SMS North America is possibly down?

I could not post a spot this weekend from a summit where it looked like I had adequate signal bars. I have now tried two tests from the QTH with much better signal bars. Still, nothing gets spotted.

Taking a look at spots for the last 72 hours, the percentage of any SMS spotting is very low, and none of what is there is from North America.

My logical conclusion is that SMS North America is down. If the CW Hole feature has a hiccup, it is prominently discussed right away. SMS? Not a peep. So, Is it me or SMS? Would be nice to be able to text “ping” SMS from a dumb phone to determine it’s health.

Without a smart phone, if my spot doesn’t show up, my only clue is dead silence from the SOTA chasing community (who are very good at finding you if they see a spot).

Glenn AB3TQ

After reading Glenn’s note, I tried sending one as a test and was unsuccessful.
Peter KD0YOB

No it’s up and working perfectly. Google has decided to change the format of the mesages it sends. If you employ millions of Oompa-Loompas you cannot have them sitting around doing nothing. So what you have to do is get them to bu**er about with everything that is working fine and change it. This something Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all experts at.

Does it work? Yes.
Does everybody know how to use it? Yes.
Well change it about then so nobody has a clue how it’s meant to work.

Idle hands and the Devil etc.

Maybe, just maybe, I wrote the Google Voice message parser in an extensible and easily changed format so just one line of SMS_NA robot needed changing. Or maybe I was lucky!

It should be working now.

1 Like

Tnx, Andy.

Seneca: “luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet”

A test of the noted repair to untangle the Google mischief was successful. Thanks. I can go out on a summit again.

On a side note, after a helpful SOTA participant informed us (a member of our group) some time back why we were getting logged as /P by chasers, I searched every corner of the internet looking for the COMPLETE SMS Spotting Manual. Not finding one, I wrote my own.

Are there any SMS experts out there that would like to review it for correctness and completeness? I am good on QRZ.

Andy provided a bunch of SMS spotting info on this reflector… here is a summary…

Information gathered from various sources but mostly the SOTA UK Reflector…

How to register on the N.A gateway…
Subject: Please sign me up for your SMS to SOTA spot gateway

  • Your email address: or whatever your email address is
  • Your call sign: W1AWX
  • Your cell phone (SMS source) number: 908 507 XXXX

To use the gateway you must be registered. Once you receive an email confirming registration you can use the gateway.

Where possible you only need to enter alphanumeric characters.

Special characters are ! % $ . : , and the space character.

The ’ ’ character is used to separate entries. This is easy to find on all phones.

The ‘!’ and “$” character is used as a shorthand for your callsign. The gateway works out your callsign from the phone number
that comes with each SMS. The keystrokes for this is relatively easily found on Nokia phones.

An alternative to ! is to use % instead. When you use either of these characters a /P will be
added onto your callsign.

The ‘.’ or ‘:’ or ‘,’ characters are used when entering the frequency. ‘:’ and ‘,’ are offered as
these characters are often conveniently available when a phone is put into numbers mode.

You can also use ‘%’ instead of ‘!’.

You can spot either yourself or any anyone else. I normally expect this gateway to be used to spot yourself which is why the ‘!’ feature exists.

So the format is:
callsign association summit frequency mode comments

*) Callsign can include modifiers, i.e. MW/DL6FPK/P is valid.

*) Association is standard SOTA abbreviation.

*) Summit is the standard summit reference. However, the ‘-’ is voluntary, if you don’t use it the gateway will insert it.

*) Frequency is the frequency in MEGAHERTZ, only use one ‘.’ in it. Or use ‘:’ instead of ‘.’

*) Mode is operating mode, same as any spot.

*) Comments. After the mode there is space for 60 characters of comment. The gateway inserts who sent the SMS into
this field so keep it short.

Time for some examples.

If I sent this:

! gm ws001 145.450 fm qrv now

then the spot would be:

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

You can use ‘:’ instead of ‘.’ so ! gm ws001 70:450 fm qrv now gives

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

$ gm ws001 145.450 fm qrv now

would give my call without a /P

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

Similarly if I sent this: ! gw nw-027 5.3985 ssb in 10 mins

then the spot would be:

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

The system understands UK callsigns (Mxxxx, Gxxxx, 2xxxxx) and the secondary locator rules. It also 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 their 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 sends.

You can spot someone else if you want, enter their callsign not “!” or “$”

GT3PYU/P gd gd001 5.3985 ssb in 10 mins


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

The spotter will always be your home call registered with the system.

If you travel to a different country to your home country you must enter the prefix needed. 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-001 144.450 fm
*Spotter: MM0FMF qrv now (Posted by SMS)

I log the SMS text received to a file, I log what I send to Spotlite and Spotlite’s response. If we have problems
with spots not working I should be able to diagnose what is broken as long as you know roughly when you sent the SMS.

Now the bit you need is the phone number:

Users in UK, Europe and everywhere but North America should use 07903 533046 (+447903533046 )

In North America the number is 1-530-430-SOTA (1-530-430-7682)

Hopefully, this should be enough for you to get going but if you have any questions then ask away and I’ll do my best.


The file used to be on my home web server. But I had to take it off line as the scirpt kiddies in BY-land spent all day and night trying to hack it with Apache and IIS hacking scripts despite the web server telling them nicely it wasn’t Apache or IIS. It got so bad the traffic exceeded the hourly upload quota on my 12/200mbps broadband account causing me to be throttled :frowning:

I must put the data somewhere where all the hacking attempts is seen as only background noise.

I did extract some useful information from the posted manual version. Note that I don’t think it is very well written, it has an error, and it has at least two omissions.

I will post my version and open it up to critique as well.

   Link to Activaton Spotting Manual for the MM0FM SMS SOTA Gateway

I thought it was just me. I used SMS through the SOTA spotter app on Sunday. And called CQ for a while before I switched the app to Internet and spotted myself again. Checked sotawatch later to see that only the “internet” spot went through.

Roland KG7FOP

I made attempt to use SMS for self-spotting today February 14, 2017 around 20:50 UTC, and did not find any spot. What did I do wrong? I sent next text message to the phone number 530-430–7682: ! w6 sc203 10106 cw 2050 utc now
Maybe my registration expired if I did not use this service for few years? Any other reason?


#1 - Did you really enter the frequency as 10106 (it should have been 10.106 or 10:106). Without a period or colon separator between the MHz and the KHz, it will not spot.

#2 - Was it your intention to spot as KD7WPJ / P (portable), because by using the ! that is what you would have gotten. If you do not want the /P you should use a dollar sign $ instead of an exclamation point !.

Read through the SMS manual I had posted to this thread. Tell me what you think, and try a test spot. I bet it will work if it is formatted correctly.


Thanks! Yes, I entered 10106. Maybe it was the reason of non-spotting. I did not intended to use /P, but it should not prevent from spotting. Will read manual and will try again.


I should have been more clear - the ! had NOTHING to do with your spotting problem. I just wanted to let you know that you probably really wanted a $

Entering a frequency of 10106 will without a doubt prevent your spot from going out. Try a test spot. Use the $ just to see it will give you the result you want, and use a period . or colon : in the Frequency this time.

Make sure you are reading the manual that I posted. The other one has an error, indicating a third option for a special character in the Frequency field. It will not work if that bogus character is used. I wish that error was edited out, but I can only control my posts.

Hope you get out on a summit again soon, and get to use the SMS again. And you could possibly learn a few new SMS tricks by reading my manual. Good Luck.

The frequency is in MHz. And there is a simple rule to remembering how to specify the frequency.

“Only one dot or you don’t get a spot” !

10.106 will work and 10106 will not.

I made another attempt today, and specified frequency in MHz. It works, and self-spotting helped me to make SSB contact on 20 meters with WC9G with 33 signal report from his side.

So I can’t spot that I’m operating on 10106 MHz?

Of course you can. Just remember the rhyme.