or Network Radios (call it what you will) has practical uses for everyone, IF THEY WANT/CHOOSE TO USE IT.

It doesn’t matter if they are licensed amateurs, CB’ers, commercial users (taxi firms/businesses etc).

There are obviously a large number of channels that I would steer well clear of, but many are very well moderated. Some that are private channels that only authorised users can access.

I have a paid subscription of “Zello Work” (the commercial version of Zello) which I use for business. We obviously keep extremely tight controls over who we allow on those channels, not least for data protection & the security of my clients.

I see it as an aspect of the hobby. In the same way that SOTA is part of the hobby, using repeaters is part of the hobby, data modes (such as FT8) is part of the hobby, DX’ing is part of the hobby, contesting (love it or hate it - personally I tried it and found that it really wasn’t my cup of tea) is also part of the hobby.

Part of the hobby in my eyes is simply communicating with other like-minded people exchanging ideas (as indeed we are now) and having a good chin-wag.

It doesn’t matter what mode I use to do that. Zello is good for that, even if it does remove the technical challenges (and some may see it as cheating somewhat).

As much as I don’t spent a lot of time using Zello, to me it supplements the hobby. It is another option at my disposal.

There are so many different aspects to this hobby that you can take the ones you like and leave the ones that you don’t really care for.

I have heard of several people who have started out on the Network Radios channels, then gone on to get their licence and now enjoy the HF bands as well. If it introduces new people to the hobby then it can only be a good thing.

As both G3NYY and myself have said, “each to their own”.

My apologies. That was a typo. No offence intended.

That should have read G3NYY. Original post corrected.